296 Hillyard v Lawrence

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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Robert Hillyard of South Frodingham, co. Lincoln, gent v John Lawrence of Thorneton College, co. Lincoln, gent

November 1637 - June 1638


Hillyard, second son of Sir Christopher Hillyard, complained that Lawrence, who he claimed was 'a serving man and person of meane quality', abused him on 20 September 1637. Lawrence allegedly accused him of slandering him and his wife and, 'when the petitioner little expected any such affront, Lawrence struck the petitioner with a cudgel' in the presence of several people. Lawrence admitted to having been servant to Hillyard's brother for two years, but denied the allegations and at the same time brought a counter suit, complaining of earlier insults by Hillyard [see cause 363]. Process was granted on 9 November 1637 and a commission that included Henry Cholmley, esq, was nominated to examine witnesses from 10 to 12 January 1638 in the court house in Hedon in Holderness, Yorkshire. Dr Duck 'porrected' a sentence against Lawrence on 2 June 1638, but no sums were entered which suggests that Hillyard was unsuccessful.

Initial proceedings

3/102, Petition to Arundel

'The petitioner, being a gentleman of blood, and John Lawrence, a serving man and person of meane quality, did about the twentyeth of September last in a bold and insolent manner, come to the petitioner and told him that the petitioner had done him wrong by slandering him and his Mrs; to which the petitioner answered he had not done him that wrong. Whereupon, when the petitioner little expected any such affront, Lawrence struck the petitioner with a cudgel in the presence and sight of sundry persons.'

Petitioned that Lawrence be brought to answer.

Duck, having already obtained the approval of Maltravers and Marten, desired Dethick to send out process, 9 November 1637.

Signed by Arthur Duck.

17/3o, Personal answer

1. 'Robert Hildyard and his ancestors have been for all or a great part of the time [referred to in the libel] gentlemen and so commonly accompted; and that his father Sir Christopher Hildyard was a knight. And that [Lawrence] was for some time *about the space of two years* a servant to the brother of Mr Hildyard. And otherwise he doth not believe this peticon to be true in any part thereof'.

2-3. 'He denyeth the same to be true in any part thereof'.

Dated 28 November 1637.

Signed by John Lawrence.

Sentence / Arbitration

15/1j, Plaintiff's sentence

'John Lawrence did strike Robert Hildiard with a cudgel and gave him a bastinado'.

Spaces for sums not filled in.

Dated 2 June 1638

Signed by Arthur Duck

15/1m, Defendant's sentence

Spaces not filled in.

Dated 2 June 1638

Signed by William Merrick.

15/1l, Plaintiff's bill of costs [damaged]

Michaelmas term, 1637: £9-1s-2d

Vacation: £20-11s-8d

Hillary term, 1637: £5-14s-8d

Vacation [damaged hereafter]

Dated 2 June 1638

Total at least £35.

13/2d, Defendant's bill of costs

[This could, alternatively, be the case brought by Lawrence against Hilliard: see cause 283]

Proceedings in Michaelmas term 1637, Hillary term 1637/8, and Trinity term 1638.

Total: £38-8s-4d

Summary of proceedings

Dr Duck acted as counsel for Hillyard and Dr Merrick for Lawrence. On 18 November 1637, Lawrence was summoned to appear. On 28 November 1637 commission that consisted of Robert Moore of Hornsea, gent, Anthony Nevile of Preston, gent, Michael Portington of Portington, esq, and Henry Cholmley, esq, and also Thomas Moore of Thorneton, gent, John Sands of Thornton College, gent, - Higginbotham of Goxhill and John Loe was nominated to examine witnesses from 10 to 12 January 1638 in the council chamber or court house in Hedon in Holderness, co. York. In December 1637 Dr Merrick, acting for Lawrence, objected to articles 2 and 3 of the libel. Dr Merrick and Dr Talbot related further material for the defence in February 1638.


Robert Hildyard (b. c.1611), was a lieutenant-colonel of horse in the royalist Northern Horse in the civil wars. He married Jane, daughter of Christopher Constable of Hatfield, co. York, esq [see causes 123 and 124]. The earl of Newcastle knighted him on the field for his courage in 1644 after he had killed a Scots officer in single combat. He was created a baronet in 1660.

P. R. Newman, Royalist Officers in England and Wales, 1642-1660: A biographical dictionary (London, 1981), p. 191; R. Davies (ed.), The Visitation of the County of Yorke begun in 1665 and finished in 1666, by William Dugdale (Surtees Society, 36, 1859), p. 144.


  • Initial proceedings
    • Petition to Arundel: 3/102 (9 Nov 1637)
    • Personal answer: 17/3o (28 Nov 1637)
  • Sentence / Arbitration
    • Plaintiff's sentence: 15/1j (2 Jun 1638)
    • Defendant's sentence: 15/1m (2 Jun 1638)
    • Plaintiff's bill of costs: 15/1l (2 Jun 1638)
    • Defendant's bill of costs: 13/2d (Tri 1638)
  • Proceedings
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 8/29 (18 Nov 1637)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 8/30 (28 Nov 1637)
    • Proceedings: 8/30 (2 Dec 1637)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 1/5, fos. 1-15 (27 Jan 1638)
    • Proceedings before Arundel: 1/5, fos. 38-56 (12 Feb 1638)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 1/5, fos. 59-69 (12 Feb 1638)
    • Proceedings before Marten: 1/5 (14 Feb 1638)

People mentioned in the case

  • Cavendish, William, earl of Newcastle
  • Cholmley, Henry, esq
  • Constable, Christopher, esq
  • Constable, Jane
  • Dethick, Gilbert, registrar
  • Duck, Arthur, lawyer
  • Hillyard, Christopher, knight (also Hilliard, Hildiard, Hiliard, Hildyard)
  • Hillyard, Jane (also Hilliard, Hildiard, Hiliard, Hildyard)
  • Hillyard, Robert, gent (also Hilliard, Hildiard, Hiliard, Hildyard)
  • Howard, Henry, baron Maltravers
  • Howard, Thomas, earl of Arundel and Surrey
  • Lawrence, John, gent
  • Loe, John
  • Marten, Henry, knight
  • Merrick, William, lawyer
  • Moore, Robert, gent
  • Moore, Thomas, gent
  • Nevile, Anthony, gent (also Neville)
  • Portington, Michael, esq
  • Sands, John
  • Talbot, Clere, lawyer

Places mentioned in the case

  • Lincolnshire
    • South Frodingham
    • Thorneton
    • Thornton College

Topics of the case

  • assault
  • civil war
  • denial of gentility
  • military officer
  • royalist
  • weapon