702 Whatman v Lunsford

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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Richard Cust. Andrew Hopper, '702 Whatman v Lunsford', The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640, British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/court-of-chivalry/702-whatman-lunsford [accessed 17 June 2024].

Richard Cust. Andrew Hopper. "702 Whatman v Lunsford", in The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640, (, ) . British History Online, accessed June 17, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/court-of-chivalry/702-whatman-lunsford.

Cust, Richard. Hopper, Andrew. "702 Whatman v Lunsford", The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640, (, ). . British History Online. Web. 17 June 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/court-of-chivalry/702-whatman-lunsford.

In this section


Thomas Whatman of Chichester, co. Sussex, gent v Thomas Lunsford of East Hoathly, co. Sussex, gent

No date


Whatman, a bencher of the Inner Temple, complained that Lunsford, later Lieutenant of the Tower and a notorious royalist swordsman, had intended to break the royal edicts against duelling by fighting his son near St Pancras Church, Middlesex on 11 October. Lunsford allegedly counterfeited a letter from Whatman's son, challenging him to fight. Whatman explained that his son was at home in Chichester at the time and that his right hand was lame which disabled him from duelling. He therefore petitioned that Arundel investigate the matter and that Lunsford 'receave punishment for counterfeytinge and publishing the challenge, and going to the field to fight without making the challenge knowne to your lordship, as by lawe and dutie he ought'. No further proceedings survive.

Initial proceedings

EM339, Petition

'Whereas he hath brought upp Thomas Whatman his eldest sonne in the universitie of Oxford and the Innes of Court until his age of xxi yeares, to that purpose that he might therby be inabled to live in credit and serve his Majestie in any imployments in the countrie where he liveth.

The petitioner's sonne was lately provoked by Thomas Lunsford, gent., with manie wrongs and disgraces, to fight with him, or elce to suffer himself to be disgraced by Mr Lunsford, and to goe from him with shame and ignominie.

Mr Lunsford, being not satisfied with the combat, but intending further to injure and disgrace your orator's sonne, did, of his owne malice, cause a challenge to be written to him by the petitioner's sonne, subscribed with the name of your petitioner's sonne, bearing date the tenth of October last, suggesting the same to be brought to him by one that was second to your petitioner's sonne, and that the second had appointed the place to fight neere St Pancras Church in co. Middlesex, the 11 day of October following, when and where Mr Lunsford, and one Mr Withers his second, did attend the coming of your petitioner's sonne from 7 of the clock until 10 in the forenoon of the same day; but did not bring the challenge to your lordship as by his Majestie's edict he ought to have done.

And this was done and fayned by him of purpose to cast a disgrace upon the petitioner's sonne, or elce to draw him within danger of his Majestie's lawes and edicts against challenges of duells.

The petitioner's sonne knew nothing hereof; nor is the challenge of the handwriting of the petitioner's sonne; nor had the petitioner's sonne anie abilitie to make good such a challenge, being lame of his right hand; and both the petitioner and his sonne were at the petitioner's house at Chichester the tenth day of October when the challenge is dated,and the eleventh day when the supposed duell should have bine, which day the petitioner came from Chichester to London, but his sonne stayed at home and came not to London with him.

The petitioner humbly beseecheth your lordship to call Mr Lunsford before you, to justifie the challenge to be sent to him by the petitioner's sonne, that soe the petitioner's sonne may receave his punishment as soe great an offence deserveth, if he have committed the offence; or elce that Mr Lunsford may receave punishment for counterfeytinge and publishing the challenge and going to the field to fight without making the challenge knowne to your lordship, as by lawe and dutie he ought.'

No date.

No signatures.


Neither Thomas Whatman nor Thomas Lunsford appeared in the Visitations of Sussex: W. Bruce Bannerman (ed.), The Visitations of the County of Sussex in 1530 and 1633-4 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 53, 1905); A. W. Hughes Clarke (ed.), The Visitation of Sussex, 1662 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 89, 1937).

Thomas Whatman (b. c.1603) was the son of Thomas Whatman of Hurstpierpoint, co. Sussex (d.1630), the M.P. for Chichester in 1621 and 1624. The younger Thomas matriculated at Trinity College, Oxford, in 1620 and was admitted to the Inner Temple in 1621.

J. Foster (ed.), Alumni Oxonienses, 1500-1714 (Oxford, 1891), vol. 4, p. 1608.

In August 1633, Lunsford committed a murderous assault on Sir Thomas Pelham at East Hoathly in Sussex, for which he was imprisoned in Newgate in August. He escaped in October 1634 and later entered the French service, raising a regiment in Picardy in April 1636. He was tried in Star Chamber in his absence and in June 1637 was heavily fined and outlawed for failing to appear at the trial. He did not return to England until April 1639 when he received the king's pardon. He served as a lieutenant-colonel in the campaigns against the Scots and in December 1641 was made lieutenant of the Tower, much to the anger of parliament. He was dismissed on 28 December, but promptly knighted by Charles. It is likely that this case dates from before the time that Lunsford went abroad in 1636 since Whatman would surely have made something of his outlawry in his petition.

P.R. Newman, Royalist Officers in England and Wales, 1642-1660: A biographical dictionary (London, 1981), p. 242; B. Morgan, 'Sir Thomas Lunsford (c.1610-1656)', Oxford DNB (Oxford, 2004).


  • Initial proceedings
    • Petition: EM339 (no date)

People mentioned in the case

  • Howard, Thomas, earl of Arundel and Surrey
  • Lunsford, Thomas, gent
  • Pelham, Thomas, knight
  • Stuart, Charles I, king
  • Whatman, Thomas, gent
  • Whatman, Thomas, gent
  • Withers, Mr

Places mentioned in the case

  • France
    • Picardy
  • London
    • Inner Temple
    • Newgate
    • Tower of London
  • Middlesex
    • St Pancras
  • Oxfordshire
    • Trinity College
    • University of Oxford
  • Scotland
  • Sussex
    • Chichester
    • East Hoathly
    • Hurstpierpoint

Topics of the case

  • Bishops' Wars
  • challenge to a duel
  • forgery
  • inns of court
  • Long Parliament
  • member of parliament
  • military officer
  • other courts
  • Star Chamber
  • royalist