653 Turney v Woodden

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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Richard Cust, Andrew Hopper, '653 Turney v Woodden', 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/653-turney-woodden [accessed 22 July 2024].

Richard Cust, Andrew Hopper, '653 Turney v Woodden', in The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640. Edited by Richard Cust, Andrew Hopper, British History Online, accessed July 22, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/court-of-chivalry/653-turney-woodden.

Richard Cust, Andrew Hopper. "653 Turney v Woodden". The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640. Ed. Richard Cust, Andrew Hopper, British History Online. Web. 22 July 2024. https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/court-of-chivalry/653-turney-woodden.

In this section


Robert Turney of Darenth, co. Kent, gent v Henry Woodden of the same, husbandman

April 1634 - April 1635


In one of the first cases to be heard before the regularly constituted court, Turney complained that Woodden had called him 'a liar and deceiver' between January and March 1634, in the presence of several gentry meeting at Dartford, Kent, to settle differences between the two men. He also claimed that Woodden had boasted 'he would make that beggerly gentleman...to runne his countrey'. In his defence, Woodden maintained that Turney had been molesting him with suits at common law 'for very small matters' and at the hearing had offered to pay him 20 shillings in settlement; however, Turney had then tried to insist that the trespass of his cattle had been due to Woodden breaking open his own fences to allow access for carts. It was in response to this that Woodden had called him a liar.

Proceedings were under way by 26 April 1634 and on 3 May there was an extensive hearing at which Turney presented his libel supported by witnesses William Lane and Edward Empson. Woodden, who appeared in custody, responded with his defence and the two men then took out bonds. News of the hearing got back to Kent and Thomas Wall, a servant to Turney, deposed that on 24 May, at an alehouse in Darenth, Woodden's wife called Turney 'the pudding maker of Kent', while Woodden said of him 'he never keepes any but rogues.' When Wall defended his master as Woodden's 'better' and asked, 'Did you not heare so much in the painted chamber?', the defendant replied, 'Your master shall have enough of that, meaning the painted chamber... I will give him his belly full of lawe'. As a result of this exchange, on 7 June, Woodden was also charged with contempt of court. By 30 June 1634 the court had reached its verdict. Woodden was convicted of 'having given [Turney] the lye' and sentenced to pay £10 damages and £5 expenses. On 20 October he was also ordered to perform his submission before the J.P.s at the Kent quarter sessions at Maidstone on 7 April 1635. He was to apologise for his outburst and promise 'to be more carefull in my words and behaviour both towards Mr Robert Turney and alsoe towards all other the gentrie of the kingdome'.

Initial proceedings

9/4/71, Libel

Turney was descended of gentle stock of Brockhill, Kent whereas Woodden was described as a husbandman and had never been reputed a gentleman. Turney complained that Woodden had called him 'a liar and deceiver' between January and March 1634, in the presence of several gentry in the parish of Dartford, co. Kent.

No date.

Signed by Arthur Duck.

9/4/60, Affidavit

Thomas Wall of Darenth Court, co. Kent, husbandman, aged about 26, servant to Mr Robert Turney of Darenth

'Maketh oath that upon 24 May last past (being Whitson Eve) Henry Woodden of Darrent with others came into the house of one Christen in the parrish, being an alehouse, where this witness was with his brother being a stranger in the towne, who sent for him. And att the tyme when Henry Woodden came into the house the good wife of Henry Woodden sayd if you were making of puddings as you are making of cakes wee would send for Mr Turney, for he is the pudding maker of Kent'. Then, Wall asked the Wooddens 'why they did abuse his master behind his backe saying also [he] (meaning his master) is your better'. Woodden replied, 'How doe you know that?' Wall answered, 'Did you not heare soe much in the painted chamber; if you did not you might'? Woodden responded, 'Your master shall have enough of that, meaning the paynted chamber (as he beleeveth); I will give him his belly full of lawe.'

Woodden then said to this witness, 'Thou art a rogue, and a false sworne rogue; and if thou hadst not beene a rogue thou wouldest not have lived soe longe with thy master, for he never keepes any but rogues.' Robert Small then threw a glass of beer in this Wall's face 'which this witness did patiently suffer, and desired some persons then present to beare witnes thereof; whereupon Small presently took another glasse of beare and cast it in this witness's face. And Henry Woodden in threatening manner, and with a purpose (as this witness beleeveth) to provoke him to contention, tolde this witness that he would whipp him, all which this witness tooke patiently and went away.'

Endorsed 7 June 1634.

Signed by Thomas Wall.

Plaintiff's case

7/19, Defence interrogatories

1. Had the witness heard of several actions at the Common Law brought by Turney against Woodden, and all or some of them for very small matters? Were any of the witnesses chosen as arbitrators to make agreement between Turney and Woodden?

Did they meet about making this agreement? Had Turney offered to pay Woodden twenty shillings or another sum, for an agreement with Woodden? Did some of the arbiters say that Turney should give Woodden more?

2. If the witness deposed that Woodden gave Turney the lie, upon what occasion did Woodden do so? Was Woodden provoked by words from Turney? Had Turney said to Woodden 'if my cattell come into your corne you are the cause of it yourselfe, you breake open your own fence that you may passe with cart and carriage, and you lett your fence lye open that my cattell may come into your corne or into your ground'?

3. Did the witness know that Woodden did not break his own fences to make passage for his carts or for any other purpose?

No date.

No signatures.

9/4/66, Defence interrogatories

As 7/19.

Signed by Thomas Eden.

Defendant's case

9/4/55, Defence

Woodden denied that he uttered any of the words alleged in the libel and claimed that he had been provoked by Turney in the manner following : 'Turney having brought many actions at the common lawe against me, most of which were upon small and slight occasions, Turney and I did agree to referr the differences betweene us to certaine arbitrators and the arbritrators and Turney and I meetinge togither on a certaine day within the time aforemenconed, after some treaty and speech passed amongst us, Turney said to me: "If my cattell come into your corne you are the cause of it yourselfe for you breake open your owne fence that you may passe with cart and carriage, and you lett your fence lye over that my cattell may come into your corne." And after Turney had spoken the words he did againe and againe... maynteyne and averr them to be true.'

No date.

Signed by Thomas Eden.

9/4/62, Plaintiff's interrogatories

Questions for 'one Rowlt', one of Henry Woodden's witnesses:

1. Whether Turney 'bee a gentleman by blood and descent; and whether he have right to bear armes; and what bee those armes and how doth he blazon them'?

2. Was he 'of consanguinity or affinity to Henry Woodden; and whether he hath prosecuted, solicited or any way given advise or assistance to Woodden in this cause'?

3. Did Woodden give Turney the lie 'or what action or gesture did he use to provoke and disgrace Robert Turney'?

4. Was Turney 'a gentleman of armes descended from an ancient family of the Turneys of Brokhill in Kent, and soe commonly accomted; and whether Robert Turney... is a man of yeerly revenues of £300, £200 or £100 p.a. and hath brought upp three sonnes at the university and hath marryed his daughter to a gentleman of good estate'?

5. Was Woodden 'not a man of a turbulent and litigious disposition, and hath not used diverse speeches of provocation and quarrell against Turney; and whether he hath not endeavored to draw the deponent and others to joyne with him against Robert Turney, and sayd that he would make that beggerly gentleman...to runne his countrey as he doth know, beleeve or hath heard.'

No date.

Signed by Arthur Duck.

Sentence / Arbitration

9/4/51, Plaintiff's sentence

Sentence given on behalf of the plaintiff £10 in damages and £5 in expenses.

Endorsed 30 June 1634.

9/4/49, Plaintiff's bill of costs

Easter term, 1634: £4-0s-0d

Trinity term, 1634: £9-16s-8d

Included costs of two journeys to the city of London and staying there for 4 days

Vacation after Trinity term: £6-11s-8d

Total: £19-8s-4d

Signed by Arthur Duck.

Endorsed 30 June 1634.


9/4/38, Submission

'Henry Woodden shall attend at Maidstone upon Tewsday 7 April next 1635, beinge the next generall sessions there held for the said countie, and there in the open sessions, the first day of the sessions and before the justices of the peace for the county there assembled, betweene the howers of two and foure in the afternoone, standing in his own ordinary apparell and bare headed after the clarke of the peace or his deputie reading the same unto him, with an audible voice shall say as followeth:

Whereas I, Henry Woodden, stand convicted by sentence diffinitive given by the right hoble Thomas earl of Arundell and Surrey, Earle Marshall of England, in a cause depending before his honour in the court military holden in the painted chamber at Westminster, betweene Robert Turney of Darrant, gent., and myselfe to have used and given unto Robert Turney divers ignominious and disgracefull words, and amongst others to have given him the lye.

I doe humbly acknowledge and confesse that therin I did much forget myselfe and the duty and respecte I ought to have borne to Robert Turney, being a gentleman of an antient family and bearing armes; and doe promise from henceforth to be more carefull in my words and behaviour both towards Mr Robert Turney and alsoe towards all other the gentrie of the kingdome, and doe hartilie pray Mr Robert Turney to forgive the wronge I did him and my disrespect and forgetfulnes of my dutie towards him in that behalfe'.

Woodden to certifie the performance of this at the next Miltary Court held in the Painted Chamber after the sessions.

20 October 1634.

Agreed with the registrar, Gilbert Dethick.

Endorsed: Wooden's submission introduced 18 April 1635.

4/45, Submission

This version of the submission contained various insertions in a rough draft to produce the fair copy in 4/38, mainly refelcting the need to check up on when the Kent sessions were and to make the submission appropriate to Turney's circumstances, probably after checking back to the details of the petition and libel.'Subscribed by my lord 26 November 1634'.

Endorsed 30 October 1634.

Summary of proceedings

Dr Duck acted as counsel for Turney and Dr Eden for Woodden. On 3 May 1634 Turney presented his libel and Woodden was required to appear in the messenger's custody. Turney produced as witnesses in support of his libel William Lane and Edward Empson. Turney entered a bond of £40 to prosecute the cause while Wooden was bound for £100. It was also mentioned that when the cause had come before arbiters, Turney had said to Woodden 'if my cattell came into your corne you are the cause of it yourselfe for you breake open your own fence that you may passe with cart and carriage and you lett your ferme lye open that my cattle may come into your corne'. Woodden replied 'that he never did soe'. When Turney maintained what he had formerly said, Woodden said 'it was a lye and that he did wronge to saye so'. On 21 May 1634 Lane and Empson were sworn, and the first publication of the testimony of the witnesses was granted. On 7 June 1634 Turney alleged that Woodden had used words which were in contempt of the court and had an affidavit to this effect. Woodden desired to make his defence and that others present might be examined. On 30 June 1634, after Dr Duck had produced the affidavit of Wall, the court gave Woodden time 'to lessen the proofe of the contempt which may seeme to be insinuated thereby'. The cause was ready for sentence after Dr Duck and Dr Eden had pleaded 'what they thinck fit and the Court will proceade to sentence or not as they shall thincke fit.' On 20 October 1634 Woodden was committed to the custody of the Earl Marshal and the court drew up the sentence and submission.


R. Hovenden (ed.), The Visitation of Kent taken in the years 1619-21 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 42, 1898), pp. 6, 133; G. J. Armytage (ed.), A Visitation of the County of Kent, 1663-8 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 54, 1906), p. 112.

Mrs Woodden's insult that Turney was 'the pudding maker of Kent' bears similarity with John Rushworth's observations of another cause in which one Brown complained in his libel that another had said of him that he was no gentleman 'but descended from Brown the great Pudding-eater in Kent'.

John Rushworth, Historical Collections: the Second Part (London, 1680), p. 1055.


  • Initial proceeedings
    • Libel: 9/4/71 ([3 May 1634])
  • Plaintiff's case
    • Defence interrogatories: 7/19 (no date)
    • Defence interrogatories: 9/4/66 (no date)
    • Affidavit: 9/4/60 (7 Jun 1634)
  • Defendant's case
    • Defence: 9/4/55 (no date)
    • Plaintiff interrogatories: 9/4/62 (no date)
  • Sentence / Arbitration
    • Plaintiff's sentence: 9/4/51 ([20 Oct 1634])
    • Plaintiff's bill of costs: 9/4/49 (30 Jun 1634)
  • Submission
    • Submission: 9/4/38 (20 Oct 1634)
    • Submission: 9/4/45 (26 Nov 1634)
  • Proceedings
    • Proceedings: 7/9 (26 Apr 1634)
    • Proceedings before Arundel: 7/11 (3 May 1634)
    • Proceedings: 7/12 (21 May 1634)
    • Proceedings: 7/14 (21 May 1634)
    • Proceedings before Arundel: 7/17 (7 Jun 1634)
    • Proceedings: 17/2c/i (7 Jun 1634)
    • Proceedings: 8/23 (30 Jun 1634)
    • Proceedings before Arundel: 1/1 (20 Oct 1634)
    • Proceedings: 7/7 (no date)

People mentioned in the case

  • Bargrave, Alice
  • Bargrave, Robert
  • Blechenden, Alice
  • Blechenden, John
  • Dethick, Gilbert, registrar
  • Duck, Arthur, lawyer
  • Eden, Thomas, lawyer
  • Empson, Edward
  • Howard, Thomas, earl of Arundel and Surrey
  • Lane, William
  • Rowlt
  • Rushworth, John, gent
  • Turney, Alice (also Tourney)
  • Turney, Robert, gent (also Tourney)
  • Turney, Thomas, gent (also Tourney)
  • Wall, Thomas, husbandman and servant
  • Woodden, Henry, husbandman
  • Woodden, Mrs

Places mentioned in the case

  • Kent
    • Aldington
    • Bridge
    • Brockhill
    • Darenth
    • Dartford
    • Maidstone
    • Mersham
    • Saltwood

Topics of the case

  • allegation of perjury
  • arbitration
  • contempt of court
  • giving the lie
  • insult before gentlemen
  • justice of the peace
  • livestock
  • other courts
  • previous litigation
  • quarter sessions
  • threatened violence