368 Lenche v Pollard

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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Thomas Lenche of Leckhampstead, co. Buckingham, gent v John Pollard of the same, gent

November 1637 - October 1638

Figure 368:

Buckingham in the early seventeenth century. John Pollard's witnesses were examined at the Cock Inn in March 1638 (From John Speed, Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain (1611))


This was a parallel case to the one brought by Sir Edward Terrell against Pollard in November 1637 [see cause 639]. Lenche, an assessor for ship money, complained that at a parish meeting in Leckhampstead, Buckinghamshire, after evening prayer on the Sunday following the county's Lent assizes, either the 19th or 20th March 1636/7, Pollard had declared before many parishioners that he 'would not be so very a knave as Lenche and his landlord [Sir Edward Terrell] to take of[f] a rate from themselves and to lay it upon their inferiors'. A warrant to levy £24 in ship money on the landholders of Leckhampstead had just been read out in church, and Pollard felt he had been unfairly assessed because he was being asked to pay £4 while the remainder was divided between the parish's other landholders, including Terrell who was said to own 'better' land than Pollard. Lenche claimed that Pollard also gave him the lie before Sir Alexander Denton at Hillesden, Buckinghamshire, between July and September 1637. There was a previous history of quarrelling, with claims that Pollard had had Lenche, George Cowley, Terrell's servant, and other tenants of Terrell arrested and had overrated them for purveyance, and on the other side that Lenche's dogs had killed Pollard's sheep. Pollard's defence [for which see also the depositions in cause 639] was that at the parish meeting he had simply questioned why he should be rated at £4 and when Cowley, the parish constable, said 'Why, Mr Pollard, if it were in your power to ease your own lands and to lay it upon others would you not do it?,' he had replied, 'Noe, I would not be so very knave.' It was Cowley who tried to make out that he had said this of Lenche and Sir Edward Terrell, while Pollard had called those present to bear witness that he had done nothing of the sort, which several of them did when called on to testify. Pollard claimed that he had then gone back to the sheriff, Sir Peter Temple, who had issued a fresh warrant reducing his assessment. Lenche, however, had refused to allow this and Terrell claimed that Temple had become obligated to Pollard for assisting him in improving his rents and standing bond for him in lawsuits. Pollard also maintained that at the meeting before Denton he had been provoked by Lenche calling him 'a base fellow and a dishonest man', and saying that he would 'prove it by all the towne and countrie'. Finally he condemned Lenche's witnesses as either his enemies or dependents of Lenche and Terrell, claimed that Terrell had sought to put pressure on some of his witnesses and insisted that as a county grand juryman he was of 'very good repute and account' with the gentry of Buckinghamshire and 'usually imployed in the service of king and country.'

In November 1637 Dr Duck presented the libel for Lenche, to which Dr Talbot responded by alleging that he was not a gentleman. Duck produced a certificate from the King of Arms and Pollard's witnesses were scheduled to be examined by a commission headed by Sir Richard Ingoldsby, knight, and Denton, 28-30 March 1638 at the Cock Inn in Buckingham. Lenche won the case and on 19 June 1638, Pollard was sentenced to perform a submission in the town house of Aylesbury before two J.P.s on 12 July, in which he was to apologise for his 'rashe and unadvised speeches', acknowledging Mr Lenche to be 'an honest gent, and no such manner of man as is or may be insinuated by those speeches.' Pollard certified his submission on 20 October 1638.

Defendant's case

Cur Mil II, fo. 221, Letters commissory for the defendant

Addressed to commissioners Robert Smyth, esq, Marmaduke Olaver, Edmund Holdsworth, Daniel Chatbourne, gents, and also, Sir Richard Ingoldsby, knight, Richard Grenvild, esq, Roger Nicholls, gent, George Bate, clerk, to meet in a cause of scandalous words provocative of a duel, from 28 to 30 March 1638 at Ralph Smith's Cock Inn, in Buckingham town.

Dethick assigned Humphrey Terrick as notary public.

Dated 12 February 1638.

Signed by Gilbert Dethick, registrar.

Cur Mil II, fo. 219, Defence [damaged]

1. George Cowley had been a liveried retainer and domestic servant of Sir Edward Terrell. He was also a tenant of lands for which he paid £50 per annum in rent to Terrell. He was 'an intimate friend to Thomas Lenche and for such a man commonly reported and taken.'

2. Cowley was a capital enemy to Pollard and at a meeting for the ship money between Easter and Whitsun last, he 'spoke scandalous words of high nature of offence' against Pollard, for which Pollard complained to the JPs.

3. Barton 'was a poore beggarly fellow', hired by Terrell as a wage labourer, and lived 'as an inmate in one end of the farme house' that Cowley hired from Terrell for a noble per annum 'or some other small sum and such a one as may be drawne to depose partially for Sir Edward Terrell, George Cowley and Mr Lench'. Barton was malicouslie affected to Mr Pollard for demanding a debt of him'.

4. Thomas Coxe was a poor man dependent on Terrell to be hired for wages.

5. Robert Page was a domestic servant of Thomas Lench, a poor man 'and easily drawn by Mr Lench to depose an untruth'.

6. Joseph Barnard, clerk, married the daughter of Mr Lench's wife's sister, lived in Mr Lench's house, and depended on him.

7. About March 1636 a warrant from the high sheriff of co. Buckingham came to the constable of Leckhampstead for assessing and collecting £24 in ship money proportionately upon the parish's landholders. 'Upon some information made unto the High Sheriff', he soon after sent a second warrant directing £20 to be raised in this fashion, and the remaining £4 to be charged specifically to Mr Pollard.

8. The constables received this warrant and told the parishioners of it the Sunday after Lent Assizes in March or April in the afternoon after evening prayer.

9. In case Pollard said anything to George Cowley, William Barton, Thomas Coxe or Robert Page concerning the alteration of the warrants, there were present 15, 12 or at least 10 'of the better sort of parishioners' who heard and observed all the words spoken. Pollard did not then or any other time say 'that he would not be so very a knave as Thomas Lench or his landlord to take of a rate, meaning the rate for ship money and to lay it upon their inferiors or to that effect'. All Pollard said was that he 'being grieved at the alteration of the warrant wherein the 4li was laid upon him besides his proportionable share with the rest'. John Pollard asked George Cowley whose doing it was, and how it came about. Cowley answered 'I know not', but added 'why Mr Pollard if it were in your power to ease your own lands and to lay it upon others, would you not do it'? 'Noe' said Pollard 'I would not be so very a knave'. Cowley replied 'though you count me and Mr Lench knaves I would not have you count Sir Edward Terrell a knave'. Pollard replied before 'the better sort of parishioners, neighbours, I pray beare witness what I spake for Cowley will go tell Sir Edward Terrell that I called him knave and repeated the words twice over and entreated them to remember the words and neither Cowley nor any other then present did contradict what Pollard said. And at this time and place and at the meeting John Pollard did not speak any other words, neither did he name Sir Edward Terrell or Mr Lench or call them or either of them knave, and if he had those that were present and nearer than the witnesses must have heard him but did not. And this is true publicke and notorious'.

10. George Cowley and John Whitaker were then constables of Leckhampstead and the warrant was directed to them. Terrell had 22 ½ yard land in the parish, whereof Lenche had 14 ½, Cowley 5, John Love 2, and Thomas Warren held 1, all as farmers to Terrell. 'And Pollard and his tenants had and have as much, and by imposing the 4li upon Pollard they and the rest of the landholders should have been laid but 2s a yard and Pollard 5s 8d a yard land and this was done and promised by Cowley and Mr Lench to ease themselves and other the tenants of Sir Edward Terrell, when as neither the other constable nor the assessor of the money nor any other of the inhabitants did think fit to lay it upon Pollard.'

11. Pollard went to the high sheriff and complained of the unequal taxation, who sent a third warrant to the Leckhampstead constables directing Pollard to pay his proportionate share of the original £24. The parishioners met between Easter and Whitsun and one constable and assessor would have implemented the third warrant, but Cowley and the other assessor, Mr Lenche 'would not give way thereunto but opposed the proceedings and thereupon his majestie's service was delayed and neglected.'

12. Terrell and Lenche 'or some others at their request did speak with me and tamper with many of the parishioners and others then present what they could depose concerning the words in the libel, but because divers of them affirmed that they could not depose of any such words as in the libel are sett forth, Sir Edward Terrell, Mr Lench, or some other for them, were angry with them and though they had sent for them to the commission to be examined and caused them to be sworne, yet because they feared they would not serve their turnes they dismissed them without examination.'

13. Pollard was 'a quiet and peaceable man' with a freeholding worth £100 per annum in Leckhampstead and other places. He was 'of very good repute and account' with the gentry in co. Buckingham, 'and one that hath readily paid all the charges to the king and countrie laid indifferently on him'. He was 'a man of judgement and understanding, and usually imployed in the service of the king and country and so commonly accounted'. In case John Pollard did give Mr Lenche the lie between July and September 1637, it was in the parish of Hillesden, before Sir Alexander Denton, JP, where Pollard had testified of some words George Cowley had spoken against the king. At that time Denton and his clerk heard all the speeches that passed between Pollard and Mr Lenche, and they heard none of the foresaid words. But Mr Lenche 'did at that time and place' call Pollard 'a base fellow and a dishonest man and that he would prove it by all the towne and countrie'.

Dated 14 April 1638.

Signed by Clere Talbot.

Cur Mil II, fos. 215-217, Plaintiff interrogatories

1. The witnesses were warned of the penalties for perjury and giving false testimony. What were the ages and condition of living of the witnesses, and how did they know the parties?

2. Were the witnesses household servants or retainers of Pollard? If they were related to Pollard, by what degree? Were they indebted to Pollard, and if so, for how much?

3. Had the witness been instructed how to depose, by whom, and what had been promised him for his testimony?

4. Were Lenche's witnesses George Cowley, William Barton, Thomas Coxe, Robert Page, Joseph Barnard, clerk and Thomas Davie, men 'of honest life and conversation and such as will not for favour or affection or any sinister respect whatsoever depose falsely on their oaths and such as live of themselves by their callings and labour without dependencie on any other for their maintenance and livelyhood'?

5. If the witness deposed that any of the above men were Pollard's enemies, the witness was to be asked what injuries they had done Pollard, and if they had 'not always carried themselves friendlie and neighbourlie towards him'? What reason did the witness have to believe that any of these men were so affectionate towards Lenche that they would depose untruly for his favour?

6. If the witness deposed that in 1636, George Cowley after having been taxed for ship money by John Pollard, 'did utter against him anie threatening or reviling speeches', then the witness was to be asked what those speeches were. Did Pollard then 'despightfully and unjustlie overrate and laye an excessive and unequall taxe upon Cowley or otherwise provoake Cowley to be angry with him'?

7. If the witness deposed that at Easter or Whitsun last at a meeting about levying ship money, Cowley 'spoke scandalous words of a high nature', let the witness express what those words were, if they were present, and against whom the words were spoken. Did Pollard complain against Cowley to any JP for these words, and did he justify or prove that Cowley had spoken them, 'and did not Pollard falselie accuse him as such witness doth knowe or hath heard'?

8. Whether in March 1637, the tax for ship money in Leckhampstead 'was not made and imposed by the high sheriff of the countie himselfe and whether by his warrant directed to the constables and others he did not appointe 4li thereof to be levied on Pollard and whether after that Pollard having unjustlie complained to the high sheriffe that he was overtaxed did not the high sheriffe by a warrant from him ratifie and confirme his former warrant and thereby againe directe and appointe the four poundes to be levied on the said Pollard'?

9. Did the witness know that Terrell, Lenche or Cowley, or another instructed by them persuaded the high sheriff to levy £4 tax on Pollard?

10. During last March or April, when the tax was made, 'did not Pollard express much anger against Thomas Lench' and other tenants of Terrell, 'and amongst other reproachful speeches used against him, did not he say that he would not be soe verie a knave as Thomas Lenche and his landlord to take a rate from themselves (meaning the rate for ship money) and lay it on their inferiors, or else words to the like effect and whether by the word landlord such witness did not understand and conceive he ment Sir Edward Terrell and whether Sir Edward Terrell was not then Lench's landlord'?

11. If any witness deposed that he was present and heard no such words, he was to be asked if he were present throughout and if he heard all of Pollard's speeches.

12. Was Lenche a gentleman who bore arms and so reputed?

13. Between July and September 1637, did Pollard give Lenche the lie?

14. Had Pollard 'not always carried himself insolentlie and maliciouslie against Thomas Lench, George Cowley and other the tenants of Sir Edward and often overrated them by excessive taxes for provision of his Majestie's household and otherwise as he doth know or hath heard.'

15. Did the witnesses give the truth in their own conscience?

No date.

Signed by Arthur Duck.

[Overleaf] 'Interrogatories to be administered on behalf of Mr Lench'.


4/9, Submission

26 June 1638

'I John Pollard by sentence diffinitive given against me... stand convicted to have used some scandalous and disgracefull speeches of and against Thomas Lenche of Leckhampstead in co. Bucks, gent, and in particular these words, vizt: that I would not be so very a knave as Lenche and his landlord to take of[f] a rate from themselves and to lay it upon their Inferiors, thereby meaning and insinuating Thomas Lenche; I do hereby acknowledge and confess that I am hartily sorry for my such rashe and unadvised speeches against Mr Lenche whom I acknowledge to be an honest gent, and no such manner of man as is or may be insinuated by those speeches. And I do hartily pray Mr Lenche to forgive my such abuse of him, and do promise to behave myself towards him with all due respect hereafter.'

11/32/8, Submission and certificate of submission

Between 9 and 11am on Thursday 12 July 1638, in the Townhouse of Aylesbury, before two of the county's Justices of the Peace, Pollard was to stand 'in some eminent place bare headed' and 'with an audible voice after the clerk of the peace or his deputy then and there reading it unto him saie as followeth:'

'Whereas I John Pollard by sentence definitive given against me in the Court Military by the right honorable Thomas Erle of Arundel and Surrey Erle Marshall of England stand convicted to have used some scandalous and disgracefull speeches of and against Thomas Lench of Leckhamstead in com. Buckingham, gent and in particular these words followinge or the like in effect vizt: That I would not be so verie a knave as Lench and his landlord to take of a rate from themselves and to laie it upon there Inferiors thereby meaninge and insinuating Thomas Lench. I do hereby acknowledge and confess that I am hartily sorry for my such rash and unadvised speeches against Mr Lench whom I acknowledge to be an honest gentleman and noe such manner of man as is or may be insinuated by those speeches and I doe hartilie praie Mr Lench to forgive my abuse of him and doe promise to behave myselfe towards him withall due respect hereafter.'

Signed by Arundel and Surrey.

'This submission being performed Mr Pollard is to subscribe his name and to procure some of those that are present to subscribe theire names in testimony of the performance, and Mr Pollard is to certifie the court of the performance the 20th of October next: [Dated] 26 June 1638'.

Signed by Gilbert Dethick.

'This submission is drawne up according to the order of the Court and sentence in this cause: [Dated] 19 June 1638'.

Signed by Gilbert Dethick.

'This submission was performed accordingly at the tyme and place before menconed.' Signed by John Pollard and witnesses Christopher Perkins, clerk of the peace for co. Buckingham, John Branchester, John Chapman, John Turner.

John Watson, notary public, signed and authorised certificate of submission, 18 October 1638.

Summary of proceedings

Pollard was summoned to appear on 18 November 1637 and on 28 November Dr Talbot responded to the libel presented by Dr Duck, by alleging that Lenche was not a gentleman. Dr Duck responded with a certification from the King of Arms, which Lenche was required to present on 27 January 1638. Material for the defence was propounded from 3 February and on 12 February the following commissioners were appointed to examine the witnesses for Pollard's defence at Randolph Smith's Cock Inn, at Buckingham from 28 to 30 March 1638: Daniel Chatborne, gent, Robert Smith esq, Marmaduke Olaver, gent, and Edmund Holdsworth, gent, and also, Richard Ingoldsby, esq, Richard Trevile, esq, Roger Nicholls, gent, and George Bate. Pollard certified performance of his submission on 20 October 1638.


Neither party appeared in the 1634 Visitation for Buckingham: W. H. Rylands (ed.), The Visitation of the County of Buckingham, 1634 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 58, 1909).


  • Defendant's case
    • Letters commissory for the defendant: Cur Mil II, fo. 221 (12 Feb 1638)
    • Defence: Cur Mil II, fo. 219 (14 Apr 1638
    • Plaintiff's interrogatories: Cur Mil II, fos. 215-17 (no date)
  • Submission
    • Submission: 4/9 (26 Jun 1638)
    • Submission and certificate of submission: 11/32/8 (18 Oct 1638)
  • Proceedings
    • 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)
    • Proceedings before Arundel: R.19, fos. 434r-449v (20 Oct 1638)

People mentioned in the case

  • Barnard, Joseph, clerk
  • Barton, William
  • Bate, George
  • Branchester, John
  • Chapman, John
  • Chatborne, Daniel, gent
  • Cowley, George, servant / constable
  • Coxe, Thomas
  • Denton, Alexander, knight
  • Dethick, Gilbert, registrar
  • Holdsworth, Edmund, gent
  • Howard, Henry, baron Maltravers
  • Howard, Thomas, earl of Arundel
  • Ingoldsby, Richard, esq
  • Ingoldsby, Richard, knight
  • Lenche, Thomas, gent
  • Love, John
  • Olaver, Marmaduke, gent (also Oliver)
  • Nicholls, Roger, gent
  • Page, Robert, servant
  • Perkins, Christopher, clerk of the peace
  • Pollard, John, gent
  • Smith, Randolph, innkeeper
  • Smith, Robert, esq
  • Stuart, Charles I, king
  • Talbot, Clere, lawyer
  • Temple, Peter, knight
  • Terrell, Edward, knight
  • Terrick, Humphrey, notary public
  • Trevile, Richard, esq (also Trevill)
  • Turner, John
  • Warren, Thomas
  • Watson, John, notary public
  • Whitaker, John, constable

Places mentioned in the case

  • Buckinghamshire
    • Aylesbury
    • Buckingham
    • Hillesden
    • Leckhampstead

Topics of the case

  • assizes
  • constable
  • grand juryman
  • high sheriff
  • justice of the peace
  • King of Arms
  • livestock
  • office-holding
  • ship money
  • taxation