559 Rivers v Bowton

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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'559 Rivers v Bowton', in The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640, (, ) pp. . British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/court-of-chivalry/559-rivers-bowton [accessed 21 April 2024]

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Sir John Rivers of Chafford, co. Kent, bart v Thomas Bowton of co. Kent

No date


No documents or proceedings survive for this cause, but Sir Simonds D'Ewes reporting to the Long Parliament 'Committtee on the Constable and Marshall' on 2 December 1640 mentioned Sir John Rivers's complaint that one Bowton had said he could prove himself a better gentleman than Sir John and had threatened to cut off the legs of Sir John's dogs who hunted on his land. D'Ewes recorded that Bowton was committed to prison merely upon Rivers's libel and that he had to give a bond of £100 to appear before the court before he was released.


Sir John Rivers of Chafford, co. Kent, knt and bart (c.1579-1651), was the eldest son of Sir George Rivers of Chafford, and Frances, daughter of William Bowyer of co. Sussex. Educated at Oxford and the Inner Temple, Sir John was created a baronet in 1621. His first wife was Dorothy, daughter of Thomas Potter of Westerham, co. Kent. After 1627 he married Dulcibella, widow of Nicholas Love, D.D. warden of Winchester.

J. Jackson Howard (ed.), The Visitation of London, 1633, 1634 and, 1635, vol. II (Publications of the Harleian Society, 17, 1883), p. 201; G. E. Cokayne (ed.), Complete Baronetage, vol. 1, 1611-1625 (Exeter, 1900), p. 169.

Neither Sir John Rivers nor Thomas Bowton appear among the Visitations of Kent: R. Hovenden (ed.), The Visitation of Kent taken in the years 1619-21 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 42, 1898); G. J. Armytage (ed.), A Visitation of the County of Kent, 1663-8 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 54, 1906).

2 December 1640

'Thomas Bowton dwelling in Kent was peticoned agai[n]st by Sir John Ryvers: The charge in his peticon preferred to the Earle Marshall was that the saied Bowton when the same Sir John hunted on his lands saied hee would cutt offe his dogs leggs; and that he might perhaps prove himselfe as good a gentleman as the other. For this and some other speeches the saied Sir John Ryvers complaining privatelie to the Earle Marshall the saied Bowton was sent for by a messenger, laied hold on and brought upp to London and committed to prison (no libel at all being putt in against him in the Earle Marshalls court) and was enforced before hee could get out of prison, to give securitie by a bonde of an 100£ penaltie to appeare againe whensoever hee should be called for. Divers of the Committee spake to this matter.

Mr Selden spake against this proceedings and shewed it to be most violent uniust and against the Common law of England.'

The following words had been crossed out by D'Ewes:

'I moved in effect following- That by the proceedings whatsoever the free active subjects of England enjoined either by the common law or the Great Charter of Liberties was overthrowen. For first here is his libertie taken away and his bodie imprisoned without anie processe depending...'

Wallace Notestein (ed.), The Journal of Sir Simonds D'Ewes from the beginning of the Long Parliament to the opening of the trial of the Earl of Strafford (New Haven and London, 1923), p. 97.

People mentioned in the case

  • Bowton, Thomas
  • Bowyer, Francis
  • Bowyer, William
  • D'Ewes, Simonds, knight
  • Love, Dulcibella
  • Love, Nicholas
  • Potter, Dorothy
  • Potter, Nicholas
  • Rivers, Dorothy
  • Rivers, Dulcibella
  • Rivers, George, knight and baronet
  • Rivers, John, knight and baronet (also Ryvers)
  • Selden, John

Places mentioned in the case

  • Kent
    • Chafford
    • Westerham
  • London
    • Inner Temple
  • Oxfordshire
    • Oxford
  • Sussex

Topics of the case

  • comparison
  • hunting
  • imprisonment
  • Long Parliament
  • University of Oxford