676 Walsh v Gibbs

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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'676 Walsh v Gibbs', in The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640, (, ) pp. . British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/court-of-chivalry/676-walsh-gibbs [accessed 29 February 2024]

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Robert Walsh of Gray's Inn, co. Middlesex, gent v Edward Gibbs of London, gent

May 1639 - May 1640

Figure 676:

Elizabethan Westminster, showing Westminster Hall, the venue for the central law courts, where Robert Walsh challenged Edward Gibbs to a duel in May 1639 (From the plan of London by Ralph Agas, c.1560-1570)


Walsh complained that on 15 May 1639 while the courts were sitting in Westminster Hall, Gibbs said 'that he lyed and that he was a base rascall, and a t[urd] in his teeth.' Gibbs, the son of the Warwickshire gentleman Thomas Gibbs, maintained that Walsh had provoked him by claiming that he had promised to give Walsh's friend, George Colt, gent., 'a discharge for his sister's portions.' When Gibbs denied this Walsh gave him the lie and challenged him to fight, saying, 'Come and goe with me out of the hall if thou dare'. This Gibbs refused to do, even though Colt offered to lend him his sword. Colt had then told Lord Rich about the whole affair, claiming that 'Mr Gibbs durst not go out with Walsh, but had either acquainted some of the judges with it or procured somebody to doe it.' Gibbs also claimed that either Colt or Walsh had

Initial proceedings

6/143, Petition to Maltravers

In May 1639 'the petitioner being in Westminster Hall while the courts there sat, one Edward Gibbs, gent., did, in the hall before divers persons of good qualitie, without any provocation given by the petitioner, say unto the petitioner that he lyed and that he was a base rascall and a t[urd] in his teeth, thereby provoking the petitioner to a duell.'

Petitioned that Gibbs be brought to answer.

Maltravers granted process on 25 May 1639.

6/142, Plaintiff's bond

27 May 1639

Bound to appear 'in the Court in the painted Chamber within the Pallace of Westminster'.

Signed by R. Walsh.

Sealed, subscribed and delivered in the presence of John Watson.

6/129, Defendant's bond

12 June 1639

Bound to appear 'in the Court in the painted Chamber within the Pallace of Westminster'.

Signed by Edward Gibbs.

Sealed and delivered in the presence of Humphrey Terrick.

Plaintiff's case

EM136, First set of defence interrogatories

1-2. The witness was asked their age, condition of life and relationship with Walshe.

3. When and where were the words spoken? What were the exact words?

4. Upon what provocation did Gibbs speak such words? Did Walshe say to Gibbs 'that he did heare Gibbs promise to Mr Colt that he would give Colt a discharge for his sister's portions'? 'Did not Gibbs denie that he made any such promise and did not Walsh then and there replie to Gibbs that it (viz. that wch Gibbs had immediately spoken) was false'? 'Did not Walsh then and there dare Gibbs and challenge him'? Did Walshe say, 'You dare not tell me soe out of the hall (meaninge Westminster Hall). Come and goe with me out of the hall if thou dare'.

5. Asked was not Mr Colt who was produced as a witness on Walsh's behalf, 'a great companion of Mr Walsh, a great and intimate friend of his'? Did 'Colt occasion this difference between Walsh and Gibbs? Doth he not assist joyne with and abett Walsh in this cause and Walsh him in many differences between Gibbes and Walsh and Colt'.

No date, 1639.

No signatures.

19/7a, Second set of defence interrogatories [damaged]

To be put to Walsh's pretended witness, George Colt:

1. Was Colt with Gibbs in Westminster Hall on the last 15 May, and what words passed between them concerning Mr Colt's sisters' portions? 'Did not the... of Mr Gibbs a discharge of Mr Colts sisters' portions or to that effect'? Did Mr Colt say that 'Mr Walshe would witness that Mr Gibbs did promise to give to Mr Colt a discharge of Mr Colt's sisters' portions'? Did Gibbs then deny that he ever made such a promise? Did Mr Colt fetch Mr Walsh, and come with him to Mr Gibbs in Westminster Hall? Did Mr Walsh then say to Mr Gibbs in Mr Colt's presence and hearing, 'Doe you say you never promised to give Mr Colt a discharge for his sisters' portions'? Did not Mr Gibbs deny to Mr Walsh that he ever made any such promise? Did Mr Walsh reply, 'That is false'? Did Mr Walsh 'then and there dare or challenge Mr Gibbs to goe out of the place, vizt. Westminster Hall, with him'? Did not Mr Colt offer to lend his sword to Mr Gibbs?

2. Was all this 'not so done and spoken at the same time that those words were spoken by Mr Gibbs, of which Mr Colt hath deposed to the second article of the libel; and were not all or most of them, and especially those words (that is false, or it is false) spoken by Mr Walsh before and immediately before the words which Mr Colt hath deposed Mr Gibbs then and there to have spoken'?

3. Had Mr Colt told 'Lord Rich of some words which passed between Mr Walsh and Mr Gibbs in Westminster Hall'? Did Mr Colt tell Lord Rich that 'Mr Walsh had challenged Mr Gibbs to go out of the hall (meaning Westminster Hall) with him, and that Mr Gibbs durst not go out with Walsh, but had either acquainted some of the judges with it, or procured somebody to doe it'? Did not Mr Colt 'use some speeches to the like effect to Lord Rich'?

4. 'Whether he and Mr Walsh or one of them have not within these twelve months last past caused or sett somebody to prosecute a suite in the High Commission Court against Thomas Gibbs, brother of Edward Gibbs, what is the said... name, is it not Denham Hunlocke a tayler dwelling in or neare about Shere... London, did not you George Colt deliver a petition in the name of the... Henlocke concerning that business and sett or cause to be sett Denham... to the petition and all this without the knowledge or consent... not Hunlocke disavowe the prosecution... hath he not said so much to you or to some others'?

Introduced 11 July 1639.

No signatures.

Defendant's case

Cur Mil 1631-1642, fos. 132r-134r, Defence depositions

fos. 132r-133v (Witness 1), Sir John Dryden of Canons Ashby, co. Northampton, baronet, born there, aged about 59

14 May 1640

To Gibbs's defence:

1. During Easter term 1639 in Westminster Hall he heard George Colt demand from Mr Gibbs a discharge for his sister's portions, which Colt claimed Mr Gibbs had promised him. Mr Gibbs said he would give a discharge for his youngest sister's portion, but that Colt would have to ask his elder sisters himself as they were of age. Afterwards, some angry words passed between Mr Walsh and Mr Gibbs, but he did not know what those words were.

2. He believed that Colt was 'the means and the occasion' of the quarrel between Walsh and Gibbs. Colt followed Mr Gibbs around the hall asking him for the discharge. After the 'heat of words' between Walsh and Gibbs was passed, [Dryden] feared 'some mischief would have been done'. Gibbs told Colt that as they were both kinsmen of Dryden, then Dryden 'should be loth that any difference should happen between them'. Colt replied to [Dryden] that if he was unwilling to be present at any argument between Colt and Gibbs, or between Walsh and Gibbs, then [Dryden] should withdraw Gibbs out of the hall.

4. He had heard there had been lawsuits between Gibbs and his brother, and George Colt.

6. In the presence of [Dryden] and John Adams, Gibbs desired Thomas Aires 'to relate particularly and certainly what he had heard passed betweene Mr Gibbes and Mr Walsh the day before in Westminster Hall'. Mr Aires 'answered in all things as in the schedule now shewed unto [Dryden] at the time of this his examination is conteyned'. Mr Aires 'further affirmed that if he should be called upon his oath that was the very truth and the whole truth that he could depose; and the schedule was the day above sworn and subscribed by [Dryden] and John Adams and subscribed by Sir William Jones as therein is sett down. And the words "Jurati 16 May 1639. Will Jones" are the handwriting of Sir William Jones which [Dryden] knoweth to be true for that he did see him write the same and the contents in the schedule deposed by [Dryden] are true and were had and done as are therein conteyned.'

Signed by John Driden.

Repeated in court before Sir Henry Marten.

fos. 133v-134r (Witness 2), John Adams of Cullworth, co. Northampton, gent., born at Canons Ashby, aged about 28

14 May 1640

To Gibbs's defence:

6. On 16 May 1639, Mr Edward Gibbs was in the presence of the witness and Sir John Dryden, baronet. The rest as witness 1.

Signed by John Adams.

Repeated in court before Sir Henry Marten, lieutenant, 14 May 1640.

Summary of proceedings

Dr Merrick acted as counsel for Walshe and Dr Eden for Gibbs. On 4 February 1640 Dr Eden was required to prepare material for the defence.


Robert Welch, esq, son and heir of a James Welch of Ireland, esq, was admitted to Gray's Inn on 7 August 1631. This was probably Robert Walshe, son of Sir James Walsh of Little Island, co. Waterford, Ireland, baronet. If so, Walsh was part of the Queen's household in 1642 and played a part in retrieving the captured royal standard at Edgehill, for which he was knighted on 24 October 1642. He went on to serve as a royalist colonel in the civil wars.

J. Foster (ed.), The Register of Admissions to Gray's Inn, 1521-1889 (London, 1889), vol. 1, p. 193; P.R. Newman, Royalist officers in England and Wales, 1642-1660: A biographical dictionary (London, 1981), p. 396.

Edward Gibbs was entered under Tower Street Ward in the Visitation of 1633 as the son of Thomas Gibbs of Watergate, co. Warwick, and Margaret, daughter of William Wilkes of Middleton Cheney, co. Northampton. Robert Walshe does not appear in the Visitations of London or Middlesex.

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), p. 313.


  • Initial proceedings
    • Petition to Maltravers: 6/143 (25 May 1639)
    • Plaintiff's bond: 6/142 (27 May 1639)
    • Defendant's bond: 6/129 (12 Jun 1639)
  • Plaintiff's case
    • First set of defence interrogatories: EM136 (1639)
    • Second set of defence interrogatories: 19/7a (11 Jul 1639)
  • Defendant's case
    • Defence depositions: Cur Mil 1631-42, fos. 132-4 (14 May 1640)
  • Proceedings
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 8/31 (4 Feb 1640)

People mentioned in the case

  • Adams, John, gent
  • Airs, Mr
  • Cole, George, gent
  • Doubleday, Thomas
  • Dryden, John, baronet
  • Eden, Thomas, lawyer
  • Gibbs, Edward, gent
  • Gibbs, Margaret
  • Gibbs, Thomas
  • Gibbs, Thomas, gent
  • Henrietta Maria, queen
  • Howard, Henry, baron Maltravers
  • Howard, Thomas, earl of Arundel and Surrey
  • Hunlocke, Denham, tailor
  • Jones, William, knight
  • Marten, Henry, knight
  • Merrick, William, lawyer
  • Rich, Robert, baron Rich
  • Terrick, Humphrey
  • Walsh, James, baronet
  • Walsh, Robert, gent (also Walshe)
  • Watson, John
  • Wilks, Margaret
  • Wilkes, William

Places mentioned in the case

  • Ireland
    • Waterford
  • London
    • St Botolph, Bishopsgate
    • Tower Street Ward
  • Middlesex
    • Gray's Inn
    • Westminster
  • Northamptonshire
    • Canons Ashby
    • Cullworth
    • Middleton Cheney
  • Warwickshire
    • Edgehill
    • Watergate

Topics of the case

  • allegation of cowardice
  • challenge to a duel
  • civil war
  • debt
  • denial of gentility
  • giving the lie
  • High Commission
  • insult before gentlemen
  • military officer
  • other courts
  • royalist
  • royal servant
  • scatological insult
  • weapon