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472 OFFICE OF THE JUDGE V FREEMAN
Office of the Judge v Edward Freeman of Blockley, co. Worcester, gent
June 1637 - February 1638
This was a cause of contempt in which the court charged Freeman with abusing the commissioner Thomas Child, esq, at the commission for hearing witnesses on 27 March 1637, at the White Hart Inn, Moreton in the Marsh, Gloucestershire, in another case between his father, William Freeman, and Robert Hartell [see cause 226]. In addition to his role as commissioner Child was Hartell's landlord and one of his witnesses. Freeman believed that Child had prevented a settlement of the earlier case and was encouraging Hartell's action for contempt. He maintained that Child, who had himself been drinking, provoked him by saying that he was drunk, and that his father, William Freeman, had taken his lands from Hartell's father 'by oppression and violence'. He also dared Freeman to fight, saying 'I would thou durst hold up thy finger against me. I have enough belowe staires will pay thee'. Freeman maintained that he declined Child's challenge, pointing out that he was armed only with his 'riding rod' which he then let fall on the table. Proceedings were under way by June 1637 and Dr Duck presented material for the defence in December. The case was still going on in February 1638, but no indication of sentence survives.
EM54, Response of Edward Freeman
He was commanded by his father to attend the commissioners. When he arrived at the inn, he met the host as soon as he dismounted. The host and the chamberlain took him into a room in the inn. After a while he realised that the commissioners on the part of Hartell and the notary public were in the next room. He stayed in this room with one of his father's commissioners for 2 or 3 hours before the commissioners 'began to speed the commission.' As the commissioners began, and before any witnesses were examined, Mr Child came to him and desired him to leave the house which he did, going out into the fields for 4 or 5 hours. When he returned he was told the commissioners were asking for him and he went into the abovementioned room, believing the commissioners to have ended for the day. He found the commissioners 'drinking wine and tobacco together', and as he went in, Mr Child said, 'Mr Freeman, we have wanted your company here; and then Mr Child wished an end between [Freeman and Hartell]'. Freeman answered that 'he thought that if there had not been some ill advice there might have been an end before this time, and that he believed somebody did countenance Hartell and Page in this cause'. Mr Child replied, 'Do you think it me'? Freeman answered,'It may be so'. And then Mr Child suddenly approached Freeman and asked him, 'What will you strike me'? Freeman replied, 'I am not so uncivill; and do you see this, I have no weapon but this (holdeing up a little riding rodd by both ends between his hands, and presently letting the same fall on the table)'. Otherwise Freeman did not believe 'this pretended matter of contempt to bee true in any part thereof'. Freeman and Mr Child 'talked privately in the room together, and parted friendly.'
Dated 10 June 1637
Signed by Edward Freeman.
3/169, Plaintiff's bond
28 June 1637
Bound to appear 'in the Court in the painted Chamber within the Pallace of Westminster'.
Signed by Robert Dover of Barnard's Inn, London, gent, on behalf of Hartill.
Sealed, subscribed and delivered in the presence of John Watson.
14/1t, Defence interrogatories
1. The witnesses were warned of the penalty for perjury and bearing false witness. What was the age, occupation and condition of the witness? How long had the witness known the parties in this case?
2. Was the witness 'allied or kindred to Hartell', or a solicitor for him? Did they wish Hartell the victory?
3. Was Mr Child 'a pretended witness in this cause', the landlord to Hartell 'at the time of speeding the commission'? Were Mr Child and Mr Baldwyn, two of Hartell's witnesses, also nominated by Hartell as commissioners?
4. Was the room where the 'pretended' words in the libel were spoken a separate room from the chamber where 'the commission was sped'?
5. Was the room where the 'pretended' words in the libel were spoken 'appointed unto him by the host or some other of the house; and did not Mr Freeman dine there, and take it for his own private chamber'?
6. When Freeman was gone, did Mr Child and others go into his room and take tobacco? Were any of the witnesses examined in that room, 'or at the time when Mr Freeman came into the room'?
7. Did Freeman's arrival in the room disturb or hinder the commissioners' proceedings? Were they at that time 'broken off from their business of the commission and gone into the next room to refresh themselves'?
8. Did Mr Child provoke Freeman to fight with him in that room, telling Freeman that he was overcome with drunkenness, and daring Freeman to strike him, saying: 'I would thou durst hold up thy finger against me. I have enough belowe staires will pay thee'?
9. Did Mr Child deliver 'uncivil words' against Freeman's father saying he had gained his lands from Hartell's father 'by oppression and violence'? Did Mr Freeman 'reply in modest terms telling him he desired such words might not pass between them'?
10. Had Mr Child 'animated and abetted' Hartell's cause to promote articles against Mr Freeman? Would Hartell have ever begun the suit without Child's 'meanes and procurement'?
11. [Faded] Did Freeman hold up his 'riding rodd' to strike Child, or whether he 'let it fall upon the table, as shewing he never intended to'?
8 articles, entirely in Latin.
Dated 11 December 1637.
Before Dr Tucker and Dr Duck.
Summary of proceedings
Dr Tooker acted as counsel for Hartell and Dr Duck for Freeman. On 14 October 1637 the witnesses were warned to submit to examination. Dr Duck began producing material for the defence from 31 October, finally presenting the defence on 22 December, but the case was still depending in February 1638.
This is most unusual as Hartell was described as a yeoman, but this was allowable in a case of contempt.
According to the visitation of 1634, William Freeman was the son of John Freeman of Blockley and Ursula, daughter of William Warmestre of Worcester. He was born before 1594 and he married Elizabeth, daughter and heir of William Greenwich of Tedstone, co. Hereford. His eldest son, William Freeman, was aged 23 in 1634, and his second son, Edward Freeman studied at Gray's Inn, and married Elizabeth, daughter of John Symes of Melcombe, co. Dorset.
A. T. Butler (ed.), The Visitation of Worcestershire, 1634 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 90, 1938), pp. 35-6.
- Initial proceedings
- Freeman's response: EM54 (10 Jun 1637)
- Plaintiff's bond: 3/169 (28 Jun 1637)
- Plaintiff's case
- Defence interrogatories: 14/1t (no date)
- Defendant's case
- Defence: 17/3b (11 Dec 1637)
- Proceedings before Arundel: 8/26 (14 Oct 1637)
- Proceedings before Maltravers: 8/27 (14 Oct 1637)
- Proceedings before Maltravers: 8/28 (31 Oct 1637)
- Proceedings before Maltravers: 1/3 (18 Nov 1637)
- Proceedings before Maltravers: 8/30 (28 Nov 1637)
- Proceedings before Arundel: 1/5, fos. 38-56 (12 Feb 1638)
People mentioned in the case
- Baldwyn, Mr
- Child, Thomas, esq (also Childe)
- Dover, Robert, gent
- Duck, Arthur, lawyer
- Freeman, Edward, gent
- Freeman, Elizabeth
- Freeman, John
- Freeman, Ursula
- Freeman, William the elder, gent
- Freeman, William, the younger, gent
- Greenwich, Elizabeth
- Greenwich, William
- Howard, Henry, baron Maltravers
- Howard, Thomas, earl of Arundel and Surrey
- Hartell, Robert, yeoman (also Hartwell)
- Page, John
- Symes, Elizabeth
- Symes, John
- Tooker, Charles, lawyer
- Warmestre, Ursula
- Warmestre, William
- Watson, John
Places mentioned in the case
- Barnard's Inn
Topics of the case
- cause of office
- challenge to a duel
- contempt of court
- inns of court