456 Napper v Moulsworth

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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'456 Napper v Moulsworth', in The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640, (, ) pp. . British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/court-of-chivalry/456-napper-moulsworth [accessed 3 March 2024]

In this section


Robert Napper of Middle Temple, London, esq v Guy Moulsworth of St Andrew's, Holborn, co. Middlesex and William Gartfoote of the Inner Temple, London, gents

April - June 1635

Figure 456:

The Inns of Court, either side of Middle Temple Lane, running down the centre of the picture below Temple Bar. St Dunstan in the West, where Robert Napper was insulted by Guy Moulsworth and William Gartfoote is immediately above (From the plan of London by Ralph Agas, c.1560-1570)


Napper, a student of the Middle Temple, complained that Moulsworth and Gartfoote provoked him to duel in the parish of St Clement Danes, London, in February 1635. The two men were convicted for this in the Earl Marshal's court and imprisoned. On Moulsworth providing bond of £500, they were released in February or March. Soon after, in the parish of St Dunstan-in-the-West, 'in the presence of persons of dignity', they challenged Napper to a duel once again. This incident was linked to an encounter on 16 March 1635 with another Middle Temple student, Thomas Bowen, in which the two men had mocked Bowen for bringing an action against them in the Earl Marshal's court [see cause 59]. Napper and Bowen both presented articles against Moulsworth and Gartfoote on 18 April 1635 and they were being proceeded against for contempt of court in June; but no further proceedings survive.

Initial proceedings

9/4/31, Libel

Robert Napper was descended of gentry and the son of Sir Nathaniel Napper of Mildmarsh Hall, co. Dorset. Guy Moulsworth in February last past in the parish of St Clement Danes provoked Napper to a duel and William Gartfoote in the parish of St Clement Danes and St Dunstan-in-the-West and other neighbouring parishes had been involved in issuing the challenge to fight. During February or March the two men had appeared before the Earl Marshal and on his authority had been imprisoned. A few days later they were released after providing bonds. Then, soon after, in the parish of St Dunstans, in the presence of persons of dignity, they challenged Napper to a duel once again.

Endorsed 18 April 1635.

Summary of proceedings

No counsel was mentioned but in May and June 1635 Moulsworth and Garfoote were required to respond to the libel, and damages, expenses and taxes were also discussed.


Robert Napper was the second son of Sir Nathaniel Napper of Moor Crichell, co. Dorset, knt (d.1635), and Elizabeth, daughter and heir of John Gerrard of Long Hyde in Steeple in the Isle of Purbeck, co. Dorset, esq. Robert was born in c.1610 and was admitted to the Middle Temple on 26 May 1628. He was still alive during the Visitation of 1677. He married three times. His son Robert (b.1656) was created a baronet. William Garfoot, second son of William Garfoot of Ingatestone, co. Essex, was admitted to the Inner Temple in November 1632.

J. P. Rylands (ed.), The Visitation of Dorsetshire, 1623 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 20, 1885); p. 74; G. D. Squibb (ed.), The Visitation of Dorset, 1677 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 117, 1977), p. 49; H. A. C. Sturgess (ed.), Register of Admissions to the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple, vol. 1, 1501-1781 (London, 1949), p. 120; W. H. Cooke (ed.), Students admitted to the Inner Temple, 1547-1660 (London, 1877), p. 271.

Guy Moulsworth may have been related to the family of Moulsworth mentioned in the visitation of 1634. A Guy Moldsworth was a professional soldier serving in the Bishops Wars and later in Ireland.He became a royalist lieutenant-colonel of horse and then a major general under Sir Richard Grenville. After he surrendered at Pendennis, co. Cornwall in 1646, he travelled to Barbados where his principal estate lay.

J. J. Howard (ed.), The Visitation of London, 1633, 1634 and 1635, vol. II (Publications of the Harleian Society, 17, 1883), p. 116; P. R. Newman, Royalist officers in England and Wales, 1642-1660: A biographical dictionary (London, 1981), p. 258.


  • Initial proceedings
    • Libel: 9/4/31 (18 Apr 1635)
  • Proceedings
    • Proceedings: EM348 (9 May 1635)
    • Proceedings: EM349 (30 May 1635)
    • Proceedings before Arundel: 8/24 (9 Jun 1635)
    • Proceedings before Huntingdon: 8/25 (20 Jun 1635)
    • Undated proceedings: R.19, fos. 390-399 (c. Jun 1635)

People mentioned in the case

  • Bowen, Thomas, gent
  • Dethick, Gilbert, registrar
  • Duck, Arthur, lawyer
  • Gartfoote, William, gent (also Garfoote)
  • Gerrard, Elizabeth
  • Gerrard, John
  • Grenville, Richard, knight
  • Hastings, Henry, earl of Huntingdon
  • Howard, Thomas, earl of Arundel and Surrey
  • Moulsworth, Guy, gent (also Moldsworth)
  • Napper, Elizabeth
  • Napper, Nathaniel, knight
  • Napper, Robert, baronet
  • Napper, Robert, esq

Places mentioned in the case

  • Cornwall
    • Pendennis
  • Dorset
    • Isle of Purbeck
    • Steeple
    • Mildmarsh Hall
    • Moor Crichell
  • Essex
    • Ingatestone
  • Ireland
  • London
    • Inner Temple
    • Middle Temple
    • St Clement Danes
    • St Dunstan-in-the-West
  • Middlesex
    • St Andrew's, Holborn
    • Westminster
  • West Indies

Topics of the case

  • Bishops' Wars
  • challenge to a duel
  • civil war
  • inns of court
  • military officer
  • royalist