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305 Hooker alias Wise v Holmes

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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305 HOOKER ALIAS WISE V HOLMES

Catherine Hooker, widow of William Wise, mariner v William Holmes of St Giles-in-the-Fields, co. Middlesex, merchant

February - June 1634

Abstract

In a landmark case which, along with Bowne v Throgmorton [see cause 61], initiated the Court of Chivalry's establishment on a regular basis, Hooker alias Wise complained that Holmes, purser of the Thomas of London, had killed her late husband, William Wise, steward and cooper of the same vessel, in a duel at Renews Harbour, Newfoundland, on 10 August 1632. The case came before the court by dint of its jurisdiction over homicides which were committed overseas. In his defence Holmes maintained that he been seeking to prevent Wise from raising a mutiny and murdering Vincent Harris, the captain. Discipline had broken down on board ship, with much drunkenness, and a duel arranged between William Derson, the master, and Richard Eastcourt, the cook. Wise had complained over the rationing of victuals and claimed that the allowance paid to the captain was too high. He had formed a ring of eighteen of the twenty-eight crew who had subscribed to a Round Robin. Captain Harris then threatened to resign his command at which Wise had challenged him to duel. Holmes claimed that later that night, Wise had pulled him from his bed, called him 'base cowardly rogue', and threatened to kill him if he would not fight. The duel, described in detail by various witnesses, was fought on shore with sword and dagger. Holmes maintained that he was wounded several times before, in self defence, he ran Wise through. Initial depositions were sworn by Eastcourt and Captain Harris before Sir Henry Marten, acting as Judge of the Admiralty Court, when the ship returned to England in October 1632. Holmes also made a full confession.

A decision appears to have been taken in January 1634 to proceed with the case in the Court of Chivalry, with the Lord High Constable in attendance as was required for a murder trial in the court. On 25 January Hooker alias Wise entered bond to prosecute the cause; on the 29th order was given for the arrest of Holmes; and on 11 February the Earl of Lindsey was re-appointed as Lord High Constable to hear the case. Proceedings began on 26 February 1634, before Lindsey, Arundel, the Earls of Manchester, Bedford and Dorset, Lord Maltravers and Sir Henry Marten. Witnesses were sworn and the following day Hooker alias Wise presented her libel. On 1 March, with Lindsey and Arundel again presiding, testimony was presented in support of the libel and Dr Eden began Holmes's defence. Witnesses were heard on his behalf on 5 and 15 March, and counsel made their final statements before Manchester, Huntingdon, Maltravers and Marten on 14 April. With Lindsey and Arundel again in attendance, on 26 April 1634 Holmes was sentenced to be hanged; however, after petitioning the king that he had been provoked into fighting and that there had been no proceedings for homicide in the Earl Marshal's court for many years, a royal pardon was issued in May 1634. The proceedings suggest that those involved were feeling their way towards a standardised procedure. Hearings were initially recorded in English, rather than the Latin used in later cases; an usher was drafted in from the Court of Exchequer; and the first hearing took place in the Court of Requests. However, although by 26 April proceedings were being conducted in the Painted Chamber in Whitehall which became the normal venue for the Court of Chivalry.

Initial proceedings and depositions

8/17a, Deposition

Richard Eastcourt of the parish of St John the Baptist, London, mariner, aged about 25

Sworn before Sir Henry Marten, Judge of the High Court of Admiralty, 10 October 1632

'Whilest the ship the Thomas of London, whereof Vincent Harris was captaine and William Derson m[aste]r, rodd att anchor in the harbour of Renous in the Newfound land homeward bound from Canida for London, upon the tenth of August last betwixt twelve and one of the clock att night whilest they were att watch there grewe some difference betwixt some of the companie of that ship; and Captaine Harris beinge called out of his cabon from sleepe about that quarrel, called for this witness from sleepe and caused him to light a candle and bring it to him then sitting in the hatch way. Then William Holmes, the purser of that ship, did accuse Thomas Constable, William Wise and some others of the companie of that ship for conspiringe to throw Captaine Harris overboard and upon that accusacon William Wise replied that Holmes was a lyinge knave to saie soe, for that he never heard Constable or anie other man in that ship saie anie such thinge. Whereupon, Captaine Harris bidd Wise, the cooper of that ship, to hold his tonge, but Wise replied that he would not hold his tonge, because Holmes had wronged him. And then Captaine Harris called Wise, Roague, and told him that he would make him hold his tongue; and Wise bidd him call them Rogue that he gave meate and drinke to. And hereuppon Captaine Harris tooke upp a peece of splitt wood and therewith stroke Wise over the forehead, and beate of some of the skin from his forehead soe that the blood rann downe his face. Then Wyse patientlie went his waie from the captaine and sate upon the bills of the ship within hearinge of Captaine Harris, and then used those words, vizt. Thou Harris thou hast donne more then thou canst answeare. If thou hadest not beene a base fellowe thou wouldest not have donn me this wronge knowinge that thou didst me wrong the last voyage and I could have had the advantage of the lawe of thee. Captaine Harris replied that if he had donn him wronge, he would right him a shoare; and Wise replied to him againe that he would annsweare him if he durst, sayinge that he had answeared a better man then he. And thereupon William Holmes stoode up before Captaine Harris and bidd him not debase himselfe to goe a shoare with that fellowe, sayinge that he would goe ashore in the morninge with him and right his wrongs meaninge the wronge of the Captaine. And Wyse said, Thou Harris or thou Holmes yf eyther of you dare, and Wise desired a pledge of Holmes to meete him a shoare the next morninge and Holmes gave him a bande for a pledge; and then Wyse went to his cabbon, to sleepe and Holmes also retired to his cabbon. About an howre after Holmes stamped uppon the decke with his feete and said, William Wyse, it is daie come. Will you goe; and presentlie William Wyse came out of his cabbon with his sword and dagger in his hands and came upon the decke. And William Derson, the m[aste]r, came then out of his cabbon (beinge drunke as manie others of the shipp's companie then were) and commanded the boate to be manned to sett those men a shoare. Derson tooke this witness by the shoulder and told him that he had donne him wronge the last night and bidd him goe a shoare with him and right him; and this witness told him that he was his commander and that he would not goe a shoare with him att that time. And then William Wyse went into the shipp's boates with his sword and dagger in his hand, and William Holmes could not find his weapon and therefore went into the captaine's cabbon, and tooke out the captaine's rapier and went into the boate. And George Love, the maister's mate, went into the m[aster]'s cabbon, and fetcht out the m[aster]'s sword, and gave it to John Shorton one of the quarter m[aster]s, and bidd him goe a shoare with Wise and Holmes and John Culliver and John Sorten rowed from the ship to the shoare. Within halfe an howre after the boats came abord againe with Holmes Shorton, Culliver, Grove and Sinett; and when Holmes came into the ship againe he asked for the chirurgion to dresse himselfe beinge hurt, and said to the m[aste]r that he had killed William Wise in the defence of the captaine, and for the good of the merchants, and now he should be hanged for it, when he came home; and the m[aste]r bidd him hold his peace, for he would hange himselfe. Holmes, homewards bound, beinge asked by this witness how he came by the captaine's weapon, haveinge a Testament in his hand kist the booke and swore that as he hoped for salvation the captaine sent it to him. And this he affirmeth upon his oath to be true.'

8/17c, Deposition
Vincent Harris of Maldon, co. Essex, mariner, Captain of the Thomas

12 October 1632

Harris confessed that Wise was killed with his weapon, but denied that he lent the weapon to Holmes, claiming Holmes took it from his cabin while he was asleep. He denied that Wise was killed in his defence, and claimed he had no notice of the fight.

'Beinge asked whether Wise did not challenge him to goe on shoare, and whether William Holmes did not thereupon bid him not to debase himselfe to goe on shoare with him sayinge that he would right his wrongs, denyeth anie such thinge.'

8/17b, Confession of William Holmes

'William Holmes of the parish of St Giles in the Fields, London, merchant, examined before the right worshipful Sir Henrie Marten, knight, Judge of his Ma[jes]tie's high court of the Admiraltie, confesseth and saith that the seaventh of August last past the shipp the Thomas of London, whereof Vincent Harris was captaine, arrived at the harbour of Renous in the Newfoundland, bound from Canida, and there anchored. That night between twelve and one, of the clocke whilest Holmes laie to sleepe in his cabbon in the ship, William Wyse, Robert Rivers, George Heyborne, and John Spiller beinge all of the companie of that ship came into his cabon and without sayinge anie thinge to him, or he to them, pulled him out of his bedd upon the floor. Whereuppon, he gott on his clothes and went and complained to the captaine that he could not be in quiet in his cabbon; and then Captaine Harris rose, and finding them in a mutinie, strooke at George Heybourne, the trumpeter whome he discerned to be a busie mutineer; and upon the same John Spiller tooke the captaine two or three boxes on the eare and then the captaine commanded the boateswaine and the quarter masters to bringe Heybourne to the captaine. 'But presentlie William Wise, Richard Eastcourt, John Spiller and others <put> *cutt* him from the Captaine *___* and set him att libertie. Whereupon, the captaine seeinge that he could *not* beare rule amongst them told them that he would resigne his command and goe home as a passenger and as a comon man; and Wm Wise hearinge of him saie soe told him that yf he were but a comon man he would fight with him the next morninge. And afterwards Wyse came to Holmes and challenged him to fight with him callinge him manie base terms, without anie cause given to him by Holmes. Holmes replied that he had noe quarrel to him the said Wise, but he would not be soe satisfied. But Holmes, afterwards goinge downe into the gonnroome to Wyse, and desiringe to drinke with him, and to be freinds sayinge againe that he had noe quarrel to Wyse, [Wise] said that he was a base cowardlie roague for makeinge it knowne to anie bodie. About break of daie that morninge (the boats beinge by the shipp's side havinge layn there all night to carrie William Derson, the pylott, and Richard Eastcourt, the cooke, a shoare to fight), William Wyse tooke his sword and dagger and went into the boate with John Cullivert and Michaell Bennett, and Roger Grove, three of his owne consorts, and then Holmes with a sword which he tooke out of the captaine's cabon went allsoe into the boate, and called to him John Sporton, one of the quarter masters, and soe they rowed to the shoare. But by the waie Holmes tolde Wyse againe that he had noe quarrel to him, but he would not be soe satisfied but leapt a shoare and drewe his sword and dagger. Holmes went allsoe a shoare and drewe his sword; and, haveinge shakt hands and forgiven one the other, Wyse stroke att Holmes, Holmes att him againe, Wyse being incouraged by his three consorts who standinge by and <and> seeinge Holmes downe and hurt cryed, Hay well playd Will Wyse. And John Shorton seeinge them both hurt offered to part them, but Cullivert with his halfe pike and Michaell Sennett with his rapier swore that they would kill him, yf he offered to part them. Soe fightinge on after this Holmes had received tenn wounds, he fell downe uppon a receipt of a wound in his thiygh and holdinge out his sword, Wyse, eagerlie following him, fell upon Holmes's sword which ran into his bodie. And presentlie Wise fell downe and soone afterwards died, haveinge received that wound upon the land of Newfoundland, above a flight's shott from anie flowinge of the sea.'

No date

[c. October 1632]

7/114a, Plaintiff's bond

25 January 1634

In her suit against William Holmes 'now or late of the city of London for the wilfull killing and murdering of one William Wise, her late husband in the New found land or other place beyond the seas', to pay costs and charges and duly prosecute her suit in the court before 'the Lord Constable if any such shalbe appointed by his Majesty for the business and Earle Marshall of England or their lawfull deputies'.

Signed by Abraham Goldstone, Robert Cock.

Sealed, subscribed and delivered in the presence of William Bellamie, Francis Heath and Humphrey Terricke.

7/114b, Order to apprehend William Holmes

29 January 1634

'Theis are to will and command you all and every of you in his Majestie's name that you doe forthwith apprehend or cause to be apprehended the body of William Holmes now or late of the liberties of the Tower of London and later purser of the good ship the Thomas of the Port of London and that you doe forthwith bring him before mee to answere such things as shalbe objected against him. Hereof faile you not at your peril as you will answere the contrary dated 29 January 1633.

To all Mayors, Sheriffs, Bayliffs, Constables, headborrowes and other his majestie's loving subjects.'

7/56, Order to apprehend William Holmes

As above 7/114b

7/114c, Order to the Keeper of the Compter in the Poultrie

30 January 1634

Order to the keeper to take the body of William Holmes, gentleman, into his custody, until further orders were given.

7/114d, Order for witnesses to attend Dr Duck

15 February 1634

'John Culliver, according to speciall order given mee, I doe hereby give you notice and request you, by vertue of the bond by you in this behalfe given, that you appeare before the right worshipfull Doctor Ducke, doctor of the lawes, at his chamber in the Doctor's Comons, upon Munday next, being the seaventeenth of this moneth betweene three and foure in the afternoone, and there attend his farther directions in this behalfe. And hereof you must not faile at your peril. And I rest your friende'.

'To John Culliver of Lymehouse, marryner

The like to Miles Synnet of Ratcliffe, marryner'.

8/19, Deposition John Culliner of Limehouse, co. Middlesex mariner

17 February 1634

He was mariner in the ship the Thomas of London, whereof Captaine Harris was capt[ain] and Wm Derson m[aste]r in a voyadge bound from the Port of London to Canada in the year 1631 *1632*, and that upon the returne of the ship from the parts of Canada she putt into harbor and roade at anchor at or neere Renous, in Newfoundland And he sayth that whilest the ship rode there neereabout the latter end of August 1631 *1632*, he being one night asleep in his cabban about twelve aclock at night hereing a great noyse on the ship and Wm Holmes, the purser, and Wm Wise, the cooper, at high and angry words, he thereupon arose and being upp he found the captayne sitting on the chest before the mast endevoreing to make quietness so much as he could; and he sawe him throw a billett at Wm Wise and offer to stricke him, but did not, or could not come at him as he remembreth. Afterwards all was quiet for a while till the dawneing of the day, when Wyse called Holmes out of his cabban or bedd to goe a shore with him. Thereupon Holmes comeing out of his cabban, and the boat being ridding by the shipp's side, Wise went into the boat and called Holmes to come into the boat to him, to whome Holmes replyed and sayd, I owe you no more malice then I owe myne owne hart. Withal presently he went into the boate, and this witness, Roger Grove, John Shorten, and Myles Synnet, being altogether with Wise and Holmes in the boat they were all carried ashore by Roger Grove and one other, but who that was he remembreth not. And he farther sayth that so soone as ever the boat came ashore Wise, the cooper, stepped on shoare and Holmes after him in such hast that they both stepped into the water and were wett before they could gett upp upon the dry and firme land. As soone as they were upp they drew their weapons, on[e] upon another, and before this witness or Shorten, Grove or Synnett could come upp to them they were fighting one with another. He sayth they had but one bout before Wm Holmes had thrust Wise throughe the breast and killed him; and that Wise fell downe dead and never spake more. This witness sayth they had both swords and he would have p[ar]ted them if he could, but Shorten would not lett him; and he father sayth that Holmes had then and there divers wounds given him by Wise, and this witness and the rest except Holmes (who presently returned aboard) tarried ashore till in the afternoone towards evening when he did helpe to bury the body of Wise.

Signed by John Culliver [his mark]

8/21b, Summary of deposition John Culliver

'Wake in ye morning. There was the Captayne tooke up a billet but did not strick him. They went to sleepe... Holmes called Wyse and they went into ye boat, then he went to ye boat whereupon they went a shore Wise first Holmes after. They drew, had but one bout <till> but Wise was killed'.

'The Captaine [threw] a billet at Wise. After went to sleep. He will not say Holmes defended the Captayne.'

'Came from Canaday in Newfoundland in Renous in August 1632 . He abord but heard no quarrel abord. He upon ye deck and went into ye backe, making accompt to still agree them, but could not. He was Wise's friend. In the boat before him [were] Miles Synott, Roger Groves, John Shorten. He rowed not. He carried no weapon but tooke upp an halfe pike in the boat. Wise first went ashore. They fought. He thrust him through. He fell down never spake. He layed ashore till he was buried. Vincent Harris Captayne at the Hague'.

No date [17 February 1634]

7/114e, Order to apprehend John Spiller

22 February 1634

Order to the mayors, sheriffs, bailiffs, constables, headborrows etc to apprehend John Spiller at the house of Henry Collins of Limehouse, in Stepney parish, and to bring him before Dr Duck in his chamber in the Doctors Commons.

7/114f, Order to Keeper of the Compter in the Poultrie

25 February 1634

Order to assign the body of William Holmes to Sir Edmund Verney, Knight Marshall or his lawful deputy.

7/114g, Order to Sir Edmund Verney

Sir Edmund Verney was the Knight Marshall.

25 February 1634

Order for him or his deputies to collect William Holmes from the Compter in the Poultrie and to safely bring him to the Palace of Westminster, into the chamber called Whitehall or the Court of Requests, on 26 February between 1 and 2pm.

7/114h, Order to Thomas Colchester

To Thomas Colchester, usher in the Court of Exchequer

25 February 1634

Order for Colchester to attend the chamber called Whitehall or the Court of Requests at or before 1pm on 26 February 'there to doe your office at a court then and there to be holden' before the Constable and Marshall.

8/18, Deposition Miles Synnet of Ratcliff, mariner

27 February 1634

Sayth that he went mariner in the ship ye Thomas of London whereof Vincent Harris was captayne and Wm Derson m[aste]r in a voyadge from the port of London to Canaday in the year 1631 *1632* in or about May, and sayth that being homeward bound and rydeing at or neere Renoux in Newfoundland, <and> uppon the tenth day of August in that yeare as neere as he can guesse, in the morneing betimes, before day, the boatson calling aloud to man the boat, he came out of his cabban and went into the boat, not then knoweing the cause why the boat was called to be manned; and when he came into the boat he found therein Wm Holmes the purser and Wm Wise the cooper, and one Shorten, one Roger Grove, and John Culliver. He being standing at the boat's head, Wise willed him to putt off the boat toward the shore, wch he did; and the boat being so putt off he and Roger rowed him to shore, and before they went ashore Wm Holmes desired Wm Wise to be patient, for he owed him no more malice then he owed his owne hart, wherto Wm Wise replyed that that would not serve his turne, he would be revenged of him on shore, or to that effect. With that the boat putting on shore Wise leaped out a shore into the water and Holmes went upp a fisherman's stayres and throughe his house and so followed him; and then when they came upon the banck they tooke <other> each other by the hand, and asked and gave each other forgiveness, and then Wise and Holmes drew their swords and fought each with other and Wise pressing hard upon Holmes, and driveing him to a bancke where he could goe no farther back Holmes made a thrust at Wise, and thrust him throughe the body, and presently killed him. Wise, onely stepping back and falling downe but never spoke more words. This witness being present at all the passages and was one amongst the rest that presently came running to take upp Wise, but found him dead. And Holmes presently returned aboard, but this witness stayed on shore and helped to carry the body downe to the fisherman's stayres where it lay till the m[aste]r and some of the company came ashore and buried him that afternoone.'

Signed by Miles Samuel [his mark].

8/21a, Summaries of depositions of Spiller and Synnett John Spiller

'He knew them both. They went the one purser ye other cooper in ye ship ye Thomas in August 1632 in a voyadge to Canada.

Uppon ye returne from Canada in Renoux in Newfoundland *in August 1632* heard Holmes in the night time <here> say he would meet Wyse in ye morning; but who challendged first he cannot tell. He saw Wyse over night next day.*It was reported* he was killed and heard he was killed by Holmes; and that he saw Holmes came aboard again and his finger cutt.'

Dr Eden petitioned for time to examine the witnesses upon interrogatories.

Miles Synnett

'He came into ye boat and they bad him putt of ye boate, ye boatson bad man ye boat, Holmes told him he owed him no more malice then his own hart. They both went ashore and drew one uppon ye other. Then fighting Holmes thrust him throw, and Wise fell downe *on his left side* and dyde presently. Holmes went aboard and he stayed and buried him.

It happened 'overnight in returning back at Raynous in August 1632'.

The boatswain called to man the boat: Roger Grove, Holmes, Wise, John Culliver, and John Shorten were in the boat. Wise disembarked first. Holmes was forced back that he could go no further then he thrust Wise through. He knows not who drew first. He was Wise's friend and went with him. Both Wise and Holmes knew they went to fight. John Shorter was on Holmes's side. He denied that he was told by Wise of any quarrel. Wise was called 'ring [i.e. ringleader] when he was in ye boat'.

No date [27 February 1633/4]

8/20, Proceedings in English

Summary of proceedings in the Earl Marhsal's court against William Holmes in the above case of the Thomas of London, in which the depositions 8/17 to 8/19 were read out and the prisoner called to defend himself. Defendant to procure witnesses, court to be prorogued, 1 March 1634:

'Saterday 1 Martii 1633

First silence: The rt. hoble the Lo. Constable and Erle Marshall of England comand all men to kepe scilence upon *payne and* perrill that may lye thereon.

They call Sir Edmund Verney, kt, Knight Marshall of his Ma[jes]tie's household, Bring in Wm Holmes y[ou]r prisoner.

He being come then call John Spiller, Myles Synnet, John Culliver

The register to show them their depositions and generally to read them and they after to acknowledge them.

Then if nothing be sayd to the contrary the witnesses to be dismissed from further attendance.

Then this court to publish the witnesses and decree coppies to the p[ar]ties if they desire them.

Then the complainant by Dr Ducke to desire judgem[en]t, and a time to hear it.

The court to demand of the prisoner what he can or will say for himself why it should not be so assigned.

Dr Eden his counsel will then give in a defence which <must be read Dr Eden> desires it to be admitted.

That read, Dr Duck may speake against the admission of it and Dr Eden for the admission of it.

The Court to admitt it or reject it as they please, and to assigne a time to prove it the next Court day or when they please.

Then Dr Eden will produce witnesses. They must be sworne and admonished to <attend> be examined before some of the judges in the presence of the register at a certayne time and place and to attend the court the next court day.

Then Dr Ducke to move for interr[ogator]ies wch must be graunted.

Then court to be prorogued. The right hoble the Lo. Constable and Erle Marshall of England doe adjourne and prorogue this court.

When <and> all p[er]sons that have any thinge to doe therein <may now dep> are to attend upon payne and perrill may ensue thereon, and God save ye King.'

7/114k, Petition of Hooker to Lindsey and Arundel

Saturday 1 March 1634

'Sheweth that her cause came to a hearing before your honours upon Wednesday last touching the death of her late husband which cause is come to a further hearing before your honours this day. Your petitioner's humble suit is that your honours wilbe pleased that the deposition of Richard Escott, cooke of the ship called the Thomas , of which ship Wise was steward and cooper, taken before the right worshipfull Sir Henry Marten knight, Judge of the Admiraltie may be reade at the hearing of the cause, for that Escott is now at East Indies, and Sir Henry would not grant his warrant against Captaine Harris Captaine of the ship and William Dudson Master of the ship until Escott had made oathe before Sir Henry. And the petitioner will pray andc'

7/114k, Defence

1. 'The whole company which were in the ship the Thomas in the bill of accusation mentioned, when the ship was in the Port of Ranous there mentioned, was not above twenty eight persons, or thirtie at the most, whereof Vincent Harris, the captaine, William Darson, the master, and William Holmes, the purser, were three.

2. 'There was about the tyme, and especially the night before the death of William Wise, an uproare, or mutinie, among the company of the ship about eleaven or twelve a clocke at night. And the greater part of the company, vizt. about 18 of them, then or not longe before, caused a writinge to be made whereunto a circle being subscribed they the eighteene persons, under the forme of one and all, writ or caused to be written all their severall names about the circle wherein amongst other things they all professes that, in case the captaine and master would be perswaded by the way of intreatie to what they propounded in the writinge, they would not use any extremitie; other wise they would.'

3. 'William Wise was a chief ringleader in the meeting and uproare, and did at that tyme outbrave the captaine of the ship and gave him divers disgracefull and opprobrious tearmes.'

4. 'The Captaine and Master of the ship in the beginninge of the mutinie, about tenn or eleaven a clocke the night aforesaid, caused George Hiborne, trumpeter in the ship, one of the mutiniers, for some misdemeanours of his to be brought to the capstall and tyed there unto with a rope. Hiborne was presently, against the captaine and master's will, taken away from the capstall by force by the greater part of the company of the ship. And John Marryner, then and there and upon that occasion, said that unlesse the Captaine would forbeare and give way to them he would blow up the ship and send them all to the divell'.

5. 'William Holmes at the tyme of the mutinie or uprore beganne was in his cabban in bedd; and then and there William Wise, George Hiborne, Robert Rivers and others all or some of them drew him out of his bed by violence, and William Wise then and there reviled Holmes in termes and called him base, cowardly rogue and told him if he would not undertake to fight with him he would presently kill him'.

6. 'The Captaine then and there, and alsoe the next morneing professed before the company of the ship and said that, seeinge he could beare noe sway with them, he would be Captaine noe longer but he would be as an ordinary man; or he spake words to that effect, and he did presently after forsake the ship and went on shoare and did not for some dayes about the tyme of the mutinie medle in the government of the ship as he had done before'.

7. 'William Holmes within some few houres after the beginning of the mutinie was urged to enter fight with William Wise by the threats of him and his consortes, and put in feare of being presently slaine by him or them if he would not undertake it. In his passage by boat to the shoare he often, or at least once, told Wise he had noe quarrel to him, and intreated him he might forbeare and not fight with him'.

8. 'Holmes was forced and urged to enter into fight with William Wise with greate disadvantage, William Wise having a sword and a dagger in the fight and Holmes onely a sword; and Wise having three of his consorts to accompany him and stande by and encourage him duringe the fight'.

9. 'Holmes did receave from Wise in the fight seaven or eight wounds upon his body, whereof some were very dangerous; and he did forbeare in the fight, as much as he might without danger of being slaine himselfe, from killing Wise, and in all probabilitie Holmes must needes have been killed himselfe had not Wise been slaine when he was'.

10. 'Wise at the time aforesaid and for many yeares before was a man of a quarrelsome disposition, and soe accompted, a man notorious and famous for mutyneing in many former voyages, and especially in one former voyadge to Canada the yeare 1632, in the same ship and under the same captaine, and he was then drubbed or strapped or otherwise punished by the captaine's appointment for mutyneing; and soe he had been before by other Captaynes' appointment in other voyadges'.

11. 'William Holmes was and is a man of civill and faire carriage and behaviour, not given to quarrelling or turbulencie; and for such a man he was and is generally accompted of all such as knowe him and soe and not otherwise his behaviour was all the tyme of the voyadge.

Saturday 1 March 1634

Signed by William Holmes.

7/6, Proceedings in English

'Wed. 5 Martii 1634.

First call the court. The hoble Lo. Constable and Earl Marshall command all men to keep silence uppon perill that may ensue.

Then call Sir Edmund Verney, Kt Marshall of H.M. Household to bring forth Wm Holmes his prisoner.

Then call Sir Daniel Kirke, Capt Tho Kirke, Lees:

They come, read their depons. and lett them acknowledge them, then dismiss the witness.

Then Dr Duck to desire the cause to be concluded and an [end] from all further proofes...

If Dr Eden say not to the contrary, their lo[rdshi]ps to conclude the causes and to assigne a day and prorogue the court.

Monday sevenight after Easter 14 of Aprill

The Lo. rt. hoble the Ld. Constable and Erle Marshall of England doe continue and prorogue the court to [blank space] of [blank space] next betweene ye houres of 8 and 9 in the forenoone unto this place when and where all p[er]sons that have any thinge to doe therein are to appeare and attend under payne and perrill may ensue

and God save the Kinge'.

7/114l, Deposition John Rutledge

To Holmes's defence:

'In 1631 he went a voyadge to Canada together with William Wise under Captaine [Harris]; and saith that in that voyadge William Wise did goe about to make a mutinie, and made a writinge or circle and would have had him to have subscribed thereto; which he refused and saith that Wise in that voyadge mutyneing about victualls the Captayne did afterwards correct and beat him with a roape's end.'

To Hooker alias Wise's interrogatories:

'Wise was otherwise a man of religious and sober carriadge, well and religouslie given, and soe behaved himselfe in that voyadge saving the premisses; but saith he scorned the captayne because as he said he had knowne him a boy in a cabban and that he thought the captayne's allowance was too much.'

15 March 1634

8/17d, Deposition William Derson of Redriff, co. Surrey, mariner

'Beinge asked whether he did not see Wm Wyse and William Holmes goe into the boate to goe on shoare to fight, and whether he did not command the boat to be so manned to carry them on shoare to that purpose, confesseth that he sawe them goe in the boate after the boate was putt off from the ship to goe on shoare, but denieth that he commanded the boate to be manned to carrie them on shoare; but confesseth that he bidd two men goe into the boate that morninge, but it was to carrie he himselfe a shoare.

Beinge asked whether there was not a quarrel betweene him and Richard Eastcourt his coque, and whether he did not challenge Eastcoourt to goe on shoare with him att Newfoundland to fight, confesseth that that morninge that Holmes and Wyse went on shoare to fight, Eastcourt stroke upp his heeles and gave him a boxe on the eare, but he denieth that he challinginge him to goe on shoare with him, otherwise then that he did tell Eastcourt, that yf he had him on shoare he would knocke him about the eares. and Eastcourt replied that he would goe on shoare with him when he durst.

Being asked whether Wyse did not challenge Captaine Harris to goe on shoare to fight with him, and whether Holmes, the purser, did not thereupon bidd the captaine not to debase himselfe to goe on shoare with him, sayinge that he would right his wrongs, saith that Wyse did challenge the captaine to goe on shoare with him to fight, and that the captaine said he would fight with him the next morninge, but saith that he did not heare Holmes bid the captaine not to debase himselfe to goe on shoare with him or that he would right the captaine's wronge.'

No date

7/9, Proceedings in English

Hearing at the Curia Militaris 14 April 1634 before Henry, Earl of Manchester, Lord Privy Seal, Henry, Earl of Huntingdon, Henry, Lord Maltravers, Sir Henry Marten

'Dr Duck in his clients name sayth she hath duely proved and desires judgement.

Dr Eden the suite brought by Catherine ye relict. She now married so ye right gone.

Stanford also it is requisite [blank space left] she must live singlie for if she marry hir appeale is gone if she bringe it single and marry ___ like it is gone.

Ye Civill Lawe, if she marry [below the gentry] she looseth all and is infamous

The loss of the subject that not alleadged nor proved, onely p[er] Synnett et Culliver

The criminall and even p[ar]ties: but date...

He saied many subjects all came home quiet and ___

The defence the fact now all proved

Onely defence is no defence

Lawful to defend with blowes....

The party quitt went to the trall the other assaulted. He killed forfeited nothing not goods

The place at sea in a military way and a military court

Wise a turbulent man proved made a ring himself ringleader

Holmes peaceable so proved

Holmes his experience able to doe his Ma[jes]ty much service.'

Ends the submission

My Lord Marshall

Ranged farr; might have been spared and referred to the king's mercy

The chardge both lye and proved about the king's subjects

The wifes marriadge if in time had ben to purpose

Dr Duck

2 things substantiall: the person of the answer yt married that not alleadged nor proved but date by ye Civill law which is lex terrae by the books of the Comon Lawe...

Eden: The proofe so playne not to be questioned

Duck: The act being illicite and badd ye act proved makes him guilty and he must prove .....

Repeated the submitted

On the same day and not another day, nor after an interval, with fist or hand drawe sword and kill

If it had been at first it had been to pupose

The Common Lawe no counsel; ye Civill Lawe doth allow it; so ye lawes differ and if in this a doubt whether an appeale or not best to consider; so prorogues Earl of Manchester' until 26 April 1634.

Sentence / Arbitration 7/7, Proceedings in English

'First call the court, the rt. Hoble. the Lo. Constable and Erle Marshall of <London> England, command all men to keepe silence

Then call Wm Holmes: the keeper of the Marshalsea

The advocates to be demanded whether <Dr Duck to speak> they have any more to say:

They to doe as they see cause.

Doc. Duck will give upp a sentence.

The court to read the sentence wch shall please them.'

No date [26 April 1633/4]

No signatures.

7/114n, Definitive sentence

Heard before Robert Earl of Lindsey, Thomas Earl of Arundel, Henry Earl of Manchester, Henry Earl of Huntingdon, Robert Earl of Essex, Sir Henry Marten and Gilbert Dethick at the Palace of Westminster on 26 April 1634

Holmes was sentenced to be taken from the Marshalsea to a customary place of execution and hanged by a noose fixed around the neck until he was dead.

Signed by Lindsey, Arundel and Surrey.

7/114o, Royal pardon

Greenwich, May 1634

A royal pardon was granted to William Holmes of St Giles in the Fields, co. Middlesex, merchant, purser of the Thomas of London, for killing William Wise of Stepney, co. Middlesex, in a duel at Renews, Newfoundland, in August 1632, on the condition that he gave good and sufficient security for his good behaviour.

9/4/53, Royal pardon

Letter of Arundel to Thomas Lane, Marshal of the Marshalsea or his deputy:

'Whereas his Majestie hath been gratiously pleased to graunt his royal pardon to William Holmes whome we committed to your custody concerning the murthering of William Wise in Newfoundland in the parts beyond the seas, theis therefore are to authorise and require you to enlardge and sett at libertie William Holmes and for your soe doing this shalbe your warrant given this last day of June 1634.'

Endorsed 30 June 1634

Summary of proceedings

Dr Duck acted as counsel for Hooker alias Wise and Dr Eden for Holmes. On 26 February 1634 William Holmes was brought into the court by the Knight Marshall, Sir Edmund Verney before Robert Earl of Lindsey, Thomas Earl of Arundel, Henry Earl of Manchester, Francis Earl of Bedford, Edward Earl of Dorset, Henry Lord Maltravers, Sir Henry Marten and Gilbert Dethick, at Whitehall.. The next day the libel was delivered. After further proceedings on 1 March in which Holmes made his defence, on 5 and 15 March 1634 with witnesses Sir David Kirke, Captaine Thomas Kirke, Edward Lees, and the deposition of John Rutledge. On 14 April 1634 Holmes and Hooker alias Wise appeared in custody and the court declared they would move to hearing sentence, which was heard on 26 April.

Notes

None of the parties appear in the London Visitations of 1633-5 or 1664: J. Jackson Howard and J. L. Chester (eds.), The Visitation of London, 1633, 1634 and, 1635, vol. I (Publications of the Harleian Society, 15, 1880); J. Jackson Howard (ed.), The Visitation of London, 1633, 1634 and, 1635, vol. II (Publications of the Harleian Society, 17, 1883); J. B. Whitmore and A. W. Hughes Clarke (eds.), London Visitation Pedigrees, 1664 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 92, 1940).

Renews is 5 miles north of Cape Race, on the southeast coast of Newfoundland. Documents 8/17 - 8/22a were papers from the Admiralty Court. For another account of the case in the context of the court's development, see G. D. Squibb, The High Court of Chivalry: A Study of the Civil Law in England (Oxford, 1959), pp. 54-6, 151, 217.

Documents

  • Initial proceedings and depositions
    • Deposition of Richard Enscourt: 8/17a (10 Oct 1632)
    • Deposition of Vincent Harris: 8/17c (12 Oct 1632)
    • Confession of William Holmes: 8/17b (c.Oct 1632)
    • Plaintiff's bond: 7/114a (25 Jan 1634)
    • Order to apprehend William Holmes: 7/114b (29 Jan 1634)
    • Order to apprehend William Holmes: 7/56 (29 Jan 1634)
    • Order to the Keeper of the Compter in the Poultry: 7/114c (30 Jan 1634)
    • Order for witnesses to attend Dr Duck: 7/114d (15 Feb 1634)
    • Deposition of John Culliver: 8/19 (17 Feb 1634)
    • Summary of Culliver's deposition: 8/21b (17 Feb 1634)
    • Order to apprehend John Spiller: 7/114e (22 Feb 1634)
    • Order to the Keeper of the Compter in the Poultry: 7/114f (25 Feb 1634)
    • Order to Sir Edmund Verney: 7/114g (25 Feb 1634)
    • Order to Thomas Colchester 7/114h (25 Feb 1634)
    • Deposition of Miles Synnet: 8/18 (27 Feb 1634)
    • Summaries of Spiller and Synnet's depositions: 8/21a (27 Feb 1634)
    • Proceedings in English: 8/20 (1 Mar 1634)
    • Petition of Hooker to Lindsey and Arundel: 7/114k (1 Mar 1634)
    • Defence: 114/k (1 Mar 1634)
    • Proceedings in English: 7/6 (5 Mar 1634)
    • Deposition of John Rutledge: 7/114l (15 Mar 1634)
    • Deposition of William Derson: 8/17d (no date)
    • Proceedings in English: 7/9 (14 Apr 1634)
  • Sentence / Arbitration
    • Proceedings in English: 7/7 (26 Apr 1634)
    • Definitive sentence: 7/114n (26 Apr 1634)
    • Royal pardon: 7/114o (May 1634)
    • Royal pardon: 9/4/53 (30 Jun 1634)
  • Proceedings
    • Proceedings before the earls of Lindsey and Arundel: 7/114i (26 Feb 1634)
    • Proceedings: 7/114j (27 Feb 1634)
    • Proceedings before the earls of Lindsey and Arundel: 7/16 (26 Feb and 5 Mar 1634)
    • Proceedings before the earls of Lindsey and Arundel: 8/22a(1 Mar 1634)
    • Proceedings before the earls of Lindsey and Arundel: 7/114k (1 Mar 1634)
    • Proceedings before the earls of Lindsey and Arundel: 7/114l (15 Mar 1634)
    • Proceedings before the earls of Lindsey and Arundel: 7/8 (14 Apr 1634)
    • Proceedings before the earls of Lindsey and Arundel: 7/114m (14 Apr 1634)
    • Proceedings before the earls of Lindsey and Arundel: 7/114n (26 Apr 1634)

People mentioned in the case

  • Bellamie, William (also Bellamy)
  • Bennett, Michael
  • Bertie, Robert, earl of Lindsey
  • Bowne, Abraham, gent
  • Cock, Robert
  • Colchester, Thomas, usher
  • Collins, Henry
  • Constable, Thomas, mariner
  • Culliver, John, mariner (also Culliner)
  • Derson, William, ship's master (also Darson, Dudson)
  • Devereux, Robert, earl of Essex
  • Duck, Arthur, lawyer
  • Eastcourt, Richard, mariner and cook
  • Eden, Thomas, lawyer
  • Goldstone, Abraham
  • Grove, Roger, mariner
  • Harris, Vincent, ship's captain
  • Hastings, Henry, earl of Huntingdon
  • Heath, Francis
  • Heyborne, George, mariner and trumpeter (also Hiborne)
  • Holmes, William, merchant
  • Hooker, Catherine (also Hooker alias Wise)
  • Howard, Henry, baron Maltravers
  • Howard, Thomas, earl of Arundel and Surrey
  • Kirke, Daniel, knight (also Kirk)
  • Kirke, Thomas, captain (also Kirk)
  • Lane, Thomas
  • Lees, Edward
  • Love, George, mariner and master's mate
  • Marryner, John, mariner
  • Marten, Henry, knight
  • Montague, Henry, earl of Manchester
  • Rivers, Robert, mariner
  • Russell, Francis, earl of Bedford
  • Rutledge, John
  • Sackville, Edward, earl of Dorset
  • Shorton, John, mariner (also Shorten, Sorten, Sporton)
  • Sinnett, Michael (also Sennett, Synnett, Synott, and also Miles Samuel
  • Spiller, John, mariner
  • Stuart, Charles I, king
  • Terrick, Humphrey
  • Throgmorton, Henry, gent
  • Verney, Edmund, knight
  • Wise, William, mariner and cooper

Places mentioned in the case

  • Essex
    • Maldon
  • London
    • Compter in the Poultry
    • Doctors Commons
    • St John the Baptist
    • Tower of London
  • Middlesex
    • Limehouse
    • Ratcliff
    • St Giles-in-the-Fields
    • Stepney
    • Westminster
    • Whitehall
  • Newfoundland
    • Cape Race
    • Renews
  • Surrey
    • Greenwich
    • Marshalsea
    • Redriff

Topics of the case

  • allegation of cowardice
  • challenge to a duel
  • comparison
  • constable
  • Court of Admiralty
  • Court of Exchequer
  • Court of Requests
  • denial of gentility
  • drunkenness
  • duel
  • giving the lie
  • mayor
  • mutiny
  • office-holding
  • under sheriff
  • weapon