254 Greaves v Matthews

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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Richard Cust, Andrew Hopper, '254 Greaves v Matthews', in The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640, ed. Richard Cust, Andrew Hopper, British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/court-of-chivalry/254-greaves-matthews [accessed 20 July 2024].

Richard Cust, Andrew Hopper, '254 Greaves v Matthews', in The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640. Edited by Richard Cust, Andrew Hopper, British History Online, accessed July 20, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/court-of-chivalry/254-greaves-matthews.

Richard Cust, Andrew Hopper. "254 Greaves v Matthews". The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640. Ed. Richard Cust, Andrew Hopper, British History Online. Web. 20 July 2024. https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/court-of-chivalry/254-greaves-matthews.

In this section


Edward Greaves of the Inner Temple, London, gent v Edward Matthews of London, gent

February - Michaelmas term, 1639


Greaves complained that Matthews called him a 'base beggarlie fellow' in November or January 1638 at the Bull tavern in St Peter's Street, Westminster. Greaves felt he had been deceived of his money in a card game and claimed that while Matthews verbally abused him another player, Mr Needham, struck him. Matthews, in his defence, alleged that Greaves, a particularly quarrelsome individual, had gone back to his lodgings for his sword after the initial altercation and returned to strike Needham, drawing blood and tearing his band. He maintained that Greaves would have killed Needham had he not restrained and placated him. The libel was given on 23 February 1639 and the court found in favour of Greaves, who was awarded £20 damages and £20 costs.

Plaintiff's case

14/3g, Defence interrogatories [faded and damaged]

1. The witnesses were warned of the penalty for perjury and bearing false witness. What was the witness's condition and dwelling over the last ten years?

2. Was the witness related to either party, and if so in what degree? To which party would he give the victory if it were in his power?

3. Had the witness been instructed how to depose?

4. Had the witness been obliged to attend? [Rest faded]

5. Had the witness been prosecuted for debt?

6. Did Mr Edward Matthews, Mr Needham and others dine at the Bull tavern in St Peter's street, Westminster, on the day of the alleged scandalous words?

7. Did Mr Greaves come into the Bull tavern and intrude himself into the company of Edward Matthews, 'with an intent to quarrel with Matthews'?

8. Did Greaves and his companion go back to their lodgings to fetch a sword and rapier? Did Greaves vow 'to be the death of Matthews, and so came armed into Mr Matthews's and Needham's roome again'? Did Greaves draw his sword 'forthwith upon Mr Needham, and stroke him, and drewe his blood and tore his band from about his neck'? Would Greaves have killed Mr Needham, 'or given him some dangerous wound in case Mr Matthews had not been present and persuaded Greaves and kept and held him of[f]'? Did not Mr Matthews during the quarrel behave 'verie Civill and mild in words', and did he not persuade and desire Greaves 'to be quiet and to keepe the king's peace'?

9. Where and when was the supposed 'ill language' given by Edward Matthews? Who else was present and would they have heard and understood?

10. If Mr Matthews did give Mr Greaves 'any ill language', was he not provoked by Mr Greaves drawing his sword against Mr Matthews and Mr Needham, and Mr Greaves's 'manie vilifying and provoking words'?

11. How long had he known Mr Greaves? Was Mr Greaves 'a man much given to quarrel and abuse men both in words and deeds wheresoever he goes in companie'. Had Mr Greaves been observed by the master of the Bull tavern 'or some others of the same', 'to have quarrelled and fallen out with his companie so often as he happened to be there'? Was this the same 'at divers other taverns and places where he happened to come in companie insomuch that he is generally taken in Westminster and other places to be a common quarreller and contentious man'?

12. How long had he known Mr Matthews?Was Mr Matthews 'a man of honest life and conversation and one that liveth quietly and peaceably among his neighbours not given to quarrelling nor falling out and, saving this business, a man never questioned... about ill language or other abuse'.

13. Did he hear either Mr Greaves or Mr Matthews acknowledge, or did he himself perceive that Mr Greaves was a stranger to Mr Matthews?

Introduced 8 May 1639

Signed by Jo: Farmerie.

Defendant's case

14/3p, Plaintiff's interrogatories

1. The witnesses were warned of the penalty for perjury and bearing false witness. What was the witness's age, occupation and condition? Where did the dwell? For how long had they known the parties? To whom would they give the victory if it was in their power?

2. How much was the witness worth in goods with his debts paid? What debts did they owe? What debts were they promised from others?

3. Were they household servant or waged employee of either of the parties? Were they related to them, and if so in what degree? Had they been instructed how to depose?

4. In November or January last, had he heard Matthews say to, or of, Greaves that 'he was a base beggarlie fellow', and 'did he alsoe boast that he would the morrowe following declare soe much under his hand, and that he would prove it'?

5. Did he know Mr Greaves's witnesses 'Francis Clarke, Matthew Seemelie and John Loveledge'? If so, for how long? Were they men of 'honest life and conversation and such persons as will not for favour or any sinister respecte depose an untruth upon theire oaths'?

6. Was he present with Edward Matthews 'on the day and time menconed in the 3rd allegation of the matter defensive'? Where were they and for how long was he with him? What others were there? Did they play cards together? For what sum of money did they play, and for how long? Were they not, 'especiallie Edward Matthewes, much distempered with drinke'? Was Mr Edward Greaves invited by Matthews or some others then with him to come into the room where they were playing at cards'?

7. Did Matthews, or one of his companions at his inciting, 'use some disgraceful speeches to and of Mr Greaves'? Did they 'wound, beate or strike Mr Greaves'? With 'what instrument or weapon did they strike him'? Did any of them 'challenge to fight with Mr Greaves'? Of how much money did they deceive Mr Greaves in playing of cards?

8. If any witness deposed that Greaves struck or abused Mr Needham, they were to be asked whether Needham first provoked Mr Greaves 'by divers opprobrious speeches and violent assaults' upon Mr Greaves?

9. If any witness deposed that Greaves used 'any reviling speeches to and of Matthews let him specifie what they were, and whether had not Matthews first instigated, urged and provoked Mr Greaves thereunto by sundrie disgracefull speeches used to and of him'? Where were the words spoken and 'upon what occasion'?

10. If any witness deposed that Greaves was a 'man given to quarrelling and brawling, let such witness express with whome and howe often he hath heard him quarrel and brawle, and whether hath not Mr Greaves beene first urged and provoked thereunto by those with whome he soe contested and quarrelled? Whether he be not otherwise a man of sober and civill demeanor and soe accounted'?

11. In case any witness deposed that Greaves, or another on his behalf, had promised to pay his witnesses 'such sume of money as he should recover of Mathewes in this sute, let him sett downe at what tyme and place and in whose presence such wordes were spoken'?

No date.

Sentence / Arbitration

12/3n, Plaintiff's sentence

Greaves was awarded £20 damages and £20 costs.

Mathewes said that Greaves 'was a base beggerly fellowe, a base beggerly rogue and that he would prove himself soe'.

No date.

12/3e, Plaintiff's bill of costs

Hillary term, 1638 - Michaelmas term, 1639

Total: £33-6s-8d

Taxed at 13s-4d

Signed by Maltravers.

12/3a, Defendant's bill of costs [damaged]

Hillary term, 1638/9: £4-4s-4d

Easter term, 1639: £3-8s-0d

Trinity term, 1639: £5-0s-0d

Michaelmas term, 1639: £12-3s-0d

Total: £20 plus

Signed by Clere Talbot

Summary of proceedings

Dr Duck acted as counsel to Greaves and Dr Farmery to Matthews. On 23 February 1639 Dr Duck gave the libel on behalf of Greaves, and named four of Greaves's witnesses: Mathew Semeley, John Loveledge, Francis Clarke, Henry Buck.


Edward Greaves, son of Sir Richard Greaves of Moseley, co. Worcester, was admitted to the Inner Temple in November 1630.

W. H. Cooke (ed.), Students admitted to the Inner Temple, 1547-1660 (London, 1877), p. 264.


  • Plaintiff's case
    • Defence interrogatories: 14/3g (8 May 1639)
  • Defendant's case
    • Plaintiff's interrogatories: 14/3pn (no date)
  • Sentence / Arbitration
    • Plaintiff's sentence: 12/3n (no date)
    • Defendant's bill of costs: 12/3a (Mic 1639)
    • Plaintiff's bill of costs: 12/3e (Mic 1639)
  • Proceedings
    • Proceedings before Arundel: 1/6, fos. 1-9 (23 Feb 1639)

People mentioned in the case

  • Buck, Henry
  • Clarke, Francis
  • Duck, Arthur, lawyer
  • Farmerie, John, lawyer (also Farmery)
  • Greaves, Edward, gent
  • Greaves, Richard, knight
  • Howard, Henry, baron Maltravers
  • Matthews, Edward, Mr
  • Loveledge, John
  • Needham, Mr
  • Semely, Matthew (also Seemelie)
  • Talbot, Clere, lawyer

Places mentioned in the case

  • London
    • Inner Temple
  • Middlesex
    • St Peter's Street, Westminster
  • Worcestershire
    • Moseley

Topics of the case

  • allegation of cheating
  • apparel
  • assault
  • debt
  • denial of gentility
  • gambling
  • inns of court
  • tavern brawl
  • weapon