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556 Rigby v Hardham

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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556 RIGBY V HARDHAM

Anthony Rigby of River, in the parish of Tillington, co. Sussex, gent v William Hardham of the same

May - June 1640

Abstract

Rigby complained that on 18 June 1639, whilst he was watering his horse at a pond on River common in Tillington parish, Sussex, Hardham, one of the copyholders of land in his manor of River, approached and told him that he 'was an unconscionable knave, and an upstart landlord, bidding him gett him gone into his country where he soe much bragged what a gentleman he was'. He added that in 1640 Hardham had called him 'a base knave', and on another occasion, at Rigby's manor court charged him with having 'unjustly taken away the house and coppihold lands of one James Hardham'. Hardham maintained that Rigby had provoked him with threats and called him 'base fellow or clowne'. Process was granted on 12 May 1640 and five witnesses for Rigby were examined before Sir Henry Marten on 29 June 1640. Rigby's gentility was challenged by the defence and on 4 December Sir William Le Neve, Clarenceux, and Sir Henry St George, Norroy, were due to certify Rigby's gentility, but the case was lost with the suspension of the court's proceedings after that date.

Initial proceedings

5/34, Petition

'Hee is a gentleman by descent for above three hundred yeares, and, being desirous to live peaceably in his country was anno dm. 1639 causelessly reviled by one William Hardham, a coppiholder of the petitioner's manner of River, who to disgrace the petitioner did speake of him these scandalous words, that your petitioner was an unconscionable knave, and an upstart landlord, bidding him gett him gone into his country where he soe much bragged what a gentleman he was; and at an other time, anno 1640, that he was a base knave; and againe at the court baron of your honourable petitioner charged him that he had unjustly taken away the house and coppihold lands of one James Hardham, and wrongfully detained the same.'

Prays for process, which Maltravers granted on 12 May 1640.

5/33, Plaintiff's bond

13 May 1640

Bound to 'appear in the court in the painted chamber in the Palace of Westminster'.

Signed Anthony Rigby.

Sealed signed and delivered in the presence of John Watson.

5/45, Defendant's bond

19 May 1640

To 'appear in the court in the Painted Chamber within the Pallace of Westminster'.

Signed William Hardham.

Sealed, subscribed and delivered in the presence of John Longland, Tho. Willis.

17/6o, Personal answer

1. 'Anthony Rigbie's ancestors were or were ever accounted gentlemen, or that Anthony now is, [and] at the time of the pretended words spoken was, a gentleman or so commonlie reputed and taken, but confesseth that for these 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, or 2 years last past he hath beene and now is lord of the manner of River, and soe hath been, and is commonlie accompted, reputed and taken.'

2-4. He believed these articles were true.

No date marked but filed under 'secunda sessio: 15 June 1640', Trinity term, 1640.

Signed by Thomas Rives.

Plaintiff's case

Cur Mil 1631-1642, fos. 220r-227v, Plaintiff depositions

fos. 220r-221v (Witness 1), Stephen Michell of Eastbourne, co. Sussex, gardener, had lived there for 40 years, born at Barford 'in the county of Saru.', aged about 60

29 June 1640

To Rigby's libel:

1-2. He had known Rigby since he was a child and had known his father, Mr Nicholas Rigby, for 40 years, who for all that time was reputed a gentleman, and bred his son a gentleman. Rigby 'lived in the rank and quality of a gentleman' and was 'owner of the Manor of River', on which manor Hardham was a copyholder.

3. Around 18 June 1639, at or near a pond in Tillington parish, he heard Hardham say to Rigby, 'You are unconscionable knave and an upstart landlord... and badd him get him gone to his countrie where he so much bragged that he was a gentleman'. Robert Michell, Francis Gates and William Lillie were also present'.

To Hardham's interrogatories:

1. He was a gardener who had sometimes worked for Mr Rigby 'by the day and not otherwise'.

2. 'He frequenteth his parish church and received the Holy Communion according to the ceremonies of the Church of England on Easterday last'.

3-4. He was present at the speaking of the words and 'stood on the pondhead; and Mr Rigby was watering his horse in the pond and Hardham stood on the side of the pond'. He did not remember Rigby calling Hardham 'clowne or base fellow or use any such speeches'.

5. Negative, and Rigby did not alight from his horse or offer to touch Hardham in his sight'.

6. For all the time he knew Rigby's father, he was called Mr Rigby, never Goodman Rigby in his hearing; and saith he hath heard Mr Lewknor and Mr Younge call him Mr Rigby, and saith he cannot write or read.'

Signed by Stephen Michell [his mark].

Repeated in court before Sir Henry Marten, lieutenant, on 29 June 1640.

fos. 222r-223v (Witness 2), Robert Michell of Eastbourne, co. Sussex, gardener, had lived there for most of his life, born there, aged about 21

29 June 1640

To Rigby's libel:

1-2. He had known Rigby for 12 years, who for all that time was reputed and lived as a gentleman, and was now owner of the manor of River, on which manor Hardham was a copyholder.

3. Around a week before midsummer, 1639, at a pond in River Common in Tillington parish, he heard Hardham say to Rigby 'you are an unconscionable knave and an upstart landlord... and bade Rigby get him gone to his countrie where he so much bragged of his gentilitie'. Stephen Michell, Francis Gates and William Lillie were also present'.

To Hardham's interrogatories:

1. Negative.

2. As witness 1.

3-4. He was present at the speaking of the words, and with his fellow witnesses 'stood at the pondhead; and were making of a new pondhead. And Mr Rigby at the first beginning of the speeches was watering his horse in the pond and presently afterwards ridd out of the pond and sate on horseback on the one side of the pond. And Hardham stood on the other side and spake the words before deposed.' Rigby bade the witnesses to bear witness, and did not call Hardham 'clowne or base fellow or use any such speeches'.

5. As witness 1.

6. Rigby's father lived in the fashion of a gentleman and was called Mr Rigby, by Mr Lewknor and others, and was never called Goodman Rigby.

Signed by Robert Michell [his mark].

Repeated in court before Sir Henry Marten, lieutenant, on 29 June 1640.

fos. 223v-225r (Witness 3), Francis Gates of Eastbourne, co. Sussex, husbandman, had lived there for 11 years, born at Bury, co. Sussex, aged 36

29 June 1640

To Rigby's libel:

1-2. He had known Rigby for 12 years, who 'hath lived and doth still live in the repute and fashion of a gentleman and is now lord of the Manor of River', on which manor Hardham was a copyholder.

3. About this time last year he was at work making a pond head in River Common in Tillington parish, when he heard Hardham say 'in an angry and provoking manner' to Rigby, 'You are unconscionable knave and an upstart landlord and get you gone to your countrie where you so much bragge of your gentrie'. Robert and Stephen Michell, and William Lilley were also present'.

To Hardham's interrogatories:

1. He was a day labourer who had sometimes worked for Mr Rigby and received wages from him.

2. He was at the parish church last Sunday, received Holy Communion last Easter, and was not excommunicated.

3-4. He was present at the speaking of the words working on the pond. Mr Rigby was watering his horse in the pond. Hardham stood on one side of the pond. He did not hear Rigby call Hardham 'base fellow or clowne'.

5. As witness 1.

6. He had known Rigby's father for 15 or 16 years, and had 'never heard him called Goodman Rigby but Mr Rigby by all that kepe him company.'

Signed by Francis Gates [his mark].

Repeated in court before Sir Henry Marten, lieutenant, on 29 June 1640.

fos. 225r-226v (Witness 4), William Lilley of Tillington, co. Sussex, husbandman, had lived there for 9 years, born at Lodsworth, co. Sussex, aged about 30

29 June 1640

To Rigby's libel:

1-2. He had known Rigby for 9 years, who for all that time 'hath lived in the fashion of a gentleman' and was now lord of the manor of River, on which manor Hardham was his tenant and copyholder.

3. About a week before midsummer 1639, at a pond in River Common in Tillington parish, he heard [Hardham] call [Rigby] 'unconscionable knave and upstart landlord and bidd him get him into his countrie where he bragged what a gentleman he was'. Robert and Stephen Michell, and Francis Gates were also present'.

To Hardham's interrogatories:

1. Negative.

2. 'He goeth to church duly and received the Holy Communion on Palmsunday last in the parish church of Tillington, and is not excommunicated'.

3-4. As witness 3.

5. Negative, 'he did not see Mr Rigby offer to meddle with Hardham'.

6. Rigby's father 'hath been ever called Mr Rigby and not Goodman Rigby, and he hath heard his master Mr Alderton call him Mr Rigby.'

Signed by William Lilley [his mark].

Repeated in court before Sir Henry Marten, on 29 June 1640.

fos. 226v-227v (Witness 5), Edward Hamond of Tillington, co. Sussex, husbandman, born there, aged about 34

29 June 1640

To Rigby's libel:

4. Around last Easter in a field near a coppice in Tillington parish, he heard Hardham call Mr Rigby 'base knave', but there was nobody present about from this witness, Rigby and Hardham.

To Hardham's interrogatories:

1. He was a day labourer and sometimes worked for Mr Rigby by the day.

2. He was at his parish church last Sunday, received Holy Communion the Sunday after last Easter and was not excommunicated.

3-4. 'He referreth himself to what he hath before deposed and saith that at the time and place aforesaid Mr Rigby in answer to Hardham's speeches told him he was a base fellow to use him soe.'

5. Hardham hindered Mr Rigby 'from cutting a tree and sate in the place on the ground where the tree should have been cutt and Mr Rigby only removed his legge from the place.'

6. He had known Rigby's father for 16 years, during which time 'he hath been generally called Mr Rigby and not Goodman Rigby and he hath been called so by Mr Payne, Mr Awcocke, Mr Edmonds, Mr Alderton and divers others.'

Signed by Edward Hamond [his mark].

Repeated in court before Sir Henry Marten, lieutenant, on 29 June 1640.

Summary of proceedings

Dr Merrick acted as counsel for Rigby and Dr Ryves for Hardham. The testimony of Rigby's witnesses was published on 10 October 1640. On 24 October Dr Merrick was required to prove Rigby's gentility and all the judges were to examine Rigby's papers of genealogy. On 30 October Dr Ryves questioned Rigby's gentility. On 4 December Sir William Le Neve, Clarenceux, and Sir Henry St George, Norroy, were required to certify Rigby's gentility.

Notes

An Anthony Rigby of Netherland, son of Nicholas Rigby of Netherland appears in the Visitation of 1633-4. Anthony married Mary, daughter of Sir Walter Leveson of co. Stafford.

W. Bruce Bannerman (ed.), The Visitations of the County of Sussex in 1530 and 1633-4 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 53, 1905), p. 94.

Documents

  • Initial proceedings
    • Petition: 5/34 (12 May 1640)
    • Plaintiff's bond: 5/33 (13 May 1640)
    • Defendant's bond: 5/45 (19 May 1640)
    • Personal answer: 17/6o (15 Jun 1640)
  • Plaintiff's case
    • Plaintiff depositions: Cur Mil 1631-42, fos. 220-7 (29 Jun 1640)
  • Proceedings
    • Proceedings: 1/11, fos. 56r-64v (10 Oct 1640)
    • Proceedings before Stafford: 1/11, fos. 41r-44v (24 Oct 1640)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 1/11, fos. 19r-30v (30 Oct 1640)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 1/11, fos. 79r-87v (4 Dec 1640)

People mentioned in the case

  • Alderton, Mr
  • Awcocke, Mr
  • Edmonds, Mr
  • Gates, Francis, husbandman
  • Hamond, Edward, husbandman
  • Hardham, William
  • Howard, Henry, baron Maltravers
  • Howard, William, earl of Arundel and Surrey
  • Le Neve, William, knight
  • Leveson, Mary
  • Leveson, Walter, knight
  • Lewknor, Mr (also Lewkenor)
  • Lillie, William, husbandman (also Lilley)
  • Longland, John
  • Marten, Henry, knight
  • Merrick, William, lawyer
  • Michell, Robert, gardener
  • Michell, Stephen, gardener
  • Payne, Mr
  • Rigby, Anthony, gent
  • Rigby, Nicholas, Mr
  • Rigby, Mary
  • Rives, Thomas, lawyer (also Ryves)
  • St George, Henry, knight
  • Watson, John
  • Willis, Thomas
  • Younge, Mr (also Young)

Places mentioned in the case

  • Barford
    • Saru?
  • Middlesex
    • Westminster
  • Staffordshire
  • Sussex
    • Bury
    • Easebourne
    • Lodsworth
    • Netherland
    • River
    • Tillington

Topics of the case

  • allegation of cheating
  • denial of gentility
  • King of Arms
  • other courts
  • sacrament