619 Stafford v Peasley

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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William Stafford, gent v Edmund Peasley of London, tobacco seller

January 1638

Figure 619:

The Tudor Custom House in London, where Edward Peasley quarrelled with William Stafford over forty hogsheads of tobacco


Stafford complained that in November 1637 Peasley came to the Custom House 'in a most ryottous manner' and assaulted him, calling him 'base fellowe rascall and slave.' The quarrel had arisen over 40 hogsheads of tobacco which Peasley and others took by force from the Custom House after Stafford had denied them permission. Stafford petitioned that Peasley be brought to answer before the Earl Marshal, but no further proceedings survive.

Initial proceedings

EM67, Affidavit

Matthew Sanders of the Custom House, London, warehouse keeper, aged about 60, and William Green of the Custom House, London, waiter, aged 30

About the beginning of November 1637 Peasley came to the Custom House and demanded about 40 hogsheads of tobacco in Stafford's custody, who denied delivery for just causes. Peasley, with 'other rude persons,' broke open the warehouse and took the tobacco by force, and did 'then and there give Mr Stafford manie disgracefull provokeing words and amongst others said to Mr Stafford, Thou art a base fellowe a rascall and a slave, with an intent and purpose to provoke Mr Stafford to duell, as we verelie believe whereby Peasley and his confederates might have had advantage in the lawe. And Peasley did not onlie disgrace him in words, but gave him manie blowes contrary to his Majestie's peace.'

Taken before Thomas Eden, 27 January 1638.

EM66, Petition

Petitioned that Peasley came to the Custom House '(where your petitioner's occasions for the most part lye) came in a most ryottous manner, without any cause at all given him by your petitioner, and did beate and most vylie abuse and disparradge your petitioner, calling him base, rascall and slave, with many other words of infamy and disgrace, as your petitioner can prove by divers sufficient witnesses.'

Prayed that Edmund Peasley be called to answer before Earl Marshall.

No date.

No signatures.


William Stafford did not appear in the Visitations of London, but a Mr William Stafford, merchant of Queenhithe was mentioned in a return of inhabitants of quality to the Lord Mayor of London on 16 December 1686: J. J. Howard and J. L. Chester (eds.), The Visitation of London in 1633, 1634, and 1635 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 15, 1880), vol. 1; J. J. Howard (ed.), The Visitation of London in 1633, 1634, and 1635 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 17, 1883), vol. 2; 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, 17, 2004), part 2, p. 612.


  • Initial proceedings
    • Affidavit: EM67 (27 Jan 1638)
    • Petition: EM66 (no date)

People mentioned in the case

  • Eden, Thomas, lawyer
  • Green, William, waiter
  • Howard, Thomas, earl of Arundel and Surrey
  • Peasley, Edmund
  • Sanders, Matthew, warehouse keeper
  • Stafford, William, gent
  • Stuart, Charles I, king

Places mentioned in the case

  • London
    • Custom House
    • Queenhithe

Topics of the case

  • assault
  • denial of gentility
  • provocative of a duel
  • tobacco