501 Paradine v Flower

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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Robert Paradine of Bedminster, co. Somerset, gent v Henry Flower, of Keynsham, co. Somerset, gent and John Stibbins of the same, yeoman

June 1637 - October 1638


Paradine complained that despite having been offered full satisfaction, Flower had prosecuted him in Chancery and Common Pleas for trespassing on his lands while out hunting. Flower intended to put this disgrace upon him 'publiquely on record', styling him yeoman and placing his name between those of his servants 'by way of scorne and derision'. Stibbins and Flower maintained that Paradine was unfit to prosecute them because his father had been a tradesman and he himself an apprentice. Process was granted on 31 June 1637 and on 31 October Dr Duck was required to prove the commission under threat of its dismissal next session. The case continued for at least another year, but no indication of sentence survives.

Initial proceedings

EM53, Petition

Recited that he was descended from an ancient family in Bedfordshire but had an estate of £500 near Bristol. While hunting with Mr Popham and other neighbours, a trespass was committed on the lands of John Stibbins and Henry Flower, an attorney at law 'to whome your petitioner offered full satisfaction of any trespass done'. But Flower then brought several actions against Paradine and two of his servants, with Paradine's name placed between those of his servants 'by way of scorne and derision' in their process both in the Courts of Chancery and Common Pleas. This public affront had damaged his reputation for Stibbins and Flower sought to put this disgrace upon him 'publiquely on record' and 'otherwise have entitled him by the name of yeoman'.

Petitioned that Flower and Stibbins be brought to answer.

Arundel granted process on 3 June 1637.

3/181, Defendant's bond

Described Stibbins as of Stockwood, co. Somerset, yeoman.

20 June 1637

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

Signed by John Stibbins [his mark].

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

7/95, Plaintiff's bond

30 June 1637

Bound to duly prosecute his suit in the court in the painted chamber, Palace of Westminster.

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

R.19, fo. 26r, Summary of libel

'I, Robert Paradine and my Ancestors for above 300 years past is and have bin gentlemen and that I am lord of one or more manors and have lands and rents sufficient to support the quality *and state* of a gentleman. And that Stibbins and Flower in London, Westminster and Bristol or other places neare, in words and writings, affirmed and declared that I was no gentleman, but a yeoman. Also that in the terms of Michaelmas, Hilary, Easter, or one of them, Stibbins and Flower did obtaine divers writs out of divers Courts at Westminster original writs, capias alias, capias et plures capias et exigens and c. out of the Court of Comon Pleas, to the contumely and ignominy of me and my family and thereby to provoke and c.'

Third session, Trinity term [June], 1637.

No signature.

3/100, Defendant's bond

Described Paradine as of the city of Bristol, gent, Flower as of the Inner Temple, gent, and Stibbins as a yeoman.

6 November 1637

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

Signed by Henry Flower.

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

15/1s, Exhibit

Latin document in a very old-fashioned hand, which described Robert Paradine in one place as of Bedminster and a gentleman, but in another as of the city and county of Bristol, and as a yeoman.

John Pynsent, an attorney also mentioned.

13 February 12 Chas I

15/1s, Exhibit

Latin document in a very old-fashioned hand

As above, but for Stibbins

13 February 12 Chas I

[Overleaf] 'Exhibitum Parradine 2 June 1638'

Plaintiff's case

14/2dd, Defence interrogatories

Described Stibbins as a yeoman of Stockwood, co. Somerset, yeoman and Flower as of Keynsham, co. Somerset and the Inner Temple, gent.

1. The witnesses were warned of the penalty for perjury and bearing false witness. How did the witness know the parties in this cause? Was the witness related and if so by what degree?

2. Had the witness been a solicitor for Paradine in any common law suits, now depending between the parties, and had he paid any fees for Paradine?

3. Did he know Paradine's father, where he dwelt, and of 'what condition' he lived? Did he know Paradine's father was a tradesman, of what trade, and whether in London or elsewhere?

4. Was Paradine ever bound apprentice to a trade, and had he ever subsequently set himself up in trade?

5. Where had Paradine been born and been resident?

Introduced 8 June 1638.

Signed by Clere Talbot.

Summary of proceedings

Dr Duck acted as counsel for Paradine and Dr Talbot for Stibbins and Flower. On 31 October 1637 Dr Duck was required to prove the commission under threat of its dismissal next session. On 20 October 1638, the witness Warren was warned to submit to examination, and the verdict of Sir Henry Marten was to be heard.


F. W. Steer, A Catalogue of the Earl Marshal's Papers at Arundel Castle (London, 1964), p. 9.

Neither party appeared in the Visitations of Somerset of 1623 and 1672: F. T. Colby (ed.), The Visitation of the County of Somerset in the year 1623 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 11, 1876); G. D. Squibb (ed.), The Visitation of Somerset and the City of Bristol, 1672 (Publications of the Harleian Society, new series, 11, 1992).


  • Initial proceedings
    • Petition: EM53 (3 Jun 1637)
    • Defendant's bond: 3/181 (20 Jun 1637)
    • Plaintiff's bond: 7/95 (30 Jun 1637)
    • Summary of libel: R.19, fo. 26r (Tri 1637)
    • Defendant's bond: 3/100 (6 Nov 1637)
    • Exhibit: 15/1s (13 Feb 1638)
    • Exhibit: 15/1s (13 Feb 1638)
  • Plaintiff's case
    • Defence interrogatories: 14/2dd (8 Jun 1638)
  • Proceedings
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 8/27 (14 Oct 1637)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 8/28 (31 Oct 1637)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 8/29 (18 Nov 1637)
    • Proceedings before Arundel: R.19, fos. 434r-449v (20 Oct 1638)

People mentioned in the case

  • Duck, Arthur, lawyer
  • Flower, Henry, gent
  • Howard, Henry, baron Maltravers
  • Howard, Thomas, earl of Arundel and Surrey
  • Marten, Henry, knight
  • Paradine, Robert, gent
  • Popham, Mr
  • Pynsent, John, attorney
  • Stibbins, John, yeoman
  • Talbot, Clere, lawyer
  • Terrick, Humphrey
  • Warren

Places mentioned in the case

  • London
    • Inner Temple
  • Middlesex
    • Westminster
  • Somerset
    • Bedminster
    • Keynsham
    • Stockwood

Topics of the case

  • allegation of tradesman status
  • Court of Chancery
  • Court of Common Pleas
  • denial of gentility
  • hunting
  • inns of court
  • other courts
  • previous litigation