Date: 1381. Catalogue reference: JUST 1/103, m. 5
Pleas held before Hugh la Zouche and his associates, justices of the lord king appointed to subdue, punish and chastise rebels and disturbers of the peace in the aforesaid county [Cambridgeshire] on Tuesday immediately before the feast of St Margaret the Virgin, in the fifth year of the reign of King Richard the Second [16 July 1381]
John Shirley of the county of Nottingham was arrested on the grounds that he was clearly wandering through divers counties at the time of the [recent] disturbance, rebellion and mayhem, spreading lies and falsehoods from region to region, likely to cause trouble and to breach the king's peace and alarm and disturb the people, and for making derogatory statements after the proclamation of the king's peace on the abovementioned day and year. While the justices of the lord king were present and resident in the town, he said in an inn in Bridge Street in Cambridge, where many people had gathered to hear fresh falsehoods from him, that the stewards of the lord king, his justices and many of his officials were more worthy to be drawn and hanged and suffer the other punishments and tortures prescribed by the law than the priest, John Ball, who had been convicted by law as a traitor and a felon, because he said that [Ball] had been condemned to death by the said ministers, with the assent of the king, falsely, unjustly and maliciously, simply for being a true and honest man, speaking out about the councils and courts of the realm and telling of the injustices and oppressions inflicted by the king and the said ministers upon the people, and his death will not go unpunished, but within a short time will be repaid by the king and his officials and ministers. These words and threats were both injurious to the crown and made to the manifest contempt and alarm of the people. Whereupon the said John Shirley was immediately taken by the sheriff before the said justices in Cambridge castle, where he was interrogated about these matters and closely examined concerning the conduct of his life and his place of residence and also with respect to his status. This information was acknowledged by him before the justices, and it was clearly established that he was of low bearing and estate. In addition trustworthy witnesses were questioned who had been present at the time that he had spoken these lies, evil words, threats and falsehoods, and after they had been sworn to tell the truth about these matters, they gave evidence that all the things that he was alleged to have said, had indeed been said by him, and when he was examined separately, he did not deny the allegations. Therefore, by judgement of the said commissioners, he was hanged. And the escheator was ordered to inquire diligently into his lands and tenements, goods and chattels, and to dispose of them accordingly on behalf of the king.