25 Bale v Butcher

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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James Bale of Wigborough, co. Somerset, gent v Josias Butcher of Crewkerne, co. Someret, vintner

June 1639


Bale accused Butcher of affronting him with scandalous words provocative of a duel. Bale was a captain of a foot company in the Somerset trained bands, and Butcher had allegedly said that Bale was a 'base drunken slave and not worthie to be a captain'. Bale entered bond on 27 June 1639; but nothing further survives.

Initial proceedings

6/107, Petition to Maltravers

'The petitioner is Captaine of a foote Company in the County of Somerset and a gent descended of an ancient family. One Josias Butcher in the month of May last past did very much affront your petitioner giving him many scandalous and disgracefull wordes amongst other wordes telling your petitioner that he was a base drunken slave and not worthie to be a Captaine in the presence of divers credible witnesses very much provoking the petitioner to duell.'

Petitioned for Butcher to be brought to answer.

Maltravers granted process on 19 June 1639.

6/106, Plaintiff's bond

27 June 1639

Bound to appear 'in the Court in the painted chamber at Westminster'.

Signed by John Hutchins of Crewkerne, co. Somerset, gent, on behalf of Bale.

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


Wigborough is a hamlet in south Somerset three miles north of Crewkerne. In 1625 James Bale of Seaborough, co. Somerset, had married Anne, daughter and coheir of Henry Compton of Wigborough, co. Somerset.

G. D. Squibb (ed.), The Visitation of Somerset and the City of Bristol, 1672 (Publications of the Harleian Society, new series, 11, 1992), p. 145.


  • Initial proceedings
    • Petition to Maltravers: 6/107 (19 Jun 1639)
    • Plaintiff's bond: 6/106 (27 Jun 1639)

People mentioned in the case

  • Bale, Anne
  • Bale, James, gent
  • Butcher, Josias, vintner
  • Compton, Henry
  • Howard, Henry, baron Maltravers
  • Hutchins, John, gent

Places mentioned in the case

  • Middlesex
    • Westminster
  • Somerset
    • Crewkerne
    • Seaborough
    • Wigborough

Topics of the case

  • denial of gentility
  • drunkenness
  • provocative of a duel
  • military officer
  • trained band