Smethirs Surname Ancestry Results
Our indexes 1000-1999 include entries for the spelling 'smethirs'. In the period you have requested, we have the following 1 record (displaying 1 to 1):
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|Murderers sheltering in Durham Cathedral: and their victims
Criminals could evade pursuit by claiming sanctuary in Durham Cathedral. Persons who took refuge fled to the north door of the cathedral, and knocked for admission. There were two chambers over the door in which men slept, for the purpose of admitting fugitives at any hour of the night. As soon as anyone was so admitted, the Galilee bell was immediately tolled, to give notice that someone had taken sanctuary. The offender was required to declare before witnesses the nature of his offence, and to toll a bell in token of his demanding the privilege of sanctuary. He was then provided with a gown of black cloth with a yellow cross, called St Cuthbert's Cross, upon the left shoulder. A grate was provided near the south door to sleep upon, and for 37 days sufficient provisions and bedding were provided. But within 40 days he had to appear before the coroner, clothed in sackcloth, and be branded on his right hand with the sign of the letter A. This signified that he was swearing to abjure the realm: he was then free to leave the country unhindered. The petitions for immunity were entered in the diocesan registers, usually with the marginal note 'Peticio Immunitatis': those from 18 June 1464 to 10 September 1524 (the privilege was finally abolished in 1624) were edited and printed by the Surtees Society in 1837 under the title Sanctuarium Dunelmense. Some of the criminals came from a considerable distance: the great majority were murderers or homicides. Each entry usually gives full name, original address, (often) trade, a brief description of the crime, often with date, and usually the name of the victim, as well as the witnesses to the petition. This index covers all the surnames given.
SMETHIRS. Cost: £4.00.
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