620 Stapley v Butts

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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Richard Cust, Andrew Hopper, '620 Stapley v Butts', in The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640, ed. Richard Cust, Andrew Hopper, British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/court-of-chivalry/620-stapley-butts [accessed 19 July 2024].

Richard Cust, Andrew Hopper, '620 Stapley v Butts', in The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640. Edited by Richard Cust, Andrew Hopper, British History Online, accessed July 19, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/court-of-chivalry/620-stapley-butts.

Richard Cust, Andrew Hopper. "620 Stapley v Butts". The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640. Ed. Richard Cust, Andrew Hopper, British History Online. Web. 19 July 2024. https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/court-of-chivalry/620-stapley-butts.

In this section


William Stapley of Laleham, co. Middlesex, gent v John Butts of the same, yeoman

February 1638

Figure 620:

Sir Henry Spiller of Laleham, Middlesex, one of the arbiters of the quarrel between Stapley and Butts. (Credit: Wikigallery).


Stapley complained that on 26 December 1637 Butts, the constable of Laleham, Middlesex, had come to the house of his father, Thomas Stapley, to tell Thomas that he was to be an assessor for ship money and had behaved towards him 'in a verie rude and uncivill manner', giving him the lie. In his defence, Butts maintained that William Stapley provoked him by calling him a knave and saying 'he was not an honest man in doing it.' Process was granted on 7 February 1638 and Dr Ryves presented Stapley's libel on the 12th. However, the same day both parties agreed to refer the matter to the private arbitration of the Earl Marshal. Some weeks later Butts petitioned Arundel to hear the case straight away since Stapley was threatening to renew the prosecution. Failing this, he asked that it be referred to the arbitration of Sir Henry Spiller and Sir Francis Darcy who lived near Laleham.

Initial proceedings

7/51, Petition

Stapley claimed to be 'a gentleman descended from an ancient family'. On 26 December 1637 Butt came to Thomas Stapley's house and was told by William Stapley of some words that he had formerly spoken against Thomas Stapley, whereupon 'hee, the said Butt, in a verie rude and uncivill manner tould your peticoner that he lyed, with manie other scandalous and opprobrious speeches'

Petitioned that Butt be bought to answer.

7 February 1638

Dr Duck granted process.

8/7, Defendant's bond

12 February 1638

Signed by John Butts [his mark]

Sealed by John Watson.

EM76, Defendant's petition

In December last he went to Thomas Stapley's house to warn him that he was to be an assessor for ship money, 'for which he was affronted by Mr William Stapeley one of the sons of Thomas Stapeley, who called your petitioner knave and said he was not an honest man in doing it with other reviling tearmes; and your petitioner maintaining his own reputation and affirming he was as honest a man as Stapeley was. Hereupon, and for other pretended words, he sued your petitioner in the Court Military before your lordship. And at the end of Hilary Tearme last by mutual agreement the suit was withdrawne out of the court, and bonds interchangablie sealed by the parties to abide your lordship's order upon a private hearing, which matter is yet undetermined, and Mr Stapeley giveth out that he will prosecute your petitioner againe, and goe on to censure in the Court.'

Petitioned that Arundel hear the cause or refer it to Sir Henry Spiller and Sir Francis Darcy who live near the parties or any other gentlemen of their county whom Arundel saw fit.

No date [1637].

Summary of proceedings

Dr Ryves acted as counsel for Stapley and Dr Duck for Butts. On 12 February 1638 Dr Ryves delivered the libel, with directions to return the commission by the first session of next term.


William Stapley of the Tower of London (d.1668/9) was mentioned in the 1664 Visitation of London as the son of Thomas Stapley of Laleham, co. Middlesex, and Jane, daughter of Laurence Thomson of Laleham, co. Middlesex.

J. B. Whitmore and A. W. Hughes Clarke (ed.), London Visitation Pedigrees, 1664 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 92, 1940), p. 131.


  • Initial proceedings
    • Petition: 7/51 (7 Feb 1638)
    • Defendant's bond: 8/7 (12 Feb 1638)
    • Defendant's petition: EM76 (no date)
  • Proceedings
    • Proceedings before Arundel: 1/5, fos. 38-56 (12 Feb 1638)

People mentioned in the case

  • Butts, John, yeoman
  • Darcy, Francis, knight
  • Duck, Arthur, lawyer
  • Howard, Thomas, earl of Arundel and Surrey
  • Ryves, Thomas, lawyer
  • Spiller, Henry, knight
  • Stapley, Jane
  • Stapley, Thomas
  • Stapley, William, gent
  • Thomson, Jane
  • Thomson, Laurence
  • Watson, John

Places mentioned in the case

  • London
    • Tower of London
  • Middlesex
    • Laleham

Topics of the case

  • arbitration
  • comparison
  • constable
  • giving the lie
  • office-holding
  • ship money
  • taxation