274 Hansby v French

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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'274 Hansby v French', in The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640, (, ) pp. . British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/court-of-chivalry/274-hansby-french [accessed 29 February 2024]

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Sir Ralph Hansby of Tickhill, co. York, knt v Alexander French of Stainton, co. York, gent

May 1637 - July 1638

Figure 274:

Sir Ralph Hansby’s sixteenth century house, Tickhill Castle in Yorkshire.


Hansby complained that French had called him a base fellow. He entered bond to prosecute the cause on 24 May 1637 and his witnesses were ordered to be examined by a commission headed by Robert Rockley, esq, 9-11 January 1638, at Thomas Milner's Swan Inn at Bawtry, Yorkshire. French lost the case and on 14 April 1638 was ordered to pay a fine of 100 marks to the king, £100 damages to Hansby and £20 costs. His submission was arranged for 10 July 1638 at the sessions house in Rotherham before the judges of assize, where he was to apologise for his scandalous words and promise to behave himself 'ever hereafter with all due reverence and respect towards Sir Ralfe Hansby and all other the knights and gentry of this kingdome.' French petitioned that he was too poor to pay these fines and pleaded with the Earl Marshal for mitigation.

Initial proceedings

3/177, Plaintiff's bond

24 May 1637

Bound to appear 'in the Court in the painted Chamber within the Pallace of Westminster'.

Signed by George Mason of Worksop, co. Nottingham, gent, on behalf of Hansby.

Sealed, subscribed and delivered in the presence of Humphrey Terrick.

3/125, Defendant's bond

In this bond French's place of residence of Stainton has been crossed out and replaced by 'Wilsick'.

14 October 1637

Bound to appear 'in the Court in the painted Chamber within the palace of Westminster'.

Signed by Alexander French.

Sealed, subscribed and delivered in the presence of Humphrey Terrick.

Sentence / Arbitration

15/2n, Plaintiff sentence

French had called Hansby a base fellow and was ordered to perform a submission.

A fine to the king was fixed at 100 marks and £100 damages was awarded to Hansby. Space for tax left blank.

Dated 14 April 1638

Signed by Thomas Eden and by Lord Maltravers

15/2l, Plaintiff's bill of costs [damaged]

Michaelmas term, 1637: £20-1s-4d

Vacation: £13-13s-4d

Hillary term, 1637/8: £4-12s-0d

Easter term, 1638: [damaged] over £7-9s-12d

Total unknown, but over: £45-16s-0d


4/13, Submission

French was to perform his submission between 9 and 11am on 10 July 1638 at the Sessions House in Rotherham before the Judges of the Assizes.

'I, Alexander French, stand convicted... to have maliciously and against the peace of our Soveraigne Lord the kinge much abused Sir Ralph by calling him and saying he was a base fellow. I do humbly confess that I am hartily sorry for my such abuse and scandalous wordes given and offered to Sir Ralph Hansby, whome I do acknowledge to be a right worthy and worshipful knight, and I do hartily pray him to forgive my such abuse and scandalous words used of and to him. And I do hereby faithfully promise to carry and behave my selfe ever hereafter with all due reverence and respect towards Sir Ralfe Hansby and all other the knights and gentry of this kingdome.'

EM302, Defendant's petition to Maltravers

'That whereas, upon the hearing of the cause late depending before your lordship in the Court of Honor betwixt Sir Raphe Hansby, knt, complainant against your petitioner defendant, for disgraceful words, your petitioner was condemned to pay 100 marks fine to the king's Majestie and 100li damages and 20li costs to the complainant and to make submission. To which just censure of your lordship the petitioner most humblie doth submit himselfe. But forasmuch as he is a verie poore man, and hath nothing in his possession wherewith to satisfie so great a sume,

he most humblie beseecheth your lordship (of your wonted clemencie and goodness) to be pleased to remitt the said fine of 100 marks to his Majestie and to mitigate the damages and costs, as in your lordshipp's wisdome shall be thought meete, and to give to your petitioner for payment thereof the one half in Michaelmas term next, and the other halfe in Easter terme following; and your petitioner will give securetie for the performance thereof as he is able; and as in dutie bound ever pray for your lordship's long life and increase of honor.'

No date.

Summary of proceedings

Dr Eden acted as counsel for Hansby and Dr Talbot for French. French was summoned to appear to object to the libel on 31 October 1637. On 28 November 1637 Robert Rockley, esq, Francis Nevill, esq, William Copley, esq, and William Sanderson, gent, were nominated as commissioners on behalf of Hansby, while John West, gent and Robert Lambert, gent, were commissioners for French, to meet to examine Hansby's witnesses from 9 to 11 January 1638, at Thomas Milner's Swan Inn at Bawtry. Dr Talbot related material for the defence on 12 February 1638.


Although he did not appear in the 1665-6 Visitation of York, Sir Ralph Hansby of Tickhill Castle was bailiff of Tickhill and was estimated to have a personal estate of at least £3,000 per annum. After the Queen landed in Yorkshire, in February 1643, Sir Ralph Hansby acted as a royalist commissioner of array.

J. T. Cliffe, The Yorkshire Gentry from the Reformation to the Civil War (London, 1969), pp. 341, 382; Brynmor Jones Library and Archive, University of Hull, Hotham MS, DDHO/1/60.


  • Initial proceedings
    • Plaintiff's bond: 3/177 (24 May 1637)
    • Defendant's bond: 3/125 (14 Oct 1637)
  • Sentence / Arbitration
    • Plaintiff sentence: 15/2n (14 Apr 1638)
    • Plaintiff's bill of costs: 15/2l (Eas 1638)
  • Submission
    • Submission: 4/13 (10 Jul 1638)
    • Defendant's petition: EM302 (no date)
  • 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: 8/29 (18 Nov 1637)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 8/30 (28 Nov 1637)
    • Proceedings before Arundel: 1/5, fos. 23-35 (3 Feb 1638)
    • Proceedings before Arundel: 1/5, fos. 38-56 (12 Feb 1638)

People mentioned in the case

  • Copley, William, esq
  • Eden, Thomas, lawyer
  • French, Alexander, gent
  • Hansby, Ralph, knight
  • Lambert, Robert, gent
  • Henrietta Maria, queen
  • Howard, Henry, baron Maltravers
  • Howard, Thomas, earl of Arundel and Surrey
  • Mason, George, gent
  • Milner, Thomas, innkeeper
  • Nevill, Francis, esq
  • Rockley, Robert, esq
  • Sanderson, William, gent
  • Talbot, Clere, lawyer
  • Terrick, Humphrey
  • West, John, gent

Places mentioned in the case

  • Middlesex
    • Westminster
  • Nottinghamshire
    • Worksop
  • Yorkshire, West Riding
    • Bawtry
    • Rotherham
    • Stainton
    • Tickhill
    • Wilsick

Topics of the case

  • assizes
  • denial of gentility
  • other courts
  • royalist