Sunday, 20 February 2011

The Tale of Thomas Arden

I haven’t been writing any comic strips for a while, but instead of leaving this blog lying unused, I thought I’d just type up any curious bits and bobs that I find while looking around the library.

The first entry is about a man called Thomas Arden (1508-1551) whose wife needed seven attempts and ten conspirators to murder him. Thomas had married into a powerful family, and so when his wife, Alice, had an affair, he put up with it just so he’d retain access to her family.

1. She asked a painter from Faversham to concoct a poison, but although Thomas fell ill, he didn’t die.

2. John Greave (who had previously argued with Thomas over a property issue) offered a £10 bounty on Anne’s behalf to a man named Black Will (an ex-soldier). Black Will was to murder Thomas at St Paul’s, but there were too many people around.

3. Thomas Arden’s servant was asked to leave the back door open, so that Black Will could get in and kill Thomas in the night. But the servant, Michael Saunderson, was too afraid of Black Will and would not let him in.

4. Black Will was told to murder Thomas as he journeyed back to Faversham, but Thomas was accompanied by a number of gentlemen.

5. Alice tricked Thomas into going to see Sir Thomas Cheyne at Shurland. The plan was that Black Will and his accomplice George Shakbay would ambush him on the way. Unfortunately due to the mist they waited for him in the wrong place.

6. A man called T Morsby picked a quarrel with Thomas Arden, but he refused to fight.

7. Lastly they successfully attacked Thomas while he was at home, playing a table game with T. Morsby. Morsby, Black Will and Alice all inflicted wounds upon him. After the murder, they hosted a party for visitors from London, before hiding the body in the snow. The body was soon found, and Morsby and Alice were arrested.

Eventually, all conspirators were executed. Black Will, Morsby and his sister were hanged, Alice burned, and Saunderson was hung, drawn and quartered.

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