Supplied by Parish Register Transcription Society.
Transcribed by Michael J. Burchall, BA(Hons), FSG, from the original records held by the National Archives, HO11.
The banishment, exile or transportation of felons from England to overseas territories has a much longer history than is usually supposed, especially with reference to criminals from Sussex.
As early as the thirteenth century, there are records of convicted and non-convicted persons who had committed felony within Sussex, seeking to abjure the realm.
All churches, chapels and churchyards had the right of sanctuary, and for Battle Abbey the whole of its territory - leagua - reaching out in a mile and a half radius from the Abbey, could grant sanctuary for criminals to avoid the death penalty by voluntarily leaving the country.
Having fled to such a sanctuary, the felon could ask for the coroner, confess all his or her crimes, and be granted 40 days in which to travel to a designated port without leaving the king's highway, and be transported overseas.
Only a few of these abjurations survive for Sussex among the records of Assizes and King's Bench and they have been listed by Whitley and Hunnisett from 1248 until the last known Sussex abjuration in 1530.
Abjuration was abolished by Statute in 1531 (22 Hen.VIII, c.14) for outside the realm and those who wished to abjure had to choose one of the new sanctuaries established in England and be branded on the thumb with the letter A.
Hunnisett notes that the last abjuration was made in Sussex in 1533 by Edward Holand late of Chichester for felony and murder (he was subsequently pardoned) and at the dissolution of the monasteries in 1538, there were 32 sanctuary men in Beaulieu Abbey. The privilege of sanctuary was finally abolished in 1624 (21 Jac.I, c.28, paras. 6-7).
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