314 Hudson v Vicars

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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'314 Hudson v Vicars', in The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640, (, ) pp. . British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/court-of-chivalry/314-hudson-vicars [accessed 2 March 2024]

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William Hudson of Reigate, co. Surrey, esq v James Vicars of the same, gent

February 1638 - Michaelmas term, 1639


Captain Hudson, a captain of the Surrey trained bands, complained that Vicars, a woollen draper, said that he was a 'base fellow, base shitten captaine, and when he spake he did barke as a dogg against the moone', in January 1638 at a meeting of Surrey JPs at the White Hart Inn, at Reigate. Vicars requested the justices present to bind Hudson to the peace because he was fearful of his behaviour when drunk. Hudson submitted to this and entered a recognisance for £100, but then in the afternoon, in the presence of Sir Thomas Bludder and Edward Saunders, esq, J.P.s, asked why it was necessary. At the quarrel which ensued Vicars claimed that Hudson threatened to defenestrate him and pull off his beard and 'wipe his breech with it', and declared that Vicars was 'worthie to be whipt out of the countrey'. In his defence in Vicars' countersuit [see cause 662], Hudson admitted to saying that Vicars was 'a beggar and a braggadoria [sic], and not the man he was taken to be for estate, and that he was a base cheating rascall, and that he would cheate one Mr Rider out of his estate', but claimed that Vicars had uttered his insults first and shaken his fist at him in an attempt to provoke him into a breach of the peace. According to Vicars, Hudson had inflicted a catalogue of humiliations on him in the past, particularly when he was drunk, perhaps because as a woollen draper he was particularly vulnerable to his social sneers. These included threatening to 'swaddle' Vicars for not kneeling during a health drinking session between May and July 1637, giving Vicars 'scoffing words' and holding him by the nose as they dined with Lord Munson between August and October 1637, and sitting in Mr Vicars' lap in his pew, while saying, 'Vicars thou art a great puppy and a base rascall' during evening prayer in Reigate church in January 1638. Process was under way by February 1638 and Hudson's witnesses, who included Bludder and Saunders, were examined by a commission headed by Edward Thurland, gent, on 2 August 1638, in the White Hart in Reigate. Dr Duck was required to publish this testimony and respond to Vicars' libel in the counter suit in October 1638 and proceedings continued until October-November 1639. Hudson's draft sentence survives, but the sums of Vicars' fines were not entered, leaving the result uncertain.

Plaintiff's case

Cur Mil II, fo. 98, Letters commissory for the plaintiff

Addressed to commissioners Edward Thurland, gent, Richard Heath, gent, and also, John Hampton, clerk and John Turner, gent, to meet in a cause of scandalous words provocative of a duel from 2 to 4 August 1638, in the White Hart Inn at Reigate, co. Surrey.

Gilbert Dethick, registrar, assigned Robert Tompson as notary public.

Dated 9 June 1638.

Cur Mil I, fo. 174, Defence interrogatories [damaged]

1. The witnesses were warned of the penalty for perjury and bearing false witness. What was the witnesses' age, occupation, place and condition of living? How did the witness know the parties?

2. Did the witness know or believe that between May and July 1637 Vicars and Hudson were drinking together, and did any present drink a health while kneeling to Vicars 'and did he deny to pledge the health kneeling, and did William Hudson then and there swear he would make James Vicars pledge that health kneelinge, and said he would swaddle James Vicars'?

3. Did the witness know or believe that between August and October 1637 Vicars and others were dining with Lord Munson, when Hudson entered and did 'use some scoffing, jeering or mocking words to or of Mr Vicars, and then held Mr Vicars by the nose'? Did Lord Munson and Mr Vicars then leave the company?

4. Did the witness know or believe that around January 1637/8 Mr Hudson dined at a feast at Reigate, and during evening prayer went into Reigate church, and leaving his own pew, went into Mr Vicars's pew, 'and there thronged in close to Mr Vicars, and gott before him in the pew and satt down upon his knees, or in his lappe, and then whispered to him and told him thus, vizt. Vicars thou art a great puppy and a base rascall. And did Hudson then disturb the congregation; and what ill words have you heard Hudson used to or of Mr Vicars coming from the church'?

5. Did the witness know or believe that on a Tuesday or Wednesday in early January 1638, Mr Vicars desired the justices bind Hudson to keep the peace, 'and did the justice wish Mr 'Vickers' to consider of it until afternoon that day'? Did the witness know or hear 'that Mr Hudson in the interim heard thereof, and at his own request was bound to the peace; and did Mr Vicars come to the justices or justice in the afternoon that day, and desired to have Mr Hudson bound to the peace, and did the justice or justices answer that he was bound already? 'And did Mr Hudson then rail at Mr Vicars'?

6. Did the witness know that before the alleged words in the libel, Hudson had called Vicars 'base cheating rascall and said he was worthie to be whipt out of the countrey, and provoked Mr Vicars to speak the words' in the libel, 'if any such were spoken'?

7. Did the witness know that before the alleged words in the libel, Hudson threatened to beat Vicars 'or that he would strike him a boxe on the eare; or said that he would pull of Mr Vicars's beard, and wipe his breech with it, and would throw Mr Vicars out at the window', thereby provoking Vicars to speak the pretended words in the libel 'which he doth not confess but deny'?

8. If any witness deposed that Vicars spoke the words in the libel, they were to be asked where, when, in whose presence, and what provocative words of distaste had Hudson first used?

9. Was the witness kin, tenant, servant or indebted to Hudson; or was Hudson indebted to the witness, and if so, for what sum?

10. Was there 'good correspondence and familiarity' between the witness and Vicars; or had there ever been differences, and if so, how long ago?

11. Was the witness 'more familiar and conversant' with Hudson than Vicars, and to which would the witness give victory?

12. Was the witness requested or compelled to testify and by whom?

13. Had the witness had any communication with anyone about their deposition?

No date.

Signed by William Merrick.


1. Did the witness know or believe that around January 1638 at a meeting of Surrey JPs at the White Hart, Reigate, Vicars came to Sir Thomas Bludder and Edmond Saunders, esq, where Hudson called him 'base cheating Rascall, and sayd he was not worthy to keep gentlemen company but was fit to be whipt out of the country, without any provocation of Mr Vicars, only did Mr Vicars reply thus, vizt. Captaine Hudson, your base language I return to yourself and regard it no more than I regard a dogg that barks against the moone. And did Captaine Hudson bending his fist reply thus, vizt. Vicars if I were not bound to the peace I would beat thee, or give thee a box on the eare and throw thee out at a window, and if thou provokest me I'le pull off thy beard and wipe my breech with it; or were there words to the like effect used on both parties.'

2. 'Were you present at any of the tyme, especially before the justices of the peace in the next precedent interrogatory menconed, when any differences in words or otherwise passed between Mr Hudson and Mr Vicars. And did Mr Vicars then or at other time call Mr Hudson base fellow, *base shitten*, captaine or a dogg, or what other unseemly language did Mr Vicars at such time or times use to or of Mr Hudson; and if Mr Vicars used any uncivil language was it in reply to Mr Hudson's ill language first used to Mr Vicars. And who were present at each tyme.'

No date.

Signed by Thomas Exton.

Cur Mil II, fos. 91-97, Plaintiff depositions

2 August 1638

fos. 91r-92v (Witness 1), Sir Thomas Bludder of Flanchford, co. Surrey, knight, lived there for 20 years, aged 41, had known Hudson for 7 years

To Hudson's libel:

1. The plaintiff was captain of one of Surrey's trained bands, and the natural and lawful son of the late Alderman Hudson, a former counsellor of law at Gray's Inn. The defendant 'is commonly accompted to be a woollen draper'.

2. He believed Hudson had been employed in expeditions on the king's service.

3-4. 'About a week after Christmas last he was present at a meeting of Surrey JPs at the White Hart Inn, Reigate. Vicars complained to the J.P.s of Hudson and claimed he was in fear for his life, and asked them to bind Hudson over to keep the peace. The J.P.s intended to do so but attempted to reconcile the parties that afternoon. Hudson heard that Vicars wished him to be bound to keep the peace, and so voluntarily entered bond for the peace before the J.P.s that dinner time. Vicars returned and Hudson asked him 'why he went about to require the peace of him'. Vicars said it was because he feared Hudson when he had been drinking. Some 'angry and disgraceful words followed', and Vicars said to Hudson 'thou art a base fellow and a shitten captaine and when thou speakest to me thou barkest like a dog against the moone'. Vicars 'in a dareing and provoking manner did bend his fist at or against Captaine Hudson', thereby hoping to provoke Hudson to break the peace. Hudson replied, 'Sirrah, you shall not make me break the peace'. Mr Saunders and Mr Muncaster the elder were also present.

To Vicars's interrogatories:

4. On Sunday as he came from Reigate church where Vivars and Hudson had been at divine service, he saw them 'at some difference', with 'jostling between them as they were in the highway'. He was too far off to hear what they said.

6. He did not hear Hudson say he would have Vicars 'whipped out of the countrey', until Vicars 'had uttered the words predeposed'.

10. There had been no quarrel between him and Vicars.

11-12. He was more familiar with Hudson, but 'wisheth right may take place', and came to testify at Hudson's request and in obedience to the commission.

13. Negative.

Signed by Sir Thomas Bludder, and by the four commissioners Hampton, Heath, Thurland and Turner.

fos. 93r-94v (Witness 2), Edmund Saunders of Charlwood, co. Surrey, esq, lived there for 8 to 10 years, born at Lambeth, co. Surrey, aged about 37

To Hudson's libel:

1. He had known Hudson, who was a captain of one of Surrey's trained bands, for 3 or 4 years.He had known Vicars who was reputed a woollen draper in London for about 2 or 3 years.

2. He believed Hudson had been employed in voyages on the king's service.

3-4. In January last he was present with Bludder at a meeting of Surrey J.P.s at the White Hart Inn, Reigate. Vicars complained to them of Hudson and asked them to bind Hudson over to keep the peace. Hudson heard that Vicars wished him to be bound to keep the peace, and so voluntarily entered bond for the peace before Bludder and this witness. Vicars returned and Bludder told him that Hudson had bound himself to the peace. Words then passed between Hudson and Vicars, and the witness saw 'Vicars bend his fist, and in a daring and provoking manner' said to Hudson 'thou art a base shitten captain'. Vicars said to Hudson 'that he cared no more for him than a dogge that barked at the moone'. There were present Bludder, the witness, and 'Mr Monkister', and others.

To Vicars's interrogatories:

4. He heard 'some murmuring' between Hudson and Vicars as they came from Reigate church but did not hear what they said.

6. Hudson said that Vicars deserved to be 'whipped out of the countrey', but he did not know if this was before Vicars's 'speaking of the words by him predeposed'.

7. Negative.

8. In an upper room of the White Hart Inn after dinner.

9. Negative.

10. There had been 'good correspondency' between him and Vicars.

11. 'He would give the victory to him that hath most right'.

12. He testified at Hudson's request and expected to receive nothing.

Signed by Edmund Saunder and by the four commissioners.

fos. 95r-96v (Witness 3), William Mulcaster of Horley, co. Surrey, gent, aged about 71, had known Hudson for 5 years

To Hudson's libel:

1. Hudson was reputed to be 'of good descent, rank and quality' and was also captain of one of Surrey's trained bands.Hudson's late father had been a counsellor at law and a JP. Vicars was 'commonly accounted a woollen draper'.

2. He had heard that Hudson had been employed on the king's service abroad.

3-4. In January last he was present with Bludder at a meeting of Surrey JPs at the White Hart Inn, Reigate. Vicars complained to them of Hudson and asked them to bind Hudson over to keep the peace. Hudson heard that Vicars wished him to be bound to keep the peace, and so voluntarily entered bond for the peace. When Vicars returned, Hudson 'in a faire and quiet manner' asked Vicars why he wanted him bound to the peace 'and told him that for his part he meant him no harme nor hurt'. Then Vicars 'fell out into disgraceful and abusive language against Captaine Hudson'. Vicars 'did much and often provoke Captain Hudson with harsh and contumelious words and speeches but what they were in particular he cannot remember'. This witness advised Vicars to forbear, but Vicars intended to provoke Hudson to breach the peace. Both did 'bend their fists each against the other in angry and furious manner'. Bludder and Saunder were also present.

To Vicars's interrogatories:

At the time of the quarrel he heard Hudson call Vicars 'base fellow and told him that he was not worthy to keep gentlemen company... and if he had not been bound to the peace he would have plucked off his beard and wiped his breach there, which Mr Vicars in a slighting manner told the Captaine that he regarded his threats no more than the barking of a dogg against the moone.'

Signed by William Mulcaster and by the four commissioners.

Sentence / Arbitration

11/12, Plaintiff's sentence

Vicars had been charged with saying: 'that William Hudson was a base shitten Captaine, and when he spake he did barke as a dogg against the moone, and beate his fist against William Hudson.'

Spaces were left for the sums for damages, expenses and taxes to be added in later.

No date.

Signed by Arthur Duck.

EM135, Bill of costs

Hillary term, 1637: £5-13s-4d

Easter term, 1638: £4-9s-2d

Trinity term, 1638: £2-1s-8d

Michaelmas term, 1638: £3-11s-0d

Hillary term, 1638: £5-2s-8d

Vacation: £10-4s-0d

Easter term, 1639:£6-16s-8d

Trinity term, 1639: £6-6s-8d

Michaelmas term, 1639: £10-9s-8d

Total: £53-12s-8d

Signed by Arthur Duck.

Summary of proceedings

Dr Duck acted as counsel for Hudson and Dr Merrick for Vicars. On 20 October and 28 November 1638 Dr Duck was required to publish Hudson's witnesses.


Neither William Hudson nor James Vicars appear in the Visitations of Surrey in 1623 or 1662-8, but a William Hudson has been noted as a royalist lieutenant-colonel who surrendered in Lichfield Close in 1646.

P. R. Newman, Royalist officers in England and Wales, 1642-1660: A biographical dictionary (London, 1981), p. 204; W. B. Bannerman (ed.), The Visitations of the County of Surrey, 1530, 1572 and 1623 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 43, 1899); G. J. Armytage (ed.), A Visitation of the County of Surrey, 1662-8 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 60, 1910).


  • Plaintiff's case
    • Letters commissory for the plaintiff: Cur Mil II, fo. 98 (9 Jun 1638)
    • Defence interrogatories: Cur Mil I, fo. 174 (no date)
    • Plaintiff depositions: Cur Mil II, fos. 91-7 (2 Aug 1638)
  • Sentence / Arbitration
    • Plaintiff's sentence: 11/12 (no date)
    • Bill of costs: EM135 (Mic 1639)
  • Proceedings
    • Proceedings before Arundel: R.19, fos. 434r-449v (20 Oct 1638)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: R.19, fos. 422r-428r (28 Nov 1638)

People mentioned in the case

  • Bludder, Thomas, knight
  • Dethick, Gilbert, registrar
  • Duck, Arthur, lawyer
  • Exton, Thomas, lawyer
  • Hampton, John, clerk
  • Heath, Richard, gent
  • Howard, Henry, baron Maltravers
  • Howard, Thomas, earl of Arundel and Surrey
  • Hudson, alderman
  • Hudson, William, esq
  • Merrick, William, lawyer
  • Monson, William, baron Monson (also Mounson, Monzon)
  • Mulcaster, William, gent (also Muncaster, Monkister)
  • Rider, Mr
  • Saunders, Edmund, esq
  • Thurland, Edward, gent
  • Tompson, Robert, notary public
  • Turner, John, gent
  • Vicars, James, gent (also Vickers)

Places mentioned in the case

  • London
    • Gray's Inn
  • Staffordshire
    • Lichfield
  • Surrey
    • Charlwood
    • Flanchford
    • Horley
    • Lambeth
    • Reigate

Topics of the case

  • allegation of cheating
  • drinking healths
  • drunkenness
  • inns of court
  • justice of the peace
  • military officer
  • scatological insult
  • royalist
  • threatened violence
  • trained band