1617: William Zane too free with his private member

In 1617, Somerset magistrates heard several charges against William Zane, a horse-breaker from the village of Long Sutton, near Somerton. Zane had committed a series of public indecencies involving women and young girls. The worst of these was the seduction of Ann West, with whom he had fornicated after promising had marriage. He later collected a ten-pound dowry from her parents.

According to testimony, their affair was revealed when Zane arrived at the West home and:

“…called for Ann West, she being then at the street door, and because she came not presently unto him, he came forth to her and pulled her into the chamber by the arm, then having his private members showing out of his breeches.”

However, this was not the first time Zane had been free with his genital revelations. Several weeks earlier he:

“…came into the house of William Parsons, being one of his neighbours, finding the wife of William sitting at her work, drawed out his private member and laid it upon her shoulder and wished aloud that her shoulder was another thing…”

On another occasion, Zane thrust his hand under the skirts of a young girl, making her cry. When the girl’s mother confronted Zane in public and dressed him down, he responded by sneaking into her yard and soiling her clean washing with “filthy ordure and dung of people”.

The magistrates found Zane guilty and sentenced him to a series of public whippings. He was also ordered to repay the ten pounds to Ann West’s parents and to pay two shillings a week for the upkeep of her child. Ann West was also sentenced to a whipping for premarital fornication.

Source: Somerset Quarter Session Rolls, n.27, 1617. 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.