1627: London woman accused of privy part boasting

In May 1627, two London women, Mary Peters and Elizabeth Welsh, accused each other of defamation in the city’s Consistory Court. Peters and her husband John, a clerk employed at the Tower of London, were tenants in Welsh’s house, near The Strand. According to witnesses, both women had slandered each other with terms suggesting infidelity and prostitution. Another lodger testified that Peters had called Welsh:

“…a bawd, pocky bawd, toothless bawd, strumpet… [and] impudent whore.”

Welsh responded by accusing Peters of debauchery while under her roof. Welsh testified that her maid, Elizabeth Hobcock, told her of an exchange between Peters and the acclaimed poet Michael Drayton. According to Hobock’s report to Welsh, Peters:

“…did hold up her clothes unto her navel before Mr Michael Drayton… she clapped her hand on her privy part and said it was a sound and a good one, and that the said Mr Drayton did then also lay his hand upon it and stroke it and said that it was a good one.”

The claim was dismissed when Drayton himself took the stand and denied the incident ever occurred.

Source: London Consistory Court archives, fol.2r-3v, 11r-22r. 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.