In the spring of 1651, a silver spoon went missing from the house of the Essex villager John Kendall. He strongly suspected that it had been stolen by a local glazier, Hollenshead, who had been working in the house. When confronted, Hollenshead denied the accusation and Kendall, being, at that time, ‘full of business' decided not to take the matter any further.2 His servants, however, clearly had not forgotten the incident, and a year later Hollenshead presented two of them to the local magistrate for speaking scandalous words against him. Outraged, Kendall penned a letter to the local justices, complaining that Hollenshead had been emboldened by the recent passage of the Act of General Pardon and Oblivion.3 This Act sought to ensure that ‘all Rancour and Evil Will’ occasioned by the recent Civil Wars ‘may be buried in perpetual Oblivion’, and, to that end, it stipulated that certain treasons and felonies committed before 3 September 1651 were to be pardoned – including, in Hollenshead's view, his alleged theft.4 Kendall concluded his own missive with a plea that ‘if that Act p[ar]doned him (who by stronge suspicon did the fact) surely there cann acrewe but small damadg’ to his servants ‘if they did speake of it’ [original].5 In this small community, an Act intended to heal the divisions wrought by England's domestic conflicts had served to re-inflame other non-political tensions.