367 Leming v Clopton

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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Richard Cust, Andrew Hopper, '367 Leming v Clopton', in The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640, ed. Richard Cust, Andrew Hopper, British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/court-of-chivalry/367-leming-clopton [accessed 14 July 2024].

Richard Cust, Andrew Hopper, '367 Leming v Clopton', in The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640. Edited by Richard Cust, Andrew Hopper, British History Online, accessed July 14, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/court-of-chivalry/367-leming-clopton.

Richard Cust, Andrew Hopper. "367 Leming v Clopton". The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640. Ed. Richard Cust, Andrew Hopper, British History Online. Web. 14 July 2024. https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/court-of-chivalry/367-leming-clopton.

In this section

367 LEMING V CLOPTON

John Leming of Colchester, co. Essex, gent v William Clopton of Groton, co. Suffolk, esq

January 1637 - February 1638

Figure 367a:

This Clopton family chapel at Long Melford parish church, Suffolk (above) (Photograph: David Appleby)

Figure 367b:

Tymperleys in Colchester, the home of George Gilbert, one of the local commissioners in the case (below) (Photograph: David Appleby)

Abstract

Leming complained that just before Michaelmas 1636, in the parlour of the Red Lattice Tavern in Colchester, Essex, Clopton had said 'that I was a base knave, a base fellow, and that I could show no arms.' The two men met around November 1636 in the yard at the King's Head Inn, Colchester, to settle the difference between them through the arbitration of Thomas Lawrence, a Colchester alderman. Leming wanted a bond from Clopton, but Clopton refused, saying 'Whosoever shall say that my worde is not as good as my bond is a base fellow, a stynckinge knave'. Leminge replied, 'You have abused me, I am a gentleman', and Clopton answered, 'I knowe not that thou art a gentleman. I know thou art a soape boyler, and art called by the name of sweete soape.' Leming then called on Lawrence to 'beare witness of the words that Mr Clopton has spoken against me', but Lawrence answered, 'I conceive the words he hath spoken are not actionable nor questionable at common lawe or in the Court of Honour.'

Dr Duck presented Leming's petition on 28 January 1637 and as soon as proceedings got under way Clopton challenged his gentility. He maintained that, while he himself was a gentleman of an ancient family in Suffolk, an utter barrister, counsellor at law, and formerly a reader at Gray's Inn, Leming was a plebeian. His father was a yeoman, Christopher Leming of Carperby, Yorkshire, and Leming himself was a soap boiler who often signed his name as Leman or Lemon, with the addition of 'iremonger'. Leming based his claim to gentility on the fact that for the past seven years he had 'lived and carried himself in the rank and quality of a gentleman', paying as much towards ship money and other taxes as any gentleman or alderman in Colchester; that as a freeman of the City of London and former warden of the Company of Ironmongers he was entitled to call himself gentleman; and that the trade of soapboiling did not disqualify him from gentility since it had formerly been practised by the current Lord Mayor of London. Leming's witnesses were examined by a commission headed by Bestney Barker, esq, on 31 May 1637 in the King's Head Inn. They confirmed that Clopton had spoken the words, and several of them described Leming as 'Mr', without directly testifying to his gentility. Clopton's witnesses were examined by a commission again headed by Barker, at the King's Head on 8 August. The testimony of this mix of local gentlemen and Colchester traders provides a fascinating insight into a wealthy and respectable tradesman's efforts to become accepted as a gentleman. John Wenlock, an Essex gentleman who wrote legal documents for Leming, testified that over the last couple of years he had started describing him as 'gent' in these documents, but on several occasions Leming had asked him to change this to back to 'ironmonger' which others suggested was customary for gentlemen who based their claim on being freemen of a particular trade. William Mott, a Colchester grocer, confirmed that Leming was a soapboiler, but he did not think this any reason for him to 'loose' his 'gentilitie'. He also testified that he 'lived in good fashion' and 'hath maynteyned his wife and children in that qualitie as other gentlemen doe and as becomes the pedegrees of a gentleman', and 'that many gentleman live in a meaner way than he doth.' However, this was contradicted by John Eldred, an Essex gentleman, who declared he 'did never know him to live in the fashion of a gentleman', and local opinion was divided on this issue. One of Clopton's claims was that he never had 'any servingman to wayte upon him or ride with him', but Wenlock gave evidence that he did, indeed, 'have a man to wayte on him.' Eventually, as far as the court was concerned the issue appears to have been decided on the basis of more concrete criteria. On 18 November 1637 Duck provided evidence that he was 'written and stiled in divers publique writings and records by the title of gentleman', that his tax contributions were as much as or greater than those of other gentlemen, that he had been warden of the Company of Ironmongers and that his father had lived 'in the rank and repute of a gentleman' in Yorkshire. Finally on 3 February 1638 Sir Henry St George, Norroy, provided a certificate that he was a gentleman. No indication of sentence survives, but Clopton's only defence, that Leming was no gentleman, had now collapsed.

Initial proceedings

EM51a, Libel

Leming claimed his family had been gentry for up to 200 years, that they were reputed as such, and that he bore a coat of arms. He complained that between August and November 1636, Clopton had said of him in the town of Colchester and the parishes thereabouts: 'that I was a base knave, a base fellow, and that I could show no armes', or words to that effect, which contemptuous words were provocative of a duel. This was true, public and notorious.

[16 February 1637]

Signed by Arthur Duck.

Plaintiff's case

EM51b, Letters commissory for the plaintiff [damaged]

Addressed to commissioners William Gilbert, gent, Bestney Barker and William Doilie, esqs, to meet in a cause of scandalous words provocative of a duel, at the King's Head Inn, Colchester, co. Essex, from 30 May to 1 June 1637.

Dated May 1637

Gilbert Dethick assigned Humphrey Terrick as notary public.

EM51c, Defence interrogatories

1. Was the witness related to Leming and if so, by what degree? Was the witness a household servant to Leming? Was the witness indebted to Leming, and if so, by how much?

2. How old was the witness and what was their place and condition of living?

3. What formal words were spoken by Clopton, on what day, in whose presence, and was he provoked?

4. Were the witnesses present in the room or the yard when Clopton spoke the words, or just passing outside? Name all the persons in that place at that time.

5. Whether the witness had heard that Leminge was 'theise many yeares last past a soape boyler or of some such other like trade and noe gentleman, at least not bearing any coat of armes; and whither for such a one he hath not been for all the said time commonly accompted reputed and taken in and about Colchester in Essex, and in other places where he hath dwelt, and the places thereunto adjoyninge.'

6. Did the witness know that 'John Leminge in subscribing his name to writings within the time aforesaid hath always commonly or at least sometimes not used the addicon of gentleman, but iremonger'?

7. Whether the witness knew that within the past 10 years, Leming had often written his surname as 'Lemon or Leman or some other such like surname and not Leminge.'

Trinity term, 1637.

Signed by Thomas Eden.

14/1z (iii), Defence interrogatories

1. Was the witness related to Leming? If so in what degree? Was the witness indebted to Leming or in anyway obliged to Leming, and if so, for how much? Was the witness a farmer or employee to Leming and for what wage?

2. What was the age, occupation and condition of the witness? Where had the witness lived for the last ten years?

3. Were they a household servant, retainer or waged employee to Leming? Had he been loaned money by Leming?

4. 'Whether he knoweth the manor or hamlet of Leeming in this cause menconed, how long he hath known it, and whether he hath seen or known or heard of any lord's court kept for the manor, and when and where, and by whome, and for what lord of the manor such court or courts were kept; and where the manor lieth and into how many parishes doth it extend'?

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

No date.

Signed by Thomas Eden.

EM51d, Plaintiff's depositions

Taken before commissioners Bestney Barker and William Doilie, esqs, and Daniel Cole, gents, to examine witnesses on 31 May 1637 in King's Head Inn, Colchester, co. Essex, Humphrey Terrick, notary public.

Accompanying each deposition are the signatures Bestnie Barker, William Doyly, William Gilbert, Daniel Cole.

(Witness 1), William Umfreville of Stanway, co. Essex, gent, born at Stoke, co. Suffolk, aged 33

To Leming's libel:

About six months ago he was in the yard of the King's Head in Colchester when he saw Leming, Clopton and others enter the yard and he heard Clopton say to Leming that he was no gentleman. He heard Clopton ask Leming three or four times where his arms were. He also heard divers angry words from the company where Leming and Clopton were, 'but what they were and by whom they were spoken he saith he cannot depose'.

(Witness 2), John Eldred of Birch, co. Essex, gent, lived there for 33 years but born at Colchester

To Leming's libel:

He saw Leming and Clopton with Mr Thomas Lawrence, Mr John Wenlocke and one other stand in the yard of the King's Head, Colchester, half a year ago. Lawrence interposed himself between Clopton and the rest after 'divers speeches in a lowed and confused manner'. Clopton said 'by God he is a base fellow, he is noe gentleman, which words as [Eldred] conceaved were directed to Mr Leminge for he did know that there had formerly been many differences between Mr Leming and Clopton'.

To Clopton's interrogatories:

5. 'Leminge hath been a soap boyler and saith that he was not reputed to be a gentleman in Colchester for ought he knoweth and saith he never hearde that he did beare any armes.'

Signed by John Eldred and the above four commissioners.

(Witness 3), John Wenlock of Langham, co Essex, gent, born there, aged 36

To Leeming's libel:

On the Saturday after Michaelmas 1636, Leming and Clopton met at the King's Head to agree on arbitrators to settle a difference between them, then they went into the yard and Clopton desired Leming to change sixpence to show they would abide by their arbitrators whereon Leming replied 'that he would have bonds entered into by both of them to that purpose'. Whereupon Clopton said 'my worde shalbe as good as my bond and whosever shall thinke my worde is not as good as my bonde is a base knave or a styncking knave.' Thomas Lawrence was present throughout, but Eldred and Umfreville came accidentally into the yard and there were several others there whose names he did not know.

To Clopton's interrogatories:

Leming had been a soap boiler for 3 years time, which time ended about 7 years ago.

Signed by John Wenlock and the above four commissioners.

(Witness 4), Thomas Lawrence of Colchester, co. Essex, alderman, born there, aged 56

To Leming's libel:

'Upon a Saterday about six months since', he heard Clopton say to Leming in the yard of the King's Head, 'let you and I exchange sixpence to bind ourselves to stand to the awarde of [Lawrence] and one other whereto Mr Leminge replied and saide, Noe, I will have noe lawyer's trickes put on me; let me have bonds. and then Clopton said to Mr Leminge. Whosoever shall say that my worde is not as good as my bond is a base fellow, a stynckinge knave'. Then Leming replied to Clopton, 'You have abused me, I am a gentleman'. Mr Clopton answered, 'That is more than I know. I knowe not that thou art a gentleman. I know thou art a soape boyler and art called by the name of sweete soape.' Mr Wenlock, Mr Sampson and Mr Clopton's man were also present.

Mr Leming said to Lawrence. 'Beare witness of the words that Mr Clopton has spoken against me'. Lawrence answered, 'I conceave the words he hath spoken are not actionable nor questionable at common lawe or in the Court of Honour'. Lawrence stayed with Mr Clopton until he rode from the house.

Signed by Thomas Lawrence.

To Clopton's interrogatories:

He had known Leming for 20 years, 'and saith he never knew him reputed to be a gentleman but a soap boyler; and hath heard him called by some of his chapmen by the name of sweet soape.'

Signed by Thomas Lawrence and by the above four commissioners.

(Witness 5), Edmund Somers, apprentice to William Taverner of Colchester, vintner, born at Witham, co. Essex, aged 15

To Leming's libel:

He heard Clopton say to Leeming, 'You are a knave', in the parlour of the Red Lattice Tavern in Colchester. They were then drinking a pint of wine and nobody was present in the room with them. The words were spoken shortly before last Michaelmas. 'Mr Leming then and there did bid this deponent beare witness how Mr Clopton did abuse him.'

Signed by Edmond Somers and by the above four commissioners.

(Witness 6), Edmund Toler of Colchester, co. Essex, seaweaver, lived there for 20 years, born at Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk,

To Leming's libel:

On a day between last Michaelmas and Christmas he heard loud words in the yard of the King's Head, but did not hear what in particular as he did not stay.

Signed by Edmund Toler and by the above four commissioners.

(Witness 7), Robert Broome of St Mary's, Colchester, co. Essex, labourer, born there, aged 43

To Leming's libel:

On a day between last Michaelmas and Christmas he heard Clopton say to Leming in the yard of the King's Head, 'that he was a scurvie, stinking, soape boyler and that he was not fit to goe into noe man's company'. Mr Wenlock, Broome and many others whose names he did not know were present.

Signed by Robert Broome [his mark] and by the above four commissioners.

Defendant's case

Cur Mil I, fo. 251, Defence

1. John Leming from August to November 1636, 'and for many years before, was not accompted a gentleman nor did live in the fashion of a gentleman, but was accompted a soapboyler and lived in the fashion of a soapboyler, or some such like tradesman; and this was notorious in Colchester in Essex and in London and in other places where John Leminge did live'.

2. 'Christopher Leming sometime of Carparby, co. York, was father to John Leminge and both Christopher Leming for his time, and John Leminge for his time in such instruments, deeds, publique records or other writings', made by them and others, 'were usually stiled' either 'yeomen, iremonger, soapeboyler, or by some such like addition, and were not stiled gentlemen'. John Leming did never until the time in the libel take upon him the name, addition or reputation of a gentleman, 'nor was he ever within the aforesaid time observed either in his journies or otherwise to have any servingman to wayte upon him or ride with him.'

3. 'William Clopton was and is a gentleman discended of the ancient family of the Cloptons in Suffolk; and William is and hath been an ancient utter barrister and counsellor at lawe, and was reader of Grayes Inne about tenn yeares agone, vizt. anno dm 1627.'

No date.

Signed by Thomas Eden.

Cur Mil I, fo. 250, Letters commissory for the defence

Addressed to commissioners Bestney Barker, esq, and Edmund Doilie, esq, and also, Daniel Cole, gent, and George Gilbert, gent, to meet in a cause of scandalous words provocative of a duel, from 8 to 10 August 1637, at King's Head Inn, Colchester, co. Essex.

Dethick assigned Humphrey Terrick as notary public.

Dated 28 June 1637.

Signed by Gilbert Dethick.

Cur Mil I, fo. 254, Plaintiff interrogatories

1. The witnesses were warned of the penalty for perjury and bearing false witness. What was the witnesses' age, occupation and condition of living for the last seven years? How long had they known Leming?

2. Was the witness a kinsman, dependant or servant to Clopton?

3. Was the witness a subsidy man, or taxed for ship money? How much was the witness worth with their debts paid and to whom would they give the victory?

4. Had John Leming for the last 7 years 'lived and carried himself in the rank and quality of a gentleman; and is John Leming taxed, rated and sessed at as high rates and payments towards the king, church and poore, and towards ship money as any gentleman are that inhabit within the walls of Colchester; and doth he pay all such rates and taxes accordingly?'

5. 'Whether John Leming be seized as much for his armes, and in all payments and services for the king as the maior or any alderman or gentleman in Colchester (except the high sheriff of the county who liveth in Colchester) and doth he pay the payments and perform the services accordingly; and is Mr Leming written and stiled in the rates and taxes with the title and addition of gentleman'?

6. 'Whether John Leming be a freeman of the citty of London, *and free of the Company of Ironmongers*, and whether it be usually observed in London and in most parts of this kingdom that such as are freemen and tradesmen of the citty, although they be gentlemen anciently discended, yet they write themselves and are commonly known or called by the name and title of the company of which they are made free, and by the profession which they use, and wherein they are imployed. And hath Mr Leming been cheife or upper warden of his company?'

7. Had the witness in the last year been with Clopton when Clopton had spoken of or to Leming? Had Clopton spoken 'divers disgracefull, vilifying and contumelious words in contempt and scorne of John Leming and his family, as saying that John Leming was a base knave, a base fellow, and could shew no armes'?

8. Were the soap boilers 'a company of great esteem in the Citty of London'? Did the witness know of 'many citizens of great worth and esteem, discended of very ancient gentile families are soapeboylers, and whether the now Lord Mayor of London be by trade a soapeboyler, *or do use the trade*, and whether such citizens so discended (notwithstanding their trade of soapeboyleing) do not enjoy the privilege and dignitie of gentlemen, and are so accounted, reputed and taken'?

9. Did Leming maintain 'his wife and children in that qualitye, and condition as other gentlemen doe, and as becomes the degree of a gentleman?'

10. 'Whether William Umfrevile, John Eldred, John Wenlock, Thomas Lawrence, Edward Somers, Edward *Edm* Toler and Robert Broome witnesses produced by Mr Leming be not men of honest life and conversation, and such persons who are to be believed on their oaths, and are they not so reputed in the places where they live?'

Introduced 14 October 1637.

Signed by Arthur Duck.

Cur Mil I, fos. 234r-243v, Defence depositions

[Preamble fos.252r-v] Taken before commissioners Bestney Barker, esq, Edmund Doyly, George Gilbert and Daniel Cole of Colchester, gents, in the King's Head Inn, Colchester, co. Essex, on 8 August 1637.

fos. 234r-235r (Witness 1), John Langley of Colchester, co. Essex, gent, born there, aged 46

To Clopton's defence:

1. He had known Leming for 25 years for all which time he had not been reputed to be a gentleman, 'but lived in the fashion of a tradesman, and was a soapeboyler and was accompted to be a soapboyler.'

To the exhibits (the allegation made in the act of court):

He knew Jeremy Leming and Henry Leming, 'who were never reputed to be the naturall and lawfull brothers of John Leming; and saith that Henry was apprentice to John Leming and Jeremy did live sometimes as an apprentice to John Leming'.

Signed by John Langley

To Leming's interrogatories:

4. He believed John Leming 'doth pay what he is rated at'.

5. John Leming was 'sessed as much for armes and services payments for the king as the mayor or any gentleman or alderman in Colchester except the high sheriff of the county of Essex, and that he payeth accordingly'.

6. 'The custom is as is [described in the interrogatory] and that John Leminge is a freeman of the Citie of London.'

8. 'Those that are soapboylers are men of good estate; and that the now Lord Mayor of London was a soapboyler and did use that trade.'

9. Leming 'doth maynteyne and keepe his wife and children in very good sort.'

10. He knew 'Mr Eldred, Mr Lawrence and Mr Wenlock to be gentlemen of good repute and such persons as are to be believed on their oaths, and soe they are reputed. The rest of the parties he knoweth not.'

Signed by John Langley and by the above four commissioners.

fos. 235r-v (Witness 2), Nicholas Cutchy of Groton, co. Suffolk, husbandman, lived there for 18 years, born at Boxford, aged 50

To Clopton's defence:

3. He knew Clopton's father was reputed an esq and a JP in Suffolk. He had known Clopton for 19 years, and that he was reputedly descended from the ancient family of Cloptons in Suffolk, and was a barrister, counsellor at law and reader at Gray's Inn about 9 years ago.

Signed by Nicholas Cutchy [his mark]

To Leming's interrogatories:

1. 'It is done as it is desired', and he had known Leming for 5 years.

2. He was servant to Clopton.

3. Negative, and he was worth little with his debts paid, and favoured each party alike.

7. Negative.

Signed by Nicholas Cutchy [his mark] and by the above four commissioners.

fos. 235v-236v (Witness 3), John Wenlock of Langham, co Essex, gent, born there, aged 36

To Clopton's defence:

1. He had known Leming for 12 years and written many documents for him, styling him as ironmonger, as Leming directed. About a year ago he wrote John Leminge, gentleman, which when Leminge saw it, he 'did seeme to dislike of it', and instructed him to write him as 'John Leminge, ironmonger'. He had never seen Leming styled gentleman in any other of his writings, 'but only in some fewe wrightings' which Wenlock made being a year or two ago. Leming did have 'a man to wayte on him.'

Signed by John Wenlock.

To Leming's interrogatories:

3. He was a subsidy man, was taxed for ship money, was a gentleman and a counsellor of law; '*and believeth that he* is not bound to set downe what he is worth, and *saith* he favoureth the parties a like.'

4. He believed John Leming was 'rated as high *as any other gent in the parish where he liveth*, and that he payeth what he is rated at'.

7. 'He refereth himself to his deposition taken in this cause.'

9. As witness 1.

10. He knew 'Wm Umfreide, John Eldred, Thomas Lawrence, Edmund Toler and that they are held to be honest men and such as will speak the truth on their oaths and such. He knoweth Broome to be a simple illiterate man and one that doth not understand himself.'

Signed by John Wenlock and by the above four commissioners.

fos. 236v-237v (Witness 4), William Mott of Colchester, co. Essex, grocer, born there, aged 70

To the exhibits (the allegation made in the act of court):

1. He knew Leming to have been apprenticed to Mr Edwards, a soap boiler near Billingsgate, London.

Signed by William Mott.

To Leming's interrogatories:

4. John Leming had for 7 years 'lived in good fashion; and that many gentlemen live in a meaner way than he doth; and that he is rated higher then any gent for ought he knoweth; and that he payeth the rates accordingly.'

5. Leming did 'pay and perform the same and that he thinketh he is taxed as John Leming gent.'

6. John Leming was a freeman of the City of London, and had been warden of the Company of Ironmongers, 'and saith that the use and custom hath been observed as is in the interrogatory as he thinketh'.

8. He believed John Leminge was a gentleman, 'and that he is a soapboyler; and that those that are gentlemen and be soapboylers do not loose their gentilitie *as he thinketh*'.

9. 'Leminge hath maynteyned his wife and children in that qualitie as other gentlemen doe and as becomes the pedegree of a gentleman.'

10. He knew John Eldred, John Wenlock, and Thomas Lawrence 'and saith they are honest men and such as to be believed upon their oaths; and saith he knoweth Broome and knoweth not whether he be an honest man or not, for he knoweth neither good nor hurt in him.'

Signed by William Mott and by the above four commissioners.

fos. 237v-238r (Witness 5), Thomas Stocking of Aldham, co. Essex, servingman, lived there for 5 years, born at Groton, co. Suffolk, aged 23

To Clopton's defence:

2. He had seen a deed dated 1634 in which John Leming was described as citizen and ironmonger, which he saw signed and sealed by John Leming.

Signed by Thomas Stocking.

To Leming's interrogatories:

1. He had known Leming for 4 years.

2. Negative.

3. He was worth 2 shillings with his debts paid, 'and that he favoureth the parties a like.'

10. He knew 'Wm Umfreide, John Eldred, Edmund Toler' and that they were to be believed.

Signed by Thomas Stocking and by the above four commissioners.

fos. 238v-239r (Witness 6), John Eldred of Birch, co. Essex, gent, lived there for 2 years, born at Ipswich, co. Suffolk, aged about 70

To Clopton's defence:

1. He had known Leming for 30 years during which time he had not been accounted a gentleman, but a soap boiler. He 'did never know him to live in the fashion of a gentleman.'

Signed by John Eldred.

To Leming's interrogatories:

6. He had heard Leming was a freeman of London.

7. Negative.

8. 'He cannot answer.'

9. 'John Leminge hath maynteyned his wife and children in apparel after the manner of a gentleman.'

10. He knew 'Wm Umfreide, John Wenlock, Thomas Lawrence, Edmund Toler and saith they are persons to be believed on their oaths; and saith he knoweth Broome who is not fit to be examined as a witness in any cause whatsoever.'

Signed by John Eldred and by the above four commissioners.

fo. 239r (Witness 7), Robert Audley of Danbury, co. Essex, esq, lived there for 2 years, born at Berechurch, co. Essex, aged about 29

To Clopton's defence:

2. He had seen a deed dated 6 Chas I, in which Leming was described as citizen and ironmonger, which he saw Leming sign and seal.

Signed by Robert Awdeley.

fos. 240v-241r (Witness 8), Stonard Prentise of Broxted, co. Essex, gent, born at Stapleford, co. Essex, aged about 27

To Clopton's defence:

2. He had seen a deed dated 12 May 1636, in which Leming was described as citizen and ironmonger, which he saw Leming sign and seal.

Signed by Stonard Prentis.

To Leming's interrogatories:

3. He was no subsidy man but was rated for ship money. He favoured both parties alike and was rated at £40.

4. Leming had 'carried himself in the rank and qualitie of a gentleman' for 2 years.

10. He knew Edmund Toler and that 'he was to be believed on his oath'.

Signed by Stonard Prentis and by the above four commissioners.

fos. 240r-241r (Witness 9), John Piper of Boxford, co. Suffolk, grocer, lived there for 40 years, born at Langham, co. Suffolk, aged about 60

To Clopton's defence:

1. He had known Leming for 30 years during all which time he had been accounted a soapboiler, and lived in that fashion.

2. He never knew Leming 'take upon him the name or addition of gentleman.'

3. Clopton was descended from the Cloptons, an ancient Suffolk family, by his father, and from the Walgeaves by his mother. He knew that Clopton's father was an esq and a JP, and that Clopton himself was an utter barrister or counsellor at law, and a reader at Gray's Inn.

To the exhibits (the allegation made in the act of court):

He knew Mr Edwards a soapboiler of Billingsgate, London, and he saw Leming work for him as his servant. He believed Leming was Mr Edwards's apprentice. He knew Jeremy and Henry were taken to be John Leming's brothers and that Henry was his apprentice and Jeremy his servant.

Signed by John Piper.

To Leming's interrogatories:

3. He was a subsidy man, had paid ship money, was worth £500 his debts paid, and favoured both parties alike.

6. John Leming was a freeman of London, 'and that he hath written himself to be free of the ironmongers; and saith it is often observed that gent. which are freemen write themselves according to their trade.

7. Negative.

Signed by John Piper and by the above four commissioners.

fos. 236v-237v (Witness 10), John Bluet of Groton, co. Suffolk, yeoman, lived there 46 years, born at Drayton [Either Fen Drayton or Dry Drayton], co. Cambridge, aged 68

To Clopton's defence:

3. He knew Clopton's father was reputed an esq and JP for Suffolk, and was descended of an ancient family of Cloptons in Suffolk; and that Clopton himself was an utter barrister or counsellor at law, and a reader at Gray's Inn.

Signed by John Bluet

To Leming's interrogatories:

2. Negative.

3. He was no subsidy man but paid ship money, and was worth £10 with his debts paid, 'and he thinketh Mr Clopton hath most right and would give the victory to him.'

7. Negative.

8. 'He cannot answer.'

Signed by John Bluet and by the above four commissioners.

fos. 241v-242r (Witness 11), Robert Booth of Groton, co. Suffolk, grocer, lived there for 28 years, born at Hadleigh, co. Suffolk, aged about 60

To Clopton's defence:

1. He had known Leming for 20 years during all which time he had been accounted a soapboiler, and lived in that fashion.

To the exhibits (the allegation made in the act of court):

He knew Mr Edwards, a soap boiler of Billingsgate, London, and that Leming was either an apprentice or servant to Edwards. He knew Henry Leming was a servant to John Leming and reputedly his brother.

Signed by Robert Booth and by the above four commissioners.

fos. 242r-243r (Witness 12), William Pelham of Colchester, co. Essex, grocer, lived there for 30 years, born at 'Chiddingly', co. Essex, aged about 65

To Clopton's defence:

1. He had known Leming for 30 years during which time he had not been accounted a gentleman but 'lived in the fashion of a tradesman until of late days.'

2. Leming 'did never take upon him the name or title of gentleman *until of late days* that this deponent knoweth of.'

To the exhibits (the allegation made in the act of court):

He knew Jeremy and Henry Leming, reputed to be John Leming's brothers and that both were John Leming's servants or apprentices.

Signed by William Pelham.

To Leming's interrogatories:

6. 'John Leming is free of London and of the ironmongers company; and saith that gentleman which are tradesmen writ themselves according to their trade and saith that he hath heard John Leminge hath been upper warden of the company of Ironmongers.'

7. Negative.

10. He knew 'John Eldred, John Wenlock, Thomas Lawrence, Edward Somers, Edmund Toler and saith they are persons to be believed on their oaths for ought he knoweth and for Broome he saith he knoweth him and thinketh he is not fit to be examined in any cause.'

Signed by William Pelham and by the above four commissioners.

fos. 243r-v (Witness 13), John Baron of Layer Marney, co. Essex, grocer, lived there for 8 years, born at Layer Breton, co. Essex, aged about 30

To Clopton's defence:

2. He had seen a writing dated 6 years ago in which John Leming was written as a citizen and ironmonger, which he saw Leming sign and seal.

Signed by John Baron and by the above four commissioners.

Cur Mil I, fo. 253r, Notary public's certificate

Certificate in Latin signed by Humphrey Terrick, notary public for the diocese of Hereford, that the examinations had been completed and were now being returned.

No date.

Notary's mark.

Exhibits and certificates

Cur Mil I, fo. 244, Exhibit 1

Latin slip describing John Leming as son of Christopher Leming of Carperby in Winslowedale [Wensleydale], co. York, yeoman, apprenticed to Thomas Edwards, citizen and ironmonger of London.

Cur Mil I, fo. 245, Exhibit 2

Latin slip describing that John Leming, son of Christopher Leming of Carperby in Winslowdale, co. York, yeoman, was apprenticed to Thomas Edwards, citizen and ironmonger of London, for 8 years from the feast of St John the Baptist 37 Elizabeth I.

Signed by William Williams, clerk

Cur Mil I, fo. 246, Exhibit 3

Latin slip describing that Jeremy Leming, son of Christopher Leming of Carperby, co. York, yeoman was apprenticed to John Leming on 16 January 2 James I for 7 years.

Dated 12 August 1612.

Witnessed by Thomas Wadeson and signed by William Williams, clerk.

Cur Mil I, fo. 247, Exhibit 4

Latin slip describing that Henry Leming, son of Christopher Leming of Carperby, co. York, yeoman was apprenticed to John Leming, citizen and ironmonger of London, from the feast of the birth of St John the Baptist in 3 James I for 8 years.

Dated 6 May 1614.

Witnessed by Thomas Wadeson and signed by William Williams, clerk.

Latin indenture signed by John Leming attached.

Cur Mil I, fo. 248, Exhibit 5

Dr Eden on behalf of William Clopton drawing attention to the exhibits in fos.244-247.

Dated 28 June 1637.

12/1aa, Certificate 1

'Upon search made of the records in St Mary's Tower at Yorke concerning the towne of Leeming I fynde:

1. That a great part of the lands there belonged to the Hospitall of St Leonards in Yorke.

2. There is a charter of King Edward without date for holding a markett every Fryday att the Manor of Leeming, and of a ferrye there for 3 dayes every yeare, vizt. Midsomer day, and the day before and the day after.

3. I finde many ancient deeds of grants of lands to that Hospital by men surnamed de Leeming, but whether that was theire surname or not I know not, but I suppose their posterity had that surname of Leeming from them, for I know it was usuall in old times to have their names from places where they were lords of townes and c. There are a great number of these called de Leeming: as Thurstanus de Leeming, Johes filius Barthol. de Leeming, Walterus de Leeming and c.; and I the rather believe that to have been their surname because I fynde others of the same time and of the same towne named by theire surnames as John Fox and c.

But these were all before the dissolucon of monasteryes, and noe records are here of later times.

[Signed] ?Jo? Ranson, custos recordor in Palatio St Mar. Ebor, 1 Sept 1637.'

[Overleaf]

'Memorandum that Leeming is of the parish of Burniston, and doth come to church to burie and christen and payeth all duties whatsoever to the church of Burniston.

Christo. Leeming father of Christo. Leeming of Burniston buried the 29 March 1569 and Jemela his wife, buried the 14 May 1573 as appeareth by the register *booke in Burniston*. Christo. Leeming the sonn did sell his land in Burniston to John Dobson.

I, Edmund Huchinson, doe testifie that John Lemyng was borne in Carperby the son of Christfer Lemyng who lived in the rank and repute of a gentleman; and further that John Lemyng sould his house and lands to one Gilb. Swall and to my brother George Huchinson... we were scoolefellows together, witness my hand, 15 October 1637.

I, Edmo. Hutchinson, will testify.

I, Gilbert Swayle, do testifie that Jo Lemyng was a son of Christopher Lemyng of Carperby where he lived in the rank and repute of a gentleman for 43 years or thereabouts, for testymony hereof I have set my hand, 15 October 1637.

The marke of Gilbert Swayll.

I, Leonard Lemyng, doe sertifie that Christopher Lemyng, sometyme of Burneston, did purchase land in Carperby and Thirsk, and lived in ranck of a gentleman and so reputed; and Jno. Lemyng of Colchester, gent, was his son, in witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand.

Leonard Lemyng.'

Thomas Metcalfe, curate, 59, George Dobson, 31, John Sadler, 74, William Forby, 73, George Mitchell 53, and John Gaille 92 witnessed the same.

12/1bb, Certificate 2

'August 16th 1626

Received the day and yeare abovesaid of Mr John Leming, late warden of the worshipful Company of Ironmongers, London, the sume of seaven hundred twentie and seaven pounds eleaven shillinges and nyne pence and as for the balance of his account with the said company } £727-11s-9d

Received £707-11s-9d in mony and £20 per Ballard's bill.

By me Hugh Windham.

Mr Richard Nicholas Freeman of the worshipful Company of the Ironmongers do testify that John Leming of the same company was upper warden in 1635,Richard being then warden of the yeomanrie of the company.

7 August 1637 wittness Robt Mott.

Signed by Richard Nicholas.

Exhibited 18 November 1637.

12/1cc, Certificate 3

Receipt from Sir John Wolstenholme 'treasurer for the proceeds of French goods' for £213-13s-6d from Mr John Leeming on 19 July 1627, for Wolstenholme's purchase of 'fifteen Tonnes, one red and three gallons of trayne oyle, at the rate of fourteene pound per tonne, sould him by the commissioners for the sale of French goods, by vertue of a commission out of the High Court of Admiralty'.

Signed by Jo: Wolstenholme

Exhibited 18 November 1637

12/1dd, Certificate 4

Receipt from the Admiralty commissioners 'for sale of all reprisal goods' who sold to John Leeming 15 tons of 'trayne oyle' at £14 per ton, the sum of £213-13s-6d: 'these are therefore to pay you upon sight hereof to pay or cause to be payd unto Sir John Wolstenholme kt trer for proceeds of all reprisall goods, the somme iiC xiii li xiii s vi d; and this together with his acquittance shalbe sufficeint discharge dated this 14th July 1627.'

Signed by Simon Harvey, James Cambell, Ralph ?Fremtry?, H: ?Garwell?, Philippe Burlamack

Exhibited 18 November 1637

12/1ee, Certificate 5

Dated 3 August 1637

'John Leminge of the parish of St Maries at the Walls in Colchester, gent, is charged to find one Corslett, and two musketts, to serve in the towne band, under Captain Langley, witness William Cockerell, towne clarke of towne of Colchester.'

Dated 27 April 1637

'A taxacon in the parish of St Maries in Colchester to the reliefe of the poore of the parish at which John Lemynge, gent, is taxed at xii d the week for the poore as appeareth by a rate confirmed by Robert Buxton, gent, maior of the towne, witness we the overseers of the poore of the parish whose names are hereunder subscribed whoe have received of Mr Lemynge xii s for twelve weekes.'

Signed by William Pepper and William Greene.

'Also that John Lemyng payd towards repayring the church more than any other gentleman in the parish of St Maries whatsoever.

Joseph ?Fullers? mark churchwarden.'

'A ratte of 15th October 1633 wherein Wm Clopton, esq, is ratted at 5d a week for mony layd out about church *and* all ?housses?'

Exhibited 18 November 1637.

12/1ee, Certificate 6

'July 2 1635

These are to signifie to all to whome it concernes that John Leeming of Colchester in the county of Essex, gentleman, was rated at the some of seaven pound towards the charge of one shipp for his Majestie's service imposed upon the maretime townes in Suffolk and Essex, which somme of seaven pounds John Leming, gent, hath payd accordingly in witness of which I have hereunto sett my hand the day above written.'

Signed Daniel Cole, bailiff

'I, Jur. Highlord... alderman and shereif in anno 1635 in Julie did receive of Jno. Leming, gent, for ship money towards his Majestie's service in that yeare the summe of twentie pounds.'

Signed Jur. Highlord

Summary of proceedings

Dr Duck acted as counsel for Leming and Dr Eden for Clopton. On 28 January 1637 Dr Duck was to present Leming's petition concerning scandalous words provocative of a duel. On 11 February, Leeming was required to prove his gentility and Dr Duck gave the libel on 16 February. On 29 April 1637 Clopton was required to respond to the libel. On 18 November 1637 a series of schedules for debt were used to demonstrate that Leming 'hath and doth live after the rate and in the ranke and quality of a gent., and is written and stiled in divers publique records and writings by the title of gentleman, and is rated in the parish where hee liveth to the king, church and poore, and seized for armes and ship money as high as the mayor or any alderman or gent within the towne of Colchester (except the late sheriff of the county of Essex) and hath beene upper warden of his company of the Iremongers in London. And besides what hee...hath beene rated att as aforesaid in the parrish where hee liveth in Colchester. Hee hath alsoe beene rated and payd in London towards the shipp money twenty pounds. And hee was rated in subsidy 1 Car at £10 in lands.' Dr Duck produced as witnesses of this Edward Sawyer, Edward Hutchinson and Leonard Leeming. On 27 January 1638 Dr Duck produced paper schedules which set out Leming's gentility, and on 3 February 1638 Sir Henry St George, Norroy King of Arms, provided a certificate of Leming's gentility.

Notes

For another account of the case, see G.D. Squibb (ed), Reports of Heraldic Cases in the Court of Chivalry, 1623-1732 (London, 1956), pp. 25-27.

John Leming of London appeared in the 1664-8 Visitation of Essex as having married Joane, daughter of Mr Polley. Their son, James Leming of Colchester, had attended Gray's Inn and had married Mary, daughter of Sir William Batten, knight and baronet by 1664.

J. J. Howard (ed.), A Visitation of the County of Essex, 1664-1668 (London, 1888), p. 57.

A William Clopton of Liston Hall, co. Suffolk is mentioned in the Visitation of Suffolk for 1664-1668, as having married Anne, daughter of Sir Thomas Barnardiston of Ketton, co. Rutland, knt.

W. H. Rylands (ed.), The Visitation of Suffolk, 1664-1668 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 61, 1910), p. 8.

For Clopton's forbears, see C. Richmond, A Fifteenth-Century Gentleman

The commissioner John Langley was a bailiff, alderman, and captain of trained bands in Colchester, and appeared in the Essex visitation of 1634.

W. C. Metcalfe (ed.), The Visitations of Essex, Part I (Publications of the Harleian Society, 13, 1878), p. 433.

For background on Colchester during the 1630s, see John Walter, Understanding Popular Violence in the English Revolution: the Colchester Plunderers (Cambridge, 1999).

Documents

  • Initial proceedings
    • Libel: EM51a (16 Feb 1637)
  • Plaintiff's case
    • Letters commissory for the plaintiff: EM51b (May 1637)
    • Defence interrogatories: EM51c (Tri 1637)
    • Defence interrogatories: 14/1z (iii) (no date)
    • Plaintiff depositions: EM51d (31 May 1637)
  • Defendant's case
    • Defence: Cur Mil I, fo. 251 (no date)
    • Letters commissory for the defence: Cur Mil I, fo. 250 (28 Jun 1637)
    • Plaintiff interrogatories: Cur Mil I, fo. 254 (14 Oct 1637)
    • Defence depositions: Cur Mil I, fos. 234-43 (8 Aug 1637)
    • Notary public's certificate: Cur Mil I, fos. 243r (no date)
  • Exhibits and certificates
    • Exhibit 1: Cur Mil I: fos. 244 (no date)
    • Exhibit 2: Cur Mil I: fos. 245(no date)
    • Exhibit 3: Cur Mil I: fos. 246 (12 Aug 1612)
    • Exhibit 4: Cur Mil I: fos. 247 (6 May 1614)
    • Exhibit 5: Cur Mil I: fos. 248 (28 Jun 1637)
    • Certificate 1: 12/1aa (15 Oct 1637)
    • Certificate 2: 12/1bb (18 Nov 1637)
    • Certificate 3: 12/1cc (18 Nov 1637)
    • Certificate 4: 12/1dd (18 Nov 1637)
    • Certificate 5: 12/1ee (18 Nov 1637)
    • Certificate 6: 12/1ee (2 Jul 1635)
  • Proceedings
    • Proceedings before Arundel: College of Arms MS. 'Court of Chivalry' (act book, 1636-8) [pressmark R.R. 68C] (hereafter 68C), fos. 51r-59r (28 Jan 1637)
    • Proceedings: 68C, fos. 23r-36v (11 Feb 1637)
    • Proceedings: 68C, fos. 1r-11r (16 Feb 1637)
    • Proceedings: 68C, fos. 14r-20v (16 Feb 1637)
    • Proceedings: 68C, fos. 37r-41v (29 Apr 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 Marten: 7/20 (7 Nov 1637)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 8/29 (18 Nov 1637)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 8/30 (28 Nov 1637)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 1/5, fos. 1-15 (27 Jan 1638)
    • Proceedings before Arundel: 1/5, fos. 23-35 (3 Feb 1638)
    • Proceedings before Arundel: 1/5, fos. 38-56(12 Feb 1638)

People mentioned in the case

  • Audley, Robert, esq (also Awdeley)
  • Barker, Bestney, esq
  • Baron, John, grocer
  • Batten, Mary
  • Batten, William, knight and baronet
  • Bluet, John, yeoman
  • Booth, Robert, grocer
  • Broome, Robert, labourer
  • Burlamack, Philipp
  • Buxton, Robert, gent
  • Cambell, James
  • Clopton, William, esq
  • Cockerell, William, town clerk
  • Cole, Daniel, gent
  • Cutchy, Nicholas, husbandman
  • Dethick, Gilbert, registrar
  • Dobson, George
  • Doilie, Edmund, esq (also Doyly, Doyley)
  • Doilie, William, esq (also Doyly, Doyley)
  • Duck, Arthur, lawyer
  • Eden, Thomas, lawyer
  • Edwards, Thomas, ironmonger
  • Eldred, John, gent
  • Forby, William
  • Fox, John
  • Fremtry?, Ralph
  • Fullers, Joseph
  • Gaille, John
  • Garwell?, H.
  • Gilbert, George, gent
  • Gilbert, William, gent
  • Greene, William
  • Harvey, Simon
  • Highlord, alderman
  • Howard, Henry, baron Maltravers
  • Howard, Thomas, earl of Arundel and Surrey
  • Hutchinson, Edmund
  • Hutchinson, George
  • Langley, John, gent
  • Lawrence, Thomas, alderman
  • Leming, Bartholomew (also Leeming, Leminge)
  • Leming, Christopher, yeoman / gent (also Leeming, Leminge)
  • Leming, Henry, apprentice (also Leeming, Leminge)
  • Leming, James (also Leeming, Leminge)
  • Leming, Jeremy, apprentice (also Leeming, Leminge)
  • Leming, Joane (also Leeming, Leminge)
  • Leming, John, gent (also Leeming, Leminge)
  • Leming, Leonard (also Leeming, Leminge)
  • Leming, Mary (also Leeming, Leminge)
  • Leming, Thurstan (also Leeming, Leminge)
  • Leming, Walter (also Leeming, Leminge)
  • Marten, Henry, knight
  • Metcalfe, Thomas, curate
  • Mitchell, George
  • Mott, William, grocer
  • Nicholas, Richard, gent
  • Pelham, William, grocer
  • Pepper, William
  • Piper, John, grocer
  • Polley, Joane
  • Polley, Mr
  • Prentise, Stonard, gent (also Prentis)
  • Ranson, Jo.
  • Sadler, John
  • St George, Henry, knight
  • Sampson, Mr
  • Sawyer, Edward
  • Somers, Edmund, apprentice
  • Somers, Edward
  • Stocking, Thomas, servingman
  • Swayll, Gilbert (also Swayle, Swale)
  • Taverner, William, vintner
  • Terrick, Humphrey, notary public
  • Toler, Edmund, seaweaver
  • Tudor, Elizabeth I, queen
  • Umfreville, William, gent (also Umfreide)
  • Wadeson, Thomas
  • Walgeave
  • Wenlock, John, gent
  • Williams, William, clerk
  • Windham, Hugh
  • Wolstenholme, John, knight

Places mentioned in the case

  • Cambridge
    • Drayton [Either Fen Drayton or Dry Drayton]
  • Essex
    • Aldham
    • Berechurch
    • Birch
    • Broxted
    • Chiddingly
    • Colchester
    • Danbury
    • Langham
    • Layer Breton
    • Layer Marney
    • St Mary's, Colchester
    • St Mary at the Walls, Colchester
    • Stanway
    • Stapleford
    • Witham
  • France
  • Hereford
  • London
    • Billingsgate
    • Gray's Inn
  • Suffolk
    • Boxford
    • Bury St Edmunds
    • Groton
    • Hadleigh
    • Ipswich
    • Langham
    • Stoke
  • York
    • St Leonard's Hospital
    • St Mary's Tower
  • Yorkshire, North Riding
    • Burneston
    • Carperby
    • Leeming
    • Thirsk
    • Wensleydale

Topics of the case

  • alderman
  • allegation of tradesman status
  • arbitration
  • city company
  • coat of arms
  • corporation
  • Court of Admiralty
  • denial of gentility
  • inns of court
  • justice of the peace
  • King of Arms
  • mayor
  • military officer
  • nicknaming
  • office-holding
  • other courts
  • sheriff
  • ship money
  • taxation
  • trained band
  • weapon