726 Woodcockes v Bacon

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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Citation:

Richard Cust. Andrew Hopper, '726 Woodcockes v Bacon', The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640, British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/court-of-chivalry/726-woodcockes-bacon [accessed 19 June 2024].

Richard Cust. Andrew Hopper. "726 Woodcockes v Bacon", in The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640, (, ) . British History Online, accessed June 19, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/court-of-chivalry/726-woodcockes-bacon.

Cust, Richard. Hopper, Andrew. "726 Woodcockes v Bacon", The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640, (, ). . British History Online. Web. 19 June 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/court-of-chivalry/726-woodcockes-bacon.

In this section

726 WOODCOCKES V BACON

Moses Woodcockes of Ledbury, co. Hereford, gent v Richard Bacon of Bosbury, co. Hereford, yeoman

November 1639 - December 1640

Abstract

Woodcockes complained that in April 1638 Bacon set a mastiff dog on him in the highway outside Bacon's house at Bosbury, Herefordshire, in the presence of George Adney, gent., and others, then ran after him, stabbing at him with a knife and saying'Woodcock thou liest, thou lyest Woodcock, thou base rascally knave'. Bacon's defence was that he had been provoked when Woodcockes's dog had killed one of his hogs, and witnesses testified that he had never actually tried to assault Woodcockes, but there had been a stand off between the two men. The witnesses also had much of interest to say about Woodcockes's status as a gentleman which Bacon challenged in his interrogatories. One of them admitted that Woodcockes had only lived in Ledbury, Herefordshire, for five or six years, having moved from Berkshire, and 'by what manifest signes it should appear unto Bacon or his neighbours that Woodcockes was or is a gentleman he knoweth not.' However, it was also said that he was known as 'Mr' Woodcockes and reported locally that he was 'a gentleman descended out of a great familie'; moreover, he had always 'demeaned himself orderly, and in good repute, and wore such decent habitt as befitted his quality.'

Bond was entered by Bacon on 19 November 1639 and Woodcockes's witnesses were examined by a commission headed by Fulke Walwyn, esq, on 4 June 1640 in the inn of John Windlowe in Ledbury. In October 1640, Dr Ryves, acting on Bacon's behalf, petitioned to get the cause dismissed because Woodcockes had not paid expenses for his witnesses. But at the final sitting of the court on 4 December the case was continuing and Ryves was about to present the defence.

Initial proceedings

2/167, Defendant's bond

17 November 1639

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

Signed by John Bacon of Clifford's Inn, gent, on behalf of Richard Bacon.

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

R.19, fo. 1r, Summary of libel

'Woodcock and his ancestors being gentlemen for 60 yeares past, and soe reputed, Bacon did sett a mastie [sic] dogg upon him in the kinge's high way, and did run himself after him with a naked knife stabbing at him, and said, Sr, Woodcock thou liest, thou lyest Woodcock, thou base rascally knave, and reiterated the words divers times; and did soe violently assault him with his knife and dogg, as if others had not hasted to helpe him he had bin slaine. Thereby to provoke and c.'

1640

No signature.

18/4f, Warrant

Miscellaneous document in Latin referring to a cause of scandalous words provocative of a duel.

To meet in Arundel House in the Strand on 25 April 1640, with sums of money mentioned:

£13-6s-8d by the feast of the annunciation of the virgin.

£6-13s-4d by the feast of St John the Baptist

Dated 20 February 1640

Unsigned.

Plaintiff's case

Cur Mil II, fos. 240r-244v, Plaintiff depositions

Taken before commissioners Fulke Walwyn, esq, John Weobley, Richard Nicholetts, and William Penn, gents, in the inn of John Windlowe in Ledbury town, co. Hereford, between 10am and noon on 4 June 1640.

fos. 241r-242r (Witness 1), George Adney of Bosbury, co. Hereford, gent, lived there about 20 years, born at Stretton Brockhurst, in the parish of Church Stretton, co. Salop, aged about 45

To Woodcockes's libel:

1. He had known Woodcockes for 6 years and had heard he was a gentleman well descended.

2. About April two years ago, he was with William Symonds and Moses Woodcockes, when they passed through Bosbury 'on the high waie there somewhat distant from Bacon's house. He perceived Bacon to follow after Woodcockes having a naked knife in his hand, and alsoe having with him a mastiffe dogg, and in an angrie and outrageous manner speaking unto and calling of Moses Woodcockes several tymes', saying, 'Sirrah, Woodcockes, sirrah, base rascally knave thy dogge hast killed one of my hogges. Whereupon Moses Woodcockes turned backe and *seeing Bacon out to follow him with his knife* asked Bacon whether he meant to murther him; and then this witness turned also backe and stood betwixt them persuading Bacon to forbeare, yet afterwards Bacon repeated the words and called Moses Woodcockes base rascally knave, having in his hand a naked knife as aforesaid, but what his intent therein was this witness knoweth not.'

Signed by George Adney, and by the four commissioners.

To Bacon's interrogatories:

1. 'He had heard Woodcockes was born in Berkshire, but how far distant from the place of his now habitation he knoweth not'. He did not know Woodcockes's ancestors 'but he hath heard that he is a gent well descended, and is commonly called by the name of Mr Woodcockes; and he hath heard one Mr Ellis who is landlord unto Mr Woodcockes, *and others that come out of Woodcockes' native country,* oftentimes to report and say that Mr Woodcockes was a gentleman descended out of a great familie, but by what other manifest signes it might appear unto Bacon or others of his neighbours he knoweth not. And further saith that Mr Woodcockes hath well demeaned himself in the place where he liveth for ought he ever heard or knew to the contrary, and that Mr Woodcockes doth on weekdays usually weare a decent habitt'.

2. He had known Bacon for 20 years 'and that he is reputed to be a man of peaceable conversation unless he receaves cause of distaste'.

3. The quarrel happened in an afternoon, but he could not remember what day. Bacon 'had acknowledged unto him that he came newly from dinner with his knife in his hand'.

4. He observed no provocation offered to Bacon, but Woodcockes also had a mastiff dog with him, and at the time, Bacon's pigs cried out, 'but whether [Woodcockes's] dogg bitt or shook any of them to occasion it he knoweth not... saving that as this witness, Woodcockes and [fellow witnesse] Symonds passed by the dwelling house of Bacon; Bacon saluted them in the time of the day in a friendly manner'.

5. He did not hear Woodcockes say any provoking words to Bacon. There was about 8 or 10 yards in distance between Woodcockes and Bacon, and Bacon would have come nearer 'had not this witness stood betwixt them and persuaded him to the contrarie'.

Signed by George Adney, and by the four commissioners.

fos. 242v-244r (Witness 2), William Symonds of Ledbury, co. Hereford, yeoman, lived there about 14 years, born at Bosbury, co. Hereford, aged about 31

To Woodcockes's libel:

1. He had known Woodcockes for 5 or 6 years and had heard he and his brother were gentlemen.

2. About late April two years ago, he had bought some pigs from George Adney and was with him and Woodcockes, driving them along the highway leading past Bacon's house in Bosbury. After passing by the house, 'about a flight's shoote distant from the same', he saw Bacon come running after them holding a knife, 'and in angrie and outrageous manner, said, Mr Woodcockes, your dogge have killed one of my hoggs. Whereunto Mr Woodcockes answered that Bacon was therein mistaken, and wished him to follow his business and be pacified. Whereupon, Bacon, in manner aforesaid, twice or thrice replied and said, Sirrah, Woodcockes, thou rascally knave thou liest. And then Adney stept in betwixt them persuading Bacon to be at quiet, he still making towards Woodcockes having his knife in his hand as aforesaid'. 'Bacon having then and there also a mastiffe dogge with him, put on, and encouraged his dogge to runne after Mr Woodcockes *or his dogge, which he had then alsoe with him*, crying, Howe, howe, unto his dogge, but whether the same was to hurt or mischief Mr Woodcockes or to fall upon *his said* dogge this witness knoweth not.'

Signed by William Symonds, and by the four commissioners.

To Bacon's interrogatories:

1. He had heard Woodcockes was born in Berkshire, about 60 miles from his current habitation in Ledbury parish, where he had lived for 5 or 6 years. He did not know Woodcockes's ancestors, but he had seen his brother and been to his house in Berkshire, 'where he is reputed to be a gentleman well descended; but by what manifest signes it should appear to Bacon or his neighbours that Woodcockes was or is a gentleman he knoweth not.' Wodocockes rented lands in Ledbury, but he did not know of what annual value. Woodcockes had 'demeaned himself orderly, and in good repute, and wore such decent habitt as befitted his quality for ought he ever sawe or knewe to the contrary.'

2. He had known Bacon since the witness's own infancy, during which time Bacon 'was and is accompted to be a man of civill and quiet conversation and not as this witness ever heard or knew addicted to contention, until the differences predeposed happened betwixt him and Woodcockes'.

3. The quarrel happened 'about the midst of day', but he could not remember what day.

4. He observed no provocation offered to Bacon, but Woodcockes 'in a peaceable manner endeavoured to persuade him to quietness'. Bacon had his knife in hand 'at least a land's length distant from the company predeposed and before he came nigh to the dogge; neither did he perceive Woodcockes's dogge to runne upon Bacon's signe at all. And he also saith that as he, accompanied with Woodcockes and George Adney, passed by the dwelling of Bacon, Bacon in a friendly manner greeted them, and what should provoke him to the premises predeposed he knoweth not.'

5. At the time of Bacon's abuses, there was about 6 or 8 yards in distance between Woodcocke's and Bacon, 'and Bacon made towards Woodcockes to come nigher unto him, but George Adney stept in betwixt them and persuaded him to the contrarie in manner predeposed'.

6. 'He stands endebted unto Mr Woodcockes in the sume of xxx s or xl s or thereabouts and also that he is bounde as suretie with Woodcockes for about 40 li more.'

Signed by William Symonds, and by the four commissioners.

fos. 242v-244r (Witness 3), George Wall, vicar of Bosbury, co. Hereford, clerk, lived there about 31 years, aged about 64

To Woodcockes's libel:

1. He had known Woodcockes for 5 or 6 years, but did not know his ancestors. In Ledbury parish Woodcockes had been usually known as Mr Woodcockes.

Signed by George Wall, and by the four commissioners.

To Bacon's interrogatories:

1. Woodcockes was not born in co. Hereford, 'but is a stranger in his birth unto [Wall]. He liveth upon a farme which he holdeth by rent within the parish of Ledbury, and liveth there as a farmer and imployeth himself accordingly.'

2. He had known Bacon for 30 years, 'during which time Bacon hath byn and is reputed to be a man of civil life and conversation for ought he ever heard or knewe to the contrary.'

Signed by George Wall, and by the four commissioners

Summary of proceedings

Dr Talbot acted as counsel for Woodcockes and Dr Ryves for Bacon. On 10 and 30 October Dr Ryves petitioned that the cause might be dismissed and Woodcockes charged with contempt for non payment of £6-13s-4d in expenses. On 4 December Dr Ryves related the material for the defence on behalf of Bacon.

Notes

Neither party appeared in the Herefordshire Visitation of 1634: M. P. Siddons (ed.), The Visitation of Herefordshire, 1634 (Publications of the Harleian Society, new series, 15, 2002).

Documents

  • Initial proceedings
    • Defendant's bond: 2/167 (17 Nov 1639)
    • Summary of libel: R.19, fo. 1r (1640)
    • Warrant: 18/4f (20 Feb 1640)
  • Plaintiff's case
    • Plaintiff depositions: Cur Mil II, fos. 240-4 (4 Jun 1640)
    • Notary public's certificate: Cur Mil II, fo. 245 (5 Jun 1640)
  • Proceedings
    • Proceedings: 1/11, fos. 56r-64v (10 Oct 1640)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 1/11, fos. 19r-30v (30 Oct 1640)
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 1/11, fos. 79r-87v (4 Dec 1640)

People mentioned in the case

  • Adney, George, gent
  • Bacon, John, gent
  • Bacon, Richard, yeoman
  • Ellis, Mr
  • Howard, Henry, baron Maltravers
  • Nicholetts, Richard, gent
  • Penn, William, gent
  • Ryves, Thomas, lawyer (also Rives)
  • Symonds, William, yeoman
  • Talbot, Clere, lawyer
  • Terrick, Humphrey
  • Wall, George, vicar
  • Walwyn, Fulke, esq
  • Weobly, John, gent
  • Windlowe, John, innkeeper
  • Woodcockes, Moses, gent (also Woodcox, Woodcock)

Places mentioned in the case

  • Herefordshire
    • Bosbury
    • Ledbury
  • London
    • Arundel House
    • Clifford's Inn
    • Strand
  • Middlesex
    • Westminster
  • Salop / Shropshire
    • Church Stretton
    • Stretton Brockhurst

Topics of the case

  • apparel
  • assault
  • calling sirrah
  • debt
  • denial of gentility
  • giving the lie
  • inns of court
  • livestock
  • provocative of a duel
  • weapon