Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Book Extract: From Chaloner Chute to Sir Loveban Lislebone Long: A History of 16th and 17th Century Lawmen with Riotous Names

Sir William Whorwood (c.1500-1545)

Sir William was not only fabulously named but he was one of the most significant lawmen of his time, acting as both Solicitor General (he replaced Richard Rich whom we have described earlier in this book) and then Attorney General under the reign of King Henry VIII.

Sir William’s father John, formerly John Percy, had been bestowed the name “Whorwood” by Richard III in 1484 in recognition of his family’s ownership of a popular “Whoring Forest” near Kinver. Under the Foliatus Laws in the 1400s, whoring in England was legal only in forests and other dense woodlands, due to the lingering druidic belief that one would be safe from contracting venereal disease or the sweating sickness if one did one’s business in and around native deciduous foliage, preferably that of the European Beech. After the introduction of these laws, intrepid entrepreneurs such as John Whorwood quickly snapped up most of England’s European Beech forests and charged merrymakers a hefty price for entry.

Wentwood Forest in South Wales, though technically a dense woodland, was a popular "forest of ill-repute" in 16th Century Britain.

Upon his father’s passing, the stable cash-flows provided to Sir William from his Whoring Forest allowed him the security to concentrate on his legal studies. Sir William took to the law with relish and his fantastic success as a lawman saw him become a man of great means. Sir William ultimately bought the manor of Kinver with Stourton as well as the rectory impropriate, quite a step up from the tree-house bordello his father had once occupied!

Sir William was survived by two (2) daughters:

a) Anne who married a man named Ambrose Dudley who was almost certainly a West Indian fast bowler; and

b) Margaret, who married Thomas Throckmorton, with whom we deal with in chapter 7.

Artist's impression of Ambrose Dudley
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