340 Kenn v Robins

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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340 KENN V ROBINS

Edmund Kenn of Uphill, co. Somerset, gent, v Henry Robins the elder of Hutton, co. Somerset, husbandman

June 1635 - February 1640

Figure 340a:

The village of Hutton, Somerset, with Bleadon Hill in the background, where Edmund Kenn and Henry Robins traded insults whilst hunting hare in early 1638 (Photograph: Richard Cust)

Figure 340b:

St Mary's church, where they quarrelled after evensong in 1637 (Photograph: Richard Cust)

Abstract

In the longest running dispute recorded by the court, Kenn brought at least two prosecutions against Robins. He complained in early 1635 that Robins had given him the lie publicly, called him a base gentleman and said that he was a better man than Kenn. A reconciliation was arranged by Christopher Olmixton, Maurice Ceelie, Robert Maie, gents, and James Hadlie at Olmixton's house on 22 June 1636 by which they agreed to end all their actions and suits. However, this foundered on the deep-seated spite and determination of each to get the better of the other.

No indication of sentence at this stage survives and Kenn reopened the case for a second time in a further libel on 5 December 1638. He complained that Robins had given him the lie and called him 'Sirrah' while he was out hunting hare on Bleadon Hill during January - February 1638. Kenn's companions also testified that Robins tried to provoke him into drawing his sword by cutting across in front of his dogs, jeering at the feather in his hat and threatening to make him spend all his estate in lawsuits, saying that 'he would make him sell his painted house before they had done' and would 'make him crie againe like a pigg as he did in London...'. Robins insisted that he was the one who had been provoked, by Kenn threatening to strike him and calling him 'base rogue, base knave, and scum of the country'. A second commission headed by John Smith, clerk, met to take more depositions on Kenn's behalf on Thursday 17 January 1639 at the Angel Inn in Axbridge. The sentence is damaged, but Kenn again won the case as Robins was bound to his good behaviour and ordered to provide a certificate of his submission on 5 December 1639. The last surviving proceeding was on 4 February 1640 when Robins was accused of not having performed the submission.

Initial proceedings

R.19, fo. 7r, Summary of libel

Kenn and his ancestors had been commonly reported gentlemen for over 200 years. 'Robins (att such a day and place) publiquely before many persons, gave Kenne the lye, and said he was a base gentleman, and that he was as good a man as he. Thereby to provoke him to a duel.'

1635

No signature.

Sentence / Arbitration

R.19, fo. 30r, Plaintiff sentence

'And having called before us the parties and being assisted by our councell learned in lawes, we doe pronounce, decree and declare that Robins shall putt in Caution for his good behaviour during the pleasure of us and this court. And that he pay in damages forty pounds to Edmond Kenn, and 20 li costs. And that he be detained in safe custody until the performance of this our definitive sentence and c.'

Third session, Trinity term, 1637.

Signed by Maltravers.

Bill of costs, £20, signed by Maltravers.

Plaintiff's case

7/75, Names of commissioners

James Jeffries, gent, of Axbridge, Somerset

Robert Visard, clerk, of Locking, Somerset

Tristram Towse, gent, of Wells

William Sparkes, gent, of Wells

No date.

19/3a, Letters commissory for the plaintiff

Addressed to commissioners John Vivian, John Smith, Christopher Jones and John Burges, gents, and also, James Jeffries, gent, Robert Visard, clerk, Tristam Towser, gent, and William Sparkes, gent, to meet from 16 to 18 January 1637/8 in the Bear Inn, at Axbridge, co. Somerset.

Gilbert Dethick, registrar, assigned Alexander Jett as notary public.

Dated 28 November 1637.

Signed by Gilbert Dethick.

19/3b, Articles

1. 'At any time after the beginning of this suite and before sentence was given in this cause there was a *release or* agreement made between the parties, that as well the prosecution of this suite as of all other suites between parties... yet in the release or not long before, or at the time of the delivery of the release or shortly after the delivery thereof, it was concluded and agreed on by and between the parties in that Henry Robins should also release and cease prosecution of all suites which Robins had begun against all other persons that were friends, servants or ally of Edmund Kenne and interessed together with Edmund Kenne in the suites.'

2. In testimony to this agreement Kenn and Robins signed releases for each other. But soon after the delivery of the releases and before sentence was given in this cause, Robins broke the agreement by proceeding with his suites against several of the parties that were 'interessed together with Edmund Kenne, and put one of them to such an exigent , that he was affine to compound and give Robins seaven pounds sterling, or else he had been carried forthwith to prison.'

3. During this suit, and about six weeks before sentence was given in this cause and about Easter last, Kenn told Robins that if he joined him in the costs of getting the cause dismissed 'and taking up their bonds of each side, vizt. for the advocates, registers, marshalls and other officers fees due upon the submission of the cause', he would 'take order for a motion to be made by the advocate for the redelivery of their bonds and dismission of the cause'. He further offered that if Robins would do this, he would tender him 40 shillings for his part of the charge, 'and promised to pay his share of the charge if it should be any more; but Robins refused the profers', and would not join with him in the charge. Kenn told Robins if he refused, he would proceed in the cause in the next term, telling him 'he would not have his bond forfeited for want of prosecution of the cause.'

4. Since sentence was given, Robins had had Kenn arrested 'on the said agreement by a latitat out of the King's Bench, and had noe other cause of action against Edmund Kenne, but upon the pretended breach of the release or agreement made and concluded between them.'

5. Last July or August, since Robins had notice of the sentence and taxes of this court against him, Robins was told 'he might have prevented it if he would have disbursed but 40s towards the charge of taking up the bonds, and dismission of the cause. Henry Robins replied, speaking to Edmund Kenn in a contemptuous manner, and affronting him with scorneful gesture, said, 'I will make a foole of you yet in this business'.And Robins hath since reported that this business should cost Edmund Kenne an hundred pounds before he had done with him.'

Dated 28 November 1637.

Signed by Arthur Duck.

19/3c, Defence interrogatories

1. The witnesses were warned of the penalty for perjury. What was their age, occupation and condition of living? Where had they lived during all their lives?

2. Was the witness a relative of Kenn, and if so, by what degree? Was the witness indebted to Kenn and if so for what sum? Was the witness a household servant or retainer to Kenn, and if so for what property or wage?

3. Was the witness present at the agreement mentioned in the article? Who else were present? When and where was it? Did Robins there deliver to Kenn two writings under his hand and seal? 'What was the contents of it or any part of it, as you doe know believe or have heard, were they not two several releases to Kenn one from Robbins, the other in the name of Robbins his children'?

4. Who else had Robbins sued or proceeded against, since the time of the release or releases mentioned in the article? For what causes were the suites or suite commenced or proceeded?

5. Did he believe that not long after the sentence, in July, August or September 1637, 'Ken did by a process out of this honourable court, cause Robbins to be arrested and imprisoned, and was he not kept as prisoner for eight or seaven dayes in the custodie of one John Sally or Salway or Zalway, who then tooke upon him to be a bailiff for Ken in that business? Was not Robbins putt to greate chardges heareupon, vizt. 3 li 50s or 40s at least'?

6. Speak the truth of what you know, believe or have heard.

Signed by Thomas Eden.

'Interrogatories on the behalfe of Henry Robbins whereon Mr Kenn his witnesses are to be examined. These are not to brake open until the witnesses are sworne by the commissioners'.

No date.

Signed by Gilbert Dethick.

19/3d, First set of plaintiff's depositions

Taken before commissioners John Smith, clerk, MA, between 11am and 2 pm on 17 January 1637/8, at the Bear Inn, Axbridge, co. Somerset, in the presence of Alexander Jett, notary public.

Repeated at the Bear Inn, Axbridge, before John Vivian, clerk and commissioner on 24 January 1637/8, in the presence of Alexander Jett, notary public.

(Witness 1), Robert Bagnall, clerk, rector of Hutton, co. Somerset, lived there for 20 years or more, was born in Trentham, co. Stafford, aged about 80

To Kenn's libel:

1-2. Not examined by Kenn's consent.

Signed by Robert Bagnall.

To Robins's interrogatories:

1. He had lived at Hutton for 20 years, and before that at Rhode, co. Somerset for 30 years, and before that at Eynsham, co. Oxford, for 3 years, and before that as a student in Oxford for 5 years and before that at Trentham where he was born.

3-4. Not examined.

5. During the last corn harvest, Robins was kept as a prisoner at the King's Head in Axbridge by 'one Sallie a bayleife', at the suit of Edmund Kenn; 'but out of what court the process came' he did not know.

Signed by Robert Bagnall and by the commissioner Vivian.

(Witness 2), Edmund Paine of Hutton, co. Somerset, husbandman, lived there for 20 years or more, before that in Banwell parish, co. Somerset, aged about 50

To Kenn's libel:

1-2. Not examined by Kenn's consent.

3. On a Sunday or holy day soon after Easter 1637, Edmund Kenn left Hutton parish church after evening prayer to accompany Paine to Paine's house. Upon leaving the churchyard they were joined by Robins and others, and Kenn said to Robins: 'Harrie there be bonds in my Lord Marshall's courte betweene us that must be taken upp. If you will give me fortie shillings towards parte of the charge, I will take them upp, or else, quoth Edmund Kenn, I will give you fortie shillings and you take them upp and withal drew out of his purse two pieces of gold of twenty shillings a piece, and proferred Robbins to give him fortie shillings if he would undertake to do it. B, but Robbins refused the same, and in expresse terms told Edmund Kenn that he would do neither of them, *nor be at anie charge at all*. Whereupon, Edmund Kenn told Robbins that he would go forwards with the suite; and thereupon Robbins went his waie from the companie and Edmund Kenn spake to those that were present to beare witness'. Stephen Young, Henry Howlett and Samuel Naish were present.

Signed by Edmund Paine [his mark]

To Robins's interrogatories:

1. He had lived in Hutton and Banwell 'not many miles assunder' for all his life.

2. He held 2 acres of land from Kenn for the term of his and his daughter, Mary Paine's lives.

3-4. Not examined.

Signed by Edmund Paine [his mark] and by the commissioner Vivian.

(Witness 3), Samuel Naish of Hutton, co. Somerset, weaver, lived there for 20 years or more, before that in Wrington parish, co. Somerset, aged about 58

To Kenn's libel:

1-2. Not examined by Kenn's consent.

3. On one of the Easter holy days, he overtook Edmund Kenn who was with Edmund Paine, Stephen Young, Henry Howlett and Henry Robins by the churchyard in Hutton. He overheard Robins say he would have no more to do with the business, and Kenn reply that he would. He believes this business was the cause in this court, as he was told so afterwards by others present.

Signed by Samuel Nash.

To Robins's interrogatories:

1. He had lived all his life in the parishes of Hutton and Wrington, co. Somerset, except for one year in Langriey, co. Somerset.

2. Kenn called Naish 'cosen', and the relation came by Naish's wife, but he did not know how closely they were related.

3. Not examined.

Signed by Samuel Nash and by the commissioner Vivian.

(Witness 4), Christopher Naish of Oldmixton, in the parish of Hutton, co. Somerset, husbandman, lived there for 20 years or more, before that in Wrington parish, co. Somerset, aged about 27

To Kenn's libel:

2. At about 'midsummer last was twelvemonths' there were gathered at the house of Mr Christopher Oldmixton in Oldmixton, Kenn and Robins, 'Maurice Ceelie, gent, Robert Maie, gent, and James Hadlie of the parish of Uphill, and there they met to end all differences and suites of law between Edmund Kenn and Henrie Robbins. And [Naish] living in the howse, and understanding what business they were going aboute, lefte the company in the parlor of the house, because he was unwilling to be a witness unto what should then and there pass. And after he had been absent an hower's space or better, and he then imagining by that tyme they had ended what they had intended to doe', he went into the parlour, where Mr Ceelie told him that 'Mr Kenn and Goodman Robbins had made an end and all actions and suites of law betwixt them was acquitted from the beginning of the world to that day'. Kenn and Robins acknowledged this to be true, and both gave [Naish] three pence for calling Robins to come to the house to meet Kenn. Soon after, and before Robins was arrested at Kenn's suit, Robins caused Edmund Younge of Hutton, an acquaintance of Kenn's, to be arrested by process for an action of trespass and held in custody, and would not release him until he had compounded and paid him 'to end the business for which he was arrested'. Younge had been tithingman for Hutton a year before the agreement, and had gone with Kenn to Robins's house to search for hawks that Kenn had lost, 'and pretended they were taken awaie by Robbins's children and then remaining in Robbins's house'.

3-4. Not examined.

Signed by Christopher Naish.

To Robins's interrogatories:

1. He had lived all his life in the parishes of Hutton and Wringhton.

2. 'He is noe kyn that he knoweth to' Kenn.

5. He heard reported around last Michaelmas that Robins was arrested at Kenn's suit, 'but by what process or out of what court issuing he heard not. But he heard that one Sallie or Salwaie of Axbridge co. Somerset a baylie *was the man* that arrested him.'

Signed by Christopher Naish and by the commissioner Vivian.

(Witness 5), Stephen Young of Hutton, co. Somerset, husbandman, lived there for all his life, aged about 34

To Kenn's libel:

1. Not examined by Kenn's consent.

2. About 4 or 5 years ago, his father, Edward Young was tithing man of Hutton. Around Whitsun, Kenn required Edward Young to accompany him to Robins's house to search for his lost hawks which he did. Last spring, Robins had Edward Young arrested for a night and part of a day until Young compounded with Robins in Stephen Young's presence, to pay him £5 to end the business. Stephen was his father's surety and said the sum was now paid, along with further charges of 40s which Stephen paid for his father. When Stephen questioned Robins why he sued his father, Robins acknowledged that it was for 'trespasse for coming into his house when he was titheing man with Captaine Kenn to search for hawkes and for noe other business'. This he acknowledged before Stephen and Edward Young, James Phelps and two bailiffs then present.

3. On last Easter Monday, after evening prayer ended in Hutton church, he went along with Edmund Kenn, Edmund Paine and Henry Howlett towards Paine's house. They met Henry Robins in a lane by the churchyard stile. Samuel Nash was also present. Afterwards, Robins went on his way and the rest proceeded to Paine's house. The description of the encounter is as witness 2.

Signed by Stephen Young [his mark] and by the commissioner Vivian.

To Robins's interrogatories:

1. He had lived all his life in Hutton parish except for 4 years in the parish of Congresbury, co. Somerset.

2. Negative.

3. Not examined.

Signed by Stephen Young [his mark] and by the commissioner Vivian.

(Witness 6), Henry Howlett of Hutton, co. Somerset, weaver, lived there for 3 years, before that in Uphill, co. Somerset for 3 years, before that in Hutton for 4 years, before that in Kingston Seymour, co. Somerset since a child, had known the parties litigant for 7 years, aged about 31

To Kenn's libel:

1-2. Not examined by Kenn's consent.

3. As witness 2, but Robins 'regarded not Edmund Kenn's speeches but went awaie jearing and laughing at Edmund Kenn and badd him doe his worst'.

Edmund Paine, Stephen Young and Samuel Nash were also present.

Signed by Henry Howlett [his mark] and by the commissioner Vivian.

To Robins's interrogatories:

2. Negative.

3-4. Not examined.

5. Around last Bartholomew's tide, Robins was arrested by John Sallie, bailiff of Axbridge and kept in custody for 4 or 5 days. It was reported he was arrested at Kenn's suit by a process from the Earl Marshall's court.

Signed by Henry Howlett [his mark] and by the commissioner Vivian.

(Witness 7), John Salwaie of Axbridge, co. Somerset, glover, lived there for all his life, he had known Kenn for all his life, and Robins for 12 years, aged about 36

To Kenn's libel:

1-3. Not examined by Kenn's consent.

4. Last Michaelmas, Kenn brought him a process from the Earl Marshall's court, to have Robins arrested and imprisoned. Salwaie did so and held him for 7 or 8 days before releasing him. Five weeks later, Robins brought him a 'warrant upon a latitat out of the Kings Bench granted at Robbins' suite against Edmund Kenn and desired [Salwaie] to arrest Kenn by virtue of the said warrant'. Robins told him he had procured the warrant because Kenn had broken the conditions of the releases or agreement formerly made between them. So Salwaie arrested Kenn, and Kenn gave bond to answer.

Signed by John Sallway, and by the commissioner Vivian.

To Robins's interrogatories:

2. Negative.

5. While Robins was in custody for those 7 or 8 days, 'it cost him for charges of the house where he laie neere about fiftie shillings'.

Signed by John Sallway and by the commissioner Vivian.

(Witness 8), Christopher Harvie of Huton, co. Somerset, weaver, aged about 35

To Kenn's libel:

1-4. Not examined by Kenn's consent.

5. About St James's tide, 1637, he was at King's Close bowling green in Hutton, when a mounted Kenn in the highway beyond the hedge called him and James Bagnall over to speak with him. They did so, and then, uninvited, Robins joined them 'in a scornefull manner without anie salutation at all passed by him, sate downe on the hedge with his breech towards Edmund Kenn and, in a bold affronting manner, said to Edmund Kenn I heare that you have got an order out of my Lord Marshall's Courte against me for the payment of threescore pounds, if you have tell me; and Edmund Kenn bade him go look whether he had or noe'. Robins replied, 'What a foole is this that he will not tell me'. Kenn desired Bagnall and Harvie to bear witness. Robins added, 'Nay, I will make a foole of thee before I have done... with full intent to provoke Edmund Kenn to anger, that so he might quarrel with him'.

Signed by Christopher Harvey and by the commissioner Vivian.

To Robins's interrogatories:

2. Negative.

3-4. Not examined by Robins's consent.

5. He remembered that at Michaelmas 1637 Robins was arrested by process from the Earl Marshall's court at Kenn's suit, and was in the custody of John Salwaie of Axbridge for 7 or 8 days, and the charges while he was in custody were about three pounds.

Signed by Christopher Harvey and by the commissioner Vivian.

(Witness 9), James Bagnall of Hutton, co. Somerset, weaver, lived there for 20 years, before that in the parish of Rhode, co. Somerset, had known the parties for 20 years, aged about 46

To Kenn's libel:

1-4. Not examined by Kenn's consent.

5. As witness 8, except he mentioned that they were playing bowls after the end of prayers, and that Robins approached them 'without putting off his hatt, or anie salutation at all, in a scorneful manner, clapt him down upon the hedge with his baker parts to Edmund Kenn'. Kenn also responded 'providing himself in readiness to be gone said, This is the wise man of your parish that for the saving of fortie shillings is like now to cost him three score pounds'.

Signed by James Bagnall and by the commissioner Vivian.

To Robins's interrogatories:

1. He had lived in Hutton for 20 years, and before that all his life in Rhode and Beckington, co. Somerset.

2. Negative.

3-4. Not examined by Robins's consent.

5. He remembered that at Michaelmas 1637 Robins was arrested by process from the Earl Marshall's court at Kenn's suit, and was in the custody of John Salwaie of Axbridge for 7 or 8 days, and Robins told him that his charges while he was in custody were over 40 shillings.

Signed by James Bagnall and by the commissioner Vivian.

(Witness 10), Edward Young of Hutton, co. Somerset, husbandman, aged about 65

To Kenn's libel:

1. Not examined.

2. About 4 or 5 years ago, he was tithing man of Hutton, and during that summer, Kenn required him to accompany him to Robins's house to search for his stolen hawks; 'but [Young] was very unwilling so to doe, because Edmund Kenn had noe warrant from anie justice of peace for the doeing of it. Yet because Edmund Kenn was very earnest and, in the king's name, required him to go along with him... [Young] doubting what might become of it if he neglected to search... went along with Edmund Kenn... [who] promised to beare him out in the business although it cost him a hundred pounds.' Shortly before Christmas 1636 Robins threatened him with arrest over a suit at common law. Young did not know the cause, unless it was for searching his house as above and so he procured Mr Robert Bagnall, parson of Hutton, John Howse and John Haines of Hutton, yeomen, to intercede with Robins to end the business. Robins told them that the suit was for Young's searching his house for Mr Kenn's hawks, and that he would not settle the business out of court. Young quickly went from Hutton to Uphill to speak with Edmund Kenn about the matter and to ask for his aid, but 'Edmund Kenn was much offended with him about the same, imagining he had come with a falsitie unto him and that Robbins did not sue Young, alleging that Robbins and himself had ended and sealed releases each to the other, and so Young had no redress at all'.

About the beginning of Lent 1636/7 Robins had Young arrested in Hutton at common law and Young was brought to Axbridge and imprisoned there for one night. The next day before noon, Young's son, Stephen Young, James Phelps, yeoman, then of Hutton but now of Locking, and John Jefferies of Cheddar came to bail Young and were with him in a low room in the Lamb Inn at Axbridge, along with Robins and the two or three bailiffs that had arrested Young. Robins came intending to have Young carried off to Ivelchester gaol, and enquired of James Phelps for what purpose he came. Phelps told him that he came to bail Young, but Robins told Phelps he should give no bond there except he would give bond to be liable to the action and damage. Phelps replied to Robbins that he believed that Young owed him no money, and Robins 'forthwith acknowledged soe much'; so Phelps asked Robins why he had caused Young to be arrested. Robins answered that the cause of the action was Young had come 'with Captaine Kenn to search his house for hawkes' without a warrant.

Phelps then became unwilling to be Young's bail and advised Young 'to make an end of the business with Robbins by waie of composition'; and Young 'being verie unwilling to goe to prison or law, asked of Robbins what he would take to compound and end the business'. Robins 'first stood stifflie upon twentie pounds, but after much a doe with him, at last he professed he would not take a penny less then five pounds, and the charges of the suite to end the business, which Young much against his will (being likely to be undone thereby having scarse five pounds a yeare to maintaine himself and familie), *having a wife and many children*, yielded unto, or else Young must have been forthwith carried to Ivelchester Gaile'.

Then Young and his son 'forthwith gave Robbins bond to paie five pounds, which they have since satisfied to their great hurte, lying in debt for the same in other places'. Young added that besides the £5 it cost him nearly 40 shillings for the writs and other charges about the business.

Signed by Edward Young [his mark] and by the commissioner Vivian.

To Robins's interrogatories:

2. Negative.

3. Not examined.

Signed by Edward Young [his mark] and by the commissioner Vivian.

19/3e, Notary public's certificate

Certificate in Latin signed by Alexander Jett, notary public that the examinations had been completed and were now being returned.

25 January 1637/8.

Notary's mark.

Note added on 10 February 1637/8 of 20 shillings tax, signed Henry Marten.

Initial proceedings

Acta (4), fo. 250a, Libel

Edmund Kenn claimed to be from a family that had been gentry for up to 200 years, and that the family of Henry Robbins were plebeians.

Henry Robbins had said: 'that I was a base gentleman and gave me the lye; and that he would make me spend all my estate in suits; and said, Sirah, thou, thou, sirah, thou durst never speake truth', which words were intended to provoke him to a duel.

No date, but attached to 5 December 1638

Signed by Arthur Duck.

R.19, fo. 25r, Summary of libel

Kenn and his ancestors had been commonly reputed gentlemen for over 200 years. Henry Robins and his ancestors for all that time had been plebeians and not gentlemen. In the court 2 or 3 years ago in a cause procured by Kenn, Robins was sentenced to give Kenn satisfaction, to pay damages and expenses, and to give security for his good behaviour. Kenn now complained that since this sentence

Robins had said that Kenn was 'a base gentleman and gave him the lye; and that he would make him spend all his estate in suites; and said, Sirrah, thou never durst speake truth', in the presence of many gentlemen and others.

1638

No signature.

R.19, fo. 12v, Personal answer

Robins denied that he spoke the words in the libel, but claimed that if he had done it was because Kenn had provoked him immediately beforehand by stopping Robins in his way, jostling him and offering to strike him, 'and had soe done but that he was hindered by some then and there present'. Kenn then called him 'base rogue, base knave, and scum of the country'. He added that 'the witnesses are repugnant in their testimonyes and friends of Kenn, and poore beggarly persons, to which no credit is to be given, and prayes to be dismist with his costs and c.'

1639

No signature.

Plaintiff's case

Acta (4), fo. 250b, Letters commissory for the plaintiff

Addressed to commissioners Thomas Smith, esq, John Smith, clerk, rector of Badgworth, William Tint, gent, John Cannon, gent, and also, John Smith of Axbridge, clerk, James Jeffreys senior, gent, Robert Barnard, clerk, and Robert Vizard, clerk, to meet in a cause of scandalous words likely to provoke a duel from 17 to 19 January 1638/9, at the Angel Inn, Axbridge, co. Somerset.

Dated 5 December 1638

Gilbert Dethick signed and assigned Alexander Jeff, notary public, for the case.

'Commission is not to be sped unless it [binding too tight] be to the commissioners that Robbins [binding too tight] party had notice given him of the commissioners names days and place of the executing of this commission six [binding too tight] before at the least.'

Acta (4), fos. 240r-246r, Second set of plaintiff's depositions

Taken before commissioners John Smith, clerk, rector of Badgworth, and William Tynt, gent, in a cause of scandalous words likely to provoke a duel on Thursday 17 January 1638/9 at the Angel Inn, Axbridge, co. Somerset, with Alexander Jeff as notary public.

fos. 242r-243v (Witness 1), Thomas Harse of Bleadon, co. Somerset, husbandman, aged 46

To Kenn's libel:

1. For all the time he knew him, Kenn was 'commonly accompted, reputed taken, and knowne to be a gentleman in and about the countrie where he liveth, and by credible report he descended from a gentle stock; and his ancestors by the like report were of the gentrie for time exceeding man's memorie.' He knew Henry Robins's parents. Robins's father was a husbandman and 'his father's wife a woman not descended of the gentrie.'

3. On a day soon after Hillary Term, 1637, Edmund Kenn 'being desirous to hunt the hare' requested his company; and Harse went with him 'as the dogs weare in chace upon Bleadon Hill' in Bleadon parish, co. Somerset, along with John Brent, John Jervis and Edmund Hort of Bleadon. They had been hunting together for nearly an hour, when Henry Robins came to them ' in an highe affronting and provoking manner' and repeatedly insulted Edmund Kenn, provoking him 'both in words and deeds as much as was possible he could to fight with him'. Edmund Kenn asked him what he meant. Robins 'in an highe and insolent manner' told Kenn that he came to hunt his dogs. Kenn had a hat on 'and a feather bound aboute his hatt', and Robins 'in a jeering and deriding manner asked of Edmund Kenn what fools ba[u]ble he had gott on, saying he did beare in hand that that was parte of Langford land that he woare about his hatt'. Robins further provoked Kenn, saying that he 'should find sport enough for Kenn to spend the rest of his land'. Robins continued his jeering at Kenn 'and passing again and again by him as if he would sheare of his nose, and by his high affronting words and behaviour' endeavoured to provoke Kenn to strike him. Harse and John Jefferis departed the company and left Kenn and Robins 'at high terms together', but Kenn 'not withstanding all the premises and that he had a weapon by his side forboare and stroake not Henrie Robbins.'

Signed by Thomas Harse [his mark], and by commissioners Smith and Tint.

fos. 244r-244v (Witness 2), John Jervis of Hutton, co. Somerset, yeoman, no age given

To Kenn's libel:

1 and 2. Last winter he was on Bleadon Hill with Edmund Kenn, Thomas Harse, John Brent and one Hort of Bleadon following the dog pack hunting the hare, when Henry Robins approached, and Kenn asked him 'what he did there to trouble gentlmen in their sporte; and Robbins told him that the sport was as free for him as Kenn. And they being both on foot together words of distaste past between them; and amongst others Robbins and Kenn again and again Sirraed each other, and also Robbins then told him he should live so long to see Kenn to sell his sparked[sic] house'. After that Jervis 'gave noe perfect heed to what words passed between Edmund Kenn and Henrie Robbins but followed the dogs as they hunted.'

Signed by John Jervis and by commissioners Smith and Tint.

fos. 245r-245v (Witness 3), John Brent of Wells, co. Somerset, mason, age 35

To Kenn's libel:

3. One day between the purification and annunciation of the Virgin Mary last, Edmund Kenn was hunting the hare with hounds at Bleadon Hill, in company with John Jarvis, Thomas Harse, Brent 'and one old Edward Hort of Bleadon and others. and they having followed the dogs near about an hour and halfe before on Bleadon Hill, Henrie Robbins came into their companie, unsent for or unlooked for, and began to crosse the dogs in the chace. and Edmund Kenn speaking to him to forbear he would not, but likewise began to cross Edmund Kenn running in and out before him as Kenn followed the dogs in an affronting and provoking manner. and then manie angrie termes passed betweene them as they followed the dogs. And Robbins in an high insolent and provoking manner amongst other terms thowed and sirraed Edmund Kenn and gave him the lie againe and againe, and thowed him and sirraed him divers times before they parted; and withal told Kenn that he would make him sell his painted house before they had done, and also told Kenn he would make him crie againe like a pigg as he did in London before he had done with him.' Brent 'was then and there huntinge being upon occasion at worke for a tyme at Bleadon'. Thomas Harse and Edmund Hort 'sometime after they heard and saw Kenn so provoked by Robbins departed from the companie.'

Signed by John Brent [his mark] and commissioners Smith and Tint.

fos. 246r-246v (Witness 4), George Fuller of Axbridge, co. Somerset, mercer, age 50

To Kenn's libel:

1. During the time of his knowledge of Edmund Kenn 'he hath been and is comonlie known and accompted in the countrie where he liveth to be a gentleman and soe descended and his ancestors by reporte weare of the gentrie from tyme to tyme for tyme exceeding the memory of man'. He knew the father of Robins, 'who while he lived he was a husbandman'. Fuller 'never heard by anie voice of the countrie that his ancestors weare of the gentrie.'

Signed George Fuller and commissioners Smith and Tint.

Acta (4), fos. 240r-246r, Notary public's certificate

Certificate in Latin signed by Alexander Jeff notary public, that the above examinations had been completed and were now being returned.

Dated 18 January 1639.

Notary public's mark

Defendant's case

Acta (5), fo. 363, Defence

Henry Robins admitted to speaking the words in the libel near Bleadon Hill between September 1637 and March 1638. Yet immediately before he spoke the words, Edmund Kenn insulted him, stopped him in his way, menaced him and threatened to strike him. Kenn would have struck him had he not been restrained by others present. Kenn also called him 'base rogue, base knave, the scume of the countrey'. Robins also sought to discredit Kenn's witness John Brent as 'a very poore and meane person, an officer in a poore meane Inne of noe credit'.

Introduced 6 July 1639.

Signed by Thomas Eden.

Sentence / Arbitration

12/3d, Plaintiff's sentence

[Badly damaged]

12/3h, Plaintiff's bill of costs

Michaelmas term, 1638: £6-4s-2d

Hillary term, 1638/9: £6-2s-8d

Vacation following: £13 7s 8d, inc. £3-6s-8d for provision for commissioners

Easter term, 1639: £4-10s-4d

Trinity term, 1639: £4-7s-8d

Vacation following: £6-10s, inc. 40s for provisions for commissioners

Michaelmas term, 1639: £13-0s-8d

Total: £54-6s-2d

Signed by Arthur Duck.

Taxed at 20 nobles

Signed by Maltravers.

12/3b, Defendant's bill of costs [badly damaged]

Michaelmas term, 1638 - Michaelmas term, 1639

Submission

2/108, Defendant's bond of submission

5 December 1639

Arundel had passed a definitive sentence upon Robins to perform his submission 'in such manner, forme and place as his Lordship shall enjoyne'.

Robins was to provide a certificate thereof and was bound to his good behaviour.

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

Signed by Henry Robins.

Summary of proceedings

Dr Duck acted as counsel for Kenn and Dr Eden for Robins.The first proceedings appear on 9 June 1635 when Henry Robins of Hutton, co. Somerset, husbandman, was cited and attached to appear for giving Edmund Kenn the lie and saying 'he was as good a man as he.' On 7 May 1636, witnesses for Kenn were warned to submit to examination. Dr Duck petitioned to hear the sentence on behalf of Kenn in January and February 1637. On 14 October 1637 Dr Eden alleged that the cause had reached a final agreement between the parties, dated 22 June 1636, and that he had an acquittance under Kenn's own hand. On 3 February 1638 Dr Duck produced the witness James Jeffries on behalf of Kenn. On 20 November 1638 Robins was bound over to pay the King £100, and on 27 November Dr Eden was required to respond to the libel on behalf of Robins. On 5 December 1638 Dr Eden refuted the libel and so Dr Duck endeavoured to prove it during Hilary term 1639, organising the examination of Kenn's witnesses. On 4 February 1640 Dr Duck accused Henry Robins of not having performed his submission on the day and place ordered.

Notes

Edmund Kenn was the eldest son of Edmund Kenn of Hutton and Margaret, daughter of John Stroud: F. T. Colby (ed.), The Visitation of the County of Somerset in the year 1623 (Publications of the Harleain Society, 11, 1876), p. 64.

Documents

  • Initial proceedings
    • Summary of libel: R.19, fo. 7r (1635)
  • Sentence / Arbitration
    • Plaintiff's sentence: R.19, fo. 30r (Tri 1637)
  • Plaintiff's case
    • Names of commissioners: 7/75 (no date)
    • Letters commissory for the plaintiff: 19/3a (28 Nov 1637)
    • Articles: 19/3b (28 Nov 1637)
    • Defence interrogatories: 19/3c (no date)
    • First set of plaintiff's depositions: 19/3d (17/24 Jan 1638)
    • Notary public's certificate: 19/3e (25 Jan 1638)
  • Initial proceedings
    • Libel: Acta (4), fo. 250a (5 Dec 1638)
    • Summary of libel: R.19, fo. 25r ([5 Dec] 1638)
    • Personal answer: R.19, fo. 12v (1639)
  • Plaintiff's case
    • Letters commissory for the plaintiff: Acta (4), fo. 250b (5 Dec 1638)
    • Second set of plaintiff's depositions: Acta (4), fos. 240-6 (17 Jan 1639)
    • Notary public's certificate: Acta (4), fos. 246-7 (18 Jan 1639)
    • Defence: Acta (5), fo. 363 (6 Jul 1639)
  • Sentence / Arbitration
    • Plaintiff's sentence: 12/3d (no date)
    • Plaintiff's bill of costs: 12/3h (Mic 1639)
    • Defendant's bill of costs: 12/3b (Mic 1639)
  • Submission
    • Defendant's bond of submission: 2/108 (5 Dec 1639)
  • Proceedings
    • Proceedings before Arundel: 8/24 (9 Jun 1635)
    • Undated proceedings: College of Arms MS. 'Court of Chivalry' (act book, 1636-8) [pressmark R.R. 68C] (hereafter 68C), fos. 64r-67r (c. Apr 1636)
    • Proceedings before Arundel: 68C, fos. 89r-100r (May 1636)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 68C, fos. 74r-83v (7 May 1636)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 68C, fos. 112r-121v (Jun 1636)
    • Proceedings: 68C, fos. 105r-110v (8 Nov 1636)
    • Proceedings before Arundel: 68C, fos. 51r-59r (28 Jan 1637)
    • Proceedings: 68C, fos. 14r-20v (16 Feb 1637)
    • 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 Marten: 8/29 (23 Nov 1637)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 8/30 (28 Nov 1637)
    • Proceedings: 8/30 (2 Dec 1637)
    • Proceedings before Arundel: 1/5, fos. 23-35 (3 Feb 1638)
    • Proceedings before Marten: 1/5, fo. 36 (10 Feb 1638)
    • Proceedings before Arundel: 1/5, fos. 38-56 (12 Feb 1638)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: R.19, fos. 454r-468v (6 Nov 1638)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: R.19, fos. 400v-412v (20 Nov 1638)
    • Proceedings before Marten: R.19, fos. 413v-416v (27 Nov 1638)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: R.19, fos. 422r-428r (28 Nov 1638)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: R.19, fos. 474r-484v (5 Dec 1638)
    • Proceedings: 1/7, fos. 36-47 (9 Feb 1639)
    • Proceedings before Arundel: 1/6, fos. 20-33 (21 Feb 1639)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 8/31 (4 Feb 1640)
    • Proceedings: 68C, fos. 70r-73v (c.1636-8)

People mentioned in the case

  • Bagnall, James, weaver
  • Bagnall, Robert, clerk
  • Barnard, Robert, clerk
  • Brent, John, mason
  • Burges, John, gent
  • Cannon, John, gent
  • Ceelie, Maurice, gent (also Ceely)
  • Dethick, Gilbert, registrar
  • Duck, Arthur, lawyer
  • Eden, Thomas, lawyer
  • Fuller, George, mercer
  • Hadlie, James
  • Harse, Thomas, husbandman
  • Harvie, Christopher, weaver (also Harvey)
  • Hort, Edward
  • Howard, Henry, baron Maltravers
  • Howard, Thomas, earl of Arundel and Surrey
  • Howlett, Henry, weaver
  • Jeffries, James, gent (also Jeffreys)
  • Jeffries, James the elder, gent (also Jeffreys)
  • Jervis, John, yeoman
  • Jett, Alexander, notary public
  • Jones, Christopher, gent
  • Kenn, Edmund, gent (also Ken)
  • Kenn, Margaret
  • Maie, Robert, gent (also May)
  • Marten, Henry, knight
  • Naish, Samuel, weaver (also Nash)
  • Olmixton, Christopher, gent
  • Paine, Edmund, husbandman
  • Paine, Mary
  • Phelps, James, yeoman
  • Robins, Henry the elder, husbandman (also Robbins)
  • Salway, James, bailiff and glover (also Sallie, Sally, Salwaie, Zalway)
  • Smith, John, clerk
  • Smith, John, gent
  • Smith, John, rector
  • Smith, Thomas, esq
  • Stroud, John
  • Stroud, Margaret
  • Stuart, Charles I, king
  • Tint, William, gent (also Tynt)
  • Towse, Tristram, gent (also Towser)
  • Visard, Robert, clerk (also Vizard)
  • Vivian, John, clerk
  • Young, Edward, husbandman
  • Young, Stephen, husbandman

Places mentioned in the case

  • Oxfordshire
    • Eynsham
  • Somerset
    • Axbridge
    • Badgworth
    • Banwell
    • Beckington
    • Bleadon
    • Bleadon Hill
    • Cheddar
    • Congresbury
    • Hutton
    • Kingston Seymour
    • Ilchester
    • Locking
    • Rhode
    • Uphill
    • Wells
    • Wrington
  • Staffordshire
    • Trentham

Topics of the case

  • apparel
  • arbitration
  • calling sirrah
  • calling thou
  • comparison
  • denial of gentility
  • giving the lie
  • hunting
  • King's Bench
  • military officer
  • reconciliation
  • sport
  • threatened violence
  • weapon