A 16th Century Murder

Every family has its black sheep, and one Hunnisett black sheep was Adrian.  He clearly had a disagreement with someone which ended in violence, as this extract from a Coroner's report at Uckfield, Sussex, dated 30 October 1543 shows:

Between 4 and 5pm on 28 July in Frankham Park in Wadhurst Adrian Annesett late of Wadhurst, 'Frengman', murdered Jordan Tassen late of Wadhurst, 'Frengman', with a knife called 'a Flemysprake' worth 3d. which was held in his right hand, giving him a wound in the right side 2 inches long of which he immediately died. John Annesett late of Wadhurst, 'Frengman', aided and abetted him in committing the murder, after which they both immediately fled.

A Flemish dagger

A 'flemysprake' was a dagger of Flemish origin. Recently a '15th century Flemish Dagger' was for sale and is likely to be similar to the weapon used. It had a 12cm handle and the single-edged blade was 27cm long with a maximum width of 3cm and thickness of 7mm. It would originally have had a two-piece wooden handle and was clearly a formidable weapon.

'Frengman' indicates that both were of French origin, although the term was often used of English-born children of immigrants. Adrian was outlawed at Chichester on 10 April 1550, but was later pardoned.

Interestingly, although the Lay Subsidy Rolls for Sussex 1524-5 do not list any 'Hunnisett' they do record a 'Gyllam Tassen, Frensheman' in the 'Borow of Pashely', the only Tassen recorded in the rolls. Pashley Manor is just a few miles East of Wadhurst. Jordan Tassen must have been related to Gyllam Tassen.