On this day … 3 April 1668

The great court leet was held to determine a series of presentments (cases) involving all sorts of minor offences that show what daily life was like in seventeenth-century Preston.

Sadly, the clerk’s quill did not have a spell checker attachment, so the following contain some very odd spellings. But then, that’s one of the charms of these ancient documents. David Berry, who transcribed and edited the court leet records, has spared us the difficulty of making out the clerk’s handwriting, which is unreadable to the untrained eye.

The complete collection of the court leet records dating from 1653 to 1813 open the window on Preston’s past, providing fascinating glimpses of the squabbles and nuisances that troubled the townsfolk in those years. David has very generously put the fruit of his labours on line for free: https://www.wyrearchaeology.org.uk/index.php/areas-of-interest/preston?view=article&id=162

The first item before the court was a presentment against the town’s bailiffs for not maintaining the archery butts on Spittle Moss (see the 1 April post). The following selection from the rest includes scabbed horses, drunken neighbours, the old road to Cadley, assaults on servants and pigs running wild:

5. Robte Whittingham for keeping scabbed and disseased horses upon the townes wast he prtending ye same to bee his owne horses But ye said belonge to fforraignrs and Strangers for ye wch offence wee doe Amerce him to pay ye sume of xxs.

7. Evan Rogerson for Sufring his Cherry trees to hang over and Lye upon ye house of Lawrence Cowp by wearing? and beating downe ye thatch of ye said house, And yt ye said Evan Rogerson shall Lopp ye said Cherry trees that they may bee noe more annoyance there at or before the 15th of August next upon paine of xs.

17. Thomas fforrest for not being a freeman of this Incorporacon and doth brew or retaile Ale or beere contrary to sevrall Guild Orders and also yt hee doth keepe avery unlawfull house by harboring mens servts to Tipple & drinke at unlawfull times of the night for ye wch offence wee amerce him to pay ye sume of xls.

19. Robte Core for a Tusle upon George Mitton hee being full of drinke & giving blasphemed Oathes against all threatening to burne ye house of ye said George Mitton, for ye wch offence wee amerce him to pay xiijs. iiijd.

20. Yt ye supvisors of the highway have not according to the twentysixth prsentmt of ye last inquest repaired the bridge at ye bottom of ye Long Causey leading to Caddiley moore and likewise ye same Causey in needfull places According to the time given them and therefore have forfeited ye sume of xxs., And ye said Balives shall repaire ye said Bridge and ye Causey at or before ye first of Augst upon paine of xls.

21. Ralph Eaves and Martin Mayberry for turning theire swine into the Leanes and suffring them to trespas into mens ground to ye great prjudice of sevrall psons and therefore to pay vjs. viijd. apiece.

25. John Smith for a grosse abuse, by striking a boy, servt unto Thomas Scholes, with a bunch of Keyes, and thereby did breake 3 of his teeth, wee Amerce in iijli. vjs. viijd.

Image of 17th-century Preston by Terry Rushworth
A reconstruction of seventeenth-century Preston produced for a Harris Museum booklet by Terry Rushworth: https://terryrushworth.com/about-terry-rushworth/

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