320 Hungerford v Staples

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

This free content was Born digital and sponsored by AHRC and University of Birmingham. CC-NC-BY.


In this section


Walter Hungerford of Barton Court, Kintbury, co. Berkshire, gent v Alexander Staples of Savernake Park, co. Wiltshire

February 1637 - April 1637


Hungerford complained that between November 1636 and March 1637 Staples had said at Park in Savernake Forest, Wiltshire, that Hungerford 'was a base fellow, a base rascall, a puppie, a jackanapes', and his 'armes did smell more of the base than the Mullett'. Hungerford entered his libel 29 April 1637, but nothing further survives.

Initial proceedings

20/2o, Libel

1. Hungerford's family had been ancient gentry for up to 200 years.

2. Between November and March 1636 Staples said at Park in the forest of Savernake, that Hungerford 'was a base fellow, a base rascall, a puppie, a jackanapes, and that my armes did smell more of the base than the Mullett'. These contemptuous words were provocative of a duel.

Dated 29 April 1637.

Signed by Charles Tooker.

Summary of proceedings

The case appeared on 11 February 1637 with Dr Tooker as counsel.


No Alexander Staples appears in the Wiltshire visitation of 1623. A Walter Hungerford (b.c.1605), D.D., rector of Buscot was noted in the Berkshire Visitation of 1665-6 as the son of John Hungerford of Cadenham, co. Wiltshire, esq.

W. H. Rylands (ed.), The Four Visitations of Berkshire, 1532, 1566, 1623, and 1665-6, vol. I (Publications of the Harleian Society, 56, 1907), p. 231; G. D. Squibb (ed.), Wiltshire Visitation Pedigrees, 1623 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 105 and 106, 1954), p. 94.


  • Initial proceedings
    • Libel: 20/2o (29 Apr 1637)
  • Proceedings
    • Proceedings: College of Arms MS. 'Court of Chivalry' (act book, 1636-8) [pressmark R.R. 68C] (hereafter 68C), fos. 23r-36v (11 Feb 1637)

People mentioned in the case

  • Hungerford, John, esq
  • Hungerford, Walter, gent
  • Staples, Alexander
  • Tooker, Charles, lawyer

Places mentioned in the case

  • Berkshire
    • Barton Court, Kintbury
  • Wiltshire
    • Buscot
    • Cadenham
    • Savernake Park

Topics of the case

  • coat of arms
  • denial of gentility
  • nicknaming