79 Bucknell v Leyfield

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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John Bucknell of Peterborough, co. Northampton, gent v William Leyfield of Longthorpe, co. Northampton, gent

November 1637 - February 1638

Figure 79:

Peterborough in 1610. It was here in 1637 that John Bucknell insulted William Leyfield, prompting Leyfield to strike him in the face (From John Speed, Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain (1611))


The quarrel began at an encounter in Peterborough, Northamptonshire, between Bucknell, an utter barrister of Lincoln's Inn and servant to the queen, and Humphrey Orme, esq, son of a Northamptonshire justice, and Leyfield who was his brother-in-law. Bucknell alleged that Orme made the first move by saying to him, 'Sirra, Sirra, you have a suite against my father, but we will take an order with you'. When Bucknell replied, 'never Sirra me Mr Orme, for I am as well bredd and borne as your selfe', Leyfield exclaimed that he lied and struck him in the face. Dr Duck granted Bucknell process against Leyfield for having given him the lie on 28 November 1637, but would not condone an action against Orme. On 12 February 1638 Dr Exton responded to the libel and a commission headed by William Hacke, esq, and Thomas Dove, esq, was appointed to examine witnesses at an inn called the Three Tuns in Peterborough, 19-21 March. But no further proceedings survive.

Initial proceedings

3/49, Petition to Arundel

'Your petitioner being an utter barrester of Lyncolne's Inn, and a servant to her Majestie, and a gent descended of an ancient and good familie and being of an inoffensive disposition, and civell behaviour, meeting with Humphrey Orme of the Cittye of Peterburrowe, esq, and William Leyfield of Longthorpe in the parish of Peterburrowe, hath beene lately with injurious languadge and tearmes full of disgrace provoked and reveiled by Humphrey Orme and William Leyfield. Humphrey Orme in most insolent manner said unto your petitioner, Sirra, Sirra, you have a suite against my father, but we will take an order with you; whereunto your petitioner answered and said, never Sirra me Mr Orme, for I am as well bredd and borne as your selfe. And thereupon Leyfield in an uncivell and provoking manner gave your Lordshipps petitioner the lye and in an assaulting manner violently stroke your petitioner on his face or head.

For which insufferable injuryes may it please your honor that your petitioner being soe provoaked and reveiled, in observance of his Majestie's lawes, and for the preventing and avoiding of bloodshed and duells, humbly prayes the ayde of your honors Court of Armes and the authoritye thereof to be releeved in the premises.

Nov. 28. 1637

Mr Dethick, the petitioner being a gentleman as he informes I conceave hath just cause of action in my Lord Marshall's Court against Leyfield for giving the lye. For the rest of the petition I take it not to be so proper for the court.'

Signed by Arthur Duck.

3/48, Plaintiff's bond

28 November 1637

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

Signed by John Bucknell.

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

7/104, Defendant's bond

7 February 1638

Bound to attend the court in the painted chamber, Palace of Westminster, and to pay costs and charges and perform the orders of the court.

Signed Randall Bird on behalf of Leyfield.

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

Summary of proceedings

Dr Duck acted as counsel for Bucknell and Dr Exton for Leyfield. On 3 February 1638 Leyfield was summoned to appear and on 12 February Dr Exton responded to the libel and the following commissioners were nominated: William Hacke, esq, Thomas Warner the younger, gent, Richard Ashfield, gent, and Paul Pancke, clerk, and also Thomas Dove esq, Christopher Thiursby, esq, Thomas Stiles and Fra. Underwood, gents, to sit at an inn called the Three Tuns in Peterborough from 19 to 21 March 1638.


William Leafield (c.1585-1655), of Longthorpe in the parish of St John the Baptist in Peterborough, was married to Temperance, daughter of Sir Humphrey Orme of Peterborough, knt. She died c.1640 and Leafield's second wife was Martha, daughter of George Lynne of Southwick, co. Northampton, esq.

H. I. Longden (ed.), The Visitation of the County of Northampton in the year 1681 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 87, 1935), p. 119.


  • Initial proceedings
    • Petition: 3/49 (28 Nov 1637)
    • Plaintiff's bond: 3/48 (28 Nov 1637)
    • Defendant's bond: 7/104 (7 Feb 1638)
  • Proceedings
    • Proceedings before Arundel: 1/5, fos. 23-35 (3 Feb 1638)
    • Proceedings before Arundel: 1/5, fos. 38-56 (12 Feb 1638)

People mentioned in the case

  • Middlesex
    • Lincoln's Inn
    • Westminster
  • Northamptonshire
    • Longthorpe
    • Peterborough
    • Southwick

Topics of the case

  • assault
  • calling sirrah
  • giving the lie
  • inns of court
  • justice of the peace
  • previous litigation
  • royal servant