The Murder of Ponsard de Monte Martino

In 1325 sleepy Bradwell on Sea, then called Bradwell Juxta Mare, was rocked by the sensational murder of Ponsard de Monte Martino who was the brother of the Rector of Bradwell.


The story starts in Rome with Pope Boniface who was nearing the end of his Papacy and became embroiled in an argument with the Kings of France and England about taxation.

Both Kings were attempting to include the Church in national taxation which the Pope fiercely resisted by issuing Papal Bulls forbidding Churchmen paying national taxes.

The Kings resisted by confiscating some church lands and exerting pressure on the Pope that was to result in the Pope Clement 5 who was next Pope residing at Avignon rather than at Rome.

Clement and his successor Pope John XXII  then filled many of the important posts with Frenchmen a fact which concerned King Edward II and the English church.

Pope John XXII

There was a tradition that the Pope could fill vacancies in Parishes if the Priest died whilst at the Papal Court on their way to the Court.

The Pope extended this power to be able to fill vacancies on the death of any incumbent in any country despite the wishes of the local church patron.

This led to many unsuitable appointments in Parishes throughout Europe from a band of people in the Popes Patronage or in some cases people who approached him asking to be nominated

By 1351 English laws were in place restricting this practice.

Dissatisfaction with the Conduct of the Church at the time was often concentrated on these papal appointments.


Steven Gravesend who was the Bishop of London decided that the growing community of Bradwell on Crouch deserved to have a Rector and in 1321 the post was filled by Imbertus de Monte Martino from Burgundy in Southern France who was a Papal nomination.

Imbertus brought Ponsard de Monte Martino and Eleanor who were his brother and sister in law to the Parish to act as company.

The appointment was a disaster with the villagers resenting the intrusion becoming hostile in every way to the new Rector and his family.

The Bishop of London tried to ease his way by making a proclamation at Bradwell

Feb 15th 1325 Westminster

Protection for one year for Imbert de Monte Martino, Parson of the church of Bradwell in the Diocese of London, on certificate of S Bishop of London that he is born in the country of Burgundy and not in the power of the King of France

Things came to a head in 1326 when following a confrontation Ponsard de Monte Martino and his wife Eleanor were killed.


An investigation begun but not much progress appears to have been made as on 9th July the below official order was issued

To Thomas de Veer, Roger Beler and Robert de Malberthorp touching the persons who killed Ponsard de Monte Martini and Eleanor his wife at Bradewell , co, Essex, those who afterwards received them and those who procured the killing. By writ of secret seal.

The investigation appears to have been successful as the following 10 local men were arrested and convicted of the murder

Henry Littleprout

John Cost - the butcher

John Verle

Wernald le Vynour

John Scarlyng

Thomas Scarlyng

Steven Scarlyng

William Turpyn

Henry Mariot

John Cost- the webester

A further 6 men were imprisoned for procuring the murder

Thomas le Convers

Thomas le Man

Robert atte Doune

Richard atte Doune

William Coclyne

John Austin


Politics took a hand once again in 1327 as the murderers were all pardoned.

The citation on the Royal pardon said that the pardon was given as the deed was done before the Coronation of Edward III

King Edward III receiving a petition

Edward III was the first English King to use the pardon but we will never know if he pardoned these men as part of a larger pardoning list to celebrate his Coronation or given the politics of the time to prove that he would be a stronger King than his weak father and thus to send a message to the Pope in his French home at Avignon.

Imbertus was very upset having lived under local persecution for two years and having his brother and sister in law murdered so the pardon and return to Bradwell of the 10 murderers was the last straw and Imbertus resigned the Rectorship and returned to Burgundy.

In 1329 the procurers appealed to the King

Thomas le Convers, Thomas le Man, Robert atte Doune, William Coclyne, Richard atte Doune, chaplain, and John Austin state that they were appealed for the deaths of Ponsard de Mount Martyn and Eleanor his wife, by procurement of certain people, and that because of this they were imprisoned in Colchester castle for three years and more, and could not have their delivery . They ask that John de Bousser, Benedict de Cokefeld and John Dyen, or two of them, might be appointed to make deliverance according to the law of the land both of them and of others imprisoned in the same gaol

As a result of the appeal the procurers were released and Bradwell was able to return to its normal sleepy life.