19 Bacon v Webb

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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Thomas Bacon of Hessett, co. Suffolk, gent v Roger Webb of Cowlinge, co. Suffolk

November 1637 - June 1639


Bacon petitioned that in his chamber at Newmarket, Suffolk, on 28 October 1637, in the company of gentlemen, Webb called him 'a base lying fellow, a base lying rascall...a base cheating knave, and one that dares as well eate a toades head as meete a man.' Webb claimed in his defence that he had been provoked by Bacon claiming that he had forsworn himself. The meeting at Bacon's house had been called to reconcile an earlier dispute between the two men which had resulted in a Chancery suit. Webb now requested that Dudley Lord North, Sir George Le Hunt and Henry North, esq, be called in to reconcile the quarrel. However, nothing appears to have come of this and the court passed sentence on 21 February 1639 that Webb should perform a submission, pay a fine of 100 marks to the king, along with £60 in damages and £20 costs to Bacon. Webb later petitioned for the Earl of Arundel's favour, claiming he had ten children to support and was a tenant on an estate owned by Arundel's mother in Norfolk.

Initial proceedings

3/64, Petition to Arundel

'Your petitioner being at Newmarket upon xxviiith October last in the company of divers gent and others, one Roger Webb came in to the chamber of your petitioner and in the hearing of the company did call your petitioner base fellow, base rogue, base lying rascall, and foole and often iterates these and the like words.'

Petitioned that Webb be brought to answer.

Duck desired Dethick to grant process, 11 November 1637.

Signed by Arthur Duck.

3/99, Plaintiff's bond

11 November 1637

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

Signed by Thomas Bacon.

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

EM138, Defendant's petition for arbitration

Recited that a suit was pending in the Chancery Court between him and Bacon, and that at a meeting for the reconciling of differences still greater discord arose and much ill language passed between them. Added that 'Bacon hath given in his libel into your honors court against your petitioner, charginge him with very foule, scandalous and ill languadge which was never uttered or given him by your petitioner, nor any other language more offensive then he had received by Bacon'.

Requested to refer the 'examinacon and consideracon of the whole matter to Dudley Lord North, Baron [North of ] Kirtling, Sir George Le Hunt and Henry North esq who I doubt not but upon the true examinacon of the businesse will put an end to all differences or else to any others whom your lordshipp shall thinke fitt'.

No date.

No signatures.

R.19, fo. 5r, Summary of libel

Bacon's family had been gentry for up to 100 years 'and soe commonly reputed. And that Webb (att such a time and place) said that Bacon was a base lying fellow, a base lying Rascall, a base fellow, a foole, a base cheating knave, and one that dares as well eate a Toades head as meete a man. Thereby to provoke and c.'


No signature.

Defendant's case

18/3i, Defence

3. He had been provoked by Thomas Bacon 'Vizt that he made affidavit... Roger Webbe is forsworne... with a grinning, wide open and writ[h]ing mouth, blared or lolled out his tongue against me.'

Dated 6 November 1638.

Signed by Thomas Exton and Robert King.


6/117, Defendant's bond of submission

20 June 1639

The Earl of Arundel had passed sentence on 21 February 1638/9 that Roger Webb should pay a fine of 100 marks to the King plus £60 damages and £20 costs to Thomas Bacon, along with the submission appointed by the court.

Webb was bound to pay the full £80 to Bacon by the first court day of Michaelmas term next and the 100 marks 'or so much thereof' as the Earl Marshall should appoint, in addition to the due performance of his submission.

Signed by Thomas Webb of Gray's Inn, co. Middlesex, gent and John Bretland of Thorncliff, co. Chester, gent

Signed and delivered in the presence of Humphrey Terrick.

7/26, Defendant's petition to Arundel

19 February [1639/40]

'Whereas the cause to morrow next the 20th of this February is to receive a hearing before your Lopp in the Court.

The petitioner humblie prayeth (in regard by some neglect of those that dealt for him) his witnesses have not bene examined; and thereby the petitioner is deprived of that just defence which otherwise he might have made to cleare himselfe. And this suit hath bene prosecuted by the pl[ain]t[iff] in spleene, by reason of other suits which are depending betwixt the defendant and the plaintiffs mother. And for that the petitioner hath a great charge of 10 children, and he and his father were heretofore tenants to your honourable mother of a farme called Wootton in Norfolk at £500 per annum, and the pl[ain]t[iff] hath given out threatening speeches that he will undoe your petitioner, that your Lordship will be pleased to take the premises into your honourable consideracon and afford your petitioner such lawfull favour as may stand with your lordship's justice and the equity of his cause.

And he is in duty bound andc'

[notes in margin]

'Sentence in Candlemas tearme last for £60 damages, £20 costs

Move for tyme of payment till Michaelmas tearme and in the meane tyme a suspend of the attachment.'

Summary of proceedings

Dr Eden acted as counsel for Bacon and Dr Exton for Webb. On 12 February 1638, Webb appeared in person in response to a summons and Dr Eden presented the libel. On 20 October 1638, Dr Exton was ordered to relate the material for Webb's defence. The court passed sentence on 21 February 1639 that Webb should perform a submission, pay a fine of 100 marks to the King, along with £60 in damages and £20 costs to Bacon.


Thomas Bacon may have been the Thomas Bacon of Friston Hall, esq, in the Suffolk Visitation of 1664.

W. H. Rylands (ed.), A Visitation of the County of Suffolk, 1664-1668 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 61, 1910), p. 39.


  • Initial proceedings
    • Petition to Arundel: 3/64 (11 Nov 1637)
    • Plaintiff's bond: 3/99 (11 Nov 1637)
    • Defendant's petition for arbitration: EM138 (no date)
    • Summary of libel: R.19, fo. 5r (1638)
  • Defendant's case
    • Defence: 18/3i (6 Nov 1638)
  • Submission
    • Bond of submission: 6/117 (20 Jun 1639)
    • Defendant's petition to Arundel: 7/2 (19 Feb, no year)
  • Proceedings
    • Proceedings before Arundel: 1/5, fos. 38-56 (12 Feb 1638)
    • Proceedings before Arundel: R.19, fos. 434r-449v (20 Oct 1638)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: R.19, fos. 454r-468v (6 Nov 1638)
    • Proceedings before Marten: R.19, fo. 470v (13 Nov 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)

People mentioned in the case

  • Bacon, Thomas, gent
  • Bretland, John, gent
  • Dethick, Gilbert, registrar
  • Duck, Arthur, lawyer
  • Howard, Henry, baron Maltravers
  • Howard, Thomas, earl of Arundel and Surrey
  • King, Robert
  • Le Hunt, George, knight
  • Marten, Henry, knight
  • North, Dudley, baron North of Kirtling
  • North, Henry, esq
  • Stuart, Charles I, king
  • Terrick, Humphrey, lawyer
  • Watson, John, lawyer
  • Webb, Thomas, gent
  • Webb, Roger (also Webbe)

Places mentioned in the case

  • Chester
    • Thorncliff
  • Middlesex
    • Gray's Inn
    • Westminster
  • Norfolk
    • Wootton
  • Suffolk
    • Cowlinge
    • Friston
    • Hessett
    • Newmarket

Topics of the case

  • arbitration
  • cheating
  • Court of Chancery
  • denial of gentility
  • facial gesture
  • giving the lie
  • inns of court
  • other courts