402 Manley v Bray

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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'402 Manley v Bray', in The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640, (, ) pp. . British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/court-of-chivalry/402-manley-bray [accessed 4 March 2024]

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John Manley of Wilshamstead, co. Bedford, gent v John Bray of the same, tanner

July 1639


Manley complained that Bray, a tanner of his parish, said before an assembly of parishioners that he was 'as lyeing a fellowe as any was in the towne of Wilshamstead and that he was a knave, and that Bray would prove him a knave.' A fortnight later he repeated these words at a public meeting at Bedford before the high sheriff and several knights and gentlemen. Bray denied the libel, but accepted that Manley was registered as a gentleman at the last Visitation of Bedfordshire. Process was granted on 4 July 1639, but no further proceedings survive.

Initial proceedings

6/74, Petition to Maltravers

Manley was 'a gent descended of an auncient family beareing armes. John Bray, in the months of March or Aprill last past, did, before a publique assembly of the parishioners of Wilshamstead, very much abuse the peticoner, telling the petitioner that he was a lyeing fellowe and as lyeing a fellowe as any was in the towne of Wilshamstead, and that he was a knave, and that Bray would prove him a knave. And about a fortnight after the premises Bray before the high sheriffe of the county of Bedford, and divers knights and gentlemen att a publique meetinge att Bedford did againe much abuse the peticoner using the same words before expressed, or the very like words in effect, and oftentimes repeating the same, thereby much scandalisinge the petitioner and provokeing him to duell.'

Petitioned that Bray be brought to answer.

Maltravers granted process on 4 July 1639.

6/73, Plaintiff's bond

3 July 1639

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

Signed by John Manley.

Sealed, subscribed and delivered in the presence of John Watson.

13/3hh, Personal answer

Very briefly indicated that he did not credit the libel to be true, 'saveinge that he beleeveth that Mr Manley is registred in the last visitation of the officers of armes in the county of Bedford to bee a gentleman.'

No date.


The identity of the plaintiff is not given by the Visitation of 1634 which identifies John Manley, aged only 2 in 1634, as the son of James Manley of Wilshamstead, co. Bedford, and Mary, daughter of William Bedell of Kempston. James Manley was the son of Anthony Manley of Elstow, co. Bedford, and Mary, daughter of John Richardson of Turvey, co. Bedford.

F. A. Blaydes (ed.), The Visitations of Bedfordshire, 1566, 1582 and 1634 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 19, 1884), pp. 123, 154.


  • Initial proceedings
    • Petition to Maltravers: 6/74 (4 Jul 1639)
    • Plaintiff's bond: 6/73 (3 Jul 1639)
    • Personal answer: 13/3hh (no date)

People mentioned in the case

  • Bedell, Mary
  • Bedell, William
  • Bray, John, tanner
  • Manley, Anthony
  • Manley, James
  • Manley, John, gent
  • Manley, Mary
  • Richardson, John
  • Richardson, Mary
  • Watson, John

Places mentioned in the case

  • Bedfordshire
    • Elstow
    • Kempston
    • Turvey
    • Wilshamstead
  • Middlesex
    • Westminster

Topics of the case

  • giving the lie
  • high sheriff
  • insult before gentlemen
  • office-holding