235 Gardener v Ellis

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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'235 Gardener v Ellis', in The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640, (, ) pp. . British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/court-of-chivalry/235-gardener-ellis [accessed 2 March 2024]

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John Gardener of Rusper, co. Sussex, gent v John Ellis of the same

July 1637 - February 1638


Gardener complained that Ellis had called him 'base fellow', and 'base idle knave' in the parish of Rusper in January 1637, in the presence of many people of the parish, and had also given him the lie between April and June 1636. Process was granted on 1 July 1637, and on 3 February 1638 Gardener produced a certificate of his gentility from one of the Kings of Arms; but no further proceedings survive.

Initial proceedings

3/159, Petition to Arundel

Gardener, 'a gentleman, of an ancient and worshipfull stock and lineage descended, was, on or about January last past, within the parrish of Rusper insufferably disgraced and abused by the lewd tongue and provoking language of John Ellis of Rusper, who, amongst many provoking speeches, and before many people of the parrish, called your petitioner, base fellow and said he was a base, idle knave, as your petitioner is able to prove by the testimony of sundry credible witnesses.'

Petitioned that Ellis be brought to answer.

Maltravers granted process, 1 July 1637.

15/1c, Citation

Ellis to appear at the suit of Gardener for scandalous words provocative of a duel.

Dated: 1 July 1637

By special direction of Gilbert Dethick, registrar.

Introduced before 14 October 1637.

15/1h, Libel

Gardener was descended from a family that had been gentry for up to 100 years. Between April and June 1636 in the parish of Rusper, Ellis had declared: 'That I, John Gardener, was a base idle fellow, and a knave, and oftentimes said that I lied, or did lie, and oftentimes gave me the lye, and commanded or wished somebody then present to tell me so much', which words were provocative of a duel.

14 October 1637.

Summary of proceedings

Dr Merrick acted as counsel to Gardener and Dr Duck to Ellis. Ellis was required to respond to the libel on 31 October 1637. Gardener was required to certify his gentility on 27 January 1638, which he did on 3 February 1638 with a certificate from one of the Kings of Arms dated 7 December 1637.


John Gardner of Rusper was the son of John Gardner of Rusper. He married Catherine, daughter of William Jorden of Charlwood, co. Surrey.

W. Bruce Bannerman (ed.), The Visitations of the County of Sussex in 1530 and 1633-4 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 53, 1905), p. 170.


  • Initial proceedings
    • Petition to Arundel: 3/159 (1 Jul 1637)
    • Citation: 15/1c (1 Jul 1637)
    • Libel: 15/1h (14 Oct 1637)
  • Proceedings
    • Proceedings before Arundel: 8/26 (14 Oct 1637)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 8/27 (14 Oct 1637)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 8/28 (31 Oct 1637)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 8/30 (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)

People mentioned in the case

  • Dethick, Gilbert, registrar
  • Duck, Arthur, lawyer
  • Ellis, John
  • Gardener, John, gent (also Gardner)
  • Howard, Thomas, earl of Arundel and Surrey
  • Howard, Henry, baron Maltravers
  • Jorden, Catherine
  • Jorden, William
  • Merrick, William, lawyer

Places mentioned in the case

  • Sussex
    • Rusper
  • Surrey
    • Charlwood (now in West Sussex)

Topics of the case

  • denial of gentility
  • giving the lie
  • Herald
  • King of Arms