397 Mackworth v Owen

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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Humphrey Mackworth of Shrewsbury, co. Salop, gent v Thomas Owen, Richard Owen and Thomas Betton of the same

December 1639

Figure 397:

Early Stuart Shrewsbury. Humphrey Mackworth maintained that Thomas Betton had hired shoemakers to perform a 'rough music' against Mackworth and his bride as they passed through the town's streets towards his house (From, John Speed, Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain (1611))


Mackworth complained that Thomas Owen had called him a false and 'base fellow' at a public assembly and maintained that Richard Owen had said that he was a liar, and that he and the churchwarden Thomas Betton were 'tenn times better' than Mackworth. He added that Betton had called him a knave and wished him 'hanged when he came first to Shrewsbury'. Betton also endeavoured to hire shoemakers to perform a shaming ritual when Mackworth passed through the Shrewsbury streets towards his house with his new bride and brother-in-law, Peter Venables, the Baron of Kinderton, together with a retinue of gentry. Mackworth explained that this 'kind of ringing and beateing with hammers, is not used, but by way of disgrace, scorne and obloquy, when notorious and common offenders or most infamous persons passe by, and soe commonly knowne and observed in that place.' Process was granted on 2 December 1639, but no further proceedings survive.

Initial proceedings

2/97, Petition to Maltravers

'Thomas Owen, Richard Owen and one Thomas Betton of the towne of Shrewsbury have for these 2 yeeres last past, without any just occasion given them by your petitioner, much vilified and abused your petitioner, (vizt.) Thomas Owen, at a publique assembly, said what your petitioner said was false and that your petitioner was a base fellow. Richard Owen, speaking of your petitioner, said, What care we for him; we, meaning himselfe and Thomas Betton, one of the churchwardens, was tenn times better then him your petitioner; and that he knew not what to think of such men who for their owne ends would lye and speake an untruth, thereby intimating that your petitioner did lye, and soe those words were understood by those that heard him. Lastly, Thomas Betton said that your petitioner was a knave and wished that your petitioner had bin hanged when he came first to Shrewsbury. And further in utter disgrace of your petitioner endeavoured to have hired some shoemakers in their shops in the open streete, to ring and beate with hammers when your petitioner being newly married brought his wife (being the Baron of Kyndarton's sister) and passed through the streete (accompanied with the Baron and divers other friends, gent. of quality) towards your petitioner's house, which kind of ringing and beateing with hammers, is not used, but by way of disgrace, scorne and obloquy, when notorious and common offenders, or most infamous persons, passe by, and soe commonly knowne and observed in that place.'

Petitioned the Owens and Bretton be brought to answer.

Maltravers granted process on 2 December 1639.

2/111, Plaintiff's bond

3 December 1639

Bound to appear 'in the Court in the painted Chamber within the Palace of Westminster'.

Signed by William Crowne of St Martin-in-the-Fields, Middlesex, gent, on behalf of Mackworth.

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


Humphrey Mackworth did not appear in the Shropshire Visitation of 1623, but he was the only son of Richard Mackworth of Betton Grange, co. Salop, and Dorothy, daughter of Lawrence Cranage of Keele. The family held property just south of Shrewsbury. In 1624 he married Anne, daughter of Thomas Waller of Beaconsfield. He became an experienced lawyer and acted as 'learned council' to the town of Shrewsbury, where he became an alderman in 1635. His first wife died in 1636 and in 1638 he married Mary, daughter of Thomas Venables of Cheshire. In 1633 he was criticized for refusing to bow at the name of Jesus and in 1640 reportedly played a leading role in Shropshire's petition against Episcopacy. He became a parliamentarian officer during the civil war and presided over the trial of the Earl of Derby in 1651.

P. Gaunt, 'Humphrey Mackworth (1603-1654)', Oxford DNB (Oxford, 2004).

Thomas Betton of Shrewsbury was possibly the son of Richard Betton of Upper Berwick, co. Salop, several of whose family settled in Shrewsbury. Richard and Thomas Owen were the sons of Robert Owen of Shrewsbury, and Susanna, daughter of Lancelot Bathurst, alderman of London. Robert Owen was the son of Edward Owen, who had been Bailiff of Shrewsbury in 1584.

G. Grazebrook and J. P. Rylands (eds.), The Visitation of Shropshire taken in the year 1623, vol. I (Publications of the Harleian Society, 28, 1889), p. 45; G. Grazebrook and J. P. Rylands (eds.), The Visitation of Shropshire taken in the year 1623, vol. II (Publications of the Harleian Society, 29, 1889), p. 386.

Ashton refers to a Colonel Mackworth who became the parliamentary governor of Shrewsbury.

Robert Ashton, Counter-Revolution: The Second Civil War and its Origins, 1646-8 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994), pp. 431, 461; Lords Journals , vol. 10, p. 424; Portland MS , Historical Manuscripts Commission, 13th report, pp.484-5.

From April 1643 Humphrey Mackworth was a member of parliament's committee 'for the Association of Counties of Warwick, Stafford and Salop'. On 27 March 1644 Mackworth, safe in Coventry, warned the local parliamentarian general, the earl of Denbigh, of royalist successes and the 'bleeding condition' of Shropshire.

Roy Sherwood, The Civil War in the Midlands 1642-1651 (Stroud, 1992), pp. 64, 91; Denbigh MS , Historical Manuscripts Commission, 4th Report, pp. 264-5.


  • Initial proceedings
    • Petition to Maltravers: 2/97 (2 Dec 1639)
    • Plaintiff's bond: 2/111 (3 Dec 1639)

People mentioned in the case

  • Bathurst, Lancelot
  • Bathurst, Susanna
  • Betton, Richard
  • Betton, Thomas
  • Cranage, Dorothy
  • Cranage, Lawrence
  • Crowne, William, gent
  • Fielding, Basil, earl of Denbigh
  • Howard, Henry, baron Maltravers
  • Mackworth Anne
  • Mackworth, Dorothy
  • Mackworth, Richard, gent
  • Mackworth, Humphrey, gent
  • Mackworth, Mary
  • Owen, Edward
  • Owen, Richard
  • Owen, Robert
  • Owen, Susanna
  • Owen, Thomas
  • Stanley, James, earl of Derby
  • Terrick, Humphrey
  • Venables, Mary
  • Venables, Peter, baron of Kinderton
  • Venables, Thomas
  • Waller, Anne
  • Waller, Thomas

Places mentioned in the case

  • Middlesex
    • St Martin-in-the-Fields
    • Westminster
  • Salop / Shropshire
    • Betton Grange
    • Shrewsbury
    • Upper Berwick
  • Staffordshire
    • Keele
  • Warwickshire

Topics of the case

  • alderman
  • churchwarden
  • civil war
  • comparison
  • custom
  • denial of gentility
  • giving the lie
  • military officer
  • office-holding
  • parliamentarian