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Murder at the Tower in Gloucester

The following resources are new translations from records in Latin held at the National Archives. They throw light on the murder of Solomon Turbe at Gloucester Castle through legal documents of the time. These have been specially provided by the National Archives © to increase access to records and are part of the partnership work between the National Archives and JTrails. We would like to thank the National Archives for their help.

E 9/1 - Plea roll of the Exchequer of the Jews (1220

Calendared Plea Rolls E 9 v1

E 9/1 m.7d (p.33)

Comitissa, late wife of Solomon Turbe, Abraham Gabbay, and Isaac son-in-law of Mirabil (who was attached on the appeal of Solomon) and Simon of Matresdon, Bonefant, son of Elias, Abraham of Warwick, Elias of Warwick, Leo of Warwick, and Moses, son of Aaaron, have been given a day, the morrow of the octave of the Apostles Peter and Paul, concerning the appeal.

m. 9 (p32)
Abraham Gabbay charges Solomon Turbe that he maliciously wounded him in the King's peace. Suit as between Jew and Jew will be forthcoming at the trial. Pledges for possession, Abraham of Warwick, and Benedict, his son-in-law, and Samuel Cornec, and Isaac of Paris. Day assigned, Holy Trinity quindene. The Sheriff of Gloucestershire is ordered to have the said Solomon before the Justices at Westminster on the said day.

m. 9d (p42-3)

Comitissa, wife of Solomon Turbe, complains before the Justices against Abraham Gabbay, that by his hiring and procurement the said Solomon has been done to death. The said Comitissa pledged her faith and made oath upon her Roll that the said Solomon, her husband, is dead. She will prosecute the said Abraham, and one Andrew, and a beer-served, and three others.
Isaac, son-in-law of Mirabil, bailed to Mirabil, that she have him before the Justices, to answer accusation concerning Solomon.

The sheriff is ordered to make inquest of all the chattels that Abraham Gabbay has in his bailiwick, as well in charters, tallies, and chirographs as in any other sort of movables, and have them scheduled by view of lawful Christians and Jews and attached, and keep them safe under his seal, and certify the Justices of all the premises on the octave of St John the Baptist. Also the sheriff (and chirographers) of Herefordshire is ordered to have attached all the chattels that Abraham Gabbay has in his bailliwick as well in tallies, charters, and chirographs as in any other sort of movables so that none of them may be removed either by him or anyone else, and that he certify the Justices at the term aforesaid touching whatever he find of his chattels.

Isaac, son-in-law of Mirabil, comes before the Justices and denies that after his departure from London he ever spoke with Solomon Turbe until Solomon fell from the tower, at which he came there with the other Jews, and the sheriff came and charged him, averring that Solomon said that it was the fright that he gave him that caused him to fall; which hearing the said Mirabil offered the Sheriff three bezants to go to Solomon and inquire of him whether it was true or not, and whether he accused him or not, and in presence of the Sheriff Solomon said that he in no way charged him, and the Sheriff should not say that he did. On the ensuing Saturday Solomon, thinking that he would die, asked the sheriff to summon various Jews summoned to make his will, and in presence of Abraham of Warwick, Bonefant, Hel' of Warwick, Isaac, son-in-law of Samuel, and Moses son of Aaron, acknowledged that he did not accuse the said Isaac, but asked him in the event of his death to avenge it; and the said Jews were not to say that he accused him; and they say that he accused no one but Abraham Gabbay.

Comitissa, Solomon's wife, and Isaac, son-in-law of Mirabil, acknowledged before the Justices that, hearing that on the day of Solomon's fall the Sheriff in the presence of John de Munemue and various Jews averred that he might have had £10 to cause him such a leap, Mirabil went to him and asked whether he might that received £10 on that account, and he answered that she was in error, but he said that he might have received 10 marks: this in the hearing of John de Munemue.

(p.45 - at foot of membrane)

Comitissa, late wife of Solomon Turbe, accuses Abraham Gabbay, for that maliciously in the King's peace for a reward that he gave, namely 10 marks, the guards that had charge of her said husband, Solomon, in Gloucester Castle, namely one Andrew, and a beer-server, and three others, threw the said Solomon out of the castle so that he died; and this she offers to prove as Jewess against Jew, as the court shall direct. Abraham Gabbay comes and makes defence to the charge word by word as Jew against Jewess. Comitissa pledges her faith, and makes oath upon her roll to prosecute the appeal. The sheriff is ordered to attach the said Andrew, and the beer-server, and the others that had the charge of Solomon in the castle, so that he have them before the Justices at Westminster on Monday after the feast of St John the Baptist, to answer the appeal.

m. 10 p.50

Comitissa, widow of Solomon Turbe, informs the Barons of the Exchequer and the Justices that Abraham Gabbay by plot and a reward, namely 10 marks, that this Abraham gave a certain Andrew and a certain Gilbert, beer-server, maliciously did to death her said husband, Solomon, and offers proof thereof as a Jewess against Jew. Asked how she came to know it, Comitissa says that, when the said Abraham was being cured of his wounds, he spoke with the sheriff to such purpose that she was imprisoned and so starved that she despaired of her life, and while thus in prison she head the said Abraham conspiring the death of her husband with the said Andrew and Gilbert; she avers that, as soon as she was out of prison, she hastened to London and laid what she had heard touching her husband before Master Alexander de Dorset and Isaac of Norwich and Hel' Martin. Abraham denies the felony, and that he ever gave 10 marks for the killing of her husband, and the whole charge word for word, alleging that he was at Hereford on the day of Solomon's fall from the tower. Comitissa replies that he gave out that he was not at Gloucester on that day in order that none might hold him suspect of the murder. The cause is adjourned to Michaelmas quindene. Mandate to the sheriff, that he have then present Andrew and Gilbert.

M 10d p.51

Verdict on the fall of Solomon Turbe by Simon de Matresdon and Geoffrey and Henry de Matresdon, who say that, they and many others being with the sheriff of Gloucestershire at a halimote by mandate of the King to make inquest touching 1 ½ virgate of land, the said sheriff asked them come with him to the castle to confer with him of certain of the said king's affairs, and as they approached the castle gate they saw, as it were, a man falling from the summit of a tower, and wondered what it might be, and one of them said that it was a man, or clothing, or some such thing; and the sheriff immediately told the porter to go see what it was; who went and came back saying, that was the Jew that was in prison. Immediately the sheriff sent for Christians and Jews of Gloucester to view the circumstances and hear what account this Jew would give of his fall. So a great number, as well of Jews as of Christians, being gathered together, they went and asked the Jew how it was he fell; and he answered that he fell of his own accord, and that King Saul killed himself and was salvus [safe? saved?] and in the same way he thought he would kill himself and be salvus. Being again asked whether he charged any with pushing him so that he fell, he answered, no. Then Comitissa, wife of the said Solomon, came before him, and he said to he: "Flee from here, for it is through your plot that I am killed"; and this he said again and again. That was what the Jew said on Friday; but on the morrow, namely Saturday, the sheriff sent the Constable and Simon, the coroner, to the said Solomon, to hear if he were minded to appeal any touching his death, and he then said that he accused Abraham Gabbay and none other.

The jurors were asked whether they held any suspect of Solomon's death, namely whether any had taken money for it; and they answered that they knew nothing of that: being also asked whether any Jew had spoken with Solomon in the tower before he fell, they answered that they knew npthing about it.

The Jews that are jurors touching this matter are the following, namely Leo of Warwick, Elias of Warwick, Abraham of Warwick, and Moses, son of Aaron, who say that they never knew that anyone in the world spoke with the said Solomon in the tower before he fell thence, nor knew they that any spoke with him after his fall until the sheriff sent for the Jews of Gloucester, nor heard any accused of his death either on the Friday or on the Saturday. Asked if they know whether the Jew was pushed out of the tower or not, they say that they know he was not pushed, but fell of his own accord. They add that they know that Abraham Gabbay was not in any way the occasion of Solomon's death. Being also asked, if on Saturday they heard anything of an appeal by Solomon of Abraham Gabbay touching his death, they say that they neither heard nor knew anything about it.


Belina, daughter of Mirabil of Gloucester, demands of Dionisia de Bereford £8, with interest, by chirograph under the names of Henry de Bereford and herself, Belina. Dionisia's attorney, Henry de Nafford, comes and denies that Dionisia holds more than 1 ½ virgates of the lands that were Henry de Bereford's, and craves judgement whether she be bound to answer.

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