STAC 5/E4/2 - B A Rn - 32 Eliz - London - William Elkin et Alice uxor v John Skynner, Jane Scott, Katherine Gravell see STAC Elkin
Transcribed by Helen Good
To the Queens most excellent Majesty
Most humble wise complaining sheweth unto your most excellent Majesty your highness faithful and dutiful subject William Elkin citizen and alderman of London and Alice his wife that where the mayor and aldermen of your majestys city of London for the time being by the ancient laws and customs of the same City ratified by sundry charters of your majesty and your most noble progenitors as also confirmed by divers acts of parliaments are guardians and patrons of all Orphans being the children within age of 21 years of every freeman within the same city and of right have as well the custody of the bodies of all such Orphans within age from the death of their fathers until their said full age of 21 years as also the custody and disposition of the portions of such Orphans during their minorities. And where also this said mayor and aldermen were lawfully possessed and interested accordingly of and in the body and portion of one Margaret Robinson one of the daughters and Orphans of Henry Robinson late citizen brewer and freeman of the same city deceased And so being thereof lawfully possessed did about two years last past commit the custody and tuition of the said Margaret together with the custody of a portion as lawfully they might to your Majesty's said subjects that said Alice being the natural mother of the said Orphan Upon such security as well for the good and virtuous education of the said Orphan as also for the safeguard of her said portion according to such a custom as in like cases of Orphanage within the same city is accustomed. By reason whereof your majestys said subjects had lawfully the keeping education and government of the same Orphan. And your highness said subjects being desirous the said Orphan should be well and decently brought up placed this said Orphan with one Richard Wright citizen and Ironmonger of London and Martha his wife a very honest and modest woman who the 26th day of January last past and before had by the means aforesaid the keeping education and government of the said Margaret Robinson. But so it is if it please your excellent Majesty that one John Skinner of Westminster a man of very mean a state and condition having neither living nor any certain profession whereby to maintain himself but seeking by wicked and indirect means with out deserts to advance his estate being confederate together with one Jane Scott wife of one Nicolas Scott a poor man and with one Catherine Gravell servant to the said Skynner and also having having complotted and conspired with divers other wicked and disorderly persons to the number of 18 on 19 whose names are as yet to your said subjects unknown intended and devised among themselves most wickedly to spoil and utterly undo the said poor Orphan being at this present a child of 12 years age or thereabouts and within the age of 16 and of small stature and growth. And to bring their device and determination to effect. First the said Skinner did use the help of the said Jane Scott and Katherine his maid secretly to solicit the said Orphan to marry with the said Skinner, who the said Orphan herself never having seen him promising that he would advance and greatly better her estate The said Skinner alluringe the said Jane and Katherine thereunto by promise of great reward for their travail in this behalf. But the said Orphan therein repulsed his said soliciters with denial, affirming that in causes of marriage she would be advised and directed by he friends and such as had the education and charge of her. But the said Skynner not herewith satisfied but still thirsting after the portion of the said Orphan being himself a bare and needy fellow on the 26th day of January last past being the Saboth dsy in the aforenoon of the same day the said Skynner having intelligence that the said Orphan was at a sermon in the Blackfriars in London attending upon her said mistress came to the said Blackfriars accompanied with 17 or 18 of his conferderates servingmen and watermen whom he had hired for that purpose and whose names as yet are unknown unto your said subject all armed and furnished with swords and bucklers daggers long staves and boathooks and other weapons as well invasive as defensive. And placed these his companions in a tavern there called the sign of the Greyhound near to the preaching place to be ready in a wait to perform his determination which was with force and strong hand to take and carry away the said Margaret Robinson where during the time of the sermon this said riotous and unruly persons exercise themselves as profane men in drinking and playing at unlawful games. And upon a watchword given that the sermon was ended the said conferderates came fourth, presently upon the coming out from the sermon of the said Margaret waiting upon her said mistress and governor in the press, and throng of many people. And the said Skinner caused the said Jane Scott and the said Katheryn to go to her who took the said Margaret by the hand and said Margaret we must speak with you who answered She should not tarry she should lose her mistress but this said Jane Scott said you must go and shall go, and then the said Katheryn servant to the said Skynner did take her by the other hand saying be contented, you shall have no harm fear not. And whereupon the said riotouss and disordered persons in furious manner Drew their swords and pressed betwixt her and her mistress invironing her round about with their drawn swords and weapons wherewith the said Orphan being feared cried out and strove to escape their violence. But the said riotous persons did so barbarously and violently hale and pull the said Orphan towards the waterside that they threw her down on the ground and therewith break both her face and her knee. Whereupon she cried out for help, but the people and inhabitants thereabouts being amazed and astonished by the sight of so great an outrage and uproar of so many disordered persons being about 20 in number and weaponed as aforesaid and many of them having swords drawn and the street being narrow durst not hazard themselves to rescue the said Orphan. Only one man (amongst others moved with compassion towards the said child thus distressed pressed amongst them and took her in his arms intending to stay her and to know the cause of the said outrage but the sad Skinner with his wicked associates presently offered their daggers to his heart swearing most blasphemously that they would stab him if he would not to let her go. So that of force he was compelled to desist. And then presently they carried and conveyed her in such their forcible and vaunting manner to the Thames and by water conveyed her to the city of Westminster to the house where the said Skinner dwelleth. Presently upon the report whereof your majestys said subjects came to the house where this said Skinner dwelleth in Westminster and prayed him with great entreaty to have their daughter restored but the said Skinner caused the door of the said house to be shut against them until (as it seemeth) he had locked up the said Orphan as a close prisoner. And then caused one to open the door all in scoffing derision said to your said subjects you must ride apace if you will have your daughter, for she is twenty miles hence before this time. Whereupon the said William Elkyn procured a warrant from Mr Knevett one of your majesties Justices of peace within your Highness county of Middlesex directed to the Bailiff of Westminster to search the house of the said Skinner. But the sad Bailiff with other officers were not suffered by the said malefactors to search in every room of the said house and thereby could not have again this said Orphan but the said Skinner continuing on his wicked purpose and entent. Did (as it is affirmed and given out by him the said Skinner) upon Tuesday then next most impiously and wickedly without the privity consent or knowledge of your majesties said subjects or of the said Richard Wrighte or of his wife or of the mayor and aldermen of your majestys said city either contract matrimony or marry himself secretly with or to the said Orphan who never yielded any free consent other than through force fear constraint or by compulsion. In tender consideration of the premises and forasmuch as the said pernicious practice, riot and insolent outrage and other the offences are contrary and repugnant to your Majestys good and wholesome laws and statutes, may it therefore please your majesty to grant unto your said subjects your gracious writ of Subpoena to be directed to the said John Skynner Jane Scot Katherine Gravell and other the said riotous persons commanding them at a certain date and under a certain pain therein to be limited to come and appear in your majestys right honourable and high court of Star Chamber then and there answer to the premises and to abide such punishments for those said offences as that honourable court shall award. And and your said subjects according to their bounden duty shall daily pray to god for your majesties happy and prosperous reign long to continue over us.
The joint and severall Answers of John Skynner Jane Scott and Katherin Gravell defendants to the Bill of Complaint of William Elkin and Alice his wife complainants
The said defendants and every of them saving unto themselves now and at all times hereafter all the advantages and causes of exception to the insufficiencies and imperfections of the said Bill of Complaint for answer and declaration of truth touching the surmised matters of the said Bill concerning themselves and examinable in this honourable court and which these defendants think is material or effectual by them to be answered unto, they and every of them for and to so much as themselves all their several knowledges concerneth say as followeth. And first the said John Skinner severally sayeth that he upon sight of the said Margaret in the Bill mentioned so liked of her as thereupon he used the best means he could devise for the obtaining of her in marriage, which he thought he lawfully might do, she being of years able to consent to marriage, and no heir nor ward as this defendant Skinner was by his learned counsell advised. And further that said Skinner and Jane Scott say that the said Skinner understanding the said Jane to be acquainted and a kinswoman to the said Margaret he made the said Jane privy of his liking and desire to have a marriage this said Margaret, and of his full resolution and intent to be a suitor unto her. For the better compassing whereof the said Skinner without motion or promise of reward earnestly entreated the said Jane to move the said Margaret and to make known to her his desire and resolution to be a suitor unto her for marriage, which was said Jane sayeth she accordingly did, and that upon the motion thereof so the said Margarets she found her very tractable for marriage and desirous of the said Skinner, for the more certain assurance full confirmation and declaration of the said Margaret's good opinion of the said Skinner, the said Skinner and Jane for themselves say that the said Margaret after the tokens had passed between the said Skinner and Margaret she in token of her great good will to the said Skinner, willed the said Jane to give him to understand that she so well liked of him and was well pleased to take him to her husband which wanting liberty she could not as she desired as she would at any time be ready upon his coming for her, upon site of her glove to go with him whether he would, in token of which her full consent and agreement she sent him for a pledge or sign thereof her glove by the said Jane, which she delivered accordingly to the said Skinner and upon receipt whereof the said Skinner sayeth he was greatly moved in good will and desire of satisfaction to both of their contentment. And further the said Skinner, Jane Scott and Katherine Gravell say that true it is that the said Margaret being at the Blackfriars in the bill mentioned at a sermon the said six and twentieth day of January mentioned in the said Bill these said defendants being there attending her coming from church, when she was come forth put her in remembrance of her former agreement and consent whereupon this said Margaret (though fearful of her mistress) yet shewing herself willing to go with the said Skinner, went away in these defendants company at which Time by reason of the great company of people that came then from church the said Katherine Gravell going in haste by the said Margaret, did tread upon the said Margarets clothes being long and therewith stumbled and fell down to the ground and in her falling pulled down the said Margaret also, so the hurt which the said Margaret then had came by occasion of the said Katherines fall. And further these defendants say that afterwards the said Margaret Robinson being come to the city of Westminster the said Jane being also there she went up into the chamber in the said Skinners house where the said Margaret Robinson in the presence of diverse persons of good reputation and accompt did of her own free well and voluntary accord without any constraint or compulsion give her free consent and good will to marry and take to husband the said John Skinner and the said John Skinner likewise freely consented to marry the said Margaret whereupon the said John and Margaret were contracted together in matrimony and within short time after married and joined together in matrimony according to god’s laws and her majesty’s and according to the usual order of the church as these defendants verily think and further the said Jane sayeth that so much as she did in the premises was upon the said John Skinners request and not for any gain or reward neither for to seek the disparagement of the said Margaret in doing whereof or of any other thing touching the premises by these defendants or any of them if they or any of them have offended, it was ignorantly done by reason they neither know the liberties and customs of the city of London, neither what danger the strictness of the law might cast upon them or any of them in doing thereof. In due consideration whereof the said defendants they and every of them humbly submit themselves to the censure and comisseration of this honourable court with out it that these defendants sought to spoil the said Margaret, or that the said Skinner promise any rewards or that the other two defendants looked for any reward as in the said Bill of Complaint most falsely is alleged. And without that was said person in the Bill mentioned they or any of them to these defendants understanding did in furious manner draw their swords and with force and strong hand with such resistance as in the same Bill is specified, Did take and carry away the said Margaret, or did hale and pull the said Margaret in such manner and form as in the said Bill of Complaint is very untruly alleged; And without that the said Margaret cried out or did strive to escape their violence as in the said Bill is most untruly alleged. And without that this defendant Skinner or any of his Company to these defendants view or understanding did offer their daggers to the heart of any person or persons that made stay of the said Margaret swearing that they would stab him if he did not let her go as in the same Bill is also falsely surmised and declared And without that any other thing or matter in the said Bill of Complaint contained, concerning these defendants examinable in this honourable court material or effectual to be answered unto and not herein either sufficiently answered and avoided traversed or denied is true. All of which matters these defendants are ready to avere and prove as this Honourable Court shall award and pray to be dismissed out of the same with their reasonable costs and charges for their wrongfull vexation In this behalfe sustained &c.