640 Theobald v Sherrowe

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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'640 Theobald v Sherrowe', in The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640, (, ) pp. . British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/court-of-chivalry/640-theobald-sherrowe [accessed 29 February 2024]

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Sir George Theobald of St Martin-in-the-Fields, co. Middlesex, knight v William Sherrowe of St Dunstan-in-the-West, London, shoemaker

January 1636 - April 1637


Theobald, a pensioner to the king, complained that on various occasions in 1635, in the parishes of St Martin-in-the-Fields and St Margaret's, Westminster, Sherrowe, a shoemaker, gave him the lie and had said that 'I was a base fellowe, an unworthy fellowe, and a trencher flye; and that he had relieved mee, and brought mee to what I was.' Sherrowe maintained that he had been provoked by Theobald's consistent failure to repay his debts of up to twelve years' standing, adding that Theobald's witnesses were his own servants, 'one a footman and a Scotchman, not well understanding the English toung'. The libel was presented on 30 January 1636 and the testimony of Theobald's witnesses published in May when Sherrowe began his defence. On 16 February 1637 sentence was given in Theobald's favour and he was awarded 100 marks in damages and £20 expenses.

Initial proceedings

20/2m, Libel

1. Theobald's family had been ancient gentry for up to 200 years, while Theobald had been a knight for at least 5 years and a pensioner in the king's service. Sherrowe was a plebeian, who from April to August 1635 in the parish of St Martin-in-the-Fields, and from October to November 1635 in the parish of St Margaret's, Westminster, said that 'I was a base fellowe, an unworthy fellowe, and a trencher flye, and that he had relieved mee, and brought mee to what I was, and that he had relieved mee and such as I was, and said I did lye.'

Dated 30 January 1636.

Signed by Arthur Duck.

17/1h, Latin note

Tiny Latin slip in antiquated Latin hand, written at Westminster.


Sir George Theobalds.

Dated 11 February 1636.


Plaintiff's case

14/1m, Defence interrogatories

1. Was the witness related to the parties in this cause and if so, in what degree? Was the witness a household servant to the parties? Was the witness in debt to the parties and if so in what degree?

2. What were the formal words Sherrowe spoke? Exactly when were they spoken and in whose presence?

3. Upon what occasion were these words spoken, what happened before and after?

4. Whether Theobald owed Sherrowe money, and for how long. Whether Sherrowe had been urged to go to law over this debt, 'and hath not Sir George used the best meanes he could to avoid the recovery of the debt, and to delay the payment thereof *and doth he not do so still*'?

18 February 1636

Signed by Thomas Eden.

Defendant's case

R.19, fo. 10r, Summary of defence

'William Sharrow by way of defence says that the witnesses for Sir George Theobald ought not to be credited, being domestic servants, and one a footman and a Scotchman, not well understanding the English toung: and sayes that Sir George for 10 or 12 yeares has been greatly indebted to Sharrow, and is at this present: and that he seeks all wayes to avoid payment, and sett on this suite to force him to a meane composicon, and to ruine him, his wife and children andc. Prayes he may be righted andc.

Second session, Easter term [May] 1636.

No signature.

Summary of proceedings

Dr Duck acted as counsel for Theobald and Dr Eden for Sherrowe. On 7 May 1636 Dr Duck petitioned to publish testimony from Theobald's witnesses, and produced the witness Robert Greenhill. Sherrowe was required to relate material for the defence at the next sitting. In June 1636 Dr Eden petitioned to admit the material for the defence, and was required to prove the same by the first session of Michaelmas term. Dr Eden also alleged John Holman and Thomas Symonds were necessary witnesses for the defence. On 8 November 1636 more material for the defence was admitted. On 28 January 1637 Sherrowe was required to prove his allegations and send to the commissioners for his witnesses' depositions. The witness John Gerrard was also required to submit to examination. On 11 February 1637 Sherrowe was required to pay £20 expenses by the next court day. On 16 February sentence was heard in Theobalds' favour. He was awarded expenses of £20 and 100 marks in damages to be paid by the last session of Easter term. On 29 April 1637 the court decreed that Sherrowe was to be attached if he did not appear within three days and give bond.


Neither of the parties appeared in the Middlesex Pedigrees or Visitations of London: G. J. Armytage (ed.), Middlesex Pedigrees (Publications of the Harleian Society, 65, 1914); J. Jackson Howard and J. L. Chester (eds.), The Visitation of London, 1633, 1634 and, 1635, vol. I (Publications of the Harleian Society, 15, 1880); J. Jackson Howard (ed.), The Visitation of London, 1633, 1634 and, 1635, vol. II (Publications of the Harleian Society, 17, 1883); 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, 16 and 17, 2004).


  • Initial proceedings
    • Libel: 20/2m (30 Jan 1636)
    • Latin note: 17/1h (11 Feb 1636)
  • Plaintiff's case
    • Defence interrogatories: 14/1m (18 Feb 1636)
  • Defendant's case
    • Summary of defence: R.19, fo. 10r (May 1636)
  • Proceedings
    • Undated proceedings: College of Arms MS. 'Court of Chivalry' (act book, 1636-8) [pressmark R.R. 68C] (hereafter 68C), fos. 64r-67r (c. Apr 1636)
    • Proceedings before Arundel: 68C, fos. 89r-100r (May 1636)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 68C, fos. 74r-83v (7 May 1636)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 68C, fos. 112r-121v (Jun 1636)
    • Proceedings: 68C, fos. 105r-110v (8 Nov 1636)
    • Proceedings before Arundel: 68C, fos. 51r-59r (28 Jan 1637)
    • Proceedings: 68C, fos. 23r-36v (11 Feb 1637)
    • Proceedings: 68C, fos. 14r-20v (16 Feb 1637)
    • Proceedings: 68C, fos. 37r-41v (29 Apr 1637)
    • Proceedings: 68C, fos. 70r-73v (c. 1636-8)
    • Proceedings: 68C, fos. 100v-101v (c. 1636-8)

People mentioned in the case

  • Duck, Arthur, lawyer
  • Eden, Thomas, lawyer
  • Gerrard, John
  • Greenhill, Robert
  • Holman, John
  • Howard, Henry, baron Maltravers
  • Howard, Thomas, earl of Arundel and Surrey
  • Theobald, George, knight
  • Sherrowe, William, shoemaker (also Sharrowe)
  • Symonds, Thomas

Places mentioned in the case

  • London
    • St Dunstan-in-the-West
  • Middlesex
    • St Martin-in-the-Fields
    • St Margaret, Westminster

Topics of the case

  • comparison
  • debt
  • denial of gentility
  • giving the lie
  • royal servant