BHO

226 Freeman v Hartell

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

This free content was Born digital and sponsored by AHRC and University of Birmingham. CC-NC-BY.

Citation:

In this section

226 FREEMAN V HARTELL

William Freeman of Blockley, co. Worcester v Robert Hartell and John Page of the same

Michaelmas term, 1635 - February 1638

Figure 226:

The seventeenth century White Hart Inn in Moreton-in-the-Marsh, Gloucestershire where commissioners met in March 1637.

Abstract

Freeman complained that at the time of the 1635 hay harvest Hartell had said that he 'was a base fellow, and that he was as well borne and as well bred as he', in the presence of several gentlemen. Freeman also alleged that at the same time Page ran at him with a pike and said, 'thou art no gentleman. I will fight with thee or any man thou keepest, if thou darest'. Hartell and Page's defence was that Freeman had sought to force them off their land at Weaver's close, threatening to shoot them and their horses and swearing that if it 'were noe more for the danger of the lawe then for his soule's health that he would kill us both.' Hartell's witnesses deposed that Freeman had called him 'Rogue, rascall and base fellow' and that what Hartell had really said was, 'I am no base fellow, but am as honestly borne and as honestly bred as you'; and then when Freeman tried to catch him out by asking, 'Art thou as good as I am?', he had tactfully replied, 'No, you are a gentleman and I am not.' Proceedings began in October - November 1635 and the depositions of Freeman's three witnesses, who were all his servants, were returned in April 1636. Witnesses for the defence were examined before a commission headed by Thomas Child, esq, on 27 March 1637 at the White Hart Inn, Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire. [For a contempt case against Freeman's son, Edward, arising out of this hearing, see cause 471]. On 18 November 1637 Hartell was found guilty of comparing himself to Freeman, and Freeman was awarded damages and expenses of £10. On 11 December 1637 Page was ordered to pay Freeman £20 costs and damages and to perform a submission as determined by the court. On 27 January 1638, he still owed this sum, but Freeman's son, Edward, acknowledged that the expenses and damages had been settled by a final agreement between them.

Initial proceedings

R.19, fo. 22v, Summary of libel

'Freeman and his ancestors for above 200 yeares past is and was gentlemen of an ancient family of gentry, and that Hartell and Page and their respective ancestors have bin and are plebeians and not gentlemen. And that Hartell, (such a time and place) before many gentlemen and others, said that Freeman was a base fellow, and that he was as well borne and as well bred as he. And that Page (at the time and place aforesaid) likewise publiquely said, thou art no gentleman. I will fight with thee (meaning Freeman) or any man thou keepest, if thou darest, or to the like effect, thereby to provoke and c.'

1635

No signature.

Defendant's case

Acta (4), fo. 149, Defence

Hartell and Page claimed just title to the land known as Overbrooke furlong or Weavers' close. Mr William Freeman called Robert Hartell 'a base rogue and rascall', so Hartell replied that he 'was as honestly borne and bread as himself'. Upon which, Freeman asked: 'Art thou as good as I am?' So Hartell responded: 'No sir, because you are a gentleman'. Hartell and Page claimed that Freeman said that he would shoot them and their horses that drew away the hay in a cart 'and swore by the eternall God that if it were noe more for the danger of the lawe then for his soule's health that he would kill us both or one of us.'

Dated 24 May 1636.

Signed by Charles Tooker.

R.19, fo. 17r, Summary of defence

Hartell claimed that he and Page in the name of his father, Richard Hartell, 'being decrepid, kept possession of a certaine meadow called Overbrooke furlong, to which Freeman pretended title, and endeavoured with force of armes to get the possession of; and that Freeman threatened to shoot John and Robert and their horses *that drew away the hay* and swore by the Eternall God that if it were not more for the danger of law then for his soul's health that he would kill them both, upon which great provocation he might speake the words libellate. Sayes the witnesses is not of credit for that they are domestick servants of Freeman. Praye to be dismist with their costs and c.'

1636.

Acta (4), fo. 150, Letters commissory for the defendants

Addressed to commissioners Thomas Childe, Walter Childe, Richard Randall, William Baldwyn, gent, and also, William Warmstrid, Conesbie Freeman, esq, John Smith, and Thomas Chamberlayne, gent, to meet in a cause of scandalous words provocative of a duel, from 27 to 29 March 1637 at the White Hart Inn, Morton Hendmarsh [Moreton-in-Marsh] co. Gloucester.

John Stephens was assigned as notary public.

Dated 16 February 1637.

Signed by Gilbert Dethick.

'Commission is not to be executed unless Mr Freeman be present, or that it appeare to some one [too tightly bound] commissioners that the same had been shewed to [too tightly bound] or notice had been given to him thereof at or before [too tightly bound] daye of March next ensueing [too tightly bound] the date of'.

Signature Gilbert Dethick.

Acta (4), fo. 148, Plaintiff's interrogatories

1.The witnesses were warned of the penalty for perjury and bearing false witness. What was their age, occupation, place and condition of living for the last seven years? How did they know the parties?

2. Was the witness related to or dependent upon Hartell or Page and was he taxed in the last subsidy?

3. Between April and July 1635 did he hear Hartell say to William Freeman that 'Freeman was a base fellowe, and that Hartell was as well borne and as well bredd as Mr Freeman'? Where and when were such words spoken and who were present?

4. Did he hear John Page say to William Freeman that 'Mr Freeman was noe gentleman and that Page would fight with him if he durst, or with any man that he kept'? Where and when were such words spoken and who were present?

5. Was he present in the meadow?How near was he to Mr Freeman? Did he well hear and see what was done and said? Had Mr Freeman 'any gunne in his hands, or what other weapon had he then either in his hands or about him, and what weapons, staves, pykes or such like had the defendants in their hands at the time'?

6. Was he hired as a labourer or requested as a friend to assist Hartell and Page, at the foresaid time and place? Did not Page offer violence to Mr Freeman 'and runne at him with a pyke, or some such like weapon, in his hand, and strike or offer to strike Mr Freeman therewith; or what violence did he offer unto him'?

7. Did 'he know Thomas Perry, Edward Lewes and Thomas Edwards? Are they not persons of honest life and conversation and such as will not depose falsely on their oaths, and for such commonly accompted reputed and taken'?

No date.

Signed by Arthur Duck.

Acta (4), fos. 138r-145v Defence depositions

Taken before commissioners Thomas Child, esq, William Baldwyn gent, Coningsby Freeman, esq, between 10am and 12 noon on 27 March 1637 at the White Hart Inn, Morton Hendmarsh [Moreton-in-Marsh], co. Gloucester.

fos. 140r-141v, (Witness 1), William Widowes of Hanging Aston, in the parish of Blockley, co. Worcester, yeoman, aged 25

To Hartell and Page's defence:

1. During hay harvest 1635 Mr William Freeman came into a ground called Weaver's close where John Page asked him what business he had there. Mr Freeman replied that he was going about his business. Page replied that he came to take away the possession of his father-in-law, a poor man, 'which he in his place was entrusted to serve and keep'. Whereunto, Mr Freeman, leaving the ground 'passionately' said 'Sirra, I will take an order with thou, and by the eternall God I will fetch my gunne and shoot thee; or if thou comest neere my howse I will shoote thee'. A load of hay from the ground was soon to be carried by Hartell and Page close by Mr Freeman's house. Robert Hartell 'and his father and his grandmother have quietly bene possessed of the ground called Weaver's close for the space of these fifteene yeres'. He was present when the words were spoken.

2. The words were spoken when the hay was carried from the ground.

3. 'Thomas Perry, Edward Lewis and Thomas Edwards are reputed servants to [Freeman] and two of them did lately dwell in house with him; and Thomas Edwards was then his rent gatherer'. These witnesses would 'do the defendant what injury they can in this cause', for he had heard them denounce Hartwell behind his back.

Signed by William Widdowes, and by the above three commissioners.

To Freeman's interrogatories:

1. Hartell's father and [Widowes'] mother were brother and sister.

5. 'Mr William Freeman had not any gunnes about him, but [Hartell and Page] had each of them a ?sheppick? in their hands being about their hay work.'

7. 'He doth not know any evill in the life and conversacon of Thomas Perry, Edward Lewis and Thomas Edwards.'

Signed by William Widdowes, and by the above three commissioners.

fos. 142r-143v (Witness 2), John Wheatcroft alias Whatcott, of Broadway, co. Worcester, aged 20, miller

To Hartell and Page's defence:

1. About harvest time, 1635, Mr William Freeman came to Weaver's close and said it was his ground, discharging the mowers then present, including [Hartell and Page], Richard Fyfield, and this witness, and warning them not to mow any longer there. Mr Freeman called Hartell 'base rascally fellow', whereunto Hartell replied that 'he was as honestly gott and as honestly borne as himself'. Whereupon, Mr Freeman 'seeming to take much offence demanded of him, Art thou as good as I am'? 'No', said Hartell, 'for you are a gentleman'. He knew this to be true because he was present. Hartell and his ancestors 'have been quietly possessed (saving the interruption aforesaid) of the ground for all the tyme of [Wheatcroft's] remembrance'.

2. He was very near to Hartell at the time of the argument, 'and did well observe and was very attent and diligent to heare the passages between them, and he did not heare any words to proceed from Hartell against [Freeman] other than those he hath expressed in this deposition'.

3. Thomas Perry, Edward Lewis and Thomas Edwards were household servants to Freeman at the time of their examinations.

Signed by John Wheatcroft [his mark], and by the above three commissioners.

To Freeman's interrogatories:

1. 'Hartell's wive's brother married [Wheatcroft's] father's sister'.

2. Mr William Freeman offered him a horse to carry him, and money to bear his charges, to depose that Hartell said Freeman 'was a base fellow', which he never heard him say.

7. 'He knoweth Thomas Perry, Edward Lewis and Thomas Edwards and knoweth no evill by them for their life and conversation.'

Signed by John Wheatcroft [his mark], and by the above three commissioners.

fos. 143v-144r, (Witness 3), Richard Hancks of Adlestrop, co. Gloucester, aged 24

To Hartell and Page's defence:

1. About hay harvest 1635, Mr William Freeman came to Weaver's close at the time of the conveying of hay out of the ground, when John Page went to Mr Freeman 'and with his hand gently put him back and caused him to retreat out of the ground'. When Mr Freeman was out of the ground, Freeman said 'in very great passion, I will shoot thee', which words were spoken in the presence of this witness and William Widdowes'.

Signed by Richard Hancks [his mark], and by the above three commissioners.

fos. 144r-145v (Witness 4), Thomas Freeman of Blockley, co. Worcester, millner, aged 20

To Hartell and Page's defence:

1. About the beginning of hay harvest 1635, Mr William Freeman came into Weaver's close and made claim to the ground. When [Hartell and Page] resisted him 'words of passion began to break out from Mr William Freeman', and 'he called Hartell, Rogue, rascall, and base fellow'. Hartell replied 'in a patient manner', 'I am no base fellow, but am as honestly borne and as honestly bred as you'. Mr Freeman replied, 'Art thou as good as I am'? 'No', said Hartell, 'you are a gentleman and I am not'. He 'was very neare the parties whilest they were in litigacon and took speciall notice of the difference'. Hartell and 'his father have been quietly possessed of the ground during all the tyme of [his] remembrance being borne in the parish where the ground lyeth.'

3. As witness 2 and Thomas Edwards was then the gatherer and collector of Mr Freeman's rents.

Signed by Thomas Freeman [his mark], and by the above three commissioners.

To Freeman's interrogatories:

1. 'He is not in any degree of kindred allied to [Hartell and Page], or either of them but say that [William Freeman], when he was to be examined on his behalf called him cosen but never called him cosen fore nor since.'

7. 'Thomas Perry, Edward Lewis and Thomas Edwards in this interrogatory menconed are honest men for ought [he] knoweth to the contrary and he further; sayth that he beleeveth they will not sweare falsely.'

Signatures by Thomas Freeman [his mark], and by the above three commissioners.

Acta (4), fos. 146r-v, Notary public's certificate

Certificate in Latin signed by commissioners Thomas Child, William Baldwyn and Conyngsby Freeman. Further certificate signed by John Stephens, notary public, that the above examinations had been completed and were now being returned.

No date.

Notary's mark.

Sentence / Arbitration

12/1i, Plaintiff's sentence

Hartwell had compared himself to Freeman, saying 'that he was as honestly born, and as honestly bredd' as Freeman.

Damages and expenses of £10 awarded to Freeman.

Taxed at £10

18 November 1637.

Signed by Arthur Duck and Maltravers.

12/1h, Defendant's sentence

[Faded and damaged]

Taxed at £10

Signed by Charles Tooker and Henry, baron Maltravers.

12/1d, Plaintiff's bill of costs

Michaelmas term, 1635: £6-3s-4d

Hillary term 1635/6: £6-0s-0d

Vacation following: £13-13s-4d, inc. £5 for the expense of the commissioners and £6- 13s-4d for the notary for expediting the commission.

Easter term, 1636: £6-6s-8d

Vacation following: £7-10s-0d, including £3-10s-0d for the expenses of the commissioners

Hilary term, 1636/7: £3-10s-0d

Easter term, 1637: £5-1s-8d

Trinity term, 1637: £4-6s-8d

Michaelmas term, 1637: £10-10s-0d

Total: £63-1s-8d

Signed by Arthur Duck.

Taxed at £10.

Dated 18 November 1637.

Signed by Maltravers.

12/1f, Defendants' bill of costs

Hillary term, 1635: £7-7s-10d

Vacation following: £12-0s-0d

Easter term, 1636: £2-15s-0d

Hillary term, 1636:

Vacation following: £5-9s-4d

Easter term, 1637: £12-13s-4d

Trinity term, 1637: £2-15s-0d

Michaelmas term, 1637: £8-13s-4d

Total: £51-18s-0d

Signed by Arthur Duck.

Taxed at £10.

Signed by Maltravers.

Submission

3/54, Defendant's bond of submission

Dated 11 December 1637

Page was to pay Freeman £20 costs and damages on or before 27 January 1638, and was to 'perform such submission and in such manner, tyme and place as shalbe enjoyned him by this Court and certify his performance thereof accordingly.'

Page was to appear before the court in the Painted Chamber between 9 and 11am on 27 January 1638.

Signed by John Page [his mark].

Sealed, subscribed and delivered in the presence of Humphrey Terrick.

Summary of proceedings

Dr Duck acted as counsel for Freeman and Dr Tooker for Hartell and Page. The depositions of Mr Freeman's witnesses were returned in April 1636, and published in May 1636, when Dr Tooker was charged with preparing the material for the defence. Commissioners for hearing the defendants' witnesses were nominated on 16 February 1636/7. Dr Duck petitioned for sentence to be heard in October 1637 and the sentence was finally delivered on 18 November. On 27 January 1638, Page still owed £10 expenses and £10 damages, but Edward Freeman, son of William Freeeman, acknowledged that the expenses and damages had been settled by a final agreement between them.

On 3 February 1638 Dr Duck was charged with proving the material for the defence in a further cause of contempt promoted by a Robert Freeman against Edward Hartwell.

Notes

According to the Visitation of 1634, William Freeman was the son of John Freeman of Blockley and Ursula, daughter of William Warmestre of Worcester. He was born before 1594 and he married Elizabeth, daughter and heir of William Greenwich of Tedstone, co. Hereford. His eldest son, William Freeman, was aged 23 in 1634, and his second son, Edward Freeman studied at Gray's Inn, and married Elizabeth, daughter of John Symes of Melcombe, co. Dorset.

A. T. Butler (ed.), The Visitation of Worcestershire, 1634 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 90, 1938), pp. 35-6.

Documents

  • Initial proceedings
    • Summary of libel: R.19, fo. 22v (1635)
  • Defendant's case
    • Defence: Acta (4), fo. 149 (24 May 1636)
    • Summary of defence: R.19, fo. 17r (1636)
    • Letters commissory for the defendant: Acta (4), fo. 150 (16 Feb 1637)
    • Plaintiff's interrogatories: Acta (4), fo. 148 (no date)
    • Defence depositions: Acta (4), fos. 138-45 (27 Mar 1637)
    • Notary public's certificate: Acta (4), fo. 146 (no date)
  • Sentence / Arbitration
    • Plaintiff's sentence: 12/1i (18 Nov 1637)
    • Defendant's sentence: 12/1h (no date)
    • Plaintiff's bill of costs: 12/1d (18 Nov 1637)
    • Defendant's bill of costs: 12/1f (Mic 1637)
  • Submission
    • Defendant's bond of submission: 3/54 (11 Dec 1637)
  • Proceedings
    • Undated proceedings: College of Arms. 'Court of Chivalry' (act book, 1636-8) [pressmark R.R. 68C], fos. 64r-67r (c. Apr 1636)
    • Proceedings before Arundel: College of Arms. 'Court of Chivalry' (act book, 1636-8) [pressmark R.R. 68C], fos. 89r-100r (May 1636)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: College of Arms. 'Court of Chivalry' (act book, 1636-8) [pressmark R.R. 68C], fos. 74r-83v (7 May 1636)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: College of Arms. 'Court of Chivalry' (act book, 1636-8) [pressmark R.R. 68C], fos. 112r-121v (Jun 1636)
    • Proceedings: College of Arms. 'Court of Chivalry' (act book, 1636-8) [pressmark R.R. 68C], fos. 105r-110v (8 Nov 1636)
    • Proceedings before Arundel: College of Arms. 'Court of Chivalry' (act book, 1636-8) [pressmark R.R. 68C], fos. 51r-59r (28 Jan 1637)
    • Proceedings: R.19, fos. 381-2 (28 Jan 1637)
    • Proceedings: College of Arms. 'Court of Chivalry' (act book, 1636-8) [pressmark R.R. 68C], fos. 23r-36v (11 Feb 1637)
    • Proceedings: College of Arms. 'Court of Chivalry' (act book, 1636-8) [pressmark R.R. 68C], fos. 1r-11r (16 Feb 1637)
    • Proceedings: College of Arms. 'Court of Chivalry' (act book, 1636-8) [pressmark R.R. 68C], fos. 37r-41v (29 Apr 1637)
    • Proceedings before Arundel: 8/26 (14 Oct 1637)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 8/27 (14 Oct 1637)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 8/28 (31 Oct 1637)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 8/29 (18 Nov 1637)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 1/5, fos. 1-15 (27 Jan 1638)
    • Proceedings before Arundel: 1/5, fos. 23-35 (3 Feb 1638)

People mentioned in the case

  • Baldwyn, William, gent (also Baldwin)
  • Chamberlayne, Thomas, gent (also Chamberlain)
  • Child, Thomas, esq (also Childe)
  • Childe, Walter, gent (also Childe)
  • Dethick, Gilbert, registrar
  • Duck, Arthur, lawyer
  • Edwards, Thomas, servant
  • Freeman, Coningsby, esq
  • Freeman, Edward
  • Freeman, Elizabeth
  • Freeman, John
  • Freeman, Thomas, milner
  • Freeman, Ursula
  • Freeman, William
  • Greenwich, Elizabeth
  • Greenwich, William
  • Hancks, Richard
  • Hartell, Robert (also Hartwell)
  • Howard, Henry, baron Maltravers
  • Howard, Thomas, earl of Arundel and Surrey
  • Lewes, Edward, servant (also Lewis)
  • Page, John
  • Perry, Thomas, servant
  • Randall, Richard, gent
  • Smith, John, gent
  • Stephens, John, notary public
  • Symes, Elizabeth
  • Symes, John
  • Terrick, Humphrey
  • Tooker, Charles, lawyer
  • Warmestre, Ursula (also Warmestrey)
  • Warmestre, William (also Warmestrey)
  • Warmstrid, William, esq
  • Wheatcroft alias Whatcott, John, miller
  • Widowes, William, yeoman (also Widdowes)

Places mentioned in the case

  • Dorset
    • Melcombe
  • Gloucestershire
    • Adlestrop
    • Moreton-in-Marsh
  • Herefordshire
    • Tedstone
  • London
    • Gray's Inn
  • Worcestershire
    • Blockley
    • Broadway
    • Hanging Aston

Topics of the case

  • arbitration
  • calling sirrah
  • challenge to a duel
  • comparison
  • denial of gentility
  • firearm
  • inns of court
  • insult before gentlemen
  • office-holding
  • reconciliation
  • threatened violence
  • undermining before subordinates
  • weapon