591 Sheldon v Burge

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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Walter Sheldon of Kilmersdon, co. Somerset, gent v John Burge the younger, of the same, attorney

October 1635


Sheldon complained that Burge had in the open street in Kilmersdon, Somerset, called him 'a poore fellowe, and said that he esteemed the dogge at his heeles better' and that he would have Sheldon 'in Ilchester gaole within a month'. He also, allegedly, said that his father 'was a base fellow and a crab.' Sheldon, a former secretary to the earl of Bolingbroke and Lady Saye and Sele, maintained that the quarrel had arisen because of 'some spoile and injury done upon their honours' lands' in Kilmersdon and because he had assisted poor men against the 'unjust oppressions' of Burge. Sheldon's petition was dated 20 October 1635, but no further proceedings survive.

Initial proceedings

Cur Mil 1631-1642, fo. 20, Petition

'Your petitioner was 6 yeares secretary to the right honourable Oliver, earle of Bolingbrooke, who afterwards preferred him to his mother in law, Elizabeth, Lady Saye and Sele, where he spent 4 yeares and then purchased of her a lease for 21 years of the manor or farme of Kilmersdon; and the Lady Saye and Seale being since dead, your petitioner is now tenant and servant to the earle of Bolingbrooke and his countess. And your petitioner, endeavouring according to his duty to redress some spoile and injuryes done upon their honours' lands, and to assist poore men against the unjust oppressions of one John Burges, an attorney at lawe, and a very turbulent person in that countrey, Burges, bearing spleene therefore to your petitioner, and meeting him in the open street in Kilmersdon, did publiquelie and maliciouslie revile and reproach your petitioner saying that he was a poore fellowe; and that he esteemed the dogge at his heeles better than he did your petitioner; and said your petitioner's father was a base fellow and a crab; and that he would have your petitioner in Ilchester gaole within a month after, with many other like scandalous and disgraceful terms as will appear to your lordship by good proof. And since that time hath abetted and animated one Richard Webb, and other lewd persons, to abuse and injure your petitioner, his wife and children. Now the petitioner being a gentleman of ancient descent and famelie, and by these publique affronts and disgraceful words of Burges being extreamlie wronged in his reputacon, and having noe meanes, but by your lordship's noble favour to right himself, most humblie beseecheth your lordship (of your accustomed favour and goodness) to be pleased to call before your honour John Burges to answer his misdemeanours, and to do your petitioner such right as in your honor's wisdome shall be thought meete.

And he as in duty bound shall ever pray and c.'

20 October 1635.

Signed by Dr Talbot.

7/64, Title of cause

No date

'Walter Sheldon of Kilmersdon in the county of Somerset, gent., complaineth of John Burge, junior, late of Kilmersdon, the sonn of John Burgis of Lentney in the parish of Wriglinton [Writhlington] in the county aforesaid, husbandman'.


Neither party appeared in the Visitations of Somerset: 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: Cur Mil 1631-42, fo. 20 (20 Oct 1635)
    • Title of cause: 7/64 (no date)

People mentioned in the case

  • Burge, John, attorney (also Burges, Burgis)
  • Fiennes, Elizabeth, viscountess Saye and Sele
  • St John, Oliver, earl of Bolingbroke
  • Sheldon, Walter, gent
  • Talbot, Clere, lawyer
  • Webb, Richard

Places mentioned in the case

  • Somerset
    • Ilchester
    • Kilmersdon
    • Lentney
    • Writhlington

Topics of the case

  • denial of gentility
  • trespass