201 Fanning v Harper

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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John Fanning, gent v Richard Harper, barber

January 1638

Figure 201:

On the left of this picture the Middle Temple, where Richard Harper challenged John Fanning to fight.


Fanning, one of the king's servants, complained that at the Middle Temple, in December-January 1637/8, Harper challenged him to fight in the presence of several people, drawing a knife, and then borrowing a sword, boasting that Fanning 'should taste of it'. A bystander, George Younger, claimed that had he not intervened, Harper would have wounded Fanning. No further proceedings survive.

Initial proceedings

EM81, Affidavits

(Witness 1), Edward Freeman of London, gent

Swears on oath that he was with Mr Fanning in the Middle Temple when Richard Harper approached 'bearing as it seemeth some grudge and quarrel to Mr Fanning, in a violent and challenging manner told Mr Fanning...' [same details then as EM80] 'upon which Mr Fanning desiring to know his name and the place when he lived, he refused with these words. What is that to you.'

2 January 1638

Taken before Jo. Mychell.

(Witness 2), George Younger of London, yeoman

Was present with Fanning and Harper when 'the said Harper ran violentlie with his knife at Mr Fanning and had hurt Mr Fanning were it not for me, Younger, that then put Harper's stroke by.'

9 January 1638

Taken before Ro. Riche.

EM80, Petition

'One Richard Harper, a barber (in violent and provoking manner before divers persons) hath affronted your petitioner and drew his knife at him, and, after having gott a sword, he challenged and threatened your petitoner saying, that he had formerlie drawne his knife at him because he had noe sword, but now he had, which the petitioner should taste of, if he would goe forth with him, with many other urging and disgraceful words, to the great disparagement of your petitioner in his reputation (as by affidavit annexed and other good proofe will appeare to your lordship.'

Prays Richard Harper might be called to answer.

Endorsed 8 January 1638.


John Fanning did not appear in any of the Visitations of London, nor in the admissions to the Middle Temple: J. J. Howard and J. L. Chester (eds.), The Visitation of London in 1633, 1634, and 1635 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 15, 1880), vol. 1; J. J. Howard (ed.), The Visitation of London in 1633, 1634, and 1635 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 17, 1883), vol. 2; J. B. Whitmore and A. W. Hughes Clarke (eds.), London Visitation Pedigrees, 1664 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 92, 1940); T. C. Wales and C. P. Hartley (eds.), The Visitation of London begun in 1687 (Publications of the Harleian Society, new series, 16 and 17, 2004); H. A. C. Sturgess (ed.), Register of Admissions to the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple (London, 1949), vol. 1.


  • Initial proceedings
    • Affidavits: EM81 (2, 9 Jan 1638)
    • Petition: EM80 (8 Jan 1638)

People mentioned in the case

  • Fanning, John, gent
  • Freeman, Edward, gent
  • Harper, Richard, barber
  • Mychell, Jo.
  • Riche, Robert
  • Stuart, Charles I, king
  • Younger, George, yeoman

Places mentioned in the case

  • London
    • Middle Temple

Topics of the case

  • challenge to a duel
  • inns of court
  • royal servant
  • weapon