Murder most foul: Chapter One

Strangely enough, the theme of murder runs bright scarlet through the early history of the High School. First, came George Somers, who was the Headmaster for an unknown period of time between, probably 1530, and , hopefully, not long after Friday, July 15th 1532.

Eighteen years earlier, in more probably April, but perhaps in early May, 1514, the Free School’s main benefactress, Dame Agnes had died.

a mell

She left much of her property to the school and was buried alongside her husband in St.Mary’s Church, Nottingham.

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Within a few short years of Dame Agnes’ death, however, her high standards of morality were more or less forgotten. Money frequently went missing and both the Headmasters and the school wardens neglected their duties. A number of teachers appeared in court on various charges, which varied from failing to maintain the church windows to the theft of pupils’ books.

In perhaps January of 1532, the Headmaster, George Somers, was accused of stealing a featherbed, a long pillow, two short pillows, a green and red quilt, a covering and a pair of sheets to the value of 46s 8d. (£2.33p in modern money. Oh for a time machine!)  Somers also owed twelve pence for the hire of the same bed. For what purpose has not been recorded. But you can probably guess…..

IMG_4607 bed

On Friday, July 15th of the same year, in a much more dramatic episode, George Somers, was now accused of murder. The Records tell how.

“…We indict the School Master of wilful murder.”

The incident had taken place almost a month earlier, on June 17th, and Somers had supposedly assaulted John Langton, Chaplain of Nottingham,

“by violence and weapons, namely a stick and daggers, of malice aforethought, and… had feloniously killed and wilfully murdered the same John, against the peace of our Lord the King.”

fox in the snow cvgbh

Unfortunately, the outcome of these events remains completely unknown, although it is devoutly to be wished that, if convicted, Somers did not keep his post as Headmaster of the school.

Hopefully too, this woodcut does not show Somers’ eventual fate. Notice the moment when the Mexican Wave was invented. Presumably it must be some  Tudor oik losing his focus during the thirty seconds while the rope is put on.

tudor hang

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Filed under Criminology, History, Nottingham, The High School

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