209 Fitzherbert v Needham

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

This free content was Born digital. All rights reserved.

'209 Fitzherbert v Needham', in The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640, (, ) pp. . British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/court-of-chivalry/209-fitzherbert-needham [accessed 5 March 2024]

In this section


Sir John Fitzherbert of Tissington, co. Derby, knt v Arthur Needham of Sheldon, co. Derby

June - October 1635

Figure 209:

The monument to Sir John Fitzherbert in St Mary’s church, Tissington, Derbyshire (Photograph: Richard Cust)


Fitzherbert complained that Needham had accused him of lying and called him 'a Knight of the Post'. Needham argued that Fitztherbert intended to ruin him, claiming an interest in his 'grove', subjecting him to constant harassment in the King's Bench, imprisoning him and his sons, and refusing them bail. No further proceedings survive.

Initial proceedings

10/10/1, Libel

1. Fitzherbert's family had been ancient gentry for up to 300 years.

2. Arthur Needham's family was plebeian.

3. Needham had said of Fitzherbert that 'I lyed or that I spake was a lye... what? you are a knight of the post, or are you a Knight of the Post, or have we a knight of the post here'.

Signed by Clere Talbot and William Lewin.

[Overleaf] Anno 1635

10/10/5, Defendant's petition to Arundel

'Your petitioner, by his great paines takeing, hath maintained a poore family in good credit amongst his neighbours, until it happened that Sir John Fitzherbert of Tissington, knight, commenced a suite against your petitioner claiming to have some interest in your petitioner's groove, whereas in truth and equitie he had not any. Since which tyme, he hath continually vexed and troubled your petitioner first by bringing three kinge's bench writs against your petitioner, refusing to take any less bayle then six subsidie men, then putting your petitioner and his two sonnes in prison and suppressing a poore victualling house wherein your petitioner sojourned and caused that your petitioner could neither get meate, drinke or lodging for his money, soe that for sixteene weekes together he was constrained to goe three miles everie night to his lodging. And now, in the ende, hath caused a pursevant to serve your petitioner to appeare this day before your lordship; soe by this meanes he hath utterly undone your poor petitioner, his wife and vi children.

May it therefore please your lordship to take into your honorable consideracon the miserable estate of your petitioner, his wife and children and cause Sir John to shew wherein your petitioner hath wronged him. And your *petitioner* will not only make satisfaction but alsoe himselfe, his wife and children will daily pray for your honor's health and happiness.'

20 October 1635

No signatures.

Summary of proceedings

Dr Duck acted as counsel for Fitzherbert. Proceedings before the Earl of Huntingdon, Lord Maltravers, Sir Henry Marten, Sir Francis Crane and Sir Henry Spelman survive for June 1635, in which Needham was attached for his scandalous words and giving Fitzherbert the lie. A note in the margin records these: 'Gave him the lie and called him by insinuation knight of the post'.


Sir John Fitzherbert of Tissington, co. Derby, knt (d.1641) was the son of Francis Fitzherbert of Tissington, esq, and Elizabeth, daughter of John Bullock of Darley, co. Derby. Sir John married Elizabeth, daughter to Anthony Fitzherbert of Norbury, co. Derby, esq.

G. D. Squibb (ed.), The Visitation of Derbyshire, 1662-1664 (Publications of the Harleian Society, new series, 8, 1989), p. 48.

Sir John Fitzherbert was appointed high sheriff of co. Derby in November 1626.

J. Broadway, R. Cust and S. K. Roberts (eds.), A Calendar of the Docquets of Lord Keeper Coventry, 1625-40 (List and Index Society, special series, 35, 2004), part 2, p. 360.


  • Initial proceedings
    • Libel: 10/10/1 (1635)
    • Defendant's petition to Arundel: 10/10/5 (20 Oct 1635)
  • Proceedings
    • Proceedings before Huntingdon: 8/25 (20 Jun 1635)
    • Undated proceedings: R.19, fos. 390-399 (c. Jun 1635?)

People mentioned in the case

  • Bullock, Elizabeth
  • Bullock, John
  • Crane, Francis, knight and baronet
  • Fitzherbert, Anthony, esq
  • Fitzherbert, Elizabeth
  • Fitzherbert, Francis, esq
  • Fitzherbert, John, knight
  • Hastings, Henry, earl of Huntingdon
  • Howard, Henry, baron Maltravers
  • Howard, Thomas, earl of Arundel and Surrey
  • Lewin, William, lawyer
  • Marten, Henry, knight
  • Spelman, Henry, knight
  • Needham, Arthur
  • Talbot, Clere, lawyer

Places mentioned in the case

  • Derbyshire
    • Darley
    • Sheldon
    • Norbury
    • Tissington

Topics of the case

  • giving the lie
  • high sheriff
  • imprisonment
  • King's Bench
  • office-holding
  • other courts