Belbroughton Misdemeanours c 1600

This article originally appeared in Belbroughton Parish Magazine in September 2013.

The Worcester Quarter Sessions Records for 1591-1643, edited by Worcestershire Historical Society, contain a number of references to Belbroughton.  A report to the magistrates suggests that in 1637 all was well in the parish.

1637  Presentment by John Small and Francis [ ], Highway Constables of Bellbroughton [sic].  “For recusants [Catholics] we have none within our parish to our knowledge.  Our poor are well and sufficiently provided for.  The highways and bridges are repaired.  Riots and routs and unlawful assemblies we know none.  Gamesters or unlawful gaming we know none.  Drunkards or drunkenness we know none.”

It seems, however, that they were complacent (or worse), because in the same year we have the following report.

1637  Presentment by the constable of Bellbroughton that there are six alehouse keepers and for the most part of them suffer unduly persons to drink in their houses at unreasonable times and suffer card playing and gaming in time of Divine Church viz. John Waldron Gilbert Goold Simon Meland Oswald Smith Richard Wylton Nicholas Wittaker heretofore suppressed and fined 20s [£1] each and that Roger Waldron being constable received the fines on their suppression but did not pay them to the poor.  That the said Roger is a Sythesmith and a Maltster and his wife Elizabeth has brought much malt upon the highway going towards Stourbridge to serve some of these unlicensed alehouses. 

And in the following year we find John Waldron in trouble again.

9 January 1638  Articles of misdemeanour exhibited concerning the evil behaviour of John Waldron Sythe Grinder and Elizabeth his wife of Bellbroughton.   The said John keeps a disorderly alehouse he also neglects his calling and commonly follows hunting over his neighbours’ grounds following other men’s dogs.  He also steals his neighbours’ dogs selling and exchanging them and is a common tracer of hares in the snow.  The said Waldron’s wife will upon the least occasion offered by her neighbours most fearfully curse them with terrible oaths of revenge.