603 Smyth v Wallis

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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'603 Smyth v Wallis', in The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640, (, ) pp. . British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/court-of-chivalry/603-smyth-wallis [accessed 1 March 2024]

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Robert Smyth of Blisland, co. Cornwall, gent v Philip Wallis of the same

May 1636 - December 1638

Figure 603:

St Petroc's church in Bodmin, Cornwall, where, in March 1637 witnesses were summoned to the inn of William Jones to testify on behalf of Robert Smyth (Photograph: Richard Cust)


Smyth complained that Wallis had given him scandalous words provocative of a duel.On 16 February 1637 Dr Duck presented Smyth's libel, and a commission headed by Henry Locket, Professor of Theology, and John Connocke, esq., was appointed to examine Smyth's witnesses 28-30 March 1637 at the inn of William Jones in Bodmin, Cornwall. Wallis prepared interrogatories for this which the court considered scandalous; however, in an affidavit which he drew up with the guidance of Ambrose Mananton, esq., a Cornwall J.P., he explained that he was ignorant of the practice of the court and had taken the advice of a proctor of the archdeacon's court for Cornwall. Wallis also protested that owing to the 'infirmities of his bodie he is not able to travell to London without danger of his life.' On 20 November 1638 Dr Duck and Dr Parry accepted that the cause was to be ended by an agreement of both parties.

Initial proceedings

12/1m, Affidavit [damaged]

'Philip Wallis of Blisland in the county of Cornewall maketh oath that in Lent vacacon last there issued a commission out of his Majestie's honorable Court Military at the instance and of the pa... [damaged] of one Robert Smyth, gent., to examine upon interrogatories to be exhibited concerning... [damaged] scandalous speeches supposed to be spoken by [Wallis] of Smyth, provoking Smyth thereby to a duell, as by the libell exhibited by Smyth is pretended, which commission was... [damaged] executed at Bodmyn in the vacacon.' Wallis 'saying that he being unlearned, and alsoe altogether unacquainted and unskilfull in the practise of the honorable courte, and having noe interrogatories sent downe from his counsell in this cause, a little tyme before the execucon of the commission he repayred to a proctor, of the archdeacon's courte of Cornewall, and desired his advice and direction what he was to doe of his parte at the execucon of the commission, who told him that it was of his parte to exhibite interrogatories to such witnesses as Smyth did produce at the commission, as he beleeved, according to the course of the *the* civill lawe'. Wallis then desired this 'proctor to draw some interrogatories as he thought fitt then to be exhibited who accordinglie did the same, which interrogatories soe drawne, he did exhibit to the commissioners appoynted by the court in that cause. And he sayth that he, being unlearned, did not know when he exhibited the interrogatories, that the same were any way scandalous, having left the same to his proctor's direccon, to whome he referred the drawing of the interrogatories. But confesseth that he hath since heard that the honorable court doth conceave them to be scandalous. And he sayeth that by reason of the rupture which he hath long had, and other infirmities of his bodie, he is not able to travell to London without danger of his life.'

Dated 11 October 1637

Signed by Ambrose Manaton.

Summary of proceedings

Dr Duck acted as counsel for Smyth and Dr Parry for Wallis. There were early proceedings on 9 May 1636 and 11 February 1637. On 16 February 1637 Wallis was warned to appear and Dr Duck presented the libel, which Dr Parry refuted so Dr Duck was required to prove the libel and require the commissioners to examine Smyth's witnesses. The commissioners were Henry Locket, Professor of Theology, John Connocke, William Glynn, esq, Humphrey Lower, gent, and also, George Spry, John Perryman, John Hickes and John Wood, gents. They were to meet from 28 to 30 March 1637 at the inn of William Jones in Bodmin, co. Cornwall. There were further proceedings on 29 April and 18 November 1637. On 20 November 1638 Dr Duck and Dr Parry accepted that the cause was to be ended by an agreement of both parties. Yet there were further proceedings on 28 November and 5 December 1638, when the court moved to hear the verdict of Sir Henry Marten at the next sitting.


Robert Smyth of Trewint in Blisland parish, co. Cornwall, was the son of Thomas Smith of Tregonhawke. He was aged 35 in 1620. Philip Wallis of Sheviock was obliged to disclaim at Bodmin on 30 September 1620.

J. L. Vivian and H. H. Drake (eds.), The Visitation of Cornwall in the year 1620 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 9, 1874), pp. 204, 294.


  • Defendant's case
    • Affidavit: 12/1m (11 Oct 1637)
  • Proceedings
    • Proceedings before Sir Henry Marten: College of Arms MS. 'Court of Chivalry' (act book, 1636-8) [pressmark R.R. 68C] (hereafter 68C), fos. 84r-88v (9 May 1636)
    • Proceedings: 68C, fos. 23r-36v (11 Feb 1637)
    • Proceedings: 68C, fos. 1r-11r (16 Feb 1637)
    • Proceedings: 68C, fos. 37r-41v (29 Apr 1637)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 8/29 (18 Nov 1637)
    • 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. 474r-484v (5 Dec 1638)

People mentioned in the case

  • Connocke, John, esq
  • Duck, Arthur, lawyer
  • Glynn, William, esq
  • Hickes, John, gent
  • Howard, Henry, baron Maltravers
  • Jones, William, innkeeper
  • Locket, Henry, Professor of Theology
  • Lower, Humphrey, gent
  • Manaton, Ambrose, esq (also Mannaton, Manington)
  • Marten, Henry, knight
  • Parry, George, lawyer
  • Perryman, John, gent
  • Smyth, Robert, gent (also Smith)
  • Spry, George, gent
  • Wallis, Philip
  • Wood, John, gent

Places mentioned in the case

  • Cornwall
    • Blisland
    • Bodmin
    • Sheviock
    • Tregonhawke
    • Trewint

Topics of the case

  • arbitration
  • other courts
  • provocative of a duel