The Araignement of John Flodder and his wife,


The Araignement of John Flodder and his wife,


at Norwidge, with the wife of one Bicks, for burning the Towne of Windham in Norfolke, upon the xi. day of June last 1615. Where two of them are now executed, and the third reprived upon further confession. To the tune of Fortune my foe.


After the town of Windham, Norfolk, is burned, three people are convicted of arson: John Flodder and his wife, and a Mrs. Bicks, all known vagrants. Bicks repents before her execution, but Flodder is unrepentant. He is hung in chains, while his wife is given a temporary reprieve due to pregnancy. Because of this, she confesses that a second fire was planned and that Bicks' husband was party to the plan. The audience is advised to exile beggars and vagrants from their towns.

Digital Object

Image / Audio Credit

Magdalene College - Pepys Library, Pepys Ballads Pepys 1.130-131r; EBBA 20056

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BRave Windham late, whom Fortune did adorne,
With Buildings fayre, & fresh as Sommers morne:
To coale-blacke Ashes now, quite burned downe,
May sorrowing say, I was a gallant Towne.
Yea all my state and glory is put by,
For mourning on the ground my Buildings lye:
My Goods consum'd, my Dwellers brought full low,
Which now goe wandring up and downe in woe.
Three hundred dwelling Houses of account,
Which did to fourtie thousand pounds amount,
Are all consumd and wasted quite away,
And nothing left, but ruine and decay.
Woe worth the causers of this blacke misdeed,
That makes a thousand hearts with sorrow bleed:
A thousand hearts with wringing hands may say,
In Windham towne this was a wofull day.
The deed was done by such unhallowed hands,
Whose rigour card not for a thousand Lands,
The Earth it selfe, if that it flam'd with fier,
Were as these damned harlets did desier.
One Flodder and his cursed wife, were those,
Which wrought this famous towne these sodaine woes:
Confederate with one Bickes wife; which three,
Unto this cursed action did agree.
As Rogues and Beggars wandring up and downe,
They went to seeke reliefe from towne to towne:
And lived by the usage of bace sinne,
As custome trayneth all such livers in.
[?] sure the Divell or else some Feend of his,
[?] aved them unto this foule amisse,
With Fire to wast so brave a Market towne,
That florisht faire, with Riches and Renowne.
A Fier that was devised of the Divell,
A Fier of all the worst, and worse then evill:
Wilde fier it was, that could not quenched bee,
A Ball thereof [la]y kindling secretly,
Within an Eaves, not seene of any man,
A Match gave fier, and so it first began:
In Service time, when people were at Prayers,
As God required, and not on worldly cares.
A time that such a chaunce could hardly bee
Prevented by mans helpe, as man might see:
For on a sodaine kindled so the flame,
That mazed people could not quench the same.
Within two howers the towne was burned quite,
And much good Wealth therin consumd outright:
The Free-schoole house, with many a gallant Hall
With Aged people, and poore Children small.
Such woes were never seene in any place,
Nor never men remaind in heavier case:
Strange doubts were made how first the fire begun
That hath so many good mens states undone.
At last this Flodder, with his wandring Mates,
Which daily beg'd for food at rich mens Gates,
Examined were, where soone their guiltie tongues
Confest the chiefe occasions of these wronges.
And so with hearts bespotted with blacke shame,
They were araigned, and judged for the same,
To suffer death, a recompence to make,
For this offence, they thus did undertake.

The Second part of the Araignement of Flodder and his wife etc.
To the same tune.

ANd when their day of death drew neere at hand,
According to the Judges just commaund,
Before ten thousand peoples wondring eyes,
This Flodder like a damned monster dyes,
A selfe-wild Papist, of a stubborne heart,
That would but small submission from him part:
But boldly died as though he had done well,
And not been guiltie of this fact of Hell.
His hated body still on Earth remaines,
(A shame unto his kin) hangd up in Chaines:
And must at all no other Buriall have,
But Crowes & Ravens mawes to make his grave
But Bicks his wife in signe of penitence,
With weeping teares bewayled her offence:
And at her death, confest with grieved minde,
This deed beyond the reach of Woman-kind.
And how most leawdly she had lived long,
A shamefull life, in doing deeds of wrong:
And trode the steps of Whoredome day by day,
Accounting sinne and shame, the better way.
And how that shee, was will'd to put her hope
At last, to have a Pardone from the Pope
For all her sinnes: for which, she did repent,
And sayd, no Pope, but Christ was her content.
And as for Flodders wife, the chiefe herein,
And damded leader to this wilfull sinne,
Being bigg with child, reprived was therefore,
To give that life, which in her Wombe she bore.
But having now deliverance of her Child,
All further hopes of life, are quite exild.
Yet hope of life, hath made her now confesse,
The Townes proceeding dangers and distresse.
And how the rest should all have burned beene,
So with a second Fire to waste it cleane:
And how the Husband of the woman dead,
Had given consent to have this mischiefe spread.
Likewise one Hicks, a fellow of good age,
She sayd, his credite and his word did gage,
To be a furtherer to this damned deed,
That now hath made a thousand hearts to bleed.
But let no such accursed wretch as this,
The course of Law and Justice looke to misse:
But with repentance true prepare for death,
As most unworthy of a minuts breath.
And now let Englands Townes both farre & neere
With wisedome still prevent like chance, & feare,
And weed away from every place and Cittie,
Such idle Drones, you cherish with your pittie.
Yet in your hearts let Charitie remaine,
And freely give, to buyld this Towne againe.
And in your Prayers desire the Lord of heaven,
That bountious guiftes may thereunto be given.
Our royall King, with good and gracious hand,
Have graunted them, the bounties of our Land:
In every Church that gathering there may bee,
As by his Letter patents we may see.

Method of Punishment

hanging in chains





Printing Location

Imprinted at London for John Trundle, dwel-
ling in Barbican at the signe of the No body.
The names in the Kings Letters Pattents, to
gather up the mony, are these following.
John Moore.
Steven Agas.
Robert Carre.
John Doffeelde.
William Horsnell.
Esa Freeman.
Robert Agas.
William Rowse.
The Countries and Cities, graunted for these
men to gather in, are these following.
London and Westminster: Middlesex, Essex, Kent,
Hartford, Surry, and Sussex: with the Cities of
Canterburie, Rochester, and the Cinque Ports,
with the Citie of Chester.


The Araignement of John Flodder - mp3


“The Araignement of John Flodder and his wife,,” Execution Ballads, accessed April 13, 2024,

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