579 Sanderson v Waytes

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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Ralegh Sanderson of St Martin-in-the-Fields, co. Middlesex, esq, v Henry Waytes of the city of Westminster, esq

June 1638 - February 1639

Figure 579:

Whitehall Palace in the seventeenth century, one of the venues where Ralegh Sanderson claimed to have been insulted by Henry Waytes.


Sanderson complained that in March-May 1638 in Whitehall Palace, in the parishes of St Martin-in-the Fields, Middlesex, and St Margaret, Westminster, Waytes had said that he 'was a base fellow, a base knave, an arrant knave, a cheater, and he would prove me so to all the world; and he would write me so on the wall; and that he would post up my name for a knave'. Sanderson had served as emissary to Gustavus Adolphus, king of Sweden in 1629-30, and after that as high judge marshall. Waytes had been a captain and sergeant major to Ralegh's brother, Colonel Sir Thomas Sanderson, at Smolensk in the Russian service in 1633-4. He complained that he had been gravely provoked when Ralegh Sanderson had given out at the Muscovite court, and in the Emperor's army, that Waytes was indebted to him, for which he would have him imprisoned when he got back to England, and moreover that he was a coward for feigning lameness to avoid a duel with Captain Wilson. Waytes maintained that Sanderson's slanders had led to imprisonment while in Muscovy and dismissal from his brother's service. Given these circumstances, he asked his witnesses 'could a gentleman of his quality...have done or spoken less' than he had. He also alleged that whilst in the Russian service, Sanderson had uttered disgraceful speeches against the Earl of Holland, for which Waytes, who had received 'many noble favours' from the Earl, had openly reproached him.

Sanderson gave his libel on 2 June 1638. By November evidence was being taken from his witnesses and Waytes was required to present his defence. On 5 December Sanderson was required to appear in court to answer the allegation of scandalous words against the Earl of Holland. These were presumably unproven because, after further hearings in January and February 1639, he won the case and Waytes was charged with fines of £500 to the crown, £200 to the plaintiff, and £20 in costs. The severity of the sentence probably reflected that fact that the offence had been committed within the precincts of the royal court.

Initial proceedings

20/2h, Libel

1. He was an emissary from Charles I to Gustavus Adolphus 8 or 9 years ago for 2 years, and after that 6 or 7 years ago was High Judge Marshall for 2 or 3 years. Sanderson's family had been ancient gentry for up to 300 years.

2. Between March and May last in Whitehall Palace, in the parishes of St Martin-in-the Fields, co. Middlesex, and St Margaret's, Westminster, Waytes said that Sanderson 'was a base fellow, a base knave, *an arrant knave*, a cheater, and he would prove me so to all the world; and he would write me so on the wall; and that he would post up my name for a knave'. He further said 'I will write you on the wall for a knave, and I will justifie you to be an arrant knave'.

3. These contemptuous words were provocative of a duel.

Dated 2 June 1638.

Signed by Arthur Duck.

Plaintiff's case

14/2ee, Defence interrogatories

1. Was the witness related to either of the parties and if so by what degree? Was the witness indebted or obliged to either of the parties and if so for how much money?

2. Whether Waytes was a gentleman of ancient descent and had been employed as a Lieutenant-Colonel in the service of the Emperor of Russia, 'and there approved himself for a valiant souldier. Whether Sanderson had uttered 'many disgraceful words in derogation of valour in the Emperor's court in the citie of Moscoe in the kingdome of Muscovia, and reported that he was a coward not to fight or words to that affect.'

3. Whether just before Waytes's return to England, Sanderson had reported that Waytes was indebted to him, and 'speaking disgracefully' said he would 'arrest that fellow Waites' as soon as he returned? At the time of the 'pretended words', had Waytes upbraided Sanderson for his abuse, 'and wondered how he durst come so neere him, and that therefore he had given the cause to call him knave and not otherwise'?

4. Asked Dr Evered and Mr Princrose [sic] whether, if Sanderson had provoked them as he had Waytes, would they not have reacted more than Waytes had;or could a gentleman of his quality, respecting the foresaid abuses, have done or spoken less then Waytes did att the tyme and place'? 'Lett him express what he doeth think or believe in a case of that nature.'

5. 'If he shall depose of the pretended words, upon what day of the month, in what houre of the daye, were the pretended words uttered and what other persons were then and there present and heard the foresaid words uttered by Waytes'?

Introduced 21 June 1638.

Signed by Clere Talbot.

Defendant's case

20/2p, Defence

1. Waytes was from a family of ancient gentry and been on several military expeditions in the service of the king.

2. He undertook military service in the army of the Emperor of Russia 4 or 5 years ago at Smolensk as lieutenant-colonel to Colonel Sir Thomas Sanderson.

3. Whilst Sir Thomas Sanderson was colonel in the army of the Emperor of Russia, and Henry Waytes was a captain and sergeant major, Sir Thomas's brother, Ralegh, 'endeavoured to vilify and disgrace' Waytes 'by false and sinister practices and by slanderous and false informations made and raised by him with an intent to deprive me, or keep me from my place and pay in the service, and did so instigate his brother the colonel against me that I was forced to put myself out of his brother's, the colonel's, command as major, and procured him also to commit me to prison in which I was forced to remain to my great disparagement, hinderance and losse and against the special [command] of the Emperor's General; and this is true, publike and notorious.'

4. Ralegh Sanderson 'instigated one Captaine Wilson to conceive that I had done him wrong and thereupon caused Wilson to give me ill language, upon which his ill language I challenged him to duell; and a time being appointed for our meeting it fell out that, by a fall from my horse, I was so bruised and lame in my body I could not meete him as I intended. And thereupon [Sanderson] in a very disgraceful manner said to many of the army that I was a coward, and that I counterfeited myself lame because I durst not fight with Captaine Wilson; and he uttered divers other disgraceful words of me to that effect, as well amongst the commanders and soldiers in the army as in the Emperor of Russia his, my great scandal and damage. And this is true, publike and notorious.'

5. To make Waytes incapable of holding command, Ralegh Sanderson also gave out among the army at Smolensk, and at the Emperor's court, that Waytes was indebted to him for great sums of money, and said that whenever Waytes returned to England, he would have him arrested and imprisoned for this debt. Sanderson said this in the city of London too before the time of Waytes' 'pretended uttering the pretended words' in the libel. Sanderson even confessed 'that I had before paid him all such moneys as were any way due to him.'

6. Ralegh Sanderson was not only abusive to Wayte, but he did 'use many sinister practices and false suggestions against others, and by reason whereof, and of the premises aforesaid, [Waytes] by all or most of the soldiers as well commanders as others was commonly reputed and taken to be a very dishonest man, and of a very ill condition, and meane reputation, and a stirrer up of sedition and contention amongst them, and so he was usually termed by them.'

7. Ralegh Sanderson, whilst in the Russian service and elsewhere, had also uttered several disgraceful speeches against the earl of Holland, for which Waytes, who had 'received many noble favours' from Holland, reproached him, 'intending when I came over to informe the earl of the said abuses.'

8. If Waytes said at the time and place in the libel that Sanderson was 'a knave,' and that he would justify it, he did it 'out of grief and passion and provocation for [Sanderson's] foresaid several abuses both to me and others, as also for his speeches of the right honourable earle of Holland, and not otherwise.

Dated 29 November 1638.

Signature torn off.

Sentence / Arbitration

EM3171, Sentence

Waytes was charged with fines of £500 to the crown, £200 to the plaintiff, and £20 taxed costs.

No date.

Summary of proceedings

Dr Duck acted as counsel for Sanderson with Dr Talbot for Waytes. On 20 October 1638 warning was issued to the witnesses to submit to examination and Dr Duck was required to prove the libel. On 6 November the examinations of Sanderson's witnesses were published at the petition of Dr Duck. Dr Talbot was to relate material for the defence. On 20 November Dr Talbot was required to relate material for the defence, before hearing the verdict of Sir Henry Marten. On 3 December 1638 the parties were required to appear in person and Waytes's allegations were admitted. Sanderson was to appear again in person concerning scandalous words against the Earl of Holland between 8 and 11 a.m. in the Painted Chamber in the Court of Chivalry on Wednesday 5 December. On 5 December Dr Duck was to publish the testimony of Sanderson's witnesses, while Sanderson and Wayte were both required to appear in person. Dr Duck petitioned to hear sentence. There further proceedings on 28 January, 9 and 21 February 1639.


F. Steer (ed.) Supplement to the Catalogue of the Earl Marshal's Papers at Arundel Castle (Publications of the Harleian Society, 1964), p. 209.

One Ralegh Sanderson was awarded a B.A. from Christ's College, Cambridge in 1603-4.

J. and J. A. Venn (eds.), Alumni Cantabrigienses: from the earliest times to 1751 (Cambridge, 1927), vol. 4, p. 16.

Neither party appeared in the Middlesex Pedigrees or London Visitations: G. J. Armytage (ed.), Middlesex Pedigrees (Publications of the Harleian Society, 65, 1914); J. Jackson Howard and J. L. Chester (eds.), The Visitation of London, 1633, 1634 and, 1635, vol. I (Publications of the Harleian Society, 15, 1880); J. Jackson Howard (ed.), The Visitation of London, 1633, 1634 and, 1635, vol. II (Publications of the Harleian Society, 17, 1883); J. B. Whitmore and A. W. Hughes Clarke (eds.), London Visitation Pedigrees, 1664 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 92, 1940); T. C. Wales and C. P. Hartley (eds.), The Visitation of London begun in 1687 (Publications of the Harleian Society, new series, 16 and 17, 2004).


  • Initial proceedings
    • Libel: 20/2h (2 Jun 1638)
  • Plaintiff's case
    • Defence interrogatories: 14/2ee (21 Jun 1638)
  • Defendant's case
    • Defence: 20/2p (29 Nov 1638)
  • Sentence / Arbitration
    • Sentence: EM3171 (no date)
  • Proceedings
    • Proceedings before Arundel: R.19, fos. 434r-449v (20 Oct 1638)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: R.19, fos. 454r-468v (6 Nov 1638)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: R.19, fos. 400v-412v (20 Nov 1638)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: R.19, fos. 422r-428r(28 Nov 1638)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: R.19, fos. 429v-431v (3 Dec 1638)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: R.19, fos. 474r-484v (5 Dec 1638)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 1/9 (28 Jan 1639)
    • Proceedings: 1/7, fos. 36-47 (9 Feb 1639)
    • Proceedings before Arundel: 1/6, fos. 20-33(21 Feb 1639)

People mentioned in the case

  • Duck, Arthur, lawyer
  • Evered, Dr
  • Habsburg, Ferdinand II, Emperor
  • Howard, Henry, baron Maltravers
  • Howard, Thomas, earl of Arundel and Surrey
  • Princrose, Mr
  • Rich, Henry, earl of Holland
  • Sanderson, Ralegh, esq
  • Sanderson, Thomas, knight
  • Stuart, Charles I, king
  • Talbot, Clere, lawyer
  • Vasa, Gustavus Adolphus, king
  • Waytes, Henry, esq (also Waite, Wayte)
  • Wilson, Captain

Places mentioned in the case

  • Cambridgeshire
    • Cambridge, Christ's College
  • Middlesex
    • St Martin-in-the-Fields
    • St Margaret's, Westminster
    • Whitehall
  • Muscovy
  • Russia
    • Moscow
    • Smolensk
  • Sweden

Topics of the case

  • allegation of cheating
  • allegation of cowardice
  • challenge to a duel
  • denial of gentility
  • military officer
  • office-holding
  • Thirty Years' War
  • University of Cambridge