420 Metcalfe v Bulmer

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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Thomas Metcalfe of North Otterington, co. York, gent v William Bulmer of Morton on Swale, co. York, esq

June - December 1640


Metcalfe complained that on 3 May 1640 when he came to demand possession of disputed houses held from Lord William Howard, Bulmer assaulted him in the presence of several gentlemen, gave him the lie, told him 'he was a foole, and a base fellow, and no gent', and 'made his vaunt afterwards that he had beaten that base fellow, naming him Medcalfe.' Process was granted on 13 June 1640 and Dr Duck entered the libel for Metcalfe on 4 December. Metcalfe's witnesses were appointed to be examined by a commission which included Edward Mottershed LL.D and Ralph Pudsey, gent, from 19 to 21 January 1641 at Christopher Smith's inn, at Bedale, Yorkshire. The court ceased to sit before the case was concluded.

Initial proceedings

5/76, Petition

'Whereas your petitioner holdeth certain lands of the right honorable the Lord William Howard in Yorkshire, one William Bulmer, alias Bowmer, by indirect meanes came into the possession of them, claiming from another man. Your petitioner, on or about the 3rd day of May last, came to demand the possession of some part of the houses which Bulmer used. Bulmer fell upon your petitioner in most disgraceful manner and told your petitioner he was a foole and a base fellow and no gent; and gave your petitioner the lye, and further beat and struck at your petitioner, in the presence of divers gent of good quality, and made his vaunt afterwards that he had beaten that base fellow, naming him Medcalfe. Your petitioner being a gent of an ancient family, all which tendeth to your petitioner's great dishonor and disgrace.'

Petitioned for Bulmer to be brought to answer.

Maltravers granted process 13 June 1640.

5/75, Plaintiff's bond

15 June 1640

That he was to 'appear in the said Court in the Painted Chamber within the Pallace of Westminster'.

Anthony Metcalfe of the city of Durham, gent, acting on behalf of Thomas Metcalfe

Signed by Thomas Metcalfe.

Signed, subscribed and delivered by John Watson.

5/169, Defendant's bond

This bond described both parties as of Morton-upon-Swale, co. York.

27 November 1640

Bond to 'appear in the said court in Arundel house in the Strand without Temple Barr, London'.

Signed by John Atkinson of the city of York, gent, acting for Bulmer.

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

Summary of proceedings

Dr Duck acted as counsel for Metcalfe and Dr Merrick for Bulmer. In Michaelmas term 1640 Metcalfe nominated Solomon Wyvell, Robert Laton, Christopher Byerly and Robert Willye, gentlemen, as his commissioners. Bulmer nominated Edward Mottershed, Dr of Law, George Riddle, Dr of Law, Ralph Pudsey, gent and William Marten, gent. They were to meet from 19 to 21 January 1641 at Christopher Smith's inn, at Bedale, co. York. On 4 December 1640 Dr Duck gave the libel and Dr Merrick was to respond within a week. Dr Duck had to prove the libel by the second session of next term, by which stage the court was ceasing to sit.


A pedigree for Metcalfe of nearby Northallerton survives in J. Foster (ed.), Pedigrees of the County Families of Yorkshire: The North and East Ridings (London, 1874), vol. 3, unpaginated; J. W. Clay (ed.), Dugdale's Visitation of Yorkshire, with additions (Exeter, 1914), vol. 3, part 11, pp. 283-6.

William Bulmer was probably the son of William Bulmer esq, the wealthy Catholic landowner and lead miner of nearby Marrick and Dorothy Sayer. If so, he was the Catholic royalist lieutenant-colonel captured at Sherburn-in-Elmet, co. York in 1645.

P.R. Newman, Royalist Officers in England and Wales, 1642-1660: A biographical dictionary (London, 1981), p. 48; J. T. Cliffe, The Yorkshire Gentry from the Reformation to the Civil War (London, 1969), pp. 227, 229, 356.


  • Initial proceedings
    • Petition: 5/76 (13 Jun 1640)
    • Plaintiff's bond: 5/75 (15 Jun 1640)
    • Defendant's bond: 5/169 (27 Nov 1640)
  • Proceedings
    • Proceedings: 1/12 (Mic 1640)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 1/11, fos. 79r-87v (4 Dec 1640)

People mentioned in the case

  • Atkinson, John, gent
  • Bulmer, Dorothy
  • Bulmer, William the elder, esq (also Bowner, Bowmer, Boomer)
  • Bulmer, William the younger, esq (also Bowner, Bowmer, Boomer)
  • Byerly, Christopher, gent
  • Duck, Arthur, lawyer
  • Howard, Henry, baron Maltravers
  • Howard, William, baron
  • Laton, Robert, gent
  • Longland, John
  • Marten, William, gent
  • Merrick, William, lawyer
  • Metcalfe, Anthony, gent
  • Metcalfe, Thomas, gent
  • Mottershed, Edward, LL.D
  • Pudsey, Ralph, gent
  • Riddle, George, Dr of Law
  • Sayer, Dorothy
  • Smith, Christopher, innkeeper
  • Watson, John
  • Willye, Robert, gent
  • Wyvell, Solomon, gent (also Wivell)

Places mentioned in the case

  • London
    • Arundel House
    • Strand
    • Temple Bar
  • Middlesex
    • Westminster
  • York
  • Yorkshire, North Riding
    • Bedale
    • Marrick
    • Morton on Swale
    • North Otterington
  • Yorkshire, West Riding
    • Sherburn-in-Elmet

Topics of the case

  • assault
  • denial of gentility
  • giving the lie
  • military officer
  • Roman Catholic
  • royalist