445 Morgan v Rookes

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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'445 Morgan v Rookes', in The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640, (, ) pp. . British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/court-of-chivalry/445-morgan-rookes [accessed 5 March 2024]

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Turberville Morgan of Dover, co. Kent, gent v George Rookes of Horton, co. Kent, gent

February 1639 - October 1640


Morgan complained that George Rookes had called him a 'cossening or cheating fellow'. Their quarrel, which stretched back to 1637 and beyond, was over Rookes's possession of the searcher's office for Sandwich and Dover. This office had previously been held by his son Thomas Rookes, but in August 1635 George had obtained the reversion to it and, after a series of suits resulting in his son's imprisonment, harassed him into surrendering it. Morgan and Hugh Lewis then apparently inveigled Thomas into surrendering the office to them and obtained a grant of the reversion in November 1637. Rookes challenged this in Star Chamber and Morgan brought a counter suit in the Exchequer which, he claimed, resulted in Rookes's removal from the post in May-June 1639. The quarrel rumbled on through 1639 with Rookes obtaining orders in his favour from the privy council, then Morgan, with the backing of the Marquess of Hamilton, having these overturned by the king. Rookes maintained that during the quarrel he had been provoked by Morgan calling him 'a base old knave' and 'a rascal bearded knave', and boasting that he 'would lay George Rookes on the backe and would not leave him worth a groat, nor a fleece of wool'. He also said that James Watkins, one of Morgan's servants, had boasted he would be 'a second Felton to Mr Rookes' if Morgan did not recover the office. Among the additional suits between them, which Rookes claimed cost him £3000-£4000, he had prosecuted Morgan at common law for saying that his wife was a whore who kept a bawdy house. The final outcome of the cause is unknown, but on 10 October 1640 an attachment was granted against Rookes. Rookes commenced a counter suit in the Court of Chivalry in February 1639 which again does not appear to have reached a verdict [see cause 565].

Plaintiff's case

14/3a, Defence interrogatories [faded and damaged]

1. The witnesses were warned against the crime of perjury. What was the witness's occupation during the last seven years? How long had the witness known Morgan and Rookes?

2. Was he related to Morgan or a dependant, tenant or servant? What was he rated at the last subsidy to the king and for ship money? How much did he pay?

3.Had Morgan complained against Rookes in the Court of Exchequer for the same words as in the libel? Had Rookes already been proceeded against in that court for those words?

4. When and upon what occasion were the words in the libel spoken? Had Morgan angered Rookes with gestures and words of provocation, with 'retortion and revenge'?

5. Had Morgan before the beginning of the suite, in public or private 'spoken very disgracefull, scandalous, and contumelious words' of Rookes? Had Morgan said Rookes was 'an old rogue, a base fellow, a base rascal, a base old knave, a rascal bearded knave, a beggarly fellow, a base knave, a beggarly rascal; and that he Turbervile would lay George Rookes on the backe and would not leave him worth a groat, nor a fleece of wool'? When, where and in whose presence were these words spoken?

6. '... whether Hugh Lewes, one of the pretended witnesses produced in this... pattentee in the searcher's office of Sandwich, Dover and c. which Turbervile Morgan *and whether his name be used in the letters patents to his own use and benefit or for Morgan*; and are there not divers suites in the Court of Exchequer and Court of Requests between Morgan and Lewes of the one side and George Rookes on the other side... searchers... said George Rookes lately since the beginning of this suite by *command from his Majestie and order from the lords of the councel attained and... possession of the execucon of the searches... searchers place, which before was in the possession of Morgan and Lewis or one of them... of the searchers office.'

7. Was James Watkins, one of Morgan's witnesses, an enemy to Rookes; 'and hath not James Watkins said oftentimes or at least once since the said... got the possession of the said searcher's place that if his master meaning Turbervile Morgan did not get the... he would be or prove to be a second Felton to Mr Rookes... threatening... to take away his life and to stab him.'

8. Questioning fitness of Morgan's witness Captain Doves, including his debts.

9. Questioning fitness of Morgan's witness Thomas Frowde.

10. Questioning fitness of Morgan's witness, Francis Bowyer, who had recently been one of Morgan's servants and whether Bowyer was not 'a great enemy' to Rookes?

11. Questioning fitness of Morgan's witness, Captain Tookeby, whether he was a friend of Morgan's and a 'capitall enemy of Mr Rookes' and whether there were suites between Tookeby and Rookes depending?

Introduced 2 May 1639.

Signed by Arthur Duck.

14/3kk, Defence interrogatories [badly faded]

1. The witnesses were warned against the crime of perjury.

2. What trade or profession was the witness, and what relation or dependence did the witness have in relation to Morgan? Had the witness been promised reward for his testimony and did he wish better success upon Morgan?

3. Was he a subsidy man, had he paid ship money, how much, and what was his estate worth with all his debts paid?

4. Was Rookes a gentleman anciently descended and so commonly accounted?

5. Within the last 4 years, in London, its suburbs, or Dover, had he heard Morgan say that Rookes was 'an old rogue, a base fellow, a base rascall, an old knave' and that 'he would lay George Rookes upon the back and would not leave him worth a groat' and that Rookes 'was a carrett bearded knave, a beggarly fellow and that he would not leave him worth a groat or a fleece of wool'? What other similar words were spoken, and in what places?

6. Whether Thomas Rookes, George Rookes junior, John Matthew, John Reston and Hugh Mason 'be persons that will forswear themselves on their oaths and is there not credit to be given to their testimony'? If any witness deposed that these men would, they were to be asked if any had been convicted for perjury, when and where, and in what court?

7. Whether Morgan for 4 or 5 years previously had kept Rookes company and whether 'there was such a league of friendship and correspondence between them' that Rookes assisted Morgan in prosecuting his lawsuits 'and did not Morgan inveigle and drawe Thomas Rookes to oppose his father in suites of lawe...'

8. In case a witness deposed that Thomas Rookes was of 'evil, loose and debauched conversation', often 'seducing other men's wives or that he is an outlawed person' then they were to be questioned: 'Whether hath not Thomas Rookes been bred a scholar and lived for some years past... University of Cambridge? Is he not of courteous, affable and civil behaviour, of good discretion and judgement, of peaceable and quiet disposition'? 'When, where and for what woman hath he been convented, and before whom; when, out of what court and at whose suite hath he been outlawed'?

9. In case a witness deposed that George Rookes junior 'was a common solicitor of causes and a witness also for his father against Morgan... and that he sweareth largely for his father? Whether doth such witness know that George Rookes junior did ever forsweare himself in any and in what cause'? Did 'George commonly solicite any and what causes; or otherwise carry and behave himself then as one ought to doe in his father's imployments'? Was George Rookes junior 'of peaceable behaviour, doth he not demeane and carry himself in the rank and quality of a gentleman', and should not his testimony on oath be given credit?

10. Did he know John Matthews, and for how long? Had Matthews a landed estate and other means worth £100 per year? Did Matthews keep a bawdy house, when and where? Was Matthews reputed to be a 'cosener and deceiver of persons'? Whom had he deceived? Did Matthews behave in 'a disorderly manner', with whom and where, and was his testimony on oath to be given credit?

11. [Badly faded] Had John Reston been convicted of perjury?

12. [Badly faded] Was Edward Pitcher a servant of Morgan's?

13. Had George Rookes begun a suit at common law against Morgan before this Morgan's suit against Rookes for scandalous words, 'and doth not George Rookes complaine in the suites that Morgan both said and affirmed that the wife of George Rookes was a whore and that she kept a bawdy house and other such like foule and abusive speeches of the wife of George Rookes and was not the said... as well in the name of the wife of George Rookes as in his own name against Morgan'?

14. Had Jacob Braines a pretended witness, and officer of customs at Dover, been sued in the courts of Exchequer and Star Chamber for 'misdemeanours committed against his Majesty' in executing his office? Was there still a cause depending against Braines for such abuses in Star Chamber?

15. Had Rookes won a verdict in common law for £200 and by another verdict 100 marks from Morgan? Had Morgan paid that yet? Had Morgan 'brought a writ of error for the £200 and obteyned a new tryall'? Had these suits at common law cost George Rookes £60 in charges and costs?

16. In the last 3 or 4 years had there been suites between the witness and George Rookes or Thomas Rookes his son? Had the witness 'borne malice and been an adversary unto them or one of them'? Were there any suites between them currently depending?

17. Was the 'pretended witness' Simon Tychborne such a poor man that Morgan or his kinsman Charles Powell had given him a suit of clothes 'for his necessity'?

18. Had George Rookes the elder been damaged £3000 or £4000 because of Morgan's many lawsuits? How much did the witness believe that George Rookes had been 'damaged and prejudiced thereby'?

No date.

Signed by Arthur Duck.

Defendant's case

14/3mm, Plaintiff interrogatories

1. The witnesses were warned against the crime of perjury.

2. What was the witness's age and occupation? Where had the witness lived during the last ten years?

3. Was the witness related to or in service to Morgan or Rookes?

4. How were they summoned to testify? Did they come of their own free will? Were they instructed how to depose in this case?

5. How much were they worth in goods with their debts paid? How much were they taxed in the last assessment? To whom would they give the victory if they had the power?

6. Would Morgan's witnesses Robert Tokeley, Samuel Dove, Hugh Lewis and James Watkins, depose untruthfully for reward or friendship? Of 'what credit, quality or estimation are they'?

7. Whether since May or June last Morgan had obtained an order from the king and a decree from Exchequer appointing him to the 'searchers office of Sandwich? Was George Rookes 'thrust out and deprived of the same'? Did they believe 'this decree showed to them was a true copy of the order of the Barons of Exchequer?

8. In case the witness deposed anything of James Watkins 'threatening to be a Felton to George Rookes in case his master Turberville Morgan could not regain the searchers office', they were to be asked 'upon what occasion and in whose presence were these words soe spoken was it by night or by day, was it of set purpose or onelie in jeering manner or the like'?

9. In case the witness should depose that Rookes was last Hilary term convented before the Barons of Exchequer for the same words and was there punished for them, he was to be asked 'whether he doth not know that George Rookes was onlie convented in regard he had soe misbehaved himself in the face of the court and for arresting Turberville Morgan thereby to hinder him from appearing the next day in the court as by an order of the court he was bound to doe'? Whether they believed the 'schedule hereunto annexed to be a true copie of the order of the court about the business, or do they either of them believe that the substance of that which is contained in the paper or schedule hereunto annexed to have been ordered by the barons of the court'?

10. In case the witness deposed that Morgan gave Rookes language as claimed in article 7 of the defence, at what time, place and in whose presence did he do so? Did Morgan and Rookes meet by chance on that occasion and did Rookes revile Morgan 'in that manner' as in the libel?

11. In case the witness deposed in support of the 8 and 9 articles of the defence, he was to be asked whether he knew that George and Thomas Rookes were 'at variance about the searchers office, before ever Turberville Morgan came acquainted with Thomas Rookes'? Did 'George Rookes sequestration from the lords commissioners of the Treasury to dispossess his son Thomas Rookes of the office, and did not George Rookes under colour of some pretended deeds use meanes to lay Thomas Rookes in prison before ever Turberville Morgan knew Thomas'? 'Do they or either of them know of any pretended contract; and whether do not they or either of them believe that Turberville Morgan doth claim the searchers office by another title and not by and as from Thomas Rookes'? Did they believe 'the letters patents hereunto annexed to be the title whereby he claimes the office or that Turbeville Morgan obtained the letters patents in relation of anie contract before had and made with Thomas'?

No date.

Signed by Richard Hart.

Summary of proceedings

Dr Hart was counsel for Morgan and Dr Duck for Rookes. On 23 February 1639 Rookes was summoned to appear. Dr Hart presented the libel on 2 April 1639 and produced the witnesses Thomas Frowd and James Watkins to support it. On 10 October 1640 an attachment was granted against Rookes.


George Rooke of Horton was the son of Lawrence Rooke of Monk's Horton and Ursula, daughter of Sir Reginald Scott, knt. George married Mary, daughter of William Burrell of Deptford, co. Kent and Poplar, co. Middlesex, esq. Their son George was aged 7 in 1619-21. No Turberville Morgan appeared in either Visitation.

R. Hovenden (ed.), The Visitation of Kent taken inthe years 1619-21 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 42, 1898), p. 184; G. J. Armytage (ed.), A Visitation of the County of Kent, 1663-8 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 54, 1906), p. 141.

Turberville Morgan was a royalist major of foot and sub governor of Brecon in 1645.

P.R. Newman, Royalist officers in England and Wales, 1642-1660: A biographical dictionary (London, 1981), p. 263.

The Coventry docquets and State Papers provide the details of a lengthy quarrel over the searcher's office. On 22 August 1635 George Rookes and Robert Edwards had been granted the office of searcher for Sandwich during Rookes's life in reversion after his son Thomas Rookes and Andrew Cater surrendered their claim (Coventry Docquets , p. 194). He had then harassed his son out of the office with numerous lawsuits. Turberville Morgan, backed by James, Marquis of Hamilton, and Hugh Lewis procured a grant to take over the office from Thomas Rookes on 23 November 1637(Coventry Docquets , p. 203) which George Rookes contested in Star Chamber and the Exchequer. On 23 May 1638 Hamilton asked Secretary Windebank to intervene on Morgan's behalf, in accordance with the king's wish that the whole issue be settled by law. Rookes obtained an order from the privy council in his favour on 9 January 1639, but the king then intervened and ordered that this decision be suspended because the matter was about to be settled in the Exchequer, which Rookes claimed was false and simply intended to prevent him taking possession of his office. He therefore obtained another order from the council of 27 February 1639 to take possession of the place. Morgan and Lewis petitioned the king on 4 March and he referred the matter to the lord treasurer to determine in the Exchequer. On 16 April 1639 the king issued an order to Juxon from York that the rights of Morgan and Lewis should not be prejudiced by the delays in deciding the case in Exchequer; however, on 15 August, via one of the Masters of Requests, he referred the determining of the matter to the privy council in Star Chamber, to be heard on 11 October. This instruction was then countermanded on 9 October when Hamilton intervened personally to pass on the king's wish that the council forbear further proceeding until his pleasure was known.

CSP Dom. 1637-8 , pp. 100-1, 451; CSP Dom. 1638-9 , pp. 258, 508, 532-3, 633; CSP Dom. 1639 , pp. 44, 530; CSP Dom. 1639-40 , pp. 21-2.

J. Broadway, R. Cust and S. K. Roberts (eds.), A Calendar of the Doquets of Lord Keeper Coventry, 1625-1640 (List and Index Society, special series, 34, 2004), pp. 194, 203.


  • Plaintiff's case
    • Defence interrogatories: 14/3a (2 May 1639)
    • Defence interrogatories: 14/3kk (no date)
  • Defendant's case
    • Plaintiff interrogatories: 14/3mm (no date)
  • Proceedings
    • Proceedings before Arundel: 1/6, fos. 1-9 (23 Feb 1639)
    • Proceedings before Marten: 1/6, fos. 9-12 (2 Mar 1639)
    • Proceedings before Marten: 1/6 (2 Apr 1639)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 8/31 (4 Feb 1640)
    • Proceedings: 1/11, fos. 56r-64v (10 Oct 1640)

People mentioned in the case

  • Bowyer, Francis
  • Braines, Jacob
  • Burrell, Mary
  • Burrell, William, esq
  • Cater, Andrew
  • Dove, Samuel, Captain
  • Duck, Arthur, lawyer
  • Edwards, Robert
  • Felton, John
  • Frowde, Thomas (also Frowd)
  • Hamilton, James, marquess of Hamilton
  • Hart, Richard, lawyer
  • Howard, Henry, baron Maltravers
  • Howard, Thomas, earl of Arundel and Surrey
  • Juxon, William, bishop of London
  • Lewis, Hugh
  • Marten, Henry, knight
  • Matthew, John
  • Morgan, Turberville, gent
  • Pitcher, Edward
  • Powell, Charles
  • Reston, John
  • Rookes, George, gent, the elder (also Rooke)
  • Rookes, George, gent, the younger (also Rooke)
  • Rookes, Lawrence (also Rooke)
  • Rookes, Mary (also Rooke)
  • Rookes, Thomas
  • Rookes, Ursula (also Rooke)
  • Scott, Reginald, knight
  • Scott, Ursula
  • Stuart, Charles I, king
  • Tokeley, Robert
  • Tookeby, Captain
  • Tychbourne, Simon
  • Watkins, James, servant
  • Windebank, Francis, knight

Places mentioned in the case

  • Cambridgeshire
    • Cambridge
  • Kent
    • Deptford
    • Dover
    • Horton
    • Monk's Horton
    • Sandwich
  • London
  • Middlesex
    • Poplar
  • York

Topics of the case

  • allegation of cheating
  • Court of Exchequer
  • denial of gentility
  • military officer
  • office-holding
  • other courts
  • previous litigation
  • privy council
  • royalist
  • sexual insult
  • Star Chamber
  • taxation
  • University of Cambridge