610 Southcott v Crossen

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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'610 Southcott v Crossen', in The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640, (, ) pp. . British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/court-of-chivalry/610-southcott-crossen [accessed 4 March 2024]

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610 SOUTHCOTT V CROSSEN

Sir Popham Southcott of Bovey Tracey, co. Devon, knt v Thomas Crossen of the city of Exeter, merchant

January 1639 - February 1640

Figure 610:

The Elizabethan Guildhall in Exeter where Thomas Crossen was serving as Mayor at the time of his encounter with Sir Popham Southcott in September 1639 (Photograph: Richard Cust)

Abstract

Southcott, a south Devon J.P., petitioned the king that in September 1638 he had been insulted by Crossen, the mayor of Exeter, who had denied him assistance in executing letters patent concerning his soap monopoly in Exeter. On 19 January 1639 the king passed Southcott's complaint to the Earl Marshal's court. There, Southcott complained that Crossen had challenged him for 'wearing his hatt before him' and denigrated the honour of knighthood, saying that he was 'a better man than hee that yeare, and as good a man as hee at all other times', adding that 'it is a great piece of matter to be a knight nowadays' and that he 'was able to take up two such knights as Sir Popham was, one upon one shoulder, and the other upon the other, and to throw them of[f] both.' He had also allegedly declared that he was 'able to buy Sir Popham out of all he had with all his clowtes, and bid him go swagger in his country, thatch alehouses', and said 'that a veryer scum of base rascalls than those that followed mee were not to be found', and that 'they were worse than the tin bailiffs'. The confrontation had occurred outside Crossen's house in Exeter in the presence of Southcott and his servants, the town clerk and a justice of the peace, after Southcott had gone to request Crossen's assistance in collecting his soap duty of 6d per 12lbs. from the wife of John Glide. Crossen denied Southcott's libel, claiming that he had offered to send sheriffs, constables and sergeants to assist Southcott, but he and his servants had insisted, 'in a high, commandinge, collericke way', that he attend in person even though he had other important business for the king. He had, he claimed, simply remonstrated in a civil way, 'Sir Popham you forget yourself to require the mayor of Exeter to go with you'.

Southcott's witnesses were examined by a commission consisting of Anthony Short, Professor of Theology, James Forbes, clerk, and William Long, gent, on 9 July 1639 at the inn of Thomas Beard of Newton Abbot, Devon, and again on 13 August 1639 at the house of John Harte in St Thomas's parish. The plaintiff's only two witnesses were his servants who acknowledged that on other occasions the mayor had given Southcott the assistance he required. The sentences survive but neither has the sums entered, which suggests that the case was dismissed in Crossen's favour. This was one of a series of actions brought by Southcott in an effort to enforce his monopoly in Exeter and Somerset.

Initial proceedings

7/25, Petition and order from Thomas Aylesbury

'To the King's most ex[cellent] Matie., the humble peticon of Sir Popham Southcott, Kt., your Majestie's servant

Sheweth, that your pet[itione]r by virtue of your Majestie's letters pattents under the great seale of England requiringe one Tho. Crossen, gent., then maior of the citty of Exeter, to assist him in your Majestie's service, the maior not onely refused and plainely denyed his assistance, but held your pet[itione]r and his deputies in scorne and contempt, using words and gestures tendinge greatly to provocation, vilifienge and abaseinge the dignity of knighthood conferred by your Majestie in a most abject and uncivill manner. And forasmuch as private quarrels and revenge becomes not your Majestie's service, nor servants as utterly prohibited and discountenanced by you, and that your pet[itione]r for the present lyes remediles render the burden of this disgrace and the ill consequences thereof, hee humbly prayes your Majestie that Thomas Crossen may answer the premises at large before your Majestie at the councell board; or that the right hoble the Earl Marshall of England may receive your Majestie's favourable direccons for the pet[itione]r's sueinge on your Majestie's behalfe in the court military for satisfaccon, as well for personal injuries, as other damages sustained in the service. And andc.

'At the Court at Whytehall, January 19th 1639

His Majestie is gratiously pleased to referre it to the right hoble the Earl Marshall of England to bee duely informed of the pet[itione]r's personal injuries, as alsoe of the hinderance of his Majesties service consequent thereupon, and to take such order for redresse and satisfaccion as in his wisdome shalbee thought fitt in a case of this nature'

Signed by Thomas Aylesbury.

Acta (4), fo. 12, Libel

Libel of Southcott who held the soap patent in Devon and Exeter that Crossen, who was mayor of Exeter, 'offred me when I came to require his ayde in the exequting of the kings l[ette]]res. patents then shewed unto him, whether I had no more manners than to require the king's lieutenant, and challenged mee for wearing my hatt before him hee being this year .......and at all tymes and in any place as good a man as I; said that a veryer scum of base rascalls than those that followed mee were not to be found againe; they were worse than the [tin bailif]fs. Hee made comparisons with mee, vilifying the dignity of knighthood, most rudely squirting, pughing and saying it was greate piece of matter to bee a knight now, sayd that he w[as able] to take up two such as I was one on the bone shoulder and another on the other shoulder, and throwe them of both; that hee the sayd Thomas was able to buy mee out of all I had [with a]ll my clowts, badd me goe and swagger in my countrey, thatcht alehouses, and threatened to send mee to the gaole; and during the time of such his reproachfull speeches he walked up and [down]echafing and stamping and expressing lookes and gestures full of scorne, contempt and indignation'.

No date.

No signatures.

R.19, fo. 18, Summary of libel

'Sir Popham having obtained the letters patent from his Majestie to him and his assignees for making and ordering the making of soape within the county of Devon andc.; and all mayors, justices, sheriffs andc., being commanded by the letters patents to be ayding and assisting to Sir Popham and his agents in promoting the same, as occasion should be, Sir Popham repairing to Crossen (then mayor of the city of Exeter) to have his assistance andc, and shewing him the letters patents, Crossen asked him, whether he had no more manners than to require the king's lieutenant, challenged Sir Popham for wearing his hatt before him, he being then a better man, and at all times and in any place as good a man as he, and threatened to send him to the gaole, and thereby to provoke and c.'

1639

No signature.

18/1s, Personal answer

1-2. He believed these to be true.

3. He was chosen and sworn as mayor of Exeter around Michaelmas 1637 and exercised the office until Michaelmas 1638.

4-6. 'That on a Friday in August and September 1638, in the forenoon, Sir Popham Southcote with two of his servants came to his house in Exeter, and then and there Sir Popham Southcote required his personal assistance to go in person with them to the soap makers in Exeter or some of them, and offered to show his commission; and Crossen said he had seen his commission before, and had assisted him according to it, and so he was ready then to do, but being then mayor there and the king's lieutenant, he thought Sir Popham would not desire he should goe in person, but would be satisfied if he did send the constables and other such officers with him, to which Sir Popham replied he was afraid of violence and of danger of his life'. Crossen 'then said he should have the sheriffs of Exeter and under sheriffs for his assistance, with 4 or 5 constables and sergeants, which he had accordingly, and otherwise doth not believe the positions to be true in any part of them, expressly denying that he did speak any words in derogation of Sir Popham Southcote's knighthood, or of knighthood in general, or of or concerning the estate or wealth of Sir Popham, or of his own estate, or any words tending to any comparison about there estate, or that he there and then spake any words concerning committing or laying by the heeles of any man'. When one of Sir Popham's servants complained that Crossen had neglected to give him assistance in the soap business on an earlier occasion, Crossen produced two or three city officers who refuted the servant's claims. Crossen then said to that fellow 'do you not deserve to be layed by the heeles for this'?

7. 'He said the premises preconfessed are true and otherwise he doth not believe the position to be true in any part.'

No date.

No signatures.

Plaintiff's case

Acta (4), fo. 23, Letters commissory for the plaintiff

Addressed to commissioners Anthony Shorte, Professor of Theology, gent, William Scoell, gent, James Forbesse, clerk, William Tothe, gent, Peter Southill gent, William Longe, gent, and Samuel Isacke, gent, to meet from 8 to 10 July 1639 in the inn of Thomas Beard, Newton Abbot, co. Devon.

Dated 15 June 1639

Signed Humphrey Terrick and Thomas Paine.

Acta (4), fo. 22, First set of defence interrogatories [damaged]

1. The witnesses were warned of the penalty for perjury and bearing false witness. What was their age, occupation and condition? Where had their lived all their lives?

2. Was the witness related to Southcott, and if so in what degree? Was the witness indebted to Southcott and if so for how much? Was the witness a tenant or farmer to Southcott and if so for what property?

3. Was the witness a household servant or retainer of Southcott's and for what wages?

4. Exactly when and where the words were spoke, and in whose presence? 'Lett every such witness as fare as he cann, sett downe the very formall words themselves, then and there spoken, rather then the like words in effect'.

5. Was Crossen provoked and by whom?

6. Was Crossen mayor of Exeter when he spoke the words?

7. 'Whether at such time and place, as such wittnes shall depose of some or some one of the servants or followers of Sir Popham Southcote then and there present, did say thus or to this effect vizt that he Mr Crossen had denied or neglected to give Sir Popham Southcote assistance concerninge the soape business, when Sir Popham had formerly desired it, whereupon Mr Crossen, then and there presently commanded of some of the officers of the Cittie then and there resent, whither that which was then spoken by the servant or follower of Sir Popham Southcote were not untrue? And did not all the officers or most or some of them then and there affirme that it was untrue? And what did Mr Crossen then and there say to the servant or follower of Sir Popham Southcote'?

8. Was not Crossen during his mayoralty very ready to assist Southcott in the soap business?

9. Speak the truth of what you know, believe or have heard.

No date.

Signed by Thomas Eden.

Acta (4), fo. 21, Second set of defence interrogatories

1. Did Sir Popham Southcott 'in a high, commandinge, collericke way' require Crossen to assist him in person concerning the soap business? Had Crossen at that time other very important business for the king? Had Crossen appointed the high sheriff, under-sheriffs and other civic officers to assist Southcott, and did these officers assist Southcott accordingly?

2. Had Popham's servants 'collerickely, and in a hastie and rough way often required and commanded Mr Crossinge... to assist them; and whether they being first tould that for the present the maior had businesse of great importance for his Majestie's service, Sir Popham's servants did uncivilly behave themselves in the exequcon of his Majestie's commission towards the maior; and in what manner, and let him declare and express every particular thereof'?

3. Speak the truth of what you know, believe or have heard.

No date.

Signed by Thomas Eden.

Acta (4), fos. 13-18, Plaintiff depositions

Taken before commissioners Anthony Short, Professor of Theology, James Forbesse, clerk, and William Long, gent, on 9 July 1639 in the inn of Thomas Beard of Newton Abbot, co. Devon with Thos. Payne notary public.

Also taken before Thomas Johnson, clerk, Short, Forbesse and Long on 13 August 1639 in the house of John Harte in St Thomas's parish.

fos. 14r-16v (Witness 1), Bernard Luxton of Brushford, co. Devon, gent, aged 23

To Southcott's libel:

4-6 'Sir Popham Southcott having obtayned his Matie's letters patentes for the ordering of soape within the county of Devon, and city and county of Exon., and some of the inhabitants of the city having resisted Sir Popham and his servants (whereof [Luxton] was then one) when they came to seize upon some soape for not payment of HM duties, Sir Popham Southcott in or about Sept 1638 went unto Thomas Crossing, being then mayor of Exeter, at his house... and shewed him his majestie's letters patent and required the mayor's aid assistance in searching for such soap as was unduly made by one John Glide in not paying HM duties. Whereunto Thomas Crossing then and there replied and asked Sir Popham Southcott whether he had noe manners then to require the king's lieutenant'. Crossing then told Sir Popham that he was for that year a better man than Southcott was 'and afterwards as good a man at all tymes and places; and that there could not be found a veryer scum of rascalls than those that then followed Sir Popham Southcott; and that they were worse than the tin bailiffs, saying likewise that it was great peece of matter to be a knight nowe a dayes, that it was; and further said that Mr Crossing was able to take upp two such knights one upon one shoulder and another upon another and throw them off both, and that he was able to buy Sir Popham Southcott out of all he had withall his clowtes and bad him goe swagger in his countrey, thatcht alehouses. And Mr Crossing saying to this witness that he would set him by the heeles. Sir Popham Southcott replied that he should rather send him to the goale. Whereunto Mr Crossing answered that he would send Sir Popham Southcott also to the goale if he found cause for it to this witness's now best remembrance'. Then Crossing 'walked upp and downe in a chafing and angry manner'. David Barry and Samuel Isaac, town clerk of Exeter and one of the justices of the city, and one of the sergeants of the city were also present.

To Crossen's first set of interrogatories:

3. This witness had been a household servant and clerk to Southcott for about a year and worn his livery. He received no wages from Southcott and Southcott was also a J.P.

6. At the confrontation Southcott asked Crossen whether he denied assistance to his then servant Luxton. Crossen replied that he had not denied assistance, whereupon Luxton told Crossen 'that he formerly denyed his warrant unto the constables for assistance'. Then Crossen told Luxton 'that he would set him by the heeles as he hath formerly deposed'.

7. When Luxton accused Crossen of denying him assistance Crossen 'asked one then being present whether it were not untrue, whereunto the party soe demaunded answered that it was untrue upon which answer Thomas Crossen said that he would lay Luxton by the heels'.

To Crossen's second set of interrogatories:

1. After these exchanges had taken place 'the sheriff and other attendants of the city at the command' of Crossen 'did assist Sir Popham Southcott in or about the businesse of the soape'.

Signed by Bernard Luxton and by commissioners Short, Forbesse and Longe.

fos. 16v-18v (Witness 2), David Barry of Bovey Tracey, Devon, born at Castle Lyons, co. Cork, Ireland, aged 28

To Southcott's libel:

4-6. In September 1638 'Sir Popham Southcote, knt., having letters patent from the king's Maty about the ordering of soape within the county of Devon, and city and county of Exeter, upon some resistance made by one John Glide's wife of the city against Sir Popham Southcote and his agents, in the requiring of his Matie's dewties about the making of soape, went unto Mr Thomas Crossing, then maior of the city of Exeter at his house within the city, and shewed unto him his Matie's letters patents'.

There were present two citizens whom 'he conceived to be justices of peace of the city and one other officer'. The rest as witness 1.

To Crossen's first set of interrogatories:

1. He lived at Upottery for about 14 years before he dwelt at Bovey Tracey and the residue of his time in Ireland.

3. For about two years 'he hath beene and is household servant unto Sir Popham Southcott, hath and doth weare his livery' and received annual wages of £4.

7. During his mayoralty Mr Crossing did 'divers tymes by his officers assist Sir Popham Southcott and his deputies about the soap busines'

Signed by David Barry and by commissioners Short, Forbesse and Longe.

Acta (4), fo. 19, Notary public's certificate

Certificate in Latin signed by Thomas Payne, notary public that the above examinations had been completed and were now being returned.

30 September [1639].

Defendant's case

R.19, fo. 21r, Summary of defence

'Thomas Crossing, one of the aldermen of the city of Exeter, defendant, against the libel of Sir Popham Southcott, knt, sayes that at the time and place in the libel when the letters patents were shewed him, he did shew great regard and respect and did yield ayd and helpe by sending the undersheriff, constables andc. Denyes that he spoke the words in such manner as in the libel; sayes that Sir Popham came in an angry manner and would have shewed him the letters patents and required him to go with him to a soape boyler's house, to which he replied *civilly*, Sir Popham you forget yourself to require the mayor of Exeter to go with you andc. He sayes the witnesses are servants to Sir Popham and may be easily induced to swear an untruth and some are of kin, soe noe credit is to be given to their testimonyes and c.'

1639

No signature.

Sentence / Arbitration

15/4q, Plaintiff sentence [damaged]

'When Popham Southcote knight shewed Thomas Crossing the King's letters patents under the broad seale, and required his aid and assistance in the execution thereof, he asked him whether he had noe more manners then to require the King's Lieftenant, told Sir Popham that himself (being maior) was a better man than hee that yeare, and as good a man as he at all other tymes, and places. And said that a veryer scum of rascals than those that followed Sir Popham Southcote could not be found, that they were worse then the tynne bailiffs'.

Crossen said to Southcott, vilifying the honour of knighthood, 'it is a great piece of matter to be a knight nowadays, that it is'. Crossen added that he 'was able to take up two such knights as Sir Popham was, one upon one shoulder, and the other upon the other, and to throw them of[f] both, and that he was able to buy Sir Popham out of all he had with all his clowtes, and bid him go swagger in his country thatch alehouses, and threatened to send him to the gaol.'

Spaces for sums not filled in.

No date.

Signed by Arthur Duck, George Parry and Joseph Martyn.

15/4b, Defendant's sentence

Spaces for sums not filled in.

No date.

Signed by William Merrick and Maltravers.

15/4p, Defence's bill of costs [damaged]

Easter term 1639: £2-15s-10d

Vacation: £1-15s-0d

Trinity term 1639: £6-15s-3d

Vacation, Michaelmas and Hilary terms, 1639: [damaged] sums unknown

Sum total at least: £11-6s-1d.

Notes

For a description of the case, see G. D. Squibb, The High Court of Chivalry: A Study of the Civil Law in England (Oxford, 1959), pp. 59-60.

Sir Popham Southcott (1605-43), was the eldest son of Thomas Southcott of Mohun's Ottery, co. Devon, esq, and Katherine, daughter of Sir William Popham of Colcombe, co. Devon. Sir Popham was appointed a J.P. for Devon on 11 August 1637. He and Nicholas Southcote secured the soap monopoly to levy duties of 6d per 12lbs on the south western counties and the city of Exeter on 9 January 1638 (confirmed on 5 March 1638). He later became a colonel of a royalist regiment recruited from local tin miners.

F. T. Colby (ed.), The Visitation of the County of Devon in the year 1620 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 6, 1872), p. 266; M. Wolffe, Gentry Leaders in Peace and War: The Gentry Governors of Devon in the Early Seventeenth Century (Exeter, 1997), p. 31; J. Broadway, R. P. Cust and S. K. Roberts (eds.), A Calendar of the Docquets of Lord Keeper Coventry 1625-1640 (Lists and Index Society, spec. ser. 34-7, 2004), pp. 48, 74, 232; P. R. Newman, Royalist officers in England and Wales, 1642-1660: A biographical dictionary (London, 1981), p. 353.

Thomas Crossing was the son of Hugh Crossing, mayor of Exeter in 1620, and Joane, daughter of John Barret of Barnstaple. Thomas was aged 23 in 1620 and had married Elizabeth, daughter of Matthew Pitt of Cricket Malherbie, co. Somerset. When a royal proclamation against the Scots was read in Exeter cathedral in 1639, Thomas Crossing demonstrated his opposition by putting on his hat. At the outbreak of civil war, Crossing initially supported Parliament but later served in the royalist administration of Exeter from 1643.

F. T. Colby (ed.), The Visitation of the County of Devon in the year 1620 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 6, 1872), p. 342; M. Wolffe, Gentry Leaders in Peace and War: The Gentry Governors of Devon in the Early Seventeenth Century (Exeter, 1997), p. 31; M. Stoyle, From Deliverance to Destruction: Rebellion and Civil War in an English City (Exeter, 1996), pp. 43, 63, 88-9.

Documents

  • Initial proceedings
    • Petition and order from Thomas Aylesbury: 7/25 (19 Jan 1639)
    • Libel: Acta (4), fo. 12 (no date)
    • Summary of libel: R.19, fo. 18 (1639)
    • Personal answer: 18/1s (no date)
  • Plaintiff's case
    • Letters commissory for the plaintiff: Acta (4), fo. 23 (15 Jun 1639)
    • First set of defence interrogatories: Acta (4), fo. 22 (no date)
    • Second set of defence interrogatories: Acta (4), fo. 21 (no date)
    • Plaintiff depositions: Acta (4), fos. 13-18 (9 Jul and 13 Aug 1639)
    • Notary public's certificate: Acta (4) fo. 19 (30 Sep 1639)
    • Summary of defence: R.19, fo. 21r (no date)
  • Sentence / Arbitration
    • Plaintiff's sentence: 15/4q (no date)
    • Defendant's sentence: 15/4b (no date)
    • Defendant's bill of costs: 15/4p (Hil 1639/40)

People mentioned in the case

  • Aylesbury, Thomas
  • Barret, Joane
  • Barret, John
  • Barry, David
  • Beard, Thomas, innkeeper
  • Crossen, Elizabeth (also Crossing)
  • Crossen, Hugh (also Crossing)
  • Crossen, Joane (also Crossing)
  • Crossen, Thomas, merchant (also Crossing)
  • Eden, Thomas, lawyer
  • Forbes, James, clerk (also Forbesse)
  • Glide, John
  • Glide, Mrs
  • Harte, John
  • Howard, Henry, baron Maltravers
  • Howard, Thomas, earl of Arundel and Surrey
  • Isacke, Samuel, gent (also Isaac)
  • Johnson, Thomas, clerk
  • Long, William, gent (also Longe)
  • Luxton, Bernard, gent
  • Merrick, William, lawyer
  • Paine, Thomas
  • Parry, George, lawyer
  • Pitt, Elizabeth
  • Pitt, Matthew
  • Popham, Katherine
  • Popham, William, knight
  • Scoell, William, gent
  • Short, Anthony, Professor of Theology (also Shorte)
  • Southcott, Katherine (also Southcote)
  • Southcott, Nicholas (also Southcote)
  • Southcott, Popham, knight (also Southcote)
  • Southcott, Thomas, esq (also Southcote)
  • Southill, Peter, gent
  • Stuart, Charles I, king
  • Terrick, Humphrey
  • Tothe, William, gent

Places mentioned in the case

  • Cork
    • Castle Lyons
  • Devon
    • Barnstaple
    • Bovey Tracey
    • Brushford
    • Colcombe
    • Mohun's Ottery
    • Newton Abbot
    • St Thomas
    • Upottery
  • Exeter
  • Ireland
  • Middlesex
    • Whitehall
  • Somerset
    • Cricket Malherbie

Topics of the case

  • apparel
  • Bishops' Wars
  • civil war
  • comparison
  • constable
  • hat dignity
  • livery
  • mayor
  • military officer
  • monopoly
  • office-holding
  • parliamentarian
  • royalist
  • sheriff
  • taxation