An inquisition was taken before Coroner Thomas Greene at Byford, Hereford on the 21st of May 1536 into the case of one:
"Walter Badam, late of Lynalls, [Hereford], labourer, killed at Bolyngill in the aforesaid county of Hereford, and lying dead there upon the ground.
The oath made by the 12-man jury2 states that:
"Walter Badam, on the 26th day of March in the 11th year of the reign of the said now lady queen, around the 8th hour after noon of the same day, at Penrose in the aforesaid county of Hereford, was in the peace ... there came then and there a certain Ralph Tayler, late of Penrose ... carpenter, by force and arms, viz with swords and daggers, and he made an assault and affray upon the aforesaid Walter Badam at Penrose ... and then and there the said Ralph Tayler, with one sword called 'a sword' to the value of 3s 8d, which he ... had and held in his right hand, then and there feloniously struck and pricked the aforesaid Walter Badam on the right side of his forehead, viz on the right eyebrow, giving the same Walter Badam then and there with that sword one mortal wound or blow on his right eyebrow ... of the width of two inches and the depth of three inches, of which same aforesaid wound or mortal blow the said Walter Badam was languishing from the aforesaid 26th day of March until the 20th day of April then next following at Bolyngill ... in the aforesaid county of Hereford. On which same 20th day of April in the said 11th year of the said lady queen, the said Walter Badam died at Bolingill ... from his aforesaid mortal wound or blow."
As is often the case, the bare court record leaves tantalising questions. According to the TNAs "Old money to new" converter, 3s 8d would be worth about £60 nowadays. How ever did the jury know the worth of the sword called "a sword" and who measured the depth of the wound? Why did the jurors specifically say the whereabouts of the murder weapon was unknown? Were they planning to fit it to the three-inch wound?
Lynalls, where Walter Badam was labouring, may simply refer to present-day Lyonshall, but may more specifically refer to the 16th century estate now represented by the Lynhales Hall Nursing Home. This was the neighbouring estate to what is now Penrhos Court, situated in a small hamlet just a couple of miles out from Kington on the A44 as you head towards Lyonshall. The stunning Grade II listed timber-framed court, a former hotel and conference centre, can be seen as you drive by. Parts of the building date from the 15th and 16th centuries and include a banqueting hall, up to 20 bedrooms and extensive outbuildings and grounds. It is intriguing to wonder if it was here that Walter received his "mortal wound or blow".
Bolyngill or Bolinghill, where it seems Walter was taken to die, is now known as Bollingham, in Eardisley, where at Bollingham House we held our AGM and Conference in 2001. Importantly, the Penrhos, Lyonshall and Bollingham settlements are about two miles apart, so it is very likely that Badam and Tayler were previously acquainted before this event. Bollingham House dates from after Walter's demise, however, the Badhams of Bollinghill have been traced in that area from an early period.
The Woodard index in the Herefordshire Archives (HARC) refers to three Badam probate records which, at the last check, were frustratingly missing. One of them is a will for John a badam, Junior, of Bollinghill who died in 1572 and from which we assume a surviving father John Senior. Just down the hill towards Eardisley village there is an index reference to another John a badam from Nether Welson who died in 1561. The third set of missing documents for 1569 relates to our murdered Walter and the King's Bench reference is helpful as the index refers only to the parish of Eardisley. Therefore, knowing that Walter died at Bollinghill suggests he was a brother to John a badam Junior, and Walter was a family name in several generations perhaps as a result of the dizzy heights reached by our Groom of Henry VIII's Chamber.
Work to improve the keeping and indexing of the Hereford Diocese probate records has been going on for some time and received a boost during the preparations for HARC's recent move to new premises. Hopefully, these documents haven't been stolen or permanently lost and will eventually come to light, helping to clarify the interrelationships of these Eardisley families. According to the 1616 will of James Baddam of Welson this family is related to the Breinton Badhams (see recent article 'Booth versus Badham'‚ on the B1NS website).
There was a long tradition in the Marcher area of miscreants disappearing into the next lordship as the justice systems didn't run across the border. We learn from the inquisition that:
"Ralph Tayler, on account of the aforesaid felony, fled to places unknown, and by this occasion he withdrew himself, but what goods or chattels, lands or tenements the said Ralph Tayler had at the time of the perpetration of the aforesaid felony, or where the aforesaid sword remains, the aforesaid jurors do not know."
The hundred boundary runs between Lynhales and Penrhos so that Ralph's flight may have been in this Marcher tradition. By this time, the Act of Union of England and Wales of 1535 was in place which was meant to stop this lawlessness. How effective it was after only 30 years we do not know. Hopefully, he was eventually caught up with and received his just desserts.
Peter Badham and Janine de Smet
1 TNA, Kings Bench, Indictments: KB 9/625, Part II, no. 253. We are grateful
to Simon Neal, one of our researchers, for passing on this intriguing and dramatic
transcription from The National Archives.
2 The jurors' names were: George Blooke, gentleman, John Wynston,
Richard Stevens, William Howle, Thomas Harper, Philip Harper, John Hall,
Robert Bevan, Walter Golaver, William Bassett, William Wever and John ap John.