THE DEPTFORD JURY

Peter Farey

    Of the sixteen jurors who served at the inquest over the body of 'Christopher Morley' on Friday 1 June 1593, all but three - Henry Bendyn, Alexander Burrage and Edmund Goodcheap - have been at least tentatively identified in biographies of Christopher Marlowe written since Hotsonís discovery of the report. (1) However, with the ever-increasing availability of archives on-line, and the provision of excellent search facilities for them, it is perhaps worth keeping an eye on what new information might appear about these 'good men and true'.

Seven of them have already been linked with Deptford itself.

Wolstan Randall, gentleman, despite being included in the Lay Subsidy Rolls for Greenwich, left in his will the lease on a house in Deptford - in fact leased from a Privy Councillor, the Lord Admiral.(2)
William Curry appeared in the contemporary Lay Custody Rolls for Deptford and although not referred to as generosus in the inquest's report is of Deptford Strand, gentleman in his will.
John Barber, according to Boas: is called 'of Chatham, carpenter', in his will of 4 April 1608, but he seems to have lived previously in Deptford, where he had houses and freelands which he left to his son.
Giles Feld (Field?), a grocer according to Boas and Urry, is the only juror other than Curry to appear in the Deptford Subsidy Rolls.
George Halfpenny worked as a baker across the Thames in Limehouse but, according to Urry, had tenements in Deptford.
Henry Dabyns, another baker, also apparently had a tenement in Deptford,
Henry Awger (or 'Anger', as Urry reads it) did too, with a tenement at the Deptford manor, Sayes Court.
A further three are associated with Greenwich, just across the Ravensbourne Creek from Deptford.
Robert Baldwin was a miller whose mill apparently spanned the Ravensbourne which divides Deptford from Greenwich. He is nevertheless described by Boas as being from East Greenwich.
James Baldwin seems to have been Robert's son, described as living in High Street East in Greenwich.
Adrian Walker, according to Hotson, had appeared in the Greenwich Lay Subsidy Rolls as Mr. Adrian Walker of Lime-kilns (in fact Hotsonís book says "Lime- kills"), although nobody else has referred to this.
The three remaining jurors apparently came from elsewhere.
James Batt was a 'husbandman' from Lewisham which, as Honan points out, was only a mile away from Deptford.(3)
Thomas Batt, according to Boas, was a yeoman, of Bromley, Kent and apparently left - as did Robert Baldwin, Giles Field, George Halfpenny and (Thomasís son?) James Batt - substantial legacies in houses, goods, or farm animals. Bromley is some six or seven miles from Deptford, however, which may be why other biographers have ignored Boas's suggestion.
Nicholas Draper, gentleman, was nevertheless possibly identified by Urry: Of those that have been traced may be the Mr. Nicholas Draper who lived at Leigh, near Tonbridge in West Kent.

Given that Nicholas Draper - the one of the two gentlemen whose name appears at the head of the list - was therefore also most probably the foreman of the jury, it is worth spending a bit longer on him.

Urry's comment is based upon Archaeologia Cantiana Vol. 31, 1915, Extracts from some lost Kentish registers, by Leland Duncan.(4) Under "Leighe" (Leigh) we find: 1588 Apr 1 Henry s. of Mr Nicholas Draper Bapt. Their calling him 'Mr. ' is important, since although there may have been other Nicholas Drapers in Kent at the time, the number also belonging to the so-called gentry - as the word indicates - would have been very limited.

So, although he may have been, we cannot be sure that a Nicholas Draper who was baptised in Lamberhurst, Kent, on 4 March 1564 (5) was the same man, nor that another Nicholas Draper who was buried at St. Leonards, Shoreditch, on 15 April 1610 (6) was either. A Nicholas Draper who was married in Bromley, Kent, in about 1587 (7) may well turn out to be the juror, however, given the birth the following year mentioned above - that Mr Nicholas Draperís son was baptised in Leigh need not necessarily mean that they actually lived there - and the further information revealed below.

Cited here for the first time are two documents which - because of the 'gentle' designation - could well refer to the same man. The first is in the Burghley Papers (BL Lansdowne MSS.78, No.67) and is reported in Collectania Topographica Et Genealogica by Frederic Madden, Bulkeley Bandinel and John Gough Nichols (p.205). (8)

This document gives The Names of all such Gentlemen of Accompte as were residing within ye Citie of London, Liberties and Suburbes thereof, 28 November 1595, anno 38 Elizabethae reginae, &c. It is endorsed by Lord Burghley himself: 2 xbris (of December) 1595. Names of Strangers beyng not Citeze(n)s lodgy(n)g in London. It implies that the people listed, whilst having permanent homes elsewhere, also had lodgings in London.

There are in fact only 118 names of such people of Accompte, spread over 21 'wards', and they include one Marquis (Winchester), three Earls (Cumberland, Shrewsbury and Kent), a Countess (Warwick), and a Viscount.

Also among those listed - in the Walbrook ward - is Nicholas Draper, of Bromley in Kente, gentleman. That word 'gentleman' tells us that this one, at least, surely must be our man. It also lends some credence to the presence of Thomas Batt, yeoman, of Bromley, Kent among the jurors, and to the Bromley marriage being that of the same Nicholas Draper.

A short digression is necessary at this point. There is another person on the list with whom we are very familiar. It is someone who, although never mentioned in the inquest itself, was very much concerned with how it turned out, having had some connection with every one of the people who were said to have met at Deptford on that fateful day. Under the Tower Street ward - less than half a mile away from Walbrook - we find: Thomas Walsingham, of Chesley (Chislehurst) in ye countie of Kent, esquier. We already knew that he had lodgings in London from his prosecution for indebtedness in 1590.(9) In this he was referred to as Thomas Walsingham, late of London, gentleman, alias Thomas Walsingham of Chislehurst in the county of Kent, gentleman , but this shows his having a London residence to have been a relatively long-term arrangement.

It is therefore interesting to note that the two parishes of Bromley and Chislehurst were right next to each other. Indeed there is today a single parliamentary constituency called 'Bromley and Chislehurst'. And given that both Walsingham and Draper were members of the gentry - Gentlemen of Accompte - it is quite likely that they would have been acquainted, possibly even good friends. That they knew each other some ten years later as fellow-parishioners is undeniable, as we shall see.


The second probably relevant reference to a gentleman called Nicholas Draper is to be found in a document held in Bromley library (10) which locates him in the same parish as Walsingham a few years later. It is a document giving the names of people each standing £5 surety for local victuallers. In this - at St. Mary Cray on 3 April 1605 - a Nicholas Draper of Chislehurst gent and Thomas Hall of Farnborough yeoman are given as sureties for Thomas Eaton of St Mary Cray innholder.

Interestingly, on the same day Henry Kickely of Orpington and Nicholas Draper of Chislehurst yeomen are named for Thomas Vallance of Chislehurst victualler. This might have been a son, of course, but taking into account the marriage in 1587 and the birth of Henry in 1588, the "yeoman" seems more likely to have been an error. It is perhaps worth noting that of the 82 sureties listed the first 'Nicholas Draper' is the only one to be described as a gentleman.

In the same document one of the J.P.s listed apparently for the Ruxley hundred - of which St Mary Cray and Chislehurst were parishes - is (the by now 'Sir') Thomas Walsingham. This is therefore the second time that both of their names have appeared elsewhere in a single, but quite different, context.


The jury system developed from the best and oldest men in the neighbourhood via twelve knights, chosen from the district to twelve free and lawful men...representing the hundred. At the heart of the inquest jury was the idea of testimony by neighbours. And according to the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica: ...in practice [inquest jurors] are drawn from householders in the immediate vicinity of the place where the inquest is held. Note that the common thread running throughout is that jurors should be locally based.

The normal procedure for the initial selection of jurors was therefore for the bailiff of the hundred to command enough of them to attend,(11) presumably from those of sufficient status to be eligible who lived within the hundred. He would therefore probably have had a list of people suitable for jury service - men of property, yeomen, lesser gentry and wealthy husbandmen and craftsmen - living there. In this case the hundred was that of Blackheath, covering the parishes of Charlton, St Paul and St Nicholas Deptford, Eltham, Greenwich, Kidbrooke, Lee, Lewisham, Woolwich and Mottingham. Chislehurst had been a part of the Blackheath hundred at one time, but Bromley - hardly surprising as it was within the Bromley hundred - never was. Whilst a juror from the same county was certainly eligible, it is nevertheless somewhat surprising to find those two Bromley residents there.

For those who claim that there was something fishy about that inquest, the presence of Thomas Walsingham's neighbour, Mr. Nicholas Draper, at the head of its jury may therefore after further investigation turn out to offer considerable support.

© Peter Farey, 2008


1 The works referred to here include the following:
J. Leslie Hotson, The Death of Christopher Marlowe, 1925 (p.38)
Frederick S. Boas, Christopher Marlowe: A Biographical and Critical Study, 1940 (pp.271-2)
William Urry, Christopher Marlowe and Canterbury, 1988 (pp.93-4)
Park Honan, Christopher Marlowe, Poet & Spy, 2006 (p.354)

2 Two Wolstan Randalls - father and son - were apparently born in St. Ives, Hunts., in 1552(?) and 1575(?). See and search for "Wolstan Randall", 1570 +/- 20 years.

3 It seems likely that Henry Bendyn, previously unidentified, also came from Lewisham, as someone posting to the humanities.lit.authors.shakespeare newsgroup under the pseudonym "lyra" pointed out. See http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/a2a/records.aspx?cat=051-qs_9-3_2&cid=1-1-1266-3#1-1-1266-3

4 http://kentarchaeology.org.uk/Research/Pub/ArchCant/Vol.031.1915/11/182.htm

5 http://www.familysearch.org/ Search for "Nicholas Draper", 1570 +/- 20 years.

6 http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~ahnelson/PARISH/burialsA_M.html

7 http://www.familysearch.org/ Search for "Nicholas Draper", 1570 +/- 20 years.

8 http://tinyurl.com/6po8g3

9 Constance Brown Kuryama, Christopher Marlowe: a Renaissance life, 2002 (p.209)

10 http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/A2A/records.aspx?cat=081-small_1&cid=-1&Gsm=2008-06-18

11 R. F. Hunnisett, The Medieval Coroner, 1961 (p.13)


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