William Storr(e) – Murder

A tract of 1613 is devoted to the details of ‘Three Bloodie Murders,’ but it is mainly taken up with an account of the murder of the Rev. William Storre, of Market Rasen, Lincolnshire. The full title runs thus:—‘Three Bloodie Murders. The first committed by Francis Cartwright upon William Storre, M. Arts Minister and Preacher at Market Rasen in the countie of Lincolne. The second committed by Elizabeth James on the body of her Mayde, in the Parish of Egham in Surrie: who was condemned for the same fact at Sainte Margaret hill in Southwark, the 2 of July 1613, and lieth in the White Lion till her deliverie; discovered by a dombe Mayde and her Dogge. The third committed upon a stranger very lately near Highgate foure mile from London, very strangely found out by a Dogge. Also the 2 of July 1613.

The circumstances relating to the murder of the Rev. William Storre are given at great length and with much minuteness:—‘Not long since, there happened some controversey between the Lords and the rest of the inhabitants of Market Raisin in the Countie of Lincolne concerning the Commons and Libertie in the Towne Fields; and the matter being mooted by one of them in the Church immediately after evening prayer on a Sabaoth day, divers hot intemperate speeches passed among them; whereupon their Minister, whose name was Mr. Storre, much disliking so indiscreete a course, wished them to have respect both to the time and place where they were:

And further advised, seeing the cause in hand concerned a multitude, (amongst whom, some of the least government would always be the readiest to speake) that they would therefore make choice of two or three of the fittest and most substantial men, to answere and undertake for all the rest.

This motion seemed to please them well, and therefore they intreated him, that he would first, as a man indifferent speake what he thought concerning the cause. But he not wishing to intermeddle in that matter, twice or thrice denied their request; and the rather, for that there was present one Francis Cartwright, a 23 young man of an unbridled humour, the only Sonne and Heire to one of the same Lordes of the Towne, betwixt whom and himselfe, there was growne no small unkindnesse.

Yet in the end being pressed thereunto by their importunities with the consent of both the parties he delivered his opinion, useing therein such discretion and reasons to confirme the same that they could not directly except against him. Notwithstanding, seeing him incline more to the right of the Freeholders and the rest of the Commons than to favour their intended purpose, they seemed to dislike his speaches, and to cavill at the same.

‘Young Cartwright standing by, not able any longer to contain himselfe tooke occassion hereupon to breake forthe abruptly into these wordes: The Priest deserveth a good Fee, he speaketh so like a Lawyer. Maister Storre having often aforetime had experience of his hotte stomacke and hastinesse as well towards others as himselfe, thought it best to reply little against him for that present.’

The Rev. Mr. Storre’s forbearance was of no avail, for next day young Cartwright took occasion to renew the quarrel, and in the public market-place ‘proclaymed that Storre was a scurvie, lowsie, paltrie Priest; that whoever sayd he was his friend or spake in his cause, was a Rogue and a Rascall, that he would (but for the Law) cut his Throat, tear out his Heart, and hang his Quarters on the May-pole.’

These sanguinary threats caused Mr. Storre to seek the protection of the Magistrates; and he afterwards preached a sermon containing words which young Cartwright thought were purposely directed against him, so that he ‘more and more thirsted for revenge.’

Storre Murder Illus 1-16‘About a week after, he espied Mr. Storre walking about eight of the clocke in the morning alone, by the south side of the Towne in his cloake, went to a cutler’s shop, and tooke out of the same a short sword, formerly provided and made very sharpe for that purpose, and presently overtooke him.’

The young man attacked the clergyman, and the pamphlet gives a minute account of the dreadful wounds. He inflicted 24 upon him until ‘A Mayde coming that way by occassion of businesse, cried out, whereupon he fledde.’

The clergyman died of the frightful wounds he received, and the murderer was taken and carried before a justice, ‘where, either for lacke of their due information of the truth, or by the corrupt and favourable affection of the magistrate, or both, there was a very slender bayle taken, and the malefactor by this flight sent away.’

Cartwright’s friends ‘laboured by corrupt dealing and wrong information’ to procure his pardon; but so barbarous a murder could not be hushed up, and the culprit eventually ‘fled beyonde the seas.’

This is not the end of the story however, Cartwright’s pardon was granted by the King despite Mr Storr’s widow appealing against this.

Francis Cartwright returned to Nettleton near Market Rasen, he married and continued in his argumentative ways and in 1611 he killed a Mr Rigg at Grantham. This time he was convicted of manslaughter and imprisoned for a year.



Market Rasen: A Tudor Town. WEA Rex Russell et al.