377 Little v Palmer

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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'377 Little v Palmer', in The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640, (, ) pp. . British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/court-of-chivalry/377-little-palmer [accessed 1 March 2024]

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Geoffrey Little the elder of Stoke-by-Nayland, co. Suffolk, gent v Robert Palmer of the same

February - April 1638

Figure 377:

Stoke-by-Nayland, Suffolk where Geoffrey Little and Robert Palmer clashed at a parish meting 1637.


Little complained that between October and December 1637 at a parish meeting for Stoke by Nayland, Suffolk, Palmer had called him 'a knave and a lying knave'. The quarrel arose when Little succeeded Palmer as overseer of the poor and accused him of submitting false accounts. Palmer admitted that he 'answered if he said soe it was a lye'. Palmer was cited to appear on 9 February 1638 and in a personal answer on 20 April he prayed to be dismissed from the court, having already submitted himself for punishment under a statute of 5 Edw. VI.

Initial proceedings

15/2b, Citation

Palmer to appear at the suit of Little for scandalous words provocative of a duel.

Dated: 9 February 1638

By the special direction of Gilbert Dethick, registrar.

15/2k, Libel

1. Little was descended from a family that had been ancient gentry for up to 200 years.

2. Palmer was a plebeian.

3. Between October and December 1637 in the parish of Stoke by Nayland Palmer had called him 'a knave and a lying knave', words provocative of a duel.

4. [Damaged]

Dated 14 April 1638.

No signatures.

15/2q, Personal answer

1 and 2. These articles were true.

3. Palmer was overseer of the poor in Stoke-by-Nayland for the year ending Easter 1637, and Little was an overseer for the following year. They met with others in the parish church and discussed Palmer's accounts for the previous year, which Little said Palmer had given to him and other overseers. When Palmer denied that he had given in an account, Little replied 'you did give in an accompt to us and that a very unconscionable one'. Palmer responded that he gave in a true account to some of the county's justices of the peace, but never gave an account to the overseers succeeding him, and that if Little said he had it was untrue. Little then repeated his allegations and Palmer 'answered if he said soe it was a lye, for the speaking of which words, before this suite began, he was presented to his ordinary upon the statute made anno 5 Edward 6; and he humbly submitteth himself to the punishment of the statute, and humbly praieth to be dismissed this honourable court and sent to the ordinary of that place.'

Introduced 20 April 1638.

Signed by Thomas Eden and Robert Palmer.


Neither of the parties appeared in the 1664-8 Visitation of Suffolk: W. H. Rylands (ed.), The Visitation of Suffolk, 1664-1668 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 61, 1910).


  • Initial proceedings
    • Citation: 15/2b (9 Feb 1638)
    • Libel: 15/2k (14 Apr 1638)
    • Personal answer: 15/2q (20 Apr 1638)

People mentioned in the case

  • Dethick, Gilbert, registrar
  • Eden, Thomas, lawyer
  • Little, Geoffrey, gent
  • Palmer, Robert
  • Tudor, Edward VI, king

Places mentioned in the case

  • Suffolk
    • Stoke-by-Nayland

Topics of the case

  • giving the lie
  • office-holding
  • overseer of the poor
  • provocative of a duel
  • taxation