61 Bowne v Throgmorton

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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Abraham Bowne of Nottingham, gent v Henry Throgmorton of London, gent

March - October 1634

Figure 61:

The late fifteenth century hall at Lincoln's Inn, where Abraham Bowne was a student (Photograph: Richard Cust)


In a landmark case which initiated the Court of Chivalry's establishment on a regular basis, Bowne, a student at Lincoln's Inn, accused Throgmorton of challenging him to a duel on 12 February 1634 in Throgmorton's lodgings at the Plough Inn, Gray's Inn Lane, London. Their quarrel apparently arose out of an earlier episode in which Bowne had mocked Throgmorton's pretensions to gentility, having allegedly 'jeared him about his clothes and tolde him he would have a rubber at cuffes' [sic]. Throgmorton may also have suggested that Bowne was only a gentleman by virtue of his residence at Lincoln's Inn. Bowne responded to the challenge by stating that 'he would not fight except Mr Throgmorton would give him a challenge under his hand' which would have given him prima facie grounds for a court action. The following day, at a stationer's shop in Lincoln's Inn, Throgmorton accused Bowne of being 'cowardly, petty minded and a liar' for declining the challenge, adding, in a taunt over his threat of legal proceedings, that 'if he proved that I challenged him he should prove himself a coward upon record.' Throgmorton insisted in his defence that the whole matter had been settled informally with the mutual drinking of healths.

The hearing began on 1 March 1634 when Bowne presented his libel and two of his witnesses were examined by Arundel and Gilbert Dethick. Three further witnesses were examined in the court before Arundel, the Earls of Huntingdon and Bath, and Lord Maltravers and Sir Henry Marten on 3 May 1634; then on 24 May Dr Eden presented a witness on Throgmorton's behalf. The same day Dr Duck argued that Throgmorton's offences of challenging Bowne to duel and calling him a coward were punishable to prevent bloodshed. The court agreed. Throgmorton was taxed at £10 costs and fined £6-13-4. Bowne, however, was still required to demonstrate his gentility and on 7 June 1634 was ordered to satisfy Sir John Borough, Garter, and Sir William Le Neve, Clarenceux, of this at the Office of Arms.

Initial proceedings

9/4/65, Libel

Bowne alleged that on 12 February 1634 in the parish of St Dunstan-in-the-West, London, or St Andrew's, Holborn, or parishes adjacent, Throgmorton challenged him to a duel. And on 13 February in these parishes Throgmorton accused him of being 'cowardly, petty minded and a liar', or words to that effect.

No date.

Signed by Arthur Duck.

Plaintiff's case

8/22b, Plaintiff's depositions

Bowne appeared in person and depositions were taken before the earl of Arundel and Gilbert Dethick, registrar, on 1 March 1634 in the Palace of Westminster.

(Witness 1) Margaret Pargeter

On 13 February 1634, in the parish of St Andrew's, Holborn, she heard Mr Throgmorton speaking of Mr Bowne, and Mr Bowne not answering his challenge, Throgmorton said Bowne was a coward and that he would maintain it.

(Witness 2) Thomas Wilson

Deposed that 'on Thursday was fortnight he heard Mr Throgmorton at a Stationer's shop in Lincoln's Inn aske Mr Bowne if he would be as good as his word. Mr Bowne asked him what and wherein. Mr Throgmorton said to fight with him. Mr Bowne said he would not fight except Mr Throgmorton would give him a challenge under his hand which Mr Throgmorton refused to doe, but went away and said then he would take him as he found him'.

7/6, Proceedings

'Wed. 5 Martii 1633/4.

Bourne's cause.

First calle the parties. Then Dr Ducke will move the court for wittnesses to be admitted.

The court to admitte, sweare and examine him if soe please. Mr Throgmorton will say what he can to the contrary. Dr Duck will then desire the cause to be concluded and judgement and sentence to be given. The court give judgement.

If Mr Throgmorton be committed the keeper presently to take him. If his wearing a sword be forbidden him, then if he have any uppon him yt to be taken of by some of the officers.

The chardges are to be taxed under a bill of them which Mr Bourne or Dr Duck will give upp.

The court to ask Mr Bourne what he will sweare he hath and must expend in the cause and accordingly to taxe somethinge lesse then he demands.

Mr Bourne is to make fayth of the chardges taxed, then the court to assesse damadges; thease to be estimated at the court's pleasure and somewhat regulated by Mr Bourne's demand which the register must sett downe, for no bill is given up of them.

Then the Kt Marshall or his deputy to take Mr Throgmorton into his custody.

So end the court.'

7/13, Plaintiff's depositions

Taken in court before Arundel, Huntingdon, Dorset, Maltravers, Marten, 3 May 1634

(Witness 1) Garret Walker:

'That upon the last day of Hilary term last being Wednesday the 12 February last, Mr Henry Throckmorton at his lodgeing at the Ploughe in Grays Inne Lane, after some speeches passed between him and Wm Bowne, <did> challendge Mr Bowne the feild or into the feild to fight with him, or to that effect; but sayth that Mr Bowne refused [unless] Mr Throckmorton would give him a challendge under his hand writing. And being farther interrogated at the petition of Mr Throckmorton and his counsell whether afterwards Mr Throckmorton and Mr Bowne then and there drancke one to the other, and were made friends, he sayeth he knoweth of no such matter'.

(Witness 2) John Dew:

'That upon the next day after the last terme, being Thursday 13 Feb 1633/4 he heard Mr Throckmorton in Lincolns Inne aske for Mr Bowne's chamber and being directed went thether but missed him as it seemed, but comeing backe or downe Mr Throckmorton mett Mr Bowne on the Court of Lincolns Inn and challendged him, Mr Bowne, for breakeing of his promises, in not meeting him in the feild or to the effect. Whereto Mr Bowne replyed that he made no such promise and that he would not meet him except he would give him a challendge under his hand; and thereupon Mr Throckmorton went away and said then he would take Bowne as he found him.'

(Witness 3) Richard Winspeare:

'Then about the latter end of the ... terme he heard Mr Throckmorton comeing into Lincoln's Inne aske for Mr Bowne's chamber and he being directed went thither but as it seemes misseing him, Mr Throckmorton came downe againe and [met] Bowne at this deponent's shop under the Gatehouse there. Mr Throckmorton then and there spake to Mr Bowne', but Winspeare did not hear what he said.

7/12, Proceedings

Taken before before the earl of Arundel, earl of Huntingdon, earl of Dorset, Lord Maltravers, Sir Henry Marten, 3 May 1634

Dr Duck desired the witnesses to be admitted.

Jo Dewe and Garratt Walker were sworn.

Throgmorton had suggested: 'if he proved that I challenged him he should prove himselfe a coward upon record'.

'Mr Bourne offers the coate of his family that ancient coat of Bourne if the officers will avow. He did not deny him to be a gent, but a gent of Lincolns Inn. My lo determines not the gentry'.

'The conclusion of the cause objected *and act read * my Lord that it was uppon Mr Throckmorton's absence and contumacy. At his lodgeing Mr Throckmorton challendged him. Mr Bowne would not goe except given under handwriting.

Last of the last terme Wednesday at the Ploughe in Grays Inn Lane denies any drinking or friends made [between the parties].'

John Dew at Mr Bourne's chamber; he found him the cause and challendged him of his promise he denyed except given under hand he would take him as he found him day after the terme Thursday

Rich. Winspeare stationer of Lincolns Inn asked for Bourne's chamber; he directed but missed; Mr Throckmorton he came down to Mr Bowne at his shop spake to him but what or what muttered he does not know. [That he refused to give a challenge in writing.]'

7/18, Proceedings

Undated [probably 3 May 1634]

'First make scilence The right honourable Thomas Erle of Arrundell and Surrey Erle Marshall of England Commands every man to keepe scilence

Then call Abraham Bowne gent

Then call Henry Throckmorton gent

To expect what the advocates will say or doe on both sides and accordingly to proceed

William[sic] Bowne will bring other witnesses who are to be admitted or not as the Court shall see cause.

If admitted how shall they be examined where publiqely presently or afterwards by the register against the next Court. They may be repeated before Dr Ducke or how otherwise.

What Mr Throckmorton will say or doe is to be expected and ordered as the court shall thincke fitt.'

Sentence / Arbitration

9/4/67, Plaintiff's bill of costs

In the vacation post Hilary term 1633

Warrant for attaching Throckmorton: £1-10s-0d

Fee for an advocate to attend the cause: £2-0s-0d

For engrossing a copy of the libel: £0-6s-8d

For writing and engrossing the petition and affidavit: £0-10s-0d

For expenses and traveling: £4-0s-0d

For the Register's fee for examining witnesses and acts done in this cause £2-0s-0d

For engrossing and copying the bill £0-5s-0d

Easter Term 1634:

For the expenses of three witnesses traveling to the city of London £5-0s-0d

For the fee of ... : £0-5s-0d

For engrossing... : £0-6s-8d

For the Register's fee: £1-0s-0d.

For the warrant for the costs taxed: £1-10s-0d

Total: £20-8s-4d

Signed by Arthur Duck.

7/14, Proceedings

Wednesday 21 May 1634

'First call the Court and make silence in ye Erle Marshalls name

The first wilbe the cause of Bowne against Throckmorton in which Dr Eden is to propound and prove his defence or exceptions if he will use any else the cause to be finally sentenced or ordered as the Court shall think fitt.'

[On the reverse a recognizance had been drafted]:

'The condition of this obligacon is such that if the above bounden shalbe hereafter of the good behaviour towards our Soveraigne Lord the Kinge and all his liedge people, shall at all times hereafter or for such times as the court, well and peaceably behave himselfe towards our Sovereign Lord the Kinge and all his leidge people and especially towards Abraham Bowne of Nottingham in the county of Nottingham, gent, then this etc'

7/7, Proceedings

Undated [probably 21 May 1634]

Against Throgmorton:

Call him: Call also Mr Abraham Bourne, the advocates will plead what they please.

Sentence in that cause also may be given if the court please.'

No date.

7/15, Proceedings and sentence

24 May 1634

'Dr Duck moves to sentence.

Dr Eden moves that any witness may be admitted to prove that within this half yeare before February Mr Bowne did soe many wronges to Mr Throckmorton and challendged him.

Amy White mayde: Mr Bowne come into the roome and gave him scandalous words and jeared him about his clothes and told him he would have a rubber at cuffs [sic]. This about halfe a yeare a goe at Mr More's chamber in Chancery Lane.

Dr Duck urgeth the whole proofe and prayeth the matter of challendging the field and calling coward these punishable to prevent the effusion of blood.'

Sentence was then given in Latin. Throckmorton was taxed £10 expenses and fined £6-13-4 for the charges before he was discharged.

17/2c/vii, Proceedings

Taken before Arundel, Huntingdon, Maltravers, Henry Marten and Gilbert Dethick at the Palace of Westminster, 7 June 1634

'Bowne he sayth he offereth his descent but hath not proved it, he is to attend Sir John Burrows and Sir William Neve at the Offices of Arms to satisfy them.'

Summary of further proceedings

Dr Duck acted as counsel for Bowne, Dr Eden for Throgmorton. Proceedings began on 1 March 1634 when Bowne, having presented his libel, produced Margaret Pargeter and Thomas Wilson as witnesses at a hearing before Arundel and Gilbert Dethick. On 5 March 1634, Dr Duck on behalf of Bourne accused Throgmorton of non appearance on the day prescribed and thereby accused him of contempt of court. The officers of the court were ordered to take Throgmorton into custody and take away his sword if he was still wearing it. On 3 May 1634 depositions were taken in the court before Arundel, Huntingdon, Bath, Maltravers and Sir Henry Marten from the witnesses Garret Walker, John Dew and Richard Winspeare. On 21 May Dr Eden was to relate the material for the defence. On 24 May Eden presented Amy White as a witness on Throgmorton's behalf. Duck argued that 'the matter of challendging the field and calling coward' were 'punishable to prevent the effusion of blood.' Sentence was given and Throgmorton was taxed £10 expenses and fined £6-13s-4d before he was discharged. On 7 June Bowne appeared to prove his gentility and was ordered to attend Sir John Borough, Garter King of Arms and Sir William Le Neve, Clarenceux King of Arms, at the College of Arms. Throgmorton was summoned to appear once again on 20 October 1634, possibly in order to certify his submission.


No Abraham Bowne or Bourne appeared in the Nottinghamshire Visitations.

G. W. Marshall (ed.), The Visitations of the County of Nottingham in the years 1569 and 1614 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 4, 1876); G. D. Squibb (ed.), The Visitation of Nottinghamshire begun in 1662 and finished in 1664 (Publications of the Harleian Society, new series, 5, 1986).

No Abraham Bowne appeared in the Lincoln's Inn admission register but an Edward Bowne of Nottinghamshire, gent, was admitted on 4 May 1592 'because his grandfather and his father were of this Society, at special request of Ralph Rokeby, esq, a Master of the Court of Requests'. On 12 May 1636 a John Bowne, son and heir of Gilbert Bowne of Nottingham town, bencher, was admitted. On 31 May 1638, Gilbert Bowne, the second son of Gilbert Bowne of Nottingham, now a sergeant-at-law, was also admitted.

Records of the Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn, vol. 1, Admissions, 1420-1799 (London, 1896), pp. 114, 230, 235.

Henry Throgmorton was not mentioned in the Middlesex Pedigrees or the Visitations of London: G. J. Armytage (ed.), Middlesex Pedigrees (Publications of the Harleian Society, 65, 1914); J. J. Howard and J. L. Chester (eds.), The Visitation of London in 1633, 1634, and 1635 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 15, 1880), vol. 1; J. J. Howard (ed.), The Visitation of London in 1633, 1634, and 1635 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 17, 1883), vol. 2; J. B. Whitmore and A. W. Hughes Clarke (eds.), London Visitation Pedigrees, 1664 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 92, 1940); T. C. Wales and C. P. Hartley (eds.), The Visitation of London begun in 1687 (Publications of the Harleian Society, new series, 17, 2004).


  • Initial proceedings
    • Libel: 9/4/65 (no date)
  • Plaintiff's case
    • Plaintiff's depositions: 8/22b (1 Mar 1634)
    • Proceedings: 7/6 (5 Mar 1634)
    • Plaintiff's depositions: 7/13 (3 May 1634)
    • Proceedings: 7/12 (3 May 1634)
    • Proceedings: 7/18 (no date [3 May 1634?])
  • Sentence / Arbitration
    • Plaintiff's bill of costs: 9/4/67 (Eas 1634)
    • Proceedings: 7/14 (21 May 1634)
    • Proceedings: 7/7 (No date [24 May 1634?])
    • Proceedings and sentence: 7/15 (24 May 1634)
    • Proceedings: 17/2c/vii (7 Jun 1634)
  • Proceedings
    • Proceedings: 7/16 (5 Mar 1634)
    • Proceedings: 7/8 (14 Apr 1634)
    • Proceedings: 7/9 (26 Apr 1634)
    • Proceedings: 7/17 (7 Jun 1634)
    • Proceedings: 1/1 (20 Oct 1634)

People mentioned in the case

  • Borough, John, knight (also Burrough, Burrows)
  • Bourchier, Henry, earl of Bath
  • Bowne, Abraham, gent (also Bourne)
  • Bowne, Edward, gent
  • Bowne, Gilbert, gent
  • Bowne, Gilbert, sergeant at law
  • Bowne, John, gent
  • Dethick, Gilbert, registrar
  • Dew, John
  • Duck, Arthur, lawyer
  • Eden, Thomas, lawyer
  • Hastings, Henry, earl of Huntingdon
  • Howard, Henry, baron Maltravers
  • Howard, Thomas, earl of Arundel and Surrey
  • Le Neve, William, knight
  • Marten, Henry, knight
  • More, Mr
  • Pargeter, Margaret
  • Rokeby, Ralph, esq
  • Sackville, Edward, earl of Dorset
  • Stuart, Charles I, king
  • Throgmorton, Henry, gent (also Throckmorton)
  • Walker, Garret
  • White, Amy
  • Wilson, Thomas
  • Winspeare, Richard

Places mentioned in the case

  • London
    • Gray's Inn Lane
  • Middlesex
    • Chancery Lane
    • Lincoln's Inn
  • St Andrew's, Holborn
    • St Dunstan-in-the-West
  • Nottinghamshire
    • Nottingham

Topics of the case

  • allegation of cowardice
  • apparel
  • challenge to a duel
  • coat of arms
  • drinking healths
  • giving the lie
  • heraldry
  • inns of court
  • King of Arms
  • Knight Marshall
  • office-holding
  • reconciliation
  • weapon