By W.G. Hoskins
Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological Society, Vol. 21 (1940-41)
Introduction: In the short space of ninety-one years, between 1299 and 1390, the people of Wigston were involved in no fewer than eight cases of murder and manslaughter. They were probably no more murderously inclined than other people in medieval days and we must regard this number of violent deaths as typical of the time. In each of these eight cases, moreover, the guilty men received a royal pardon; it is the recording of the pardon among the patent rolls that has preserved for us the memory of these old crimes. Who knows how many more such violent deeds occurred of which we have no record today, how many screams in the night from a dark lane or a solitary field? An outlying part of he fields of Wigston was, indeed, known in the fourteenth century as “the robbers’ valley” and another part as “the robbers’ pasture.
Of most of these crimes we know nothing beyond a few bare facts, but of the last in our list, a murder committed on a dark November night in the year 1390, we learn the motive and other details from a chance record among the Hastings manuscripts, and of this we shall speak in due course.