A recent report from an Oxford historian has revealed some of the strange ways in which people met their maker in Tudor times, yes its true, someone has been paid to produce a list of horrible deaths from the 16th century and what better way to employ an Oxford historian eh ?
Killed by Lord Bergavenny’s bear for instance, said Lord keeping a bear at his home for bear baiting purposes, as you would, it broke free of its tethers and killed Agnes Rapte. Another woman was killed in her bed (by a different bear) and when a bear bit a man to death in 1565 it wasn’t killed but taken into police custody, bears were expensive in those days, about half a years wage – yes these were not wild bears for we had all but wiped them out of England by then, these bears were kept in the house, as pets.
You’d expect archery to produce its fair share of death and maiming but in one bizarre incident in 1552 a Henry Pert managed to kill himself by shooting himself in the head with his own bow and arrow, almost physically impossible you’d think, unless the shooter was double jointed or a contortionist, but Henry Pert was amusing himself by shooting arrows straight up in the air when one arrow got stuck on the bow, he turned it around to find out why at the same instance that it released the arrow.
Another unfortunate Nicholas Wyborne was only lying on the ground having a snooze when someone else’s arrow plummeted out of the sky and pierced him to a depth of six inches.
Thomas Alsopp (no relation of the lovely Kirsty) died when a maypole fell over and narrowly missed him, however it hit the wall under which he was standing and dislodged a stone which struck his head and penetrated his brain, fatally.
Elizabeth Bennet fell in a moat and drowned while collecting cabbage leaves, there is even a recording of a poor unfortunate drunken Cambridge baker who stopped to relieve himself in a local cess pit with predictable results, yes he slipped, fell in and drowned in his fellow villagers shit.
There are presumptions to inclusion in literary history too, in 1569 a three year old Worcestershire girl with the surname of “Shaxspere” fell in a mill pond and drowned while picking the yellow flower known as corn marigolds, only a few years later another “Shaxspere” wrote the story of Ophelia who slipped and drowned while picking small yellow flowers in Hamlet.
Sir Arthur Aston, a Royalist was beaten to death with his own wooden leg by Parliamentary soldiers in 1649, said soldiers proclaiming that they thought he had hidden his gold coins inside the leg and in doing so he became the worlds first human Pinata.
Thomas Urquhart, a Scottish aristocrat died of laughing upon hearing that Charles II had taken up the English throne and poor old James Betts died of asphyxiation after being locked in a cupboard in her bedroom by his lover Elizabeth Spencer when her father entered the room.
And finally, and the most unfortunate of all, John Hypper of Hampshire was playing games with friends at Christmas when he sat on his own testicles and crushed them, he died three days later, probably from dehydration as even just the thought of that injury has brought tears to my eyes, he probably wept buckets.