297 Hilton v Martyn

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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George Hilton of Warcop, co. Westmorland, gent v George Martyn of the same, clerk

November 1637 - April 1638


Hilton complained that on 19 September 1637, Martyn, a cleric, 'challenged me the field', maintaining that he was a better man than Hilton and saying 'that he would fight with me or any of my name at the sword's point; and called me base fellowe and gave me the lye.' Maltravers granted process on 7 November 1637, but the case was apparently dismissed, and Hilton taxed at £20 expenses, on 12 February 1638, on the grounds that the plaintiff was a recusant. However, since the libel was dated 14 April 1638 Dr Tooker may have been successful in his efforts to get it restarted. No further proceedings survive.

Initial proceedings

3/105, Petition to Arundel

'One George Martyn on or aboute the 19 day of September last past did use many revyling and disgracefull wordes against your petitioner sayinge he was a better man then the petitioner; and thereupon challenged the petitioner to fight with him which he refuseing, Martyn then sayed he would make him subscibe that he was the better man or otherwise he would force him to it, as by affid[avit] annexed appeareth.'

Petitioned that Martyn be brought to answer.

Maltravers granted process, 7 November 1637.

Signed by Maltravers.

3/106, Plaintiff's bond

8 November 1637

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

Signed by George Hilton.

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

15/2r, Libel

1. Hilton was descended from a family that had been ancient gentry for up to 100 years.

2. On 19 September 1637, Martyn 'challenged me the field and dared me to meete him in the field and said that he would fight with me or any of my name at the swords point; and called me base fellowe and gave me the lye.'

Dated 14 April 1638.

Signed by Charles Tooker.

Summary of proceedings

Dr Tooker acted as counsel for Hilton and Dr Duck for Martyn. On 31 January 1638 Martyn had been summoned to Appleby in Westmorland but he failed appear. The case was apparently dismissed on 12 February 1638 and Hilton was taxed at £20 expenses. Dr Tooker attempted to get the case continued on Hilton's behalf, but Dr Duck alleged that as Hilton was a convicted recusant he had no right to plead a cause in the court.


George Hilton of Burton, co. Westmorland, was the second son of John Hilton of Burton, esq (d. c.1630), and Mary, daughter of one Sexton of Byham Hall, in the parish of Great Maplestead, co. Essex. George married Jane, daughter of one Fletcher of Dovenby, co. Cumberland.

J. Foster (ed.), Pedigrees recorded at the Heralds' Visitations of the Counties of Cumberland and Westmorland, 1615, 1666 (Carlisle and Kendall, 1891), p. 61.


  • Initial proceedings
    • Petition to Arundel: 3/105 (7 Nov 1637)
    • Plaintiff's bond: 3/106 (8 Nov 1637)
    • Libel: 15/2r (14 Apr 1638)
  • Proceedings
    • 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

  • Fletcher, Jane
  • Hilton, George, gent
  • Hilton, Jane
  • Hilton, John, esq
  • Hilton, Mary
  • Howard, Henry, baron Maltravers
  • Howard, Thomas, earl of Arundel and Surrey
  • Martyn, George, clerk
  • Sexton, Mary
  • Terrick, Humphrey
  • Tooker, George, lawyer

Places mentioned in the case

  • Cumberland
    • Dovenby
  • Essex
    • Byham Hall
    • Great Maplestead
  • Middlesex
    • Westminster
  • Westmorland
    • Appleby
    • Burton
    • Warcop

Topics of the case

  • challenge to a duel
  • comparison
  • denial of gentility
  • giving the lie
  • recusant
  • Roman Catholic
  • weapon