1608: Newcastle women brawl over good white bread

The archives in Durham contain witness testimonies of a confrontation between two Newcastle women in 1608. Elizabeth Waister and Alice Fetherstone were both married, both from Ryton and consequently known to each other.

While standing at a bread stall at Newcastle market, Alice accused Elizabeth of jumping the queue and purchasing the last of the “good white bread”. This accusation unleashed a torrent of invective, which included Elizabeth’s claim that Alice was:

“…a slut that did shit in her cooking pot…”

Alice fired back with an even more poisonous barb, referring to a stillborn child Elizabeth had delivered years earlier:

“Thou art a poisoned, jaded whore… God had sent [you] one example [of your whoredom] and perhaps he might send another.”

Elizabeth subsequently sued Alice for defamation but the outcome of this case is not recorded.

Source: Testimony of Alice Fetherstone and others, Durham County Record Office, vol. 3, 1608. Content on this page is © Alpha History 2016. Content may not be republished without our express permission. For more information please refer to our Terms of Use or contact Alpha History.