634 Sydenham v Cruse

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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'634 Sydenham v Cruse', in The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640, (, ) pp. . British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/court-of-chivalry/634-sydenham-cruse [accessed 5 March 2024]

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634 SYDENHAM V CRUSE

John Sydenham of Dulverton, co. Somerset, gent v William Cruse of the same, mercer

February 1638 - June 1640

Abstract

Sydenham complained that Cruse said in the presence of several witnesses that his brother, Hugh Sydenham, 'was a base scurvey fellowe', that all Sydenham's brethren 'were base scurvy fellows', and that John Sydenham, the eldest, 'was the basest of them all.' The quarrel had arisen over Hugh Sydenham's efforts to arrest Cruse for an £8 debt. Process was granted on 16 February 1638 and in November witnesses were being examined in support of the libel. Dr Eden, acting for Cruse, also questioned Sydenham's gentility. On 22 June 1639 Sydenham was granted £40 damages and £30 expenses and on 9 July 1639, in response to a petition pleading poverty, Lord Maltravers granted Cruse until Michaelmas 1639 to pay these off. The most interesting aspect of the case was that Cruse was then required to perform two submissions. The first was certified as having taken place on 12 September 1639, in Edward Browne's house in Dulverton, before John Byam, the vicar, and Thomas Waite, his curate, but Sydenham and his four brothers were absent, claiming that they had no notice of the event. Cruse's son and Abraham Barell of Dulverton, tanner, testified that this was not true since a copy of the order for the submission had been pinned to the chancel door of Dulverton church the previous Sunday where John Sydenham had read it. Nevertheless, the court ordered that a second submission take place in which Cruse was to apologise for his abusive speeches against all of the Sydenham brothers standing bareheaded at Dulverton churchyard's stile near to widow Garleford's house after morning service. This was originally scheduled for Sunday, 1 December 1639, but the performance had to be reordered for Sunday 28 June 1640 at which stage Cruse was still being chased up over the payment of costs.

Initial proceedings

7/111, Petition to Arundel and advice of King's Advocate

'Your petitioner is a gent., discended of an ancient family, and that both hee and his family have lately beene much abused in scandalous words uttered against them by one William Cruse of Dulverton aforesaid, mercer, who sayd in the presence of divers witnesses that Hugh Siddenham your petitioner's brother was a base scurvey fellowe, and that all your petitioner's bretheren were base scurvy fellows; and that your petitioner, the eldest brother, was the basest of them all.'

Petitioned for process

Dr Duck informed Mr Dethick to grant process, 16 February 1638.

7/112, Plaintiff's bond

19 February 1638

Bound to duly prosecute his suit in the court in the painted chamber, Palace of Westminster.

Signed by William Sydenham

Sealed, subscribed and delivered in the presence of Humphrey Terrick.

18/1k, Libel

1. The Sydenham family had been reputed gentry for up to 300 years. John's father was Humphrey Sidenham, esq., and his brothers were Roger, Richard, Humphrey, William and Hugh, while Cruse was a mercer whose family were not gentry.

2. From September 1635 to March 1637, in the parish of Dulverton, in the presence of several people, Cruse had said to Hugh Sidenham that he 'was a base scurvey fellow, and that all his brothers were base scurvey fellows, and that John Sidenham his eldest brother was the basest of them all, *and that Hugh Siddenham was a base cheating man and so were all his brothers*. These words were provocative of a duel.

No date.

Signed by Arthur Duck.

18/3h, Libel

1. The plaintiff was the eldest son of Humphrey Siddenham of Dulverton, esq., and he had five brothers, Roger, Richard, Humphrey, William and Hugh, all of whom were legitimate.

2. The plaintiff's family had been gentry for up to 300 years, while Cruse's family were plebeians, and Cruse had been a mercer for many years.

3. Between September and March 1637 in Dulverton parish in the presence of several gentlemen, Cruse said that 'Hugh Siddenham was a base scurvey fellow, and that all his brothers were base scurvey cheating fellows, and that John Siddenham his eldest brother was the basest of them all, and that Hugh Syddenham was a base cheating man, and so were all his brothers, and especially his brother John Syddenham and that John had used him basely and cheated him'.

4. These contemptuous and contumelious words were provocative of a duel.

Dated 6 November 1638.

Signed by Arthur Duck.

Plaintiff's case

14/2t, Defence interrogatories

1. The witnesses were warned of the penalty for perjury and bearing false witness. Of what age, occupation and condition was the witness? Where did they live and where had they lived?

2. Was the witness a relative of Sidenham and if so by what degree? Was the witness indebted to Sidenham or his brothers and if so by how much? Was the witness a farmer or tenant to Sidenham or his brothers, and if so for what property or wage?

3. Was the witness a household servant or retainer to Sidenham or his brothers?

4. When, where and in whose presence were the words spoken, and let each witness set down 'the very formal words themselves' that Cruse had spoken?

5. How had Cruse been provoked, who had said what, 'and in what manner'? Whether John Sidenham's brother Hugh had said 'looke to him (meaning Cruse) for else he will runn away'?

6. Were the witnesses not 'common bayliffes', and did the witness acting as one, arrest Cruse at the suite of Hugh Sidenham for a pretended £8 debt? After the arrest and before they parted did Hugh 'acknowledge that Cruse did indeed owe to Hugh Sidenham nothing; and that indeed he had no just cause to cause him to be arrested, for that the viii li which Hugh Sidenham had formerly delivered to Cruse was a due debt from Siddenham to Simon Stevens upon bond, which bond Cruse delivered to Hugh Siddenham upon the receipt of the viii li'?

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

No date.

Signed by Thomas Eden.

4/32, Note

It was moved that, whereas the libel was only in the eldest brother's name, and as all brothers were interested in the cause, they should be joined in libel with the eldest and the libel to be delivered for the next court, which was ordered. Dr Eden thereupon prayed a new commission for the cause, Dr Duck argued likewise for all the brothers after the libel admitted. The depositions already taken in court for John Sydenham should stand for all the brothers. This was likewise ordered.

9 May 1639

No signatures.

16/1k, Letter

Hugh Sydenham to Dr Arthur Duck, 3 June 1639

'I have been certified by Mr Ferreby who doth solicit my brother's cause, that oftentimes Cruse's councell hath urged a letter of mine in the court, to the prejudice of my brother's cause, and my expresse wronge. To give the court true information thereof, I desire you will be pleased to compare this letter (which I have written with myne own hande) with that showed in court, and believe you will finde a difference; for I protest before God and angells, I did never write or send any such letter to Mr Coxe the messenger; neither did I consent to the writing of any such letter, or know thereof. And the same letter alleged is soe far from being myne that I protest (as before) I never had any manner of satisfaction from Cruse, either in money, or submission, or otherwise for any matter by me commenced and prosecuted against him in this court. And this much you may be most confident to averre there, wherein, you shall not only doe a courtesie to my brother, but ingage me to be your humble servant.'

Signed by Hugh Sydenham.

Sentence / Arbitration

16/1h, Plaintiff's sentence

Cruse had said that 'Hugh Syddenham brother to John Syddenham was a base scurvy fellowe, and all his brothers were base scurvy cheating fellows and John Syddenham the eldest of them was the basest of them all'. John Sydenham was granted £40 damages and expenses and the case was taxed at £30.

[22 June 1639]

Signed by Arthur Duck and Maltravers.

7/27, Defendant's petition to Maltravers and order of Maltravers

Petitioned that in a cause on 22 June last he was sentenced to pay £70 for costs and damages to John Sydenham, gent, the first moyetie in the coming Michaelmas terme, the next in Easter term. Petitioner claims he is a poor man and so asks for more time to pay the sum 'according to his abilities'. Maltravers gives him until Michaelmas next to pay the costs, and the damages to be paid at £5 per quarter starting on Lady day next.

9 July 1639

No signatures.

16/1g, Defence sentence

Spaces for damages and expenses left blank.

Signed by Thomas Eden.

16/1f, Plaintiff's bill of costs

Hilary term, 1637/8: £10-13s-4d

Easter term, 1638: £3-17s-4d

Trinity term, 1638: £11-0s-0d

Michaelmas term, 1638: £16-18s-4d

Vacation: £8-10s-0d

Hilary term, 1638/9: £3-10s-0d

Easter term, 1639: £7-10s-0d

Trinity term, 1639: £18-6s-8d

Sum total: £80-0s-8d

Taxed at £30

Signed by Arthur Duck and Maltravers.

16/1c, Defendant's bill of costs

Michaelmas term 1638: £10-14s-4d

Hilary term 1638/9: £17-0s-0d

Easter term 1639: £3-6s-0d

Trinity term 1639: £8-10s-0d

Total: £39-10s-4d

Signed by Thomas Eden.

Submission

5/42, Defendant's bond of submission

11 September 1639

Arundel had passed a definitive sentence against Cruse to pay £30 costs, £40 damages to Sidenham, and to perform a submission.

The feast day of St Michael the Archangel was set as the deadline for Cruse to pay costs. He had to pay £5 of damages by Lady Day and £5 more by feast of St John the Baptist, 1640, and £5 more on the feast day of St Michael the Archangel 1640 and £5 more on Christmas day, 'without fraud or delay and soe by quarterlie payments until the said summe of fourtie pounds for damages be fully satisfied.'

Signed by William Terms, John Byam of Clatworthy, co. Somerset, clerk, Thomas White of Clatworthy, cleric

Sealed and delivered in the presence of William Sparway and John Webb.

18/4o, First submission and certificate of submission [damaged]

Cruse was to perform his submission between 2 and 4pm on 12 September 1639, in Edward Browne's house in Dulverton before Mr John Sydenham, his five brothers and three other persons.

Cruse was to apologise for having abused in words all six Sydenham brothers, in particular Mr Hugh Sydenham, whom he had called 'a base scurvie fellow, and [said] that all his brothers were base scurvie cheating fellows, and that the said Mr John Sydenham the eldest of them was the basest of them all. He was 'hartily sorrie...' [the rest was torn off].

Once this was performed, Cruse was to certify it to the court during its first court day in Michaelmas term, 1639.

Signed by Humphrey Terrick, registrar.

William Cruse subscribed that the submission was accordingly performed, in the presence of John Byam, vicar of Dulverton, Thomas Waite, curate of Dulverton, William Sparway and John Webber.

18/4e, Second submission

Cruse was to perform his submission between 10am and 1pm on Sunday, 1 December 1639, standing bareheaded at the churchyard's stile near to widow Garleford's house in Dulverton, in the presence of Mr John Sydenham and his kinsmen Roger, Richard, Humphrey, William and Hugh.

Cruse was to apologise for having abused in words all six Sydenham brothers, inparticular Mr Hugh Sydenham, whom he had called 'a base scurvie fellow and [said] that all his brothers were base scurvie cheating fellows, and that the said Mr John Sydenham the eldest of them was the basest of them all. He was 'hartily sorry' for his 'rash and inconsiderate' speeches, and acknowledged them all to be 'honest gentlemen'. He was to ask their forgiveness for his false words and to promise that thereafter he would behave himself with respect towards them 'and all the gentry of this kingdome'.

Dated 7 November 1639.

'Let this submission be made in manner aforesaid'.

Signed by Lord Maltravers.

18/4k, Affidavit

'To the right honourable Henry Lord Maltravers.

Whereas there was an order of submission granted by your lordship in September last to be done by William Cruse of Dulverton in the countey of Somerset to Mr John Sidenham and his brothers, William Cruse took out the submission and accordingly did performe the same, as by the submission returned into your lordship's court, under the hands of such witnesses as were present, it doth and may appeare. And whereas the Sidenhams have since misinformed your good lordship, that they had no notice given them of the submission by William Cruse, and for that reason have obtained another submission to be granted them, we Abraham Barell of Dulverton, tanner, and William Cruse, junior, shoemaker, do make affidavit that Mr John Sidenham had the Sunday before the submission, which was to be performed the Thursday after, immediately after morning prayer, at the chancell dore before a great company of the congregation then present, a coppie of the order prefixed to the submission delivered unto him, and Mr John Sidenham did then and there read it.'

Dated 11 December 1639.

Signed by Peter Sainthill.

10/12/15, Further bill of costs

Hilary term, 1639: £17-7s-6d

Easter term, 1640: £19-10s-0d

Total: £36-17s-6d

No date.

Signed by Arthur Duck and Maltravers.

4/43, Order

'My Lord Maltravers is pleased the attachment against Mr Cruse [at] the sute of Mr Sydenham bee suspended or superseded (if it be already gone forth) until the next tearme, when the Councell of both parties may be heard concerning the same.'

Arundell house 11o Apr. 1640.

7/48, Further petition of Sydenham to Maltravers

Reminded Maltravers that William Cruse, mercer was condemned to pay Sydenham £40 damages and to be 'putt in securitie to stand to the good behaviour', and that Maltravers had reduced Cruse's sentence to pay £5 per quarter owing to his poverty.

'Since which time the peticoner hath made it appear that Cruse is a man of a good estate, whereupon the court did upon the 12th of this instant order that Cruse should satisfy your petitioner £13-6s-8d costs since, within one month next comeing, and to give good securitie forthwith to that purpose, As also to stand to the good behaviour, and fully to performe not only the former sentence concerning his submission, but also the last menconed order in every particular.'

Maltravers ordered on 18 May 1640 that the damages were still to be paid at £5 per quarter, but that £13-6s-8d costs were to be paid within a month and that the submission was to be performed in accordance with the sentence.

Attached are proceedings in Latin for this cause dated 12 May 1640, involving Dr Duck, Dr Eden and Dr Parry.

4/45, Third submission

Cruse was to perform his submission 'presently after morning prayer and sermon if there be any', between 10am and 1pm on Sunday 28 June 1640, 'at the style of the churchyard near to the widow Garlefords house in Dulverton'. He was to perform it bareheaded before Mr John Sydenham, Mr Roger, Mr Richard, Mr Humfrey Mr William and Mr Hugh Sydenham among others.

'Whereas I, William Cruse, stand convict... to have much abused in words John Sydenham of Dulverton in the county Somerset, gent., and also his five brothers, and in particular to have said that Mr Hugh Sydenham one of the brothers of Mr John Sydenham was a base scurvie fellow and that all his brothers were base scurvie cheating fellows, and that Mr John Sydenham, the eldest of them, was the basest of them all, I do hereby humblie acknowledge that I am hartily sorry for those my rash and scandalous speeches and that I did Mr John Sydenham and his five brothers great wrong in uttering of the same; and do hereby earnestly and hartily desire Mr John Sydenham and his five brothers to forgive and forget the same, promising for the future not to offend in the like kind but to behave myself towards Mr John Sydenham and his five brothers and all the gentrie of this kingdom with due respect.'

[Overleaf]

'This submission being performed in manner as aforesaid William Cruse is to subscribe his name thereto and to desire some persons present to subscribe their names in testimony of his performance thereof, and to certify the same with these presents the first court day, which shalbe holden in the Courte Militarie in Michas Terme Anno 1640.'

Summary of proceedings

Dr Duck and Dr Parry acted as counsel for Sydenham with Dr Eden for Cruse.

On 10 November 1638 Dr Parry gave the libel for John Sydenham and Dr Eden, acting for Cruse, objected. Dr Eden questioned Sydenham's gentility so Dr Parry was required to prove it in the second session. Dr Parry produced as witnesses upon the libel Ames Upham, John Tucker and Alexander Ley, warning them to submit to examination at the next sitting. On 20 November Dr Duck was to publish the testimony of the witnesses. Dr Eden related the material for the defence on 28 November and 5 December. On 12 December Dr Eden was required to prove the material for the defence in the first session of the next term. There were further proceedings on 28 January and 9 February 1639. On 12 May 1640 Cruse was sentenced to pay Sydenham £40 damages and £8-6s-8d costs.

Notes

The details of the Sidenham family given in the libel do not match the pedigrees for the family given in the Visitations of 1623 and 1672. John Sydenham, esq, was added to the commission of the peace for Somerset in September 1626.

F. T. Colby (ed.), The Visitation of the County of Somerset in the year 1623 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 11, 1876), pp. 99-100; G. D. Squibb (ed.), The Visitation of Somerset and the City of Bristol, 1672 (Publications of the Harleian Society, new series, 11, 1992), pp. 92-3; J. Broadway, R. Cust and S. K. Roberts (eds.), A Calendar of the Docquets of Lord Keeper Coventry, 1625-40 (List and Index Society, special series, 34, 2004), part 1, p. 58.

Documents

  • Initial proceedings
    • Petition and advice of the King's Advocate: 7/111 (16 Feb 1638)
    • Plaintiff's bond: 7/112 (19 Feb 1638)
    • Libel: 18/1k (no date)
    • Libel: 18/3h (6 Nov 1638)
  • Plaintiff's case
    • Defence interrogatories: 14/2t (no date)
    • Note: 4/32 (9 May 1639)
    • Letter from Hugh Sydenham: 16/1k (3 Jun 1639)
  • Sentence / Arbitration
    • Defendant's petition to Maltravers (9 Jul 1639)
    • Plaintiff's sentence: 16/1h (no date)
    • Defendant's sentence: 16/1g (no date)
    • Plaintiff's bill of costs: 16/1f (Tri 1639)
    • Defendant's bill of costs: 16/1c (Tri 1639)
  • Submission
    • Defendant's bond on submission: 5/42 (11 Sep 1639)
    • First submission and certificate of submission: 18/4o (12 Sep 1639)
    • Second submission: 18/4e (7 Nov 1639)
    • Affidavit: 18/4k (11 Dec 1639)
    • Further bill of costs: 10/12/15 (Eas 1640)
    • Order for suspension of attachment: 4/43 (11 Apr 1640)
    • Petition and order: 7/48 (18 May 1640)
    • Third submission: 4/45 (28 Jun 1640)
  • Proceedings
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: R.19, fos. 469r-v (6 Nov 1638)
    • Proceedings before Marten: R.19, fo. 470r (10 Nov 1638)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: R.19, fo. 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)
    • Proceedings before Marten: R.19, fos. 488r-490v (12 Dec 1638)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 1/9 (28 Jan 1639)
    • Proceedings: 1/7, fos. 36-47 (9 Feb 1639)
    • Proceedings: 7/48 (12 May 1640)

People mentioned in the case

  • Barell, Abraham, tanner
  • Browne, Edward
  • Byam, John, vicar
  • Coxe, Mr
  • Cruse, William the elder, mercer
  • Cruse, William the younger, shoemaker
  • Dethick, Gilbert, registrar
  • Duck, Arthur, lawyer
  • Eden, Thomas, lawyer
  • Ferreby, Mr
  • Garleford, widow
  • Howard, Henry, baron Maltravers
  • Howard, Thomas, earl of Arundel and Surrey
  • Ley, Alexander
  • Marten, Henry, knight
  • Parry, George, lawyer
  • Sainthill, Peter
  • Sparway, William
  • Sydenham, Hugh (also Sidenham, Siddenham, Syddenham)
  • Sydenham, Humphrey, esq (also Sidenham, Siddenham, Syddenham)
  • Sydenham, John, gent (also Sidenham, Siddenham, Syddenham)
  • Sydenham, Richard (also Sidenham, Siddenham, Syddenham)
  • Sydenham, Roger (also Sidenham, Siddenham, Syddenham)
  • Sydenham, William (also Sidenham, Syddenham)
  • Terms, William
  • Terrick, Humphrey, registrar
  • Tucker, John
  • Upham, Ames
  • Waite, Thomas, curate (also White)
  • Webb, John (also Webber)

Places mentioned in the case

  • Middlesex
    • Westminster
  • Somerset
    • Clatworthy
    • Dulverton

Topics of the case

  • allegation of cheating
  • debt
  • denial of gentility
  • provocative of a duel