Nicholas and John Clayton along with John Werneby, all yeomen, were outlawed by a manorial court in Macclesfield on 12th January 1468. They had previously been charged with trespass. Having failed to appear at a hearing set for 3rd October 1467, the County Sheriff had been tasked with apprehending the men.
Evading the Law
Having evaded the law and not responding to calls for them to hand themselves in, the punitive penalty of outlawing the men was used at the hearing held on 12th January 1468.
This is a good example of how localised courts worked. They regularly sat, in much the same way as a Magistrates Court would today.
Punishments were well known to the population, the pillory, imprisonment, hanging being commonly administered for differing levels of crime.
Here we also see how a case escalates through the system, from initial hearing to being placed on the equivalent of a wanted list.
Medieval law and order had a range of punishments that would be considered very harsh today. These changed over time and there were variations across the country. An overview of some the punishments, not all used in the period of the Wars of the Roses, can be found here. An account of the roles and functionality of Manorial Courts can be found here.
Outlawing somebody was as harsh a punishment as could be given to somebody in their absence. They were quite literally beyond the law, and all their possessions forfeit, as too could be their lives without any punishment for anybody choosing to assail them.
Links on late Medieval Crime and Punishment
Outlaws and outlawry in medieval and early modern England. The National Archives.
https://hilo.hawaii.edu/campuscenter/hohonu/volumes/documents/Vol03x13TheOutlawsofMedievalEngland.pdfThe Outlaws of Medieval England. Danielle Coyle, Pdf file.
The Ideology of Punishment in Late Medieval English Towns. Helen Carrel. Social History. Vol. 34, No. 3 (Aug., 2009), pp. 301-320 (20 pages) Published By: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Crime Law and Order in Early Modern England. John L. McMullan. The British Journal of Criminology. Vol. 27, No. 3 (Summer 1987), pp. 252-274 (23 pages)
Published By: Oxford University Press
Photograph of court rolls from the manor of North Wheatley. University of Nottingham.