182 Duck v Woodall

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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Arthur Duck, LL.D., King's Advocate v John Woodall of St Benet Fink, London, gent, barber-surgeon

March 1638 - June 1640


This was a cause of office promoted by Dr Duck against Woodall for laying claim to a forged coat of arms in the libel of his Court of Chivalry suit against Richard Morris [see cause 727]. On 2 March 1638 Woodall was charged with obtaining a false escutcheon that forged the mark of Robert Cooke, Clarenceux King of Arms. He claimed descent from Richard Woodall of Glenfield, Leicestershire, and maintained that he had had the escutcheon for thirty years. He also pointed out that it had not been questioned by Sir Henry St George, Norroy King of Arms during the London visitation of 1633-5. Any tampering with it, he argued, must have happened when he had left it in the court registry. William Sedgwick, household servant to Sir Christopher Hatton, testified that he had painted the coat of arms of Gules three Escallops Argent in 1635 when he was servant to Henry Lilly, the late Rouge Dragon Pursuivant. Lilly had presented him with a parchment 'table of arms' bearing the signature of Cooke, but with the original arms 'scraped and razed'. Whether Lilly was simply asking him to renovate an existing coat, or supply a new one was unclear, although Henry Manning, one of the arms painters called to testify, said that 'he for his parte did suspect Mr Lillie to be guilty of altering of armes.' Dr Merrick did not begin Woodall's defence until February 1640 and the arms painters made their depositions in June. Sentence was appointed to be heard on 10 October 1640, but then delayed and the final outcome of the case is unknown.

Initial proceedings

EM111, Articles exhibited against Woodhall

1. The court objects that the escutcheon of arms to prove Woodall's gentility was counterfeit, being 'a false, forged, counterfeited and deceitfull escocheon'.

2. The table of the escutcheon was painted with the arms of some other person and so certified by Robert Cooke, Clarenceux; and Woodall substituted a false coat into the table, 'to the great offence of the gentry of this kingdom and in contempt of us and our authority.'

3. Woodall has had 'Richard Woodhall of Glenfield com. Leicester' put on the table and forged the mark of Robert Cooke, Clarenceux King of Arms 'to the great abuse and prejudice of our Officers of Armes.'

4. Woodall faked part of the table by pasting on a piece of new board, dyed with some kind of blacking that might seem old, 'the better to colour your forgeing and counterfeiting of a coate of arms for your selfe.'

5. Woodall was to declare the name of the person who had the table before it was defaced and the name of the painter who painted the same 'as now it is'.

6. The table, exhibited in a cause between John Woodall and Richard Morris, had been transferred between the period of the hearing and its production in the registry, and Woodall is to declare who meddled with it.

7. That Woodall, having solicited the Kings and other Officers of Arms for a coat of arms to be allowed him, has failed in supplying proof of his family and has never before exhibited the escutcheon.

8. The court want to know who painted the name over that of 'Clarencieulx Cooke' at some time in the last six years on the escutcheon.

9. The court is satisfied that the alterations to the table were done with Woodall's knowledge and consent.

10. This was true, publicly known and notorious.

Signed by Arthur Duck.

Dated 2 March 1638

R.19, fo. 19r, Articles

Duck objected articles against Woodall: 'for that Woodhall, by a libel by him proferred in this court against Richard Morris of St Dunstan's, London, for scandalous words provoking to a duel andc, has thereby asserted and alleged that he and his family were gentlemen, and that he bore the armes of his family approved of by the subscription of Robert Cooke Clarenceux King of Armes; to which the Doctor objects that, since the subscription, the same were cancelled and abolished and the words (Richard Woodhall of Glenfield, com. Lest) were since the subscription, written by the command or procurement of Jo. Woodhall. And that all and singular the premises before alleadged and exhibited were done by subtilty and falsity, in contempt of the authority of this court, and of the officers of armes, wherefore the Doctor prayes Woodhall may have due punishment, and be enjoyned from bearing the Armes or any other armes andc.'

First session, Michaelmas term, 1638

No signature.

18/3g, First personal answer

1-3. He believed to be true.

4. 'He holdeth himself no waies bound in law to answer this article at this present nor until the civil cause brought by him against Richard Morrice in this court shall receive an end by the diffinitive sentence of this honourable court. Nevertheless to declare his innocencie in this crime of forgerie laied to his charge, and his obedience to the court, he answereth that he denieth this article to be true in any parte, thereof and in particular he denieth that since the subscription of the name of Robert Cooke, sometime Clarentins, there was ever any alteration of the armes or helmet, or any parte thereof in painting or otherwise; or that there hath been any new armes put upon the table; or the name of Robert Cooke newly thereupon written. Much more doth he denie that if any such alteration hath been made, that it hath been done or procured by him or by his privitie or consent.'

Last. 'In the action brought by him against Mr Morrice he exhibited the armes in partem prolaconis , as was fit for him to doe; against which Mr Morris hath taken noe exception. And therefore he conceiveth that the armes soe exhibited faciunt fidem de se soe long as nothing is said against them by the partie. But saith that if need had required he was readie and still is to justifie the same by comparison of hands by records of the Court of Heralds if he may have access unto them and such other proofes as matter of soe greate antiquitie will require.'

Dated 6 November 1638.

Signed by John Woodall.

19/7g, Second personal answer

1-4. He did not believe these articles to be true.

5. He 'had the escocheon exhibited by him in this courte from his younger brother, and that he hath had the same *in custody for 30 years past* in the same manner, forme and fashion as it was when he did cause it to be exhibited in this cause. And the escocheon was never altered in any letter, or raised or defaced in any manner, to his knowledge. His father's name was written or painted in the escocheon before the same came to the sight, custody or knowledge of [Woodall] and otherwise he doth not believe the same to be true in any parte thereof.'

6. He showed the escutcheon to the court to prove his descent and family. 'Consideration of the validity thereof was referred to the Kings or Officers of Armes... and he believeth he did take the same escocheon back againe into his custody, and kept the same for the space of a month and not longer, as he believeth, before he brought the same into the registrie of this courte. And saith he referreth himself to the registrie of this court. And otherwise he doth not believe the same to be true in any parte thereof.'

7. 'He was called in a visitation by Sir Henry St George to show his gentrie; and upon his appearing Sir Henry did tell him that Sir Henry did *knoweth his coate of armes and Sir Henry St George bade him attend at the office at armes and there he should have an escocheon and then afterwards he did solicite the* Kings and officers of armes for to have *the escocheon promised as aforesaid* allowed him; and he believeth he did not show forth the escocheon of armes to the Kings and Officers of Armes until the same was showed in this court. And otherwise he doth not believe the same to be true in any parte thereof.'

8-10. He did not believe these articles to be true.

Repeated in court before Lord Maltravers, 15 June 1639.

Signed by John Woodall.

Plaintiff's case

14/3dd, Defence interrogatories

1. Did the witness know any reason why Woodall should 'forge, counterfeit or alter the armes and what he was to gaine thereby'?

2. In case any witness should depose that Woodhall forged the arms, he should be asked whether he saw Woodhall do it. If not, if he heard that Woodhall had done it from a man that had seen him do it, then what was the name of the man from whom he had heard such?

3. In case 'anie witness shall depose that the armes were altered, after the first time they were then shewen in the office, whether they were altered afterwards by such alteration made whiter or blacker then they were at first; and if they shall depose that they were made whiter and fresher then they were before, whether in all reason he should not have made them look blacker, and darker to the end they might seem to have a shew of great antiquitie? And if they or anie of them shall say that they were by such washing made to looke blacker and darker then they were before thereby to seem more ancient then indeed they were, how he doth know that the arms were whiter and fresher formerly then they now are'?

4. In case 'any shall depose that the armes have been washed or rubbed over, whether to rubb or wash off the dust from an old armes, be in point of painting or heraldrie or reason, a forging or counterfeiting or alteration of armes'?

5. Did the witness know 'that the armes in question are not the proper armes of the Woodhalls of Glenfield'? Did the witness know that John Woodall was not the son of Richard Woodhall of Glenfield, and if so how?

6. In case any witness deposed that the escutcheon was forged or altered, 'either in the figure or colours or writing of any name or word in the same whether it were so counterfeited or forged or altered at the time when [Woodall] showed it first in this honourable court in a cause depending between him and one Mr Morice, or since; and when, and wherein, or in what parte thereof is it so altered'? Was it in the figures? Or colours? Or names? Or words? And how doth he know it was so altered?

No date.

Signed by Thomas Ryves.

Cur Mil 1631-1642, fos. 78v-79v, Plaintiff deposition

fos. 78v-79v (Witness 1), William Sedgwick, household servant to Sir Christopher Hatton of Kirby, co. Northampton for about 2 years, born in St Sepulchre's parish, London, aged about 23

24 April 1640

To the articles:

1-8: About 5 years ago he was servant to 'Mr Henry Lillie, late Rouge Dragon pursuivant at armes deceased'. While he was Lillie's servant, Lillie brought to him the escutcheon now showed during his examination, 'and it was then scraped and razed and a former coate of armes thereon depicted had been scraped out and the name and subscription Rob. Cooke, alias Clarenceux Roy D'Armes, remained thereon as nowe it appears att the tyme of this his examination in the place where the former armes had been scraped out, but he saith he doth not well remember whether the words Richard Woodall of Glenfield com Leicester were written on the top of the escocheon or not at the time of [Sedgwick's] painting the same'. He believed he had seen the eschutcheon of arms earlier in his master's study before its scraping out and erasure. The coat of arms formerly depicted was gules three Escallops Argent and he saith he now knoweth that the escocheon of armes is the very same escocheon that [he] did so paint for that hee nowe peruseth the same at the time of his examination and knoweth it to be his owne work... saving that he saith that he doth not know to what intent, or for whose use, Mr Lillie did cause [him] to paint the armes on the escocheon as now they are; neither doth he knowe whether the same was done with the privitie consent or knowledge of Mr Woodall or not... but he saith that about that time that he did soe paint the escocheon he did observe Mr Woodall sometimes to come to Mr Lilly.'

Signed by William Sedgwick.

To Woodall's interrogatories:

2. 'He referreth himself to what he hath before deposed.'

4. 'He doth not conceive that wiping dust of[f] armes is forgeing of armes.'

6. 'The escocheon of armes hath not been altered since he painted the same but only that it looked somewhat older.'

Signed by William Sedgwick.

Repeated in court before Sir Henry Marten, 24 April 1640.

Defendant's case

11/2, Defence

1. Woodall claimed that his family had been gentry for up to 100 years.

2. He was descended from Richard Woodall of Glenfield, co. Leicester.

3. Woodhall 'had noe need at all, in that or any other cause, to counterfeit any armes at all thereby to prove myself a gentleman or to be the son of Richard Woodall of Glenfield deceased.'

4. 'I, John Woodall did never exhibit the armes nowe in question for proof of my gentrie in the cause depending in this honorable court between me and Morrice or in any other cause. But having casuallie found the armes in my house I brought them to the office of the Registrie of this honorable court, supposing and verily believing to be the right armes belonging to the Woodalls of the house of Glenfield from which I, John Woodall, am descended and noe otherwise'.

5. If the arms were now to be exhibited, it was 'by the command of this honorable court and no otherwise'.

6. 'In case the armes be in any ways altered or sullied more then they were at the time of my first shewing them in this honorable court, yeat the same came not by any devise, practise or act or procurement of me, John Woodall, but hath come to passe partlie by carieing them at times up and downe to my counsaill, and in the office as he verily believeth, and no otherwise.'

7. 'At the time as well of the first shewing them, as at the time when by order of the court he brought them into this honorable court, the parchment whereon the armes were painted was close fastned to the table or board on which they were, *and are*, whereas since the bringing of them into the office, the parchment hath been unfastned and taken off; in whole or in parte from the table or board as by the view thereof more plainely may appeare'.

8. 'At the time when I, John Woodall, did bring the armes into this honorable court there appeared noe rasure or alteracon in the armes or parchment on which they were blasened; nor doth as he believeth any such thing yet appear upon the armes, as now they are; neither yeat in the subscription thereof by Clarentiaux, nor in the name of Richard Woodall, as altered in any parte by this defendant or by any practise, knowledge or procurement of his'.

No date.

Signed by T. Rives.

Cur Mil 1631-1642, fos. 208r-v, Defence deposition

fos. 208r-v (Witness 1), John Allen of St Botolph's without Aldersgate, London, painter stainer, born at Gretton, co. Northampton, aged about 40

22 June 1640

To Woodall's defence:

1. He knew Henry Lillie, late Rouge Dragon Pursuivant of Arms, deceased, for 18 or 19 years, during which he was 'taken to be a very honest man and he never heard that he was ever detected or accused of any crime, especially of forgeing any escocheon or coate of armes until the business nowe in question in this cause.'

2. Lillie died in August 1638, but about 6 months before he saw him talking with Woodall once or twice in the street, 'and whether they were acquainted together before that time he knoweth not.'

Signed by John Allen.

Repeated in court before Sir Henry Marten, 22 June 1640.

Cur Mil 1631-1642, fo. 211v, Defence deposition
fo. 211v (Witness 2), Henry Manning of St Dunstan-in-the-West, painter stainer, lived there for about 6 months, born in the parish of St Bridget's, London, aged about 27

22 June 1640

To Woodall's defence:

1. He knew Henry Lillie, late Rouge Dragon Pursuivant of Arms, deceased, 'for divers years before his death and did serve him for the space of seven years', during which he was 'not ever detected or accused for forgeing of armes but was reputed to be an honest man; yet this deponent sayth that he for his parte did suspect Mr Lillie to be guilty of altering of armes.'

2. He did not know whether Lillie and Woodall were acquainted.

Signed by Henry Manning.

Repeated in court before Sir Henry Marten, 22 June 1640.

Summary of proceedings

Dr Merrick and Dr Ryves acted as counsel for Woodall. Proceedings commenced from October to December 1638 when Woodhall was several times called to appear in person and answer the articles. Woodhall gave his response on 28 January 1639, and witnesses were warned to appear in February. On 2 March 1639, Dr Duck presented an additional allegation. The testimony of the witnesses was not published until February 1640, when Dr Merrick began the defence. Sentence was appointed to be heard on 10 then 24, and then 30 October 1640.


For another account of the case, see G. D. Squibb, Reports of Heraldic Cases in the Court of Chivalry, 1623-1732 (London, 1956), p.40-1.

For another copy of EM111, see F. W. Steer, A Catalogue of the Earl Marshal's Papers at Arundel Castle (London, 1964), p.18.

P. Stein, 'Arthur Duck', Oxford DNB (Oxford, 2004).

T. Woodcock, 'Henry Lilly', Oxford DNB (Oxford, 2004).

John Woodall of London, barber surgeon of Broad Street, London, was the son of Richard Woodall of Warwick and Mary, daughter of Peirse Ithell of North Wales. John married Sara, daughter of one Henchpole.

J. Jackson Howard (ed.), The Visitation of London, 1633, 1634 and, 1635, vol. II (Publications of the Harleian Society, 17, 1883), p. 365.


  • Initial proceedings
    • Articles exhibited against Woodhall: EM111 (2 Mar 1638)
    • Articles: R.19, fo. 19r (Mic 1638)
    • First personal answer: 18/3g (6 Nov 1638)
    • Second personal answer: 19/7g (15 Jun 1639)
  • Plaintiff's case
    • Defence interrogatories: 14/3dd (no date)
    • Plaintiff depositions: Cur Mil 1631-42, fos. 78-9 (24 Apr 1640)
  • Defendant's case
    • Defence: 11/2 (no date)
    • Defence depositions: Cur Mil 1631-42, fos. 208, 211 (22 Jun 1640)
  • Proceedings
    • Proceedings before Arundel: R.19, fos. 434r-449v (20 Oct 1638)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: R.19, fos. 454r-468v (6 Nov 1638)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: R.19, fos. 422r-428r (28 Nov 1638)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: R.19, fos. 474r-484v (5 Dec 1638)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 1/9 (28 Jan 1639)
    • Proceedings: 1/10 (4 Feb 1639)
    • Proceedings: 1/7, fos. 36-47 (9 Feb 1639)
    • Proceedings before Arundel: 1/6, fos. 20-33 (21 Feb 1639)
    • Proceedings before Marten: 1/6, fos. 9-12 (2 Mar 1639)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 8/31 (4 Feb 1640)
    • Proceedings: 1/11, fos. 56r-64v (10 Oct 1640)
    • Proceedings before Stafford: 1/11, fos. 41r-44v (24 Oct 1640)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 1/11, fos. 19r-30v (30 Oct 1640)

People mentioned in the case

  • Allen, John, painter stainer
  • Cooke, Robert, esq
  • Duck, Arthur, lawyer
  • Hatton, Christopher, knight
  • Henchpole, Sarah
  • Howard, Henry, baron Maltravers
  • Howard, Thomas, earl of Arundel and Surrey
  • Howard, William, baron Stafford
  • Ithell, Mary
  • Ithell, Peirse
  • Lilly, Henry, pursuivant (also Lillie)
  • Manning, Henry, painter stainer
  • Marten, Henry, knight
  • Merrick, William, lawyer
  • Morris, Richard, surgeon (also Morrice)
  • Rives, Thomas, lawyer (also Ryves)
  • St George, Henry, knight
  • Sedgwick, William, servant
  • Woodall, John, barber-surgeon (also Woodhall)
  • Woodall, Mary (also Woodhall)
  • Woodall, Richard (also Woodhall)
  • Woodall, Sarah

Places mentioned in the case

  • Leicestershire
    • Glenfield
  • London
    • Broad Street
    • St Benet Fink
    • St Botolph without Aldersgate
    • St Bridget
    • St Dunstan-in-the-West
    • St Sepulchre
  • Northamptonshire
    • Gretton
    • Kirby
  • Wales
  • Warwickshire
    • Warwick

Topics of the case

  • cause of office
  • coat of arms
  • false claim to gentility
  • forgery
  • heraldry
  • King of Arms
  • pursuivant
  • surgeon