New book studies grisly Tudor murders

A woodcut from 1592 telling of the conspiracy to murder Faversham ex-mayor, Thomas Arden.
A woodcut from 1592 telling of the conspiracy to murder Faversham ex-mayor, Thomas Arden.

A Luton-born journalist has penned a gory new book revealing the gruesome details of Tudor murders.

James Moore has brought together the most shocking killings and puzzling murder mysteries in his new work, The Tudor Murder Files, spanning 1485 - 1603.

The new book, �14.99

The new book, �14.99

Topics include how Henry VIII devised a new law so that a poisoner could be boiled alive, how one murderer killed his wife during sex, and the real-life murder that inspired Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

The reader can even discover blood curdling punishments for killers , such as being ‘pressed to death’.

James said: “I’ve always been interested in history and as a national newspaper journalist I’ve covered a lot of crime stories.

“I was first inspired to write my book after I saw a quote which said that your chances of being murdered in Tudor times were five times higher than today.

“People know how the kings and queens lived but not so much about ordinary people.

“My book reveals just what a dangerous time it was for men, women and children.”

The Tudor Murder Files contain more than 70 real life murders, profiling over 30 cases in detail.

And not only does James chart how killers were caught and dealt with by the justice system, he also discusses how murders were reported to the new, news hungry nation.

He said: “I spent a long time in the British Library researching popular pamphlets from the time - the tabloids of their day. The chroniclers enjoyed feeding the public with all the grisly details.

“They were two sides of paper telling people of recent murder cases - I compared these with the officialcourt records of the day and it seems the Tudor journalists were pretty good at getting their facts right!”

The history enthusiast even discovered a chilling case from nearby Hatfield .

In 1602 inn owner, Agnes Dell, and her son, George, murdered a small boy, Anthony James, and left his sister, Elizabeth, for dead.

Four years later, Elizabeth happened to see the perpetrators again, as she was passing through Hatfield and identified them as the killers!

Luckily, in comparison, James had a quiet childhood at St Dominic Catholic Primary School, Harpenden, and studied politics at university.

He said: “You get a lot of ‘dusty’ historians, but what I can do as a journalist is bring the details to life.”

The Tudor Murder Files was published by Pen & Sword, on September 30, at £14.99. For more details and review copies call 01226 734 267 or email Katie Eaton, keaton@pen-and-sword.co.uk.