43 Bethell v Allenson

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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Sir Hugh Bethell of Alne, co. York, knt v Sir William Allenson of York, knt

June - October 1639

Figure 43:

York in 1610, with Trinity parish, where Sir Hugh Bethell and Sir William Allenson quarreled, a short distance to the southeast of the Minster (From John Speed, Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain (1611))


Bethell, a Yorkshire J.P. and lieutenant-colonel in the royal army in the First Bishops' War, alleged that between March and June 1639 in Trinity parish, York, Allenson had called him a 'base lying knave' and struck him, thereby provoking him to a duel. Process was granted on 29 June 1639 and Bethell entered his libel on 12 October 1639; but no indication of further proceedings or sentence survives. A high profile suit between two knights was likely to have been settled by arbitration.

Initial proceedings

6/94, Petition to Maltravers

'The petitioner was a Lieutenant Colonell in the northern expedition and hath been a Justice of the Peace 13 years past. Within two months last Sir William Allison knight gave the petitioner many opprobrious words and said that the petitioner was a base lying knave and did strike at the petitioner and provoke him to a duell the petitioner giving him no provocation thereto.'

Petitioned that Allenson be brought to answer.

Maltravers granted process on 29 June 1639.

6/95, Plaintiff's bond

3 July 1639

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

Signed by Ralph Pudsey of Stapleton, co. York, gent, on behalf of Sir Hugh Bethell.

Sealed and delivered in the presence of Humphrey Terrick.

17/5g, Libel

1. Bethell had been a knight for several years and a lieutenant-colonel in the royal army against the Scots. His family had been gentry for 100, 200, 300 years.

2. Between March and June 1639 in Trinity parish in the city of York, Allenson in the presence of several gentlemen said 'that I was a base lying knave, and stroke at me.'

3. These words were provocative of a duel.

No date but filed under 12 October 1639.

Signed by Arthur Duck.

6/20, Defendant's bond

The bond named Bethell as of Willitoft, co. York.

16 October 1639

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

Signed by William Allenson.

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


Sir Hugh Bethell (1605-1663), was the son of Sir Walter Bethell of Alne, knt, and Mary, daughter of Sir Henry Slingsby of Scriven, co. York, knt. He married Frances, daughter of William Franklyn of Thirkleby, co. York, esq. Sir Hugh Bethell was one of the signatories of the Yorkshire petition against billeting for the king's troops in July 1640.

Sir William Allenson, knt (d.1656), was the son of Christopher Allenson of Ampleforth, co. York, yeoman. He was apprenticed as a draper to Robert Askwith. Allenson was twice Lord Mayor of York, and his third wife was Anne, daughter of Charles Tankard of Whixley, co. York, esq. He was knighted during Charles I's visit to York in 1633, but quarrelled with the archdeacon of York when the clergyman sat higher than him during services at the Minster. Allenson was M.P. for York during the Long Parliament. Both Bethell and Allenson became parliamentarians during the civil war.

R. Davies (ed.), The Visitation of the County of Yorke begun in 1665 and finished in 1666, by William Dugdale (Surtees Society, 36, 1859), pp. 155, 230; M. F. Keeler, The Long Parliament, 1640-1641: A Biographical Dictionary of its Members (Philadelphia, 1954), pp. 83-4; CSP Dom. 1640 , p. 524; A. Hopper, 'A Directory of Parliamentarian Allegiance in Yorkshire during the Civil Wars', Yorkshire Archaeological Journal , 73 (2001), p. 90.


  • Initial proceedings
    • Petition: 6/94 (29 Jun 1639)
    • Plaintiff's bond: 6/95 (3 Jul 1639)
    • Libel: 17/5g (12 Oct 1639)
    • Defendant's bond: 6/20 (16 Oct 1639)

People mentioned in the case

  • Allenson, Anne (also Allison, Allanson, Alanson)
  • Allenson, Christopher, yeoman
  • Allenson, William, knight (also Allison, Allanson, Alanson)
  • Askwith, Robert
  • Bethell, Frances
  • Bethell, Hugh, knight
  • Duck, Arthur, lawyer
  • Franklyn, William, esq
  • Pudsey, Ralph, gent
  • Slingsby, Henry, knight
  • Stuart, Charles I, king
  • Tankard, Charles, esq
  • Terrick, Humphrey
  • Watson, John

Places mentioned in the case

  • Middlesex
    • Westminster
  • Yorkshire, North Riding
    • Alne
    • Ampleforth
    • Stapleton
    • Thirkleby
  • Yorkshire, West Riding
    • Scriven
    • Whixley

Topics of the case

  • arbitration
  • assault
  • Bishops' Wars
  • civil war
  • denial of gentility
  • giving the lie
  • justice of the peace
  • Long Parliament
  • military officer
  • parliamentarian