20 Badcock v Comyns

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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'20 Badcock v Comyns', in The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640, (, ) pp. . British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/court-of-chivalry/20-badcock-comyns [accessed 24 April 2024]

In this section


George Badcock of Great Bentley, co. Essex, gent v Abraham Comyns of the same

July 1637 - February 1639

Figure 20:

The Norman parish church of St Mary the Virgin, Great Bentley, Essex, where Abraham Comyns made a mockery of his submission to George Badcock.


Badcock claimed that Comyns had given him the lie and insulted him with 'contumelious' words. Comyns was sentenced to perform his submission in Great Bentley church on 16 July 1637, but, according to the vicar, William Gimson, he made a mockery of proceedings by keeping his hat on, denying Badcock the honorific 'Mr', and altering the words, all of which was done in a 'jeering and fleering manner'. At evening prayer on the same day he made a mocking bow towards Badcock which provoked laughter among the congregation. He was taken into the custody of the Earl Marshal and, after the delivery of a fresh libel, was required to make a second submission at the Essex assizes in the Shirehall, Chelmsford on 27 June 1638, to apologise for his former ill behaviour and disgraceful words. He failed to do this. Comyns petitioned Lord Maltravers to release him from prison and discharge him from part of his initial fine because 'his wife and children live in great want'. But on 9 February 1639 Dr Duck reported that, on the authority of the court, Comyns was still imprisoned in the King's Bench for non performance of his submission and non payment of a further fine of £100 and £25 expenses. It was ordered that he remain in prison.

Sentence / Arbitration

12/1gg, Affidavit regarding submission

William Gimson, vicar of Great Bentley, co. Essex and Thomas Gray of Great Bentley deposed on oath 28 October 1637:

'On 16 July last past Abraham Comyns by order of Lo. Maltravers being to make public submission to Mr George Badcock in the church of Much Bentleigh (for abusive words), Gray standing in his pue did read the words of the submission (which were written in a paper whereunto Comyns had subscribed his name), and Comyns was to pronounce the same words after him. But Comyns sitting on the higher seat of his stoole or pue with his hatt on his head did pronounce these words in the beginning of his submission saying, Whereas I, Abraham Comin, was convented before the right (and then making some stopp or pains and taking of... he afterwards proceeded and said) honourable Thomas earl of Arundell and Surrey, whereas he should have pronounced these words (by whose just order I am now imprisoned) said by whose order (leaving out just) I am now imprisoned then added these words of his own (and therefore constrayned). And in all places of the submission where he should have pronounced Mr George Badcock he said only George Badcock. And when he should have said (whom I acknowledge to be a very honest and worthy gentleman) he said only whome I am forced to acknowledge to be a very, and there made pawse (leaving out the rest). And after the words in the submission I have done him great wrong, he added (if I knowe for what), as Thos Gray deposeth. And instead of these words in the submission (And for the future I doe promise to carry myselfe with that due respect towards him as that I may regaine his favour and frendshipp) he said and for the future I promise to carry myselfe with that due respect towards him as he shall deserve, and there stopt. All which Thos Gray deposeth was done by Comyn in a jeering and fleering manner, in a way of scorne and derision to Mr Badcocke, and contrary to the direccons and prescript forme of the submission, and the lord's order.

And in the afternoon at evening prayer, Comyn having a child to be christened, as he came into the church neere to Mr Badcocke's stoole or pue, Comyn made a low obeysance with his head bowed towards the ground before Mr Badcock's pue (he being then in it) and afterwards once or twice more did the like obeysance in way of derision to Mr Badcock, laughing in his face which moved a great part of the congregation to laughter.'

15/2o, Plaintiff's sentence

At the time and place in the libel, 'Abraham Cumins was convented before us for giving the lye, and using other contumelious words against George Badcocke, of which words he was lawfully convicted, and monished to make his submission to George Badcocke according to the forme of a submission sett downe in a schedule to be performed by him the 16th day of July 1637. Abraham Cumins in rehearsing the submission kept his hatt on his head, and omitted and changed divers words of the submission, and added many scurrilous words of his owne, and by his scurrilous words and gestures expressed at the time of his rehearsing the submission he caused a laughter in the church among the parishioners to the contempt of us and our authoritie, and of George Badcocke.'

Fined £100 and taxed at £25

14 April 1638

Signed by Arthur Duck and Maltravers.


4/14, Submission

Comyns was to perform his submission 'standing bareheaded in some eminent place' between 10 and 11am on Wednesday 27 June 1638 on the second day of the Essex Assizes, in the Shirehall, Chelmsford or wherever else the assizes were held, before the assize judges and the rest of the bench.

'Whereas I Abraham Cominus stand convicted... to have very much misbehaved myself in performance of a submission formerly enjoyned me by his honour to be made unto Mr George Badcocke of Bently Magna in com. Essex gent. to the great contempt of his honour and manifest abuse of Mr Badcocke, I do hereby humbly acknowledge that I am hartily sorry for my such misbehaviour and contemptuous carriage of my self in performance of the submission. And I do further humbly acknowledge Mr Badcocke to be a very honest and worthy gent. and that I did him great wronge in giving him the lye and using such other opprobrious and disgracefull speeches against him as I stand convicted of in that behalfe. I do humbly pray the right honourable Henry Lord Maltravers aforesaid to pardon and remitt the further punishment of my contempt and Mr Badcocke to forgive my such abusing and abusive speeches used of and against him as aforesaid. And I do hereby promise to carry and behave my selfe towards him hereafter with all due observance and respect.'

EM56, Defendant's petition to Maltravers

Comyn had been ordered to perform his submission in church on Sunday 16 July 1637:

'which said submission was verie indiscreetly and extreame foolishlie and unadvisedly misperformed by your poor petitioner through many omissions and addicons in the performance thereof, for which your poor petitioner is right heartily sorrowfull and upon his bended knees doth humblie beg pardon at your lordships hands. And that your honour wilbe pleased to admit your poor petitioner into your lordship's favourable opinion againe and hath since the apprehension of his great offence publiquely in the church with audible voice performed the same submission...'

My humble prayer unto your honourable good lordship is that for God's sake you wilbee pleased to consider the lamentable miseries, distressed condicon, and many greate chardges and losses by sickness susteyned by his greate troubles and tedious imprisonment, with former payments unto Mr Badcocke and eight pounds by your lordship's command. By means of all which aforesaid your poor petitioner has now become much indebt, his wife and children live in great want, and are like to perish in extreame miserie, unless your honourable good lordship wilbe pleased according to your accustomed clemencie to workes of mercie, freely to remitt your lordship's just displeasure, and to free your poor petitoner from all further disbursements for the misperformance of the said submission. Your poor petitioner being ready to perform the submission when and in what manner your honourable good lordship shall please to enjoyne the same to his utmost power.'

Signed by Abraham Comm.

Summary of proceedings

Dr Duck acted as counsel for Badcock and Dr Talbot for Comyns. On 28 November 1637Comyns was warned to respond to the allegations against him. On 27 January 1638 Dr Duck presented the libel for failure to perform his submission, to which William Gimson, clerk, James Windell and Richard Hill acted as witnesses and on 12 February 1638, Dr Talbot was to relate the material for the defence. On 6 November 1638 Comyns was ordered to pay the expenses in the sentence, and Dr Duck accused him of non payment of £25. On 9 February 1639, Duck reported that on the authority of the court, Comyns had been attached and imprisoned in the King's Bench for non payment of his £25 expenses and fine of £100, and for non performance of his submission. It was ordered that he remain in the King's Bench prison.


George Badcock was the son of John Badcock of London and appeared in the Visitation of Essex in 1634. He married Alice, daughter of Anthony Boycott of Ipswich.

W. C. Metcalfe (ed.), The Visitations of Essex, Part I (Publications of the Harleian Society, 13, 1878), p. 340.


  • Sentence / Arbitration
    • Affidavit regarding submission: 12/1gg (28 Oct 1637)
    • Plaintiff's sentence: 15/2o (14 Apr 1638)
  • Submission
    • Submission 4/14 (27 Jun 1638)
    • Defendant's petition to Maltravers: EM56 (no date)
  • Proceedings
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 8/29 (18 Nov 1637)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 8/29 (28 Nov 1637)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 1/5, fos. 1-15 (27 Jan 1638)
    • Proceedings before Arundel: 1/5, fos. 23-35 (3 Feb 1638)
    • 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: 1/7, fos. 36-47 (9 Feb 1639)

People mentioned in the case

  • Badcock, Alice (also Badcocke)
  • Badcock, George, gent (also Badcocke)
  • Badcock, John (also Badcocke)
  • Boycott, Anthony
  • Comyns, Abraham (also Comin, Comyn)
  • Duck, Arthur, lawyer
  • Gimson, William, vicar (also Gymson)
  • Gray, Thomas
  • Hill, Richard
  • Howard, Henry, baron Maltravers
  • Howard, Thomas, earl of Arundel and Surrey
  • Talbot, Clere, lawyer
  • Windell, James

Places mentioned in the case

  • Essex
    • Great Bentley (also Much Bentleigh, Bently Magna)
    • Chelmsford
  • Suffolk
    • Ipswich

Topics of the case

  • apparel
  • assizes
  • facial gesture
  • giving the lie
  • King's Bench
  • other courts