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691 WATSON V FILCOTT
Robert Watson of Frindsbury, co. Kent, gent v Peter Filcott of the same, gent
October 1638 - February 1639
Watson complained that between September and November 1637 in Rochester, Kent, Filcott insulted him in the presence of several gentlemen, saying 'I care for never a white livered knave in England', daring Watson to prosecute him and even offering him twenty shillings to do so. Watson added that between June and August 1638, in Frindsbury parish, Kent, Filcott blotted out the addition of gentleman to his name in the parish poor rate, and said, 'Is Watson a gentleman? Who a devil made him a gentleman? He is a shitbreech.' On 20 October 1638 Filcott was ordered to attend the court and give bond. Watson's libel was presented on 5 December and his witnesses were examined on 9 and 21 February 1639. Filcott maintained that two of them, Henry Norton and Robert London, had been drawn to testify falsely by Gilbert Dethick's clerk, another Mr Watson, and petitioned that they might be examined by a commission in the country instead. The court considered action against Filcott for contempt and there was mention of a case in the King's Bench; but no further proceedings survive.
1. Watson's family had been gentry for up to 200 years, whereas Filcott was a plebeian.
2. From September to November 1637 in the town of Rochester, co. Kent, in public, in the presence of several gentlemen, 'Filioll speaking to me of some things, said, who you? I care for never a white livered knave in England, and dared me to prosecute the suite, and offered me twenty shillings to prosecute the same'.
3. From June to August 1638, in Frindsbury parish, 'he blotted out the addition of gentleman put to my name in the rate of the poor of the parish, and said, Is Watson a gentleman? Who a devil made him a gentleman? He is a shitbreech.'
4. He spoke the words in a contemptuous and contumelious manner.
6. These words were provocative of a duel.
Dated 5 December 1638.
Signed by Arthur Duck.
7/31, Defendant's petition
The defendant was referred to as Peter Philcott.
Filcott petitioned Arundel that the witnesses Henry Norton and Robert London, two countrymen of Kent who were examined as witnesses by one Mr Watson 'a clarke under Mr Dethick, the Register' Tuesday last, 'being ignorant men', they were 'much pressed', 'urged and drawne' to sign to statements which they disclaimed. Since they had asked Mr Watson to have those words crossed out, 'which he refuseth to doe to the great disquiet of the witnesses, and the apparent wrong of your petitioner', the petitioner requested Arundel to command that the same witnesses be examined by a commission again in the country, and that their existing examinations be suppressed.
Summary of proceedings
Dr Duck acted as counsel for Watson and Dr Ryves for Filcott. On 20 October 1638 Filcott was warned to attend court at the next sitting at Arundel House and give bond.
On 6 November Filcott was required to appear and there were further proceedings on 20 and 28 November. On 5 December Dr Duck presented the libel and Dr Ryves was required to respond in court before Sir Henry Marten within three days. On 12 December Dr Ryves refuted the libel, so Dr Duck was required to prove it in the first session of the next term. There was mention of the witnesses Richard Porter, Henry Lawson, John Nordish, Robert London, Anthony Stroud and James Morgan. On 28 January 1639 Dr Duck produced Porter, Lawson, Nordish, London, Stroud and Thomas Allen as witnesses. On 9 February the witnesses were warned to appear on behalf of Watson, and Robert London and Henry Lawson were examined. On 21 February Watson's witnesses were again examined, and in response Filcott produced no witnesses but affidavits. There was also mention of an attachment against Filcott for contempt and a case in the King's Bench. On 23 February further material was to be presented for Filcott's defence.
Robert Watson of Frindsbury was the son of William Watson of Frindsbury, co. Kent, and Rose, daughter of Mr Canon of Swaffham, co. Norfolk. Robert Watson married four times. Peter Filcot of Aylesford, co. Kent, was the son of Thomas Filcot of Southwark and Anne, daughter of Richard Reeve of Maidstone. Peter married Mary, daughter of Mr Ladbury of Frindsbury, co. Kent.
G. J. Armytage (ed.), A Visitation of the County of Kent, 1663-8 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 54, 1906), pp. 57, 175.
- Initial proceedings
- Libel: 18/2k (5 Dec 1638)
- Defendant's petition: 7/31 (no date)
- Proceedings before Arundel: R.19, fos. 434r-449v (20 Oct 1638)
- Proceedings before Maltravers: R.19, fos. 454r-468v (6 Nov 1638)
- Proceedings before Maltravers: R.19, fos. 400v-412v (20 Nov 1638)
- Proceedings before Maltravers: R.19, fos. 422r-428r (28 Nov 1638)
- Proceedings before Maltravers: R.19, fos. 474r-484v (5 Dec 1638)
- Proceedings before Marten: R.19, fos. 488r-490v (12 Dec 1638)
- Proceedings before Maltravers: 1/9 (28 Jan 1639)
- Proceedings: 1/7, fos. 36-47 (9 Feb 1639)
- Proceedings before Arundel: 1/6, fos. 20-33 (21 Feb 1639)
- Proceedings before Arundel: 1/6, fos. 1-9 (23 Feb 1639)
People mentioned in the case
- Allen, Thomas
- Canon, Mr
- Canon, Rose
- Dethick, Gilbert, registrar
- Duck, Arthur, lawyer
- Filcot, Anne
- Filcot, Mary
- Filcot, Thomas
- Filcott, Peter, gent (also Filioll, Philcott)
- Howard, Henry, baron Maltravers
- Howard, Thomas, earl of Arundel and Surrey
- Ladbury, Mary
- Ladbury, Mr
- Marten, Henry, knight
- Morgan, James
- Nordish, John
- Lawson, Henry
- London, Robert
- Norton, Henry
- Porter, Richard
- Reeve, Anne
- Reeve, Richard
- Ryves, Thomas, lawyer (also Rives)
- Stroud, Anthony
- Watson, John
- Watson, Robert, gent
- Watson, Rose
- Watson, William
Places mentioned in the case
- Arundel House
Topics of the case
- denial of gentility
- insult before gentlemen
- King's Bench
- other courts
- scatological insult