More details on John Sundy in 1261

More details have emerged concerning John Sundy, whose fine for harbouring outlaws in the 1261 Oxfordshire eyre had been pardoned on account of his poverty (see 4 April blog). The pleadings for Sundy’s case have survived on a plea roll in The National Archives and confirm that he had been indicted for harbouring a thief and outlaw. Sundy, moreover, had been accused of several thefts himself and had fled in advance of the itinerant justices’ arrival in Oxfordshire. He was therefore outlawed in absentia and his goods and chattels seized. Interestingly, the plea roll also reveals that rather than being a poor freeman, he was actually a person of some status in his local community, possessing lands in both Oxfordshire and Berkshire. Sundy’s moveable goods were valued at £6 2s 4d by the Oxfordshire hundred of Benson. The plea roll likewise records that he held land worth £7 3s 4d in Benson and further unspecified lands in the Berkshire hundred of Ock. Eighteen years later, the hundred rolls record that his children were possessed of fifty acres in Benson and Newnham. Sundy was protective of his position, having engaged in litigation during the 1241 eyre against the Countess of Oxford concerning common pasture in Crowmarsh Gifford. Furthermore, this same roll notes the settlement of another dispute with the Countess over the ownership of ten acres in nearby Nuffield. Interestingly, John Sundy was not the only member of his family accused of a felony during the 1261 Oxfordshire eyre: his son William had been acquitted of being both a thief and an accomplice of one. 

Posted on behalf of Dr Adrian Jobson.

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