13 Aston v Oakes

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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John Aston of Tixall, co. Stafford, gent v John Oakes of London, printer

January - February 1638

Figure 13:

Tixall Hall, home of John Aston. The Elizabethan gatehouse was regarded by local historian Sampson Erdeswicke as 'one of the finest pieces of work made of late times that I have seen in all of these countries' (From Stebbing Shaw, The History and Antiquities of Staffordshire , 2 vols. (1798-1801))


Aston complained that in October or November 1637 in London Oakes had given him the lie in company several times, and said that he was a 'jack' and a 'stinkeinge beggarly base knave'. Oakes had added that Aston was not 'worth a hundred pence', and that 'before he had done with him he would make him known to be soe to all his neighbours'. Aston claimed kinship with Lord Aston and the earl of Denbigh, petitioning 'that he maye not have his birth and blood stayned nor disgraced by the foule mouth and unmannerly speeches of John Oakes'. Process was granted on 3 January 1638 and William Hall of St Lawrence Jewry, London, scrivener, provided an affidavit to support Aston's petition. On 12 February 1638 a decree was granted for an attachment on Oakes, but no further proceedings survive.

Initial proceedings

EM78, Petition to Maltravers

Petitioned that he was 'by his birth a gentleman and discended of the auncient family of the Astons of Tixhall in Staffordsheire, and neerely allied unto the right honorable Walter Lord Aston, extraordinary imbassador for his Majesty in Spaine, and unto the right Honorable the earle of Denbigh', who had dealings with Oakes.

Oakes, 'being of a turbulent and provoakeinge spirit, hath very basely defamed and disgraced your petitioner in his reputation, by many opprobrious foule and disgracefull speeches, calling your petitioner base knave, and stinkeinge, beggarly, base knave, and not to be worth a hundred pence; and that before he had done with him he would make him known to be soe to all his neighbours; and many times upon your petitioner's discourse with him did very often give your petitioner the lye, beinge in companie with divers others, tellinge him he was a jack, in a very abusive and disgraceful manner.'

Petitioned 'that he maye not have his birth and blood stayned nor disgraced by the foule mouth and unmannerly speeches of John Oakes.' Prayed for 'condigne punishment' against Oakes.

'Richard Harper maketh oath that he knoweth this peticon in substance to be true

3 January 1637/8

Endorsed by John Mychell.'

EM79, Affidavit

'William Hall of St Lawrence Jury, London, scrivener, maketh oath that in or about the month of October or November last, John Oakes of London, printer, did call this petitioner John Aston in an abusive manner saying, Thou art a knave, and before I have done with thee I will make thee so knowne to all thy neighbours, which words were sundery times repeated; and therewithal oftentimes gave him the lye with much other abusive languages which [Hall] cannot in the particulars remember.'

Taken before John Mychell, 5 January 1637/8.

Summary of proceedings

Dr Duck acted as counsel for Aston. On 27 January 1638 Oates was required to appear in response to a summons, and on 12 February 1638 a decree was granted for an attachment on Oates.


John Aston was the third son of Sir Walter Aston, 1st baron Aston, and brother to Walter, 2nd baron Aston. Walter, 2nd baron Aston of Forfar was a Catholic recusant, and a Scot by birth, but seated at Tixall, co. Stafford. He served in the royalist garrisons of Ashby de la Zouch and Lichfield and was in the Close at the surrender of Lichfield in July 1646. Thereafter he went into exile.

G. J. Amytage and W. H. Rylands (eds.), Staffordshire Pedigrees based on the Visitation of that County made by William Dugdale, 1663-4 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 63, 1912), p. 11; P. R. Newman, The Old Service: Royalist regimental Colonels and the Civil War, 1642-46 (Manchester, 1993), pp. 82-3.


  • Initial proceedings
    • Petition to Maltravers: EM78 (3 Jan 1638)
    • Affidavit: EM79 (5 Jan 1638)
  • Proceedings
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 1/5, fos. 1-15 (27 Jan 1638)
    • Proceedings before Arundel: 1/5, fos. 38-56 (12 Feb 1638)

People mentioned in the case

  • Aston, John, gent
  • Aston, Walter, 1st baron Aston
  • Aston, Walter, 2nd baron Aston
  • Duck, Arthur, lawyer
  • Fielding, William, earl of Denbigh
  • Hall, William, scrivener
  • Harper, Richard
  • Mychell, John
  • Howard, Henry, baron Maltravers
  • Howard, Thomas, earl of Arundel and Surrey
  • Oakes, John, printer

Places mentioned in the case

  • Leicestershire
    • Ashby de la Zouch
  • London
    • St Lawrence, Jewry
    • Spain
  • Staffordshire
    • Lichfield
    • Tixall

Topics of the case

  • civil war
  • denial of gentility
  • giving the lie
  • military officer
  • Roman Catholic
  • royalist