1610, the tenants of King’s Norton complain about the corrupt new royal steward

The tenants, farmers and inhabitants of the king’s manor of King’s Norton, Worcestershire. SP 14/52 f. 30 (1610)

To the Kinges most execelent majestie

In all duetifull obedience shewen to your most exelent majesty your true faythfull and obedient subjectes your highnes tenantes fermeres and inhabitantes of your manour of Kinges Norton within your majesties county of Wigorne that whereas in tymes past your most noble progenitoures kinges of this realme have usually appointed and made noble men and otheres of great worthe and estate their stewardes of the sayd manour who alwayes hav had and deputed under them suche persons their under stewardes there as for their sufficiencie [learning?] and honesty have well dischardged whatsoever to their office in that behalf hath appurteyned to the great comfort of the same tenantes and inhabitantes there and furtherance of justice in the courte of the sayd manour But now so it is if it may please your highnes that one Edward Fielde of verie base parentage hath lately crept into the sayd office by what sinister meanes we know not and there very badly and most corruptlie hathe demeaned hym self viciously dyvers and sundry waies to the great hinderance of justice there and impoverishing and utter roting owt of dyvers of the poore tenantes and inhabitantes there of the sayd manour and is not ony unlearnyd and altogether insufficient to execute the sayd office but also is a lewd man vicious and verye contentious amonges his neighboures a comon medler and buyer of broken and pretended rightes and titles and wholy addicted to fraudulent and indirect courses to enriche hym self and the better effectith his badd purposes by the countenance of the office. In tender consideracion whereof we your sayd most loving and obedient subjectes most instantly besechen your most royall majestie not only to remove the sayd Field from the sayd office but also that your highnes wold be pleased to place in the same office some other person of better state condicion worth and sufficiency both for the better execution of justice in the sayd courte and better usage and generall good of us your highnes poore tenantes and subjectes there who ar altogether weried and tyred with the ungodly [ruels?] proceedinges of so unfitting a steward and we your sayd loyall and obedyent subjectes and tenantes according to our bounden duties will dayly pray to God for your majesties longe lief and blessed happines here long to raigne over us: [signed by 34 men]

Report by Susan Willoughby

From notes in the “Cecil Papers”, dated February 1604, held in Hatfield House, it can be ascertained that Edward Fielde was granted lifetime stewardship of King’s Norton by the Queen after 20 years service as a Yeoman of the King’s Chamber.(1)

Ralph Lord Eure (1558-1617), English nobleman and politician, received many complaints about Edward Fielde but appeared to have done nothing about them since Fielde was the Queen’s servant. (2)

The complaints implied, according to Robert Hitcham, that Fielde was acting unlawfully in his office; was involved in the murder of William Green in King’s Norton; and had increased his wealth by charging his tenants extortionate sums for work carried out on the Estate.(3)

Fielde was ordered by Lord Cecil, the Lord Treasurer not to hold his regular three-weekly “courts” until a further warrant was received and the manor was conveyed to the Queen as part of her jointure.

Fielde petitioned Lord Cecil that the “closure of his courts” was “inconvenient  to the tenants and proved prejudicial to the interests of the Queen.”  He requested that the Warrant be authorised so that he could resume his three weekly courts.

On 25 June 1610 a Warrant was issued “to pay Edward Field [sic] and Humph. Harpur, £71 in recompense for tops and lops, and dead trees, in Kings Norton, sold from them, contrary to the tenure of their lease.”(4)



(1) ‘Cecil Papers: February 1604’, in Calendar of the Cecil Papers in Hatfield House: Volume 23, Addenda, 1562-1605, ed. G Dyfnallt Owen (London, 1973), pp. 126-127. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-cecil-papers/vol23/pp126-127.

(2) Wikipedia; David Gunby, David Carnegie, MacDonald P. Jackson, The Works of John Webster: An Old-Spelling Critical Edition (Cambridge University Press, 2007), III, p. 284.

(3)’James I: Volume 52, January, February 1610′, in Calendar of State Papers Domestic: James I, 1603-1610, ed. Mary Anne Everett Green (London, 1857), pp. 579-590. British History Online. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/domestic/jas1/1603-10/pp579-590 (19 January 1610).

(4) ‘James I: Volume 55, June, 1610’, in Calendar of State Papers Domestic: James I, 1603-1610, ed. Mary Anne Everett Green (London, 1857), pp. 616-622. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/domestic/jas1/1603-10/pp616-622 .


This report is part of a series on ‘Petitioners in the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I, 1600-1625’, created through a U3A Shared Learning Project on ‘Investigating the Lives of Seventeenth-Century Petitioners’.