388 Longville v Hawthorne

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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Sir Thomas Longville of Cookham, co. Berkshire, knt and William Welden of the same, gent v Nathaniel Hawthorne of the same, yeoman

May 1634 - October 1635


In one of the first cases to be heard by the regularly established court Longville and his stepson, Welden, complained that Hawthorne had borne a coat of arms and styled himself gentleman despite having disclaimed at Wokingham during the Berkshire Visitation of 1623. They also claimed that Hawthorne had said Welden was no better gentleman than himself and had claimed precedence over him when sitting down for dinner at the house of Welden's brother, George, in Cookham, Berkshire, in 1631. Hawthorne claimed that he had acted as a gentleman commissioner in examining witnesses in cases for Star Chamber, Chancery and the Court of Requests and exhibited a document from a case brought against him by William Lord Powis in July 1633 in which he was described as gentleman. He also claimed descent from the Mountagues, and that he was born in the hamlet of Hawthorne in the parish of Bray, Berkshire, where his family had been commonly known for generations as the Hawthornes of Hawthorne. He further maintained that Welden had hunted with hawks and dogs in his cornfields.

Proceedings began on 3 May 1634 and Dr Duck was instructed to enter the libel on behalf of Longville and Welden on 7 June. A high-powered commission, which included Sir Christopher Nevyll, Sir Edmund Sawyer, Sir Richard Harrison and Sir John Parsons, was appointed to examine witnesses for Longville and Welden at Maidenhead, Berkshire, 20-22 August 1634. They won their case on 30 May 1635. The sentence declared Hawthorne to be a plebeian, forbade him from styling himself gentleman, and ordered him to pay 20 marks in a fine and 30 marks costs, and to be kept in custody until he had produced sufficient sureties for the performance of his sentence. He was ordered to perform his submission on the first day of the next quarter sessions before the justices of the peace, where he was to acknowledge that by posing as a gentleman after having disclaimed he did 'much forget my self and my duty, and the honour and respect I ought to have had to the gentry, lawes and officers of armes of this kingdom'. He had to promise never to repeat the offence, and to certify performance to the first meeting of the Marshal's court after Michaelmas 1635.

Initial proceedings

9/4/28, Libel [damaged]

Both Longville and Welden were descended of gentle families. William Welden was the son of George Welden and Longville had about fourteen years previously married the widow, of George Welden. Nathaniel Hawthorne was a mill-wright and was disclaimed at the visitation of Berkshire in 1623 at Maidenhead. During the past seven years Hawthorne had assumed the name of a gentleman and displayed arms as his own on seals and elsewhere. He had also said that Welden was no better gentleman than himself, and had laid claim to precedence over William Welden and his brother George in the parish of Cookham in the summer of 1631.

Endorsed 30 June 1634

Signed by Arthur Duck.

Plaintiff's case

9/4/50, Nomination of commissioners

Dr Duck nominated as commissioners on behalf of Longville and Welden: Sir Christopher Neville, Knight of the Bath, Sir Edmund Sawyer, Peregrine Hoby, esq, and Henry Paule, esq.

Nathaniel Hawthorne nominated: Sir Richard Harrison, Sir John Parsons, William Montague gent, Richard Powner, gent.

They were to sit in commission at Maidenhead, co. Berkshire, from 20 to 22 August 1634.

9/4/42, Defendant's interrogatories

1. Was the witness a household servant or retainer to Longvyll or Welden?

2. The witness was to depose what happened in George Weldon's house as outlined in the 4th article of the libel in the presence of Richard Hares clerk, George Weldon, William Mattinglie and Dorothy Welden and John Birde.

3. Did Nathaniel Hawthorne 'sitt at the instance, urginge and direction of George Welden (in whose house he was) and not of his owne accord'? Was Sir Thomas Longville 'not at that time sett downe before Nathaniell was placed or sitt where he sate'?

4.Where, when and in whose presence were the words spoken or things done?

5. 'Ask of John Scoles whither he doth not knowe that William Weldon hath often within these 2-4 yeares last bine an makinge within the grounds or fields of Nathaniel Hawthorne in Cookham in Berks whilest corne hath bine therein...howe often he hath soe seene him to doe with his hawkes, dogs and spaniels within the said time'?

6. 'Whether Charles Ansloe doe not keep an alehouse and be not a bumbaylie, and such a one as doth use to serve writts and other precepts upon men, being hired or requested thereunto'?

No date.

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

Signed by Thomas Eden.

9/4/34, Exhibit from an earlier case of William Lord Powis and Eleanor his wife v Nathaniel Hawthorne and others

'Jurata 10 Juliii 1633. Robinsons.

Rich Moore.

The plea and severall answeare of Nathaniel Hawthorne, gent, one of the defendants unto the bill of complaint of the right honorable William Lord Powis and Dame Eleanor his wife.

The defendantsaying that the complainant, Lady Eleanor, in the terme of St Hilary last then being, as shee nowe is coverte of her husband did exhibitt her bill of complaint into this honorable corte against these defendants, for the same matters and things as in this bill are comprehended, and for none other as she conceiveth; unto which bill this defendant hath appeared and putt in a plea and demurrer which bill is as yet dependinge in this hoble court and not dismissed from which cause this defendant doth demaund the judgement of this honorable court.'

Ex persone Tho. Troughton.'

Endorsed as 'Longvyll and Welden v Hawthorne, exhibit 27 9bre. 1634'

Defendant's case

9/4/35, Defence

Hawthorne claimed that he had been named with the addition of 'gentleman' amongst other commissioners in various commissions for the examination of witnesses issuing out of the courts of Star Chamber, Chancery and Requests. He also claimed that 'my auncestors came and were descended from the house of the Mountagues' and that Richard Hawes one of the witnesses produced for Longville and Welden confirmed this. He also claimed that in the parish of Bray, co. Berkshire, there was a hamlet commonly called Hawthorne where Nathaniel Hawthorne was born and where his family had lived for generations and commonly been known as the Hawthornes of Hawthorne.

Endorsed 24 January 1635.

Sentence / arbitration

9/4/7, Plaintiff's sentence

The sentence declared Hawthorne to be a plebeian. He was disclaimed at Wokingham at the visitation for Berkshire in 1623, notwithstanding which he declared himself to be a gentleman in contempt of the law of arms. He was ordered to make a submission at the time and place to be appointed, enjoined from using the name of a gentleman, ordered to pay 20 marks in fine and 30 marks in costs and to be kept in custody until he had produced sufficient sureties for the performance of the sentence.

Dated 30 May 1635

No signatures.

9/4/5, Plaintiffs' bill of costs

Costs of Sir Thomas Longvill

Easter term, 3 May 1634: £4-12s-8d

Trinity term, 1634: £4-10s-0d

Vacation post Trinity term, 1634: £10-0s-0d

Michaelmas term, 1634: £12-11s-8d

Hillary term, 1634: £4-11s-0

Easter term, 1635: £5-0s-0d

Trinity term, 1635: £8-19s-2d

Total: £40-8s-6d

Signed by Arthur Duck.


4/2, Submission

Welden was to perform his submission between 2 and 4pm on the first day of the next sessions before the J.P.s: 'standing bareheaded in his owne ordinary apparrell after the clarke of the peace or his deputy reading the same unto him shall say as followeth: Whereas I by sentence diffinitive given against me Nathaniell Hawthorne of Cookeham, yeoman, by the right honourable Thomas Erle of Arrundell and Surrey... I, Nathaniel Hawthorne stand convicted, that being but a yeoman and no gentleman, and that notwithstanding that I by the officers of Armes in a visitation held at Ockingham [Wokingham] within that county in anno 1623 or thereabouts I was proscribed and proclaimed not to be a gentleman, yet that I have since and within the years in that cause libellated, assumed and used the name and title of gentleman in contempt of the Lawes of Armes and of the Court. I, Nathaniel Hawthorne doe humbly confess and acknowledge that in so doing I did much forget my self and my duty and the honour and respect I ought to have had to the gentry, Lawes and officers of Armes of this kingdom, and doe promise henceforth not to arrogate use or assume any such title except I be lawfully called or intitaled thereto hereafter.'

To certify performance of his submission to High Court of Chivalry in the first court to be held after next Michaelmas.'

No date.

Summary of proceedings

Dr Duck was counsel for Longville and Welden, Dr Eden for Hawthorne. On 24 May 1634 Sir Thomas Longville entered a bond of £40 to prosecute the cause. On 7 June it was ordered that 'Dr Ducke will give a libel and Mr Hawthorne is to do as his counsel shall advise. If Dr Ducke hath any witnesses they also are to be sworne and to be examined by the next court. Then like bond as of Mr Ayleworth' [see cause 638, document 17/2c/iv]. On 30 June Duck was again ordered to give the libel. On 20 October 1634 a second commission for examining witnesses on behalf of Longville and Welden was mentioned, with John Scoles and Charles Anslam as commissioners. Dr Duck mentioned John Cherry of Maidenhead, Thomas Ward of Bray, Reynold Dicker and John Andrewes of Hurley, co. Berkshire, as necessary witnesses. On 9 May 1635 Hawthorne was warned to pay £30 expenses and 20 marks as a fine to the King. On 30 May 1635 the court was to hear sentence and warn Longvile and Hawthorne to attend. Around June 1635 Hawthorne was warned for his non appearance, and on 9 June he was taxed at £30 for expenses and £13-6s-8d in damages.


For another account of the case, see G. D. Squibb (ed.), Reports of Heraldic Cases in the Court of Chivalry, 1623-1732 (London, 1956), p. 9.

Sir Thomas Longville was the son of Sir Henry Longville of Wolverton, co. Buckingham and Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Cotton of Bedhampton, co. Hampshire. He married the widow of George Welden of Cookham, co. Berkshire. He was a brother of Sir Michael Longville [see cause 650 Longville v Ashby]. He was probably also the Sir Thomas Longville of Bradwell, co. Buckingham, who was among the royalists captured at Grafton House during the civil wars in December 1643. His elder brother Sir Edward Longville (1604-1661) was created a baronet in 1638.

W. H. Rylands (ed.), The Visitation of the County of Buckingham, 1634 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 58, 1909), p. 84; G. E. Cokayne (ed.), Complete Baronetage, vo. 2, 1625-1649 (Exeter, 1902), p. 437; CCCD , vol. 2, p. 1293.

William Weldon (b.c.1614) was the son of George Weldon (d.1616) of Cookham, co. Berkshire, and Mary, daughter of William Serjeant of Waldridge, co. Buckingham.

W. H. Rylands (ed.), The Four Visitations of Berkshire, 1532, 1566, 1623, and 1665-6, vol. I (Publications of the Harleian Society, 56, 1907), p. 305.


  • Initial proceedings
    • Libel: 9/4/28 (30 Jun 1634)
  • Plaintiff's case
    • Nomination of commissioners: 9/4/50 (20 Aug 1634)
    • Defence interrogatories: 9/4/42 (no date)
    • Exhibit: 9/4/34 (27 Nov 1634)
  • Defendant's case
    • Defence: 9/4/35 (24 Jan 1635)
  • Sentence / Arbitration
    • Plaintiff's sentence: 9/4/7 (30 May 1635)
    • Plaintiff's bill of costs: 9/4/5 (Tri 1635)
  • Submission
    • Submission: 4/2 (no date)
  • Proceedings
    • Proceedings: 7/15 (24 May 1634)
    • Proceedings: 17/2c/v (7 Jun 1634)
    • Proceedings: 8/23 (30 Jun 1634)
    • Proceedings before Arundel: 1/1 (20 Oct 1634)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 1/2 (24 Jan 1635)
    • Proceedings: EM348 (9 May 1635)
    • Proceedings: EM349 (30 May 1635)
    • Proceedings before Arundel: 8/24 (9 Jun 1635)
    • Proceedings before Huntingdon: 8/25 (20 Jun 1635)
    • Undated proceedings: R.19, fos. 390-399 (c. Jun 1635?)

People mentioned in the case

  • Andrewes, John
  • Ansloe, Charles (also Anslam)
  • Ayleworth, Mr
  • Birde, John
  • Cherry, John
  • Cotton, Elizabeth
  • Cotton, Richard
  • Dicker, Reynold
  • Duck, Arthur, lawyer
  • Eden, Thomas lawyer
  • Hares, Richard, clerk (also Hawes)
  • Harrison, Richard, knight
  • Hastings, Henry, earl of Huntingdon
  • Hawthorne, Nathaniel, yeoman
  • Herbert, William, baron Powis
  • Herbert, Elenor, lady Powis
  • Hoby, Peregrine, esq
  • Howard, Henry, baron Maltravers
  • Howard, Thomas, earl of Arundel and Surrey
  • Longville, Charles, esq (also Longvile, Longvyll)
  • Longville, Elizabeth (also Longvile, Longvyll)
  • Longville, Henry, knight (also Longvile, Longvyll)
  • Longville, Michael, knight (also Longvile, Longvyll)
  • Longville, Thomas, knight (also Longvile, Longvyll)
  • Mattinglie, William (also Mattingly)
  • Montague, William, gent
  • Neville, Christopher, knight
  • Parsons, John, knight
  • Paule, Henry, esq
  • Powner, Richard, gent
  • Sawyer, Edmund, knight
  • Scoles, John
  • Serjeant, Mary
  • Serjeant, William
  • Troughton, Thomas
  • Ward, Thomas
  • Welden, Dorothy (also Weldon)
  • Welden, George (also Weldon)
  • Welden, Mary (also Weldon)
  • Welden, William, gent (also Weldon)

Places mentioned in the case

  • Berkshire
    • Bray
    • Cookham
    • Hawthorne
    • Hurley
    • Maidenhead
    • Wokingham
  • Buckinghamshire
    • Bradwell
    • Waldridge
  • France
    • Isle de Rhé
  • Hampshire
    • Bedhampton

Topics of the case

  • coat of arms
  • comparison
  • Court of Chancery
  • Court of Requests
  • false claim to gentility
  • hunting
  • other courts
  • Star Chamber