431 Molineux v Smith

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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William Molineux of Whitwick, co. Leicester, esq v Henry Smith of Long Whatton, co. Leicester

November 1639


Molineux complained that Smith had called him 'base fellow, a slave', and 'a rogue' in the presence of several gentlemen, claiming he was a better gentleman than Molineux, and that Molineux was no gentleman. Molineux maintained he was the grandson of Sir John Molineux, knt, and entered bond to prosecute the cause on 5 November 1639. No further proceedings survive.

Initial proceedings

6/4, Petition

'The petitioner is lineally discended of the auntient and knightly family of Molineux of Sefton in the county of Lancaster, vizt. sonne of Edmund Molineux, sonne of Sir John Molineux knt, sonne of Sir Edmond Molineux Kt of the Bath, a branch of the generous family and hath demeaned himselfe like a gent. with reputacon and creditt in his county, as is well knowne to all the gentry thereabouts.

That one Henry Smith of Long Whatton in the county of Leycester, a man of meane quallity, hath reviled your lordship's petitioner with scandalous language, in the presence of divers gentlemen and others, calling him base fellow, a slave, a rogue, and that he was a better man then the petitioner, and that the petitioner was no gentleman, with other disgracefull speeches to your petitioner's great disparagement.'

Petitioned that Smith to be brought to answer.

Maltravers granted process on 4 November 1639

6/5, Plaintiff's bond

5 November 1639

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

Signed by William Molineux.

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


G. D. Squibb, Reports of Heraldic Cases in the Court of Chivalry, 1623-1732 (London, 1956), p. 42.

Neither William Molineux nor Henry Smith of Long Whatton appeared in the 1619 visitation of Leicester. William Molineux's account of his forefathers does not agree with the pedigree of the Molineuxs of Sefton in Dugdale's Visitation of Lancashire made in 1664-5.

J. Fetherston (ed.), The Visitation of the County of Leicester in the year 1619 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 2, 1870); F. R. Raines (ed.), The Visitation of the County Palatine of Lancaster made in the year 1664-5, part II (Chetham Society, 85, 1872), pp. 206-7.

On 17 November 1627 William Molineux of co. Leicester was ordered to be arrested for having failed to appear in court.

J. Broadway, R. Cust and S. K. Roberts (eds.), A Calendar of the Docquets of Lord Keeper Coventry, 1625-1640 (List and Index Society, special series, 35, 2004), part 2, p. 416.


  • Initial proceedings
    • Petition: 6/4 (4 Nov 1639)
    • Plaintiff's bond: 6/5 (5 Nov 1639)

People mentioned in the case

  • Howard, Henry, baron Maltravers
  • Molineux, Edmond, knight (also Molyneux)
  • Molineux, Edmund (also Molyneux)
  • Molineux, John, knight (also Molyneux)
  • Molineux, William, esq (also Molyneux)
  • Smith, Henry
  • Terrick, Humphrey

Places mentioned in the case

  • Lancashire
    • Sefton
  • Leicestershire
    • Long Whatton
    • Whitwick
  • Middlesex
    • Westminster

Topics of the case

  • comparison
  • denial of gentility
  • insult before gentlemen