Colby, Leicestershire

16th Century Riot at Coleby
by Geoffrey Mann

While researching the DACKOMBE family of Dorset, I came across the following report of a near-riot at Coleby (in Kesteven) in the proceedings of the Star Chamber (PRO reference STAC5 D37/37). The Star Chamber existed from 1487-1642 and dealt with both civil and criminal cases, the plaintiffs usually being gentry. The record sare in English and contain vivid accounts of daily life and disputes.

This action was dated 28 Elizabeth (1586) and was brought by William DACKHAM of Colebie, gent; Francis THOMSON of Boothebie, gent; Lawrence CODDINGTON and William THORPE of Coleby, yeoman.

The defendents were named as John TRYE Esq, William ODENSELLS, Thomas ODENSELLS, Richard PRESSOR alias DAVIES, Richard WATKINS, Richard GEARINGE, William PRESTLYE and divers others.

They were acused of riotous assembly, driving off cattle from the pasture called the oxe pasture with stakes, pitchforkss, swords and daggers, about 4th July last being the Sabbath Day in the time of Divine Service. They beat William HATFIELDE, labourer, and put him in fear of his life. Diverss of the cattle were dead and others in great peril to the utter undoing of some of the poorest of the complainants, their poor wives and children. They were further accused of maliciously driving the cattle over a great quantity of the complainants corn.

The complainants go on to say that William THORPE, the constable of Coleby, came wiith divers of his honest neighbours and commanded them to leave and desist. He asked Mr TRYE to declare the names of his men, as many of them were Mr Trye’s servants. Mr Trye said his men’s names were Robin Hood and Little John. Then, being justice of the peace, bound the said constable, Franciss HUDSON and William HATFIELDE poor inhabiitorss in Coleby to keep the peace, out of malice to vex and trouble them and drive them to great cost and charges in law. And he was threatened your complainants that he would make them glad to forsake the town of Coleby.

It should be remembered that this is only one side of the story! The words “to the utter undoing of the poor complainants” may be true, but this is a stock legal phrase found in other actions. The reply gave quite a different story. Thomas ODENSELLS denied being there; the others claimed they were peacefully driving cattle to the common pond when they were attacked by William HATIELD.

Grazing rights were often a source of friction. Five years previously, the same William DACKHAM had brought an action in the same court against Franncys TYHOMSON of Boothebie, John CUDDINGTON of Colbie,. William STANDLEY and Robert PARYE ofr cutting grass on land between Coleby and Booteby which William thought was his (STAC5 D33/36).

DACKHAM, DACHAM, DACCOM are some of the many variations of the DACKOMBE name. The Lincolnshire branch has the same coat of arms as the Dorset family, but the relationship is uncertain. Neither is the geneaolgy of the Lincolnshire family known. William DACKHAM of Coleny had a brother, Henry, who died at Coleby in 1571, (Henry DACKAM of Huntingdon may have been the same man). The father of William and Henry was probably John DACKHAM, a gentleman of Fishtoft.

William was married to Benedicta who was buried at Coleby in 1582; Jane and Ann DACKHAM who married Samuel BUSHIE and Thomas LIPPETRAT at Coleby on the same day in 1595, and Henry DACKHAM, who sold the Manor of St Katherine’s fee in Coleby in 1594, were probably their children.

A family connection with Coleby continued into the next century, when Sir John DACKOMBE of Dorset, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, bequeathed the Rectory of Coleby to his daughter Dorothy in 1618. She died the same year, leaving the unexpired term of the lease of the Rectory first to her mother MELIOR and then to her brother JOHN.

The surname of DACKHAM and its variants is quite uncommon in Lincolnshire and nearby counties, and I would very gratefully acknowledge and references to the name that readers of this article may come across.


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