1688: Portsmouth mayor abused with turd slur

In 1688, word reached the aldermen of Portsmouth that the city’s mayor, Mr Robert Hancock, had been subjected to a torrent of abuse outside his home. The alleged perpetrator was one William Hale, a servant of Mr William Terrell.

Hale and an accomplice turned up at Hancock’s home late in the evening, pulling boards away from its front and making a loud ruckus. Hancock appeared in the street and challenged the intruders. A witness reported that Hale gave the elderly mayor a frightful torrent of abuse. In doing so he also refused to doff his cap, saying that:

“..he would as soon pull off his hat to a turd as to Mr Hancock.”

There is no record of any sanction or penalty imposed on William Hale.

Source: Portsmouth City Council, Borough Sessions records, 1688. Content on this page is © Alpha History 2019-23. Content may not be republished without our express permission. For more information please refer to our Terms of Use or contact Alpha History.