54 Bodurda v Griffith

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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John Bodurda, of Bodwrda, co. Caernarfon, esq v Owen Griffith, esq, His Majesty's Attorney in the three shires of North Wales

May 1636 - January 1638

Figure 54:

The early Stuart court house in Beaumaris, Anglesey, where Owen Griffith, esq, King's Attorney for North Wales, was served with process to appear in the Court of Chivalry in June 1637 (Photograph : Richard Cust)


Bodurda petitioned that at a meeting of the High Commission court on 25 April 1636 at Pwlheli, to hear a lawsuit concerning Cadwallader Gryffin, Griffith, the king's attorney for North Wales, had given him the lie. Bodurda was a deputy lieutenant and justice of the peace for Caernarfonshire, and Griffith was his brother-in-law. A year later Griffith had still not appeared in the Court of Chivalry and he petitioned Arundel explaining that he was unable to attend without deserting his post as king's attorney in the North Wales assizes and claiming that it had taken Bodurda a whole year to serve the process on him. He also requested that local gentry be allowed to arbitrate the case. Maltravers granted this and among the seven gentry proposed as arbiters were Sir Thomas Holland, Dr William Griffith, and Richard Bulkley, esq. On 14 October 1637, Thomas Glynne, esq, Griffith Jones, esq, and William Bold, esq, certified that they had made an 'amiable and lovinge end' between the two parties and this was noted in the Court of Chivalry on 27 January 1638.

Initial proceedings

3/13, Petition

'Sheweth that a Commission being directed out of High Commission Court unto Owen Griffith esquire and others Commissioners for examinacon of witnesses in a cause there depending against one Cadwallader Gryffin, and your petitioner being summoned by warrant to appear before the commissioners at Pulhely in the county of Carnarvon the 25 of Aprill last at the execucon of the Commission to testifie the truth of his knowledge in that cause, Owen Griffith one of the commissioners then and there interrogated your petitioner touching divers articles to which your petitioner answering upon his oath, Owen Griffith of set purpose in a disgracefull manner before that assembly tould your petitioner that what he had spoken was a base untruth with other like scandalous and injurious speeches then and after uttered (as by good proofe will appeare to your lordship), forasmuch as the petitioner being a gent of ancient discent and family, lately high sheriff of the county, and at this time Deputy Lieutenant and Justice of Peace there by these malicious and scandalous words of Owen Griffith, thus publiquely uttered, is extreamly defamed and wounded in his reputation wherein he could not right himself without disobedience to his Majestys court, and as yet hath noe fitt meanes for the same, but by your Lordship's favour and high authority.'

Petitioned that Griffith be brought to answer.

Maltravers granted process, 20 May 1636

3/1, Letter to Arundel

'Right Honorable

May it please your Honor to understand that I am informed by Owen Griffith esq, his Majestys Atturney in the three shires of North Wales, that he this present tenth day of June 1637 was at this towne of Bewmaris cited or monished, and shewed the seale of a process and served with a coppy therof, to appeare in your Lordships Court Marshall in the Pallace of Westminster the twelfth day after monition given, to answer John Bodurda esq, as by the copy (dated a twelvemonth past and above, viz. the twentieth day of May 1636) now shewed me, whearwith Owen Griffith alledged he was this day served, doth appeare. Now may it please your Honor to be advertised that Owen Griffith did this present tenth day of June attend his Majesty's service in the Court of great sessions held for the Court of Anglisey before me at Bewmaris, he being his Majesty's Atturney there, and also in this whole circuit, which is yet to continue a fortnight longer, soe that Owen Griffith cannot appeare in your lordship's Court according to the tyme in the monicon limited without neglecting his attendance of his Majesty's present service in the Circuit of Northwales and Courts of great sessions there, whearin he is a sworne officer to his Majesty. Whearof I thought fitt hereby to certifie your Honor of, referring the same to your Lordship's Honorable consideration.

Bewmaris, 10 June 1637

Your Honors humble servant to command

[Signed by] Tym: ?Tournant?

Received 28 June 1637

3/3, Defendant's petition

'John Bodurda esq, being your peticoner's brother in lawe, hath in May last was twelvemonth sued forth process out of your Lordship's honorable courts against your petitioner; and though your peticoner lived neer John Bodurda within 4 or 5 miles, and that both have upon occasions at severall times mett together within this twelvemonth, yet did John Bodurda for a whole yeare's space forbeare the servinge of the process. But when your petitioner was gon from home and absent out of the countrey, he left a coppie of the process lately as your peticoner is informed in your petitioner's father's house. And not therwith contented, but your petitioner attending his Majestie's service in the circuit for North Wales, as by the Justice of Assize his certificate will appeare, he was the tenth day of this instant June, merely to disgrace your petitioner's person and disturbe his service againe, served with the same process to appeare in this honorable courte.

Now, forasmuch as your petitioner is imployed in his Majestie's service and doth absent himself by necessary dutie, and not out of any disobedience or neglect, he doth humblie beseech your Lordship to excuse his personal appearance; and because this suite is grounded upon noe other pretence then som passionatt words betwixt your petitioner and John Bodurda, and that your petitioner is inclined rather to live in peace and charitie with his brother in lawe then in suites and vexacon, your petitioner humblie beseecheth your lordship soe to respect your petitioner's condicon, who is willing to intend his calling in quietness, and to give every man that respect and satisfaction which is meete upon all occasions, as to referr this present matter betwixt your petitioner and his brother in lawe to some gentlemen of qualitie in the countrey to bee examined and ended with contentment and without further trouble to either.

And your petitioner shall ever pray for your lordship.'

28 June 1637

3/2, Names of commissioners

28 June 1637

'Sir Thomas Holland, knight

Dr William Griffith, Chancellor of Bangor

Richard Bulkley, esq

Thomas Glynn, esq

Griffith Jones, esq

William Lloyd, esq

William Bould, esq

Or anie 3 of them'.

Sentence / Arbitration

13/1m, Certificate of arbitration

Thomas Glynne, Griffith Jones and William Bold to Lord Maltravers, from Caernarfon, 14 October 1637

They had received Maltravers letters dated 13 July 1637 'requiring us to mediate a difference depending in the court of honour betweene John Bodurda and Owen Griffith esquires, whereupon (in observance of your Lordshipp's commaunde) we have called them before us and have made that amiable and lovinge end betweene them which by your lordship's letteres is required and intended. And wee further present unto your lordship what Mr Bodurda offers in discharge of himself from the information made to your lordship in aggravacon of his staye and foreslowinge the service of the process (menconed in your honor's letteres), which happened by reason of the putting off of Trinitie and Michaelmas term next followinge the preferring of the peticon to your lordship by Mr Bodurda, and not from any desire he had to hinder or impeach his Majestie's service thereby, or any waye to disgrace Mr Griffith. So that it only remained to make a perfect ende of these unkinde differences that it maye please your honours to comaunde that Mr John Bodurda's bond for persecucon of his complainte may be rendered up, or he be indemnified by such waye as seemeth best in your honors' prudence which humbly referring to your honors' consideracon, wee remaine att your honours' comaunde.'

Summary of proceedings

In proceedings before Lord Maltravers and the earl of Bath on 27 January 1638, it was noted that a final concord had been agreed between the two parties through arbitrators.


John Bodurda of Bodwrda was a leading figure in Caernarfonshire politics. He played an influential role in the shire elections of 1620 and 1625, working with members of the Griffith family against the interests of Sir John Wynn of Gwydir.

J. Ballinger (ed.), Calendar of the Wynn of Gwydir Papers 1515-1690 (1926), pp. 146, 212-13, 215, 254.

John Bodurda was appointed high sheriff of co. Caernarfon in November 1629.

J. Broadway, R. Cust and S. K. Roberts (eds.), A Calendar of the Docquets of Lord Keeper Coventry, 1625-40 (List and Index Society, special series, 35, 2004), part 2, p. 362.


  • Initial proceedings
    • Petition: 3/13 (20 May 1636)
    • Letter: 3/1 (10 Jun 1637)
    • Defendant's petition: 3/3 (28 Jun 1637)
    • Names of commissioners: 3/2 (28 Jun 1637)
  • Sentence / Arbitration
    • Certificate of arbitration: 13/1m (14 Oct 1637)
  • Proceedings
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 1/5, fos. 1-15 (27 Jan 1638)

People mentioned in the case

  • Bodurda, John, esq (also Bodwrda, Bodruda)
  • Bold, William, esq (also Bould)
  • Bourchier, Henry, earl of Bath
  • Bulkley, Richard, esq
  • Glynne, Thomas, esq (also Glynn)
  • Griffith, Owen, esq
  • Griffith, William, Dr
  • Gryffin, Cadwallader (also Griffin)
  • Holland, Thomas, knight
  • Howard, Henry, baron Maltravers
  • Howard, Thomas, earl of Arundel and Surrey
  • Jones, Griffith, esq
  • Wynn, John, knight

Places mentioned in the case

  • Angelsey
    • Beaumaris
  • Caernarfon
    • Bodwrda
    • Gwydir
    • Pwlheli
  • Wales

Topics of the case

  • arbitration
  • assizes
  • deputy lieutenant
  • giving the lie
  • High Commission
  • high sheriff
  • justice of the peace
  • office-holding
  • other courts