273 Hamersley v Cliffe

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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William Hamersley of Hamersley, co. Stafford, gent v Thomas Cliffe of Longshaw, co. Stafford, yeoman

November 1639


Hamersley complained that Cliffe said to him, 'Thou art a Rascall and a knave; I never bought a knyfe to cutt any bodyes throat as thou didst' in the presence of several gentlemen and freeholders in the parlour of the local justice of the peace. Cliffe then struck Hamersley with his staff 'endeavoring to have done him mischiefe', but was restrained by those present. Hamersley, who claimed his family had been gentlemen since the Norman Conquest, entered bond to prosecute Cliffe on 13 November but no further proceedings survive.

Initial proceedings

2/122, Petition to Arundel

'The petitioner and his ancestors by a lineall discent, in the name and house of Hamersley of Hamersley aforesaid for 600 yeares past ever since the Conquest, have been gentlemen bearing armes; and the petitioner at this time is soe knowne and called, and well reputed in the countrey.

Your petitioner repayring to a justice of peace (his neighbor) upon occasion of business, as he entered into the chamber, one Thomas Cliffe of Long shawe in the countie of Stafford, yeoman, being there present before the justice, and many gentlemen and freeholders besides, Cliffe, in scandalous and disgracefull manner speaking aloud to the petitioner, said, How now, art thou here? Thou art a Rascall and a knave; I never bought a knyfe to cutt any bodyes throat as thou didst, and then violentlie assaulted and struck your petitioner with his staffe, endeavoring to have done him mischiefe, but was withheld and kept of[f] by some of the company, By which soe publique and scandalous an affront and language of Cliffe your petitioner is greatlie injured and wounded in his reputacon.'

Petitioned that Cliffe be brought to answer.

Maltravers granted process on 13 November 1639.

2/123, Plaintiff's bond

13 November 1639

Bound to appear 'in the Court in the painted Chamber within the Pallace of Westminster'.

Signed by William Hamersley.

Sealed, subscribed and delivered in the presence of John Watson.


Neither party appeared in the 1663-4 Visitation of Staffordshire: G. J. Armytage and W. H. Rylands (eds.), Staffordshire Pedigrees based on the Visitation of that County made by William Dugdale, 1663-4 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 63, 1912).


  • Initial proceedings
    • Petition to Arundel: 2/122 (13 Nov 1639)
    • Plaintiff's bond: 2/123 (13 Nov 1639)

People mentioned in the case

  • Cliffe, Thomas, yeoman
  • Hamerlsey, William, gent
  • Howard, Henry, baron Maltravers
  • Howard, Thomas, earl of Arundel and Surrey
  • Watson, John

Places mentioned in the case

  • Middlesex
    • Westminster
  • Staffordshire
    • Hamersley
    • Longshaw

Topics of the case

  • allegation of murder
  • assault
  • denial of gentility
  • insult before gentlemen
  • justice of the peace
  • weapon