427 Milles v Buckley

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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Thomas Milles of St Olave, Silver Street, London, gent v Thomas Buckley of St Martin, Outwich, London, merchant

July 1639 - April 1640

Figure 427:

Bishopsgate Street and its surrounds, as it appeared in 1599. Thomas Milles and Thomas Buckley exchanged insults at the Ship Tavern in February 1639.


Milles complained that on 22 February 1639, at the Ship Tavern in Bishopsgate Street, London, in the presence of 'many credible witnesses', Buckley said that Milles was 'a base fellow, a base knave, a base rogue, and a stinking rogue, a rascall.' Buckley denied the libel and maintained that he was defending the good name of his kinswoman Elizabeth Bancroft, against whom Milles was testifying in a defamation case, by saying that anyone who said she had slept with twenty men besides her husband, was 'a rogue if he could not prove it' and 'a cuckoldly rogue'. Milles took out bond to prosecute the case on 2 July 1639 and Dr Exton began to present material for the defence on 4 February 1640. Depositions from defence witnesses were taken, presumably at the court itself, in March and April. The sentences survive but no sums have been entered and so the result of the case remains uncertain. Milles brought a similar case against Buckley in the Court of Arches.

Initial proceedings

6/101, Petition

'The petitioner is descended of the ancient family of the Mylles of Biddenden in the County of Kent.

That one Thomas Buckle of London, merchant, in the month of Februarie last past 1638, did, in a publique place before many credible witnesses, much abuse the petitioner saying that the petitioner was a base rogue, a stinking rogue, a base knave and a base rascall, oftentimes, at the least twentie times, reiterating and repeating the same words, thereby asmuch as in him lay provokeing the petitioner to duell.'

Petitioned for Buckle to be brought to answer.

Maltravers granted process, no date

6/100, Plaintiff's bond

6 July 1639

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

Signed by Thomas Milles.

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

20/3i, Libel

1. Milles's family had been gentry for up to 100 years.

2. Between October 1638 and July 1639, in St Helen's parish in the city of London, Buckley said that Milles was 'a base fellow, a base knave, a base rogue, and a stinking rogue, a rascall.'

3. These contemptuous words were to provoke Milles to a duel.

No date.

Signed by William Roane.

Plaintiff's case

14/3x, First set of defence interrogatories

1. The witnesses were warned of the penalty for perjury and bearing false witness.

2. Did the witness live on his own or depend upon another? How much was he worth in goods with his debts paid? Was he taxed in the last subsidy to the King? If so, to what amount?

3. Was he a household or waged servant? Was he related to Milles or Buckley? To whom would he give the victory if it was in his power?

4. Was there any disagreement or controversy between the witnesses which should be made known?

5. Had the witness been compelled to testify? Had the witness received or been promised anything for testifying? If so, how much?

6. Had any of the other witnesses been instructed how to depose?

7. Was the witness 'overcome with inordinate drinking' at the time of the 'pretended' words in the libel?

8. '<what the very express words that Mr Buckley then and there uttered. Did Buckley then and there nominate Mills, or did he onely say he is a cuckoldly rogue that sayes soe, not specifying>.'

No date.

Signed by Thomas Exton.

14/3y, Second set of defence interrogatories

1. Was Milles in company with Buckley or not and how many were with Buckley? Had the witness been examined for the same words on the behalf of Milles against Buckley in the Court of Arches? Were there any other words then spoken that had not been deposed in the Court of Arches?

2. 'Whether William Smith one of the plaintiff's pretended witnesses was not called by William Glascock another of the plaintiff's pretended witnesses, Glascock looking out at a window of the roome into the company and not by Buckley'?

3. Whether the witness was present in the tavern and heard Buckley utter the 'pretended words' at that or any other time? Were the pretended words deposed by the witness not already deposed by that witness in the Court of Arches?

No date.

Signed by Thomas Exton.

Defendant's case

10/12/19, Defence [damaged]

1. 'I, Thomas Buckley was in companie of William Glascock and William Smyth on or about 22 Feb 1638/9 at the Shipp Taverne in Bishopsgate St... yett Thomas Milles was but onely once at one time and not oftner at the Shipp Taverne; and there were also then and there present in the same roome and at the same table one or more persons'.

2. 'At the same tyme and place some... arising... some disgracefull and defamatory speeches pretended to be spoken by or of one Elizabeth Bancroft a kinswoman of myne... with twenty men besides her husband, but the partie by whome the pretended words were pretended to be spoken being not... I, Buckley, thereupon and not before, used or spake these words vizt... testifie to whome he will that... rogue if he doe not proove it.'

3. 'Thomas Milles at the time... was not named at least I, Thomas Buckley, did not name him; neither did I speake nor use any wordes... any words tending to the same or such like effect as in the libel... then and there had named Thomas Milles... Smyth present that did take notice of what was then and there said.'

[Items 4-10 too damaged to be legible.]

Introduced 17 February 1640.

Cur Mil 1631-1642, fos. 47v-49r, Defence deposition

fos. 47v-49r (Witness 1), Alexander Bache of the city of Worcester, clothier, lived there for 20 years, born at Rudge, co. Salop, aged about 40

26 March 1640

To Buckley's defence:

1-3. On 22 February 1639 he was at the Ship Tavern, in Bishopsgate street, with Buckley, Glascocke and John Banckes, where there was conversation about Buckley's kinswoman Mrs Barecroft. Glascocke said that one Medcalfe, who had a lawsuit with Mrs Barecroft, 'had a witness that would say or depose that Mrs Barecroft had layne with twenty several men at several tymes'. Buckley answered that anyone who said so was 'a cuckoldly knave and a cuckoldly rogue if he do not prove it'. Glascocke then asked Buckley if he meant Mr Milles. Buckley replied, 'I name noe man but if he can prove any such thinge against my kinswoman I will be asmuch against her as ever I have been for her'. The witness was present during all of Buckley's time in the tavern, and Buckley did not make any other speeches concerning Mr Milles. If he had done so, the witness would have heard. Those present were Buckley, this witness, Glascocke, Banckes, and one Smith who came in at the end. He had not been in company with Glascocke and Smith before or since.

5. Glascocke and Smith were both drunk, because 'they were not able to make answer to any question asked them and they did reele and stagger as drunken men and were not able to stand or to talke sensibly'.

To Milles's interrogatories:

1. He was a clothier in Worcester, had known Buckley for 7 years, had never met Milles, and 'wisheth right may take place'.

2. He was worth over £400 with his debts paid, and was a housekeeper in Worcester. He had received nothing and expected nothing for being a witness. He came to London on his own business and was a witness at Buckley's request.

3, 4. Negative.

5. Buckley only used the words above deposed.

6, 8. Negative.

Signed by Alexander Bache

Repeated in court before Sir Henry Marten on 26 March 1640.

Cur Mil 1631-1642, fos. 57v-59v, Defence deposition
fos. 57v-59v (Witness 2), John Bankes of St Benet Fink, London, vintner, lived there for 6 years, before that in St Helen's Major, London, for 4 years born in St Gabriel Fenchurch, London, aged 21

To Buckley's defence:

1-3. He was a drawer of wine at the Ship Tavern in Bishopsgate Street, and on 22 February 1638/9 he was there with Mr Buckley, one Glascocke, Alexander Bache, a clothier from Worcester. Glascocke said that one Medcalfe had a witness that would say that Mrs Bancroft, a kinswoman of Buckley's, 'had layen with twentie severall men besides her husband'. Glascocke was 'distempered with drink', and left soon after Smith came in. The rest as witness 1.

4. He had known Glascocke for two years and he was 'a man of noe repute or credit and hath beene heretofore a tradesman in London, but is broke and he is a great friend and acquaintance of Mr Milles, and he considers him to be a capitall enemie of and to Mr Buckley for that he hath oftentimes spake very evill words against Mr Buckley... and doth endeavour all manner of wayes to bring Mr Buckley into trouble'. Smith was 'a poore and meane fellow of no credit, of no reputation, and one that goeth upp and downe with prisoners in the Fleete and waiteth upon them as their keeper'.

5. As witness 1.

To Milles's interrogatories:

1. He did not know Mr Milles but had known Mr Buckley for 4 ½ years. He was apprentice to Mr Hicks, vintner, at the Ship Tavern in Bishopsgate Street.

2. He testified at Buckley's request and cost, but had received nothing for doing so.

3-4. Negative.

5. He had not been in company with Buckley, Bache, Glascocke and Smith altogether, before or since. If Mr Buckley had used any other words than those deposed, he would have heard them.

6. Negative.

Signed by John Bankes

Repeated in court before Sir Henry Marten on 18 April 1640.

Cur Mil 1631-1642, fos. 61r-62r, Defence deposition fos. 57v-59v (Witness 3), Martin Higgins of St Peter, Cornhill, London, scrivener, lived there for 18 years, born in the parish of Christchurch, London, aged about 34

To Buckley's defence:

4. He had known Glascocke for 12 years who was 'a great friend and companion of Mr Milles and an enemy to Mr Buckley'. He had known Smith for 5 years, who was a keeper of the Fleet 'and goeth abroad with and waiteth upon prisoners in the Fleet'.

7-8. He was walking with Glascocke last Michaelmas behind the Old Exchange in London, when Glascocke said that 'for his parte he could do neither good nor harm, to either Mr Milles or Mr Buckley, in giving his testimony in this cause; and then he asking him what would be examined Glascocke told him that Mr Milles was a necessarie witness for him in the Court of Requests and that Mr Milles would not testify for him in the Court of Requests unless he this deponent would testify for him in this honourable Court.'

To Milles's interrogatories:

1. He had known Milles and Buckley for 4 or 5 years 'and wisheth right may take place.'

2. He testified at Buckley's request and cost, but had neither received nor been promised anything for doing so.

3-6. Negative.

7. Glascocke was 'accompted to be a man of good credit'.

8. He wished Glascocke 'before his examination in this cause to have a care what he did sweare in this cause against Mr Buckley.'

Signed by Martin Higgins

Repeated on 24 April 1640 in court before Sir Henry Marten, lieutenant, and in the presence of Richard Meade, notary public.

Cur Mil 1631-1642, fos. 81v-82r, Defence deposition fos. 81v-82r (Witness 4), Ambrose Ferrers of All Saints within the Walls, London, gent, lived there for 7 years, born at Hodnet, co. Salop, aged about 40

To Buckley's defence:

6. Within the last year he had often heard Glascocke 'affirm and swear by Christ that he never heard Mr Buckley call Mr Milles cuckoldly rogue, and hath wished that god would refuse him if he should say or swear any such thing against Thomas Buckley'.

7. Glascocke had often acknowledged that Mr Milles 'was a very material witness for him in a cause depending in the Court of Requests', in a case between Glascocke and one Medcalfe and Blackden defendants, 'and that Mr Milles would not be a witness nor depose for him in the Court of Requests unlesse he Glascocke would depose for him in this honourable Court.'

To Milles's interrogatories:

1. 'He is a solicitor of causes, having been bred a merchant *and is imployed by most merchants in London*; and hath known Mr Milles for about a yeare and Mr Buckley seaven or eight yeares last past and wisheth right may take place.'

2. He lived of himself and was owed £6,000. He neither received nor expected to receive anything for his testimony.

3-5. Negative.

7. Smith was not to be credited as a witness, 'for that he is much given to drinking and he hath oftentimes seen him in drink.'

8. Negative, for his part.

Signed by Ambrose Ferrers

Repeated in court on 24 April 1640 before Sir Henry Marten, lieutenant, and in the presence of Richard Meade, notary public.

Sentence / Arbitration

15/4v, Plaintiff sentence [damaged]

That Buckley had called Milles 'a base knave, a base rogue, and a stinking rogue'.

Spaces for sums not filled in.

No date.

Signed by Arthur Duck, Thomas Eden and William Roane.

15/4d, Defendant's sentence [damaged]

Unknown as the part of the document where spaces for sums to be entered has been torn out.

No date.

Signed by Thomas Exton and Maltravers.

18/2r, Plaintiff's bill of costs [damaged]

Initial expenses: £5-6s-0d

Michaelmas term, 1639: £7- [the rest torn off]

Hilary term, 1639/40: at least £3-14s-4d [the rest torn off]

Sum total: at least £16.

No date

15/4i, Defendant's bill of costs [damaged]

Trinity term, 1639: £10-6s-10d

Michaelmas term, 1639, over: £8-10s-0d

Total unknown, but over £18-16s-10d

No date

Summary of proceedings

Dr Duck and Dr Roane were counsel for Milles, with Dr Lewin and Dr Exton for Buckley. On 4 February 1640 the testimony of the witnesses for Milles was published and Dr Exton was required to produce material for the defence.


Neither of the parties appeared in the 1633-5 London Visitations: J. J. Howard and J. L. Chester (eds.), The Visitation of London in 1633, 1634, and 1635 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 15, 1880); J. J. Howard (ed.), The Visitation of London in 1633, 1634, and 1635 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 17, 1883).


  • Initial proceedings
    • Petition: 6/101 (no date)
    • Plaintiff's bond: 6/100 (6 Jul 1639)
    • Libel: 20/3i (no date)
  • Plaintiff's case
    • First set of defence interrogatories: 14/3x (no date)
    • Second set of defence interrogatories: 14/3y (no date)
  • Defendant's case
    • Defence: 10/12/19 (17 Feb 1640)
    • Defence deposition: Cur Mil 1631-42, fos. 47-9 (26 Mar 1640)
    • Defence deposition: Cur Mil 1631-42, fos. 58-9 (18 Apr 1640)
    • Defence deposition: Cur Mil 1631-42, fos. 61-2 (24 Apr 1640)
    • Defence deposition: Cur Mil 1631-42, fo. 82 (24 Apr 1640)
  • Sentence / Arbitration
    • Plaintiff's sentence: 15/4v (no date)
    • Defendant's sentence: 15/4d (no date)
    • Plaintiff's bill of costs: 18/2r (Hil 1639/40)
    • Defendant's bill of costs: 15/4i (Mic 1639)
  • Proceedings
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 8/31 (4 Feb 1640)

People mentioned in the case

  • Bache, Alexander, clothier
  • Bancroft, Elizabeth
  • Bankes, John, vintner
  • Buckley, Thomas, merchant
  • Duck, Arthur, lawyer
  • Eden, Thomas, lawyer
  • Exton, Thomas, lawyer
  • Ferrers, Ambrose, gent
  • Glascock, William (also Glascocke)
  • Hicks, Mr
  • Higgins, Martin, scrivener
  • Howard, Henry, baron Maltravers
  • Lewin, William, lawyer
  • Marten, Henry, knight
  • Meade, Richard, notary public
  • Medcalfe
  • Milles, Thomas, gent (also Mills)
  • Roane, William, lawyer
  • Smith, William (also Smyth)
  • Watson, John

Places mentioned in the case

  • Kent
    • Biddenden
  • London
    • All Saints within the Walls
    • Bishopsgate
    • Christchurch
    • Fleet Prison
    • Old Exchange
    • St Benet Fink
    • St Gabriel, Fenchurch
    • St Helen
    • St Helen's Major
    • St Martin, Outwich
    • St Olave, Silver Street
    • St Peter, Cornhill
  • Middlesex
    • Westminster
  • Salop / Shropshire
    • Hodnet
    • Rudge
  • Worcester

Topics of the case

  • allegation of adultery
  • Court of Arches
  • Court of Requests
  • denial of gentility
  • drunkenness
  • other courts
  • provocative of a duel
  • sexual insult