Star Chamber Case: Serle v. Abrey

TNA: STAC 8/262/11

single membrane (25 May 1614) (Bill of complaint)

To the kinges moste excellente maiesty in his highness
Court of sterchamber

In moste humble wyse Complayninge sheweth & enformeth your moste excellente maiesty Your highnes faythfull and obedyente subiecte Richard Serle of Alton in your highnes County of Southampton yeoman That wheras Iohn <.> ffarrington alias verndell Iohn Abrey and William Abrey of Alton aforesaide beinge very troublesome & disordred persons together with sondry other riotous and inordinate persons whose names are asyet to your said subiecte vnknowne on whitsonday nowe laste paste beinge on the three & twentyth day of May in the eleventh yere of your highnes raigne over this your realme of Englande vnlawfully procured one Peter Smyth a mynstrell a vagrant person to play and themselues therto daunced in Alton aforesaid within a place then and there Called the somer howse in greate profanacion of that sabith and againste your maiesties proclamcion before that tyme made and published against the generall profanacion of sabithes And where alsoe your said subiecte then was and by the space of one yere then laste paste was Constable of the said towne of Alton and lawfully sworne to execute his said office And thervpon your subiecte and the churchwardens of the same towne on the same whitsonday laste in peaceable manner required the said disordred persons to desiste from that vnseasonable sporte tellinge them there were likely to followe other dayes more meete for the same wherto the said Iohn Abrey out of former malice vniustly Conceaved againste your said subiecte and of purpose to draweyth said subiecte into some daunger Contemptuously tolde your subiecte and the said Churchwardens they would Continewe their said doinges in despighte of your subiecte & that they would doe yt that day or not att all whervpon your subiecte Comaunded one Roberte fforder then tythingman of Alton aforesaide to eyde your said subiecte to apprehende the saide mynstrell as a ‸⸢disordred and⸣ vagrant person which said Roberte fforder then and there in favor to the said disordred persons Contemptuously refused soe to doe And thervpon your subiecte laid handes on the said mynstrell and required him to goe with your subiecte before a Iustice of the peace of the said Countie to aunswere that matter And thervpon the said Iohn Abrey William Abrey Iohn ffarrington alias verndell and other their said vnlawfull Complices on the said saboth day vnlawfully forcibly and riotously at Alton aforesaide tooke & rescued the said mynstrell from your subiecte & had him into the howse of Edward Abrey in Alton aforesaide And there the said mynstrell played within doores & the saide Contemptuous persons & per other their Complices then & there daunced without doores Whervpon your said subiecte forthwith departed And shortly after & vpon the said saboth day the said disordred persons and other their said Complices broughte forth their said mynstrell agayne and Contynewed their said vnlawfull pastymes and placed one of their said Confederates vpon the toppe of the said h somer howse of purpose to watch your said subiecte And when as your said subiecte was Cominge toward ‸⸢them⸣ The said Confederates in their presence and by their appoyntement Cryed out to their said Consortes in turbulent and outragious manner and with often exclamacions/ Beware thefydler/ And when as neyther your said subiecte nor the saide Churchwardens Could that day keepe the same disordred persons from such profanacion your subiecte in the eveninge of the said whitsonday laste after the sune was sett laid his handes on the said Peter then beinge in the said somer howse accompanied with diverse of the said disordred persons and required him to goe with your subiecte, Your said subiecte purposinge and intendinge to have had him before some Iustice of peace of the said Countie with as much Convenient speede as mighte be to aunswere those mysdemeanors, Whervpon the said Edward Abrey beinge father of to the said Iohn Abrey & William Abrey and father in lawe to the said verndell for vnlawfull favor to his said sonnes and sonne in lawe And by the then vnlawfull encouragement and provacacion of his said sonnes & sonne in lawe Came forth of his howse at Alton aforesaide to your said subiecte & revyled your subiecte & threatned he would make your subiecte spende greate somes of money and be Comitted to the gaole and threatned him with suites in this honorable Courte for interupcion of their said sportes And the said verndell Iohn Abrey and William Abrey vpon the said Whitsonday laste by the then vnlawfull encouragement of the said Edward Abrey forcybly riotously and vnlawfully assaulted & Caughte your subiecte by the throate & riotously rescoussed the said Peter from & forth of your subiectes Custody And where alsoe after the said areste & rescousse and vpon the said Whitsonday laste one Leonard Pyvall a very disordred person by the then vnlawfull procurement of the said Iohn Abrey William Abrey Edward Abrey and Iohn verndell forcibly violently & riotously assaulted and beate your subiecte at Alton aforesaide as he was in execucion of his said office & threwe him into the dyrte and Cryed out to others of their said Complices to treade vpon your subiecte And your subiecte thervpon laid handes and arested the said Pyvall to aunswere his said misdemeanor And then & there by aucthorite of his said office Comaunded the said verndell, Edward, Iohn, & William Abrey with divers other disordred persons there standinge therin to assiste your subiecte But the said verndell, Edward Abrey Iohn Abrey and William Abrey and the other disordred persons in Contempte of your subiectes said office not only refused soe to doe But also then and there vyolently forcibly and riotously tooke and rescoussed the said Pyvall from and out of your subiectes Custody And the said verndell Called your subiecte puritan willinge him to goe to Chalton agayne to heare the devill where indeede the said riotors knewe your subiecte had ben that day and heard a sermon preached at Chalton aforesaide by Mr Love then schoolemaster of wynchester Colledge & one of his maiesties Chapleyns beinge about half a myle distante from Alton aforesaide where noe preacher then or yet dwelleth Whervpon one Iohn Butler gentleman/ dwellinge neere vnto the said place in Alton aforesaid/ then & there Came in vnto them & perswaded the said verndell Edward Abrey William Abrey Iohn Abrey and the reste of the said riotors to be quiett And thervpon the said Verndell and other the said riotors cryed out agayne agayne and forcibly and riotously Caughte your subiecte by the bosome and incyted others their Complices to doe the like And one Roger Adderley servant to the said Iohn butler then and there by your subiectes Commaundement Came to helpe your subiecte which said Adderley the said verndell by the then vnlawfull encouragement and provacacion of the said Iohn Abrey William Abrey Edward Abrey and other their riotous Complices forcibly and riotously spurned and assaulted tore his Ierkyn tooke away his hatt & brake his head and grievously beate and wounded him the said Roger And though the said malefactors were then and there required by your subiecte to keepe your maiesties peace and to eyde your subiecte in thapprehension of the said Pyvall & verndell and appeasinge the said riottes yet they the said Iohn Abrey William Abrey and the reste of the said riotors refused soe to doe and made a greate rewytinge in the presence of divers other riotors their Confederates then and there assembled together by reason of that styrre and noyes with many outcryes & Clamors, said that the towne ys ours Downe goeth the prieste yt ys the better for vs a<..>, And the said Iohn Abrey shortly after wished yt had ben darker when the said sturre was for then they Could have more beaten your subiecte ‸⸢and the said Butler⸣ And where alsoe the said Iohn Abrey William Abrey and Iohn ffarington alias verndell at the generall sessions of the peace in the said county of Southampton holden at wynchester in the said County of Southampton the xxix⸢th⸣ day of Iune nowe laste paste before Sir Beniamyn Tytchborne knighte Sir Hampden Powlett knighte Sir William Vuedale knighte Sir Richard Tytchborne knighte Iames Wolueridge esquior and others then Iustices of the peace of the said County were by the grandenqueste then & there sworne to enquire ‸⸢for the body of the said County⸣ indyted for that whereas your subiecte one of the Constables of the hundred of Alton the said three and twentyth of may in the said eleventh yere of your maiesties raigne at Alton aforesaid in the County aforesaid by vertue of his said office had arested and had in his Custody the said Peter Smyth a mynstrell as a vagabond & bearinge him self inordinatly in Alton aforesaid Contrary to the forme of the statutes in that behalf in that behalf ordeyned for divers evill deedes by him Comytted That the said William Abrey Iohn Abrey and Iohn ffarington alias verndell knowenge your subiecte then to be one of the Constables of the said hundred the saide three and twentyth day of may in the said eleventh yere of your highnes raigne with force and armes at Alton aforesaid the said Peter Smyth then and there from the Custody of your subiecte vnlawfully dyd rescue and take And the said Peter Smyth then and there at lardge to goe dyd permitt in contempte of your maiesty and Contary to your maiesties lawes Crowne and <.> dignitie And vpon which said inditemente the said Iohn Abrey William Abrey and Iohn verndell were at the said sessions seuerally arraigned and therto seuerally pleaded not guiltie And thervpon yssue was ioyned and a Iurie of twelue good and lawfull men of the said Countie were lawfully retorned by the then shrief of the said Countie ympannelled and sworne and at that sessions Chardged to try the same yssue before the same Iustices To which Iurors at that tryall vpon their said arrangement the said William Abrey Iohn Abrey and Iohn verndell vnlawfully and Corruptly produced Iohn Carpinter Myles Silvester and Samuell Wake as wytnesses on their behalf whoe beinge seuerally sworne then and there to give evydence at that tryall did then and there by the then vnlawfully malicyous and Corrupte procurement and subornacion of the said Iohn Abrey William Abrey & Iohn verndell and in their vnlawfull favor falsly corruptly and seuerally depose that the said Peter Smyth at the tyme when your said subiecte had arested him as aforesaid and before the said areste had taken parte of the howse of one Iohn hawkyns in Alton aforesaide and was a dweller and inhabitante in the same when he was soe arested And that the said Peter was then hyred by the Churchwardens of Alton aforesaid to play as a mynstrell that saboth day and soe was noe vagabond within the said statute And vpon those false deposicions the said Iury ympannelled to trye thissue as aforesaide found the said William Abrey Iohn Abrey & Iohn verndell not guiltie of the said offence wherof they stoode indyted as aforesaide wherin the said Carpinter Silvester and Wake seuerally Comitted moste wilfull & Corrupte periurie And the said William Abrey Iohn Abrey & Iohn verndell wilfull & Corrupte subornacion of periurie Contrary to the lawes and statutes of this your highnes Realme of England in greate disceipte to your maiesty & preiudice of your highnes in the fynes which mighte & oughte to have accrewed to your maiesty for & vpon the fyndinge of the truth of the said offence ffor that the saide Peter Smyth before the said areste had not taken any such roomes of the howse of the said Iohn hawkyns nor did there inhabite or ly before the said whitsonday ‸⸢nor was soe hyred by the said Churchwardens to play on the said saboth day⸣ as the said Carpinter Silvester & Wake did falsly depose In Consideracion wherof & for that the said offences are greate misdemeanors and all of them done since your maiesties laste free & generall pardon And by the impunity of such like offences many other Constables have before ben beaten hurte & resisted in thexecucion of their said offices in Alton aforesaid euery yere by the space of fyve or sixe yeres laste paste & so will still be there resisted yf the said offendors shall not be Condignely punished for their said offences which offences will the more apparauntly appeare & their partners be revealed yf the said offendors may be Compelled to aunswere the premisses vpon Interrogatories alsoe to them to be mynistred It may therfore please your maiesty to graunte to your said subiecte your maiesties moste gracious writes of subpena to be directed vnto the said Edward Abrey Iohn Abrey William Abrey Leonard Pyvall Iohn ffarrington alias verdell Robert fforder Iohn Carpenter myles Silvester Samuell Wake & other the said offendors whose names shall herafter Come to your subiectes knowledge Comaundinge them & euery of them therby at a Certen day & vnder a Certein payne therin to be lymitted personally to be & appeare before your maiesty & the lordes of your highnes moste honorable privy Councell in your highnes Court of sterchamber at Westminster then & there to aunswere the premisses & that your subiecte may have libertie to incert the said offendors whose names shall Come to your subiectes knowledge into this your subiectes bill as defendantes to aunswere the premisses & that all the said offendors to receive such Condigne punishment for their said offences & misdemeanors as to right & iustice shall apperteyne And your said subiecte accordinge to his bounden duty & allegennce shall daylie pray for your highnes moste prosperous & happie raigne

  • Footnotes
    • <.>: possibly erased or faded line filler
    • whitsonday: 12 June 1614
    • Chalton: Chawton, a village very close to Alton
    • a<..>: top half of letters faded; likely for all
    • Wake: followed by a blank space of 155mm, or c 75 characters
    • aunswere: bisected by tear in MS
    • for: bisected by tear in MS
  • Glossed Terms
    • allegennce n allegiance
    • disceipte n deceit; disceyte
    • eyde n aid
    • rewytinge vb n routing; shouting, bellowing, crying out [OEDO rout v.4 1]
    • saboath n sabbath; sabith; sabithe
  • Document Description

    Record title: Star Chamber Case: Serle v. Abrey
    Repository: TNA
    Shelfmark: STAC 8/262/11
    Repository location: Kew

    Alton is in the north-eastern part of the county, roughly twelve miles south of Basingstoke and ten miles north-east of Winchester. It was a substantial town by the seventeenth century, one of ten in the county to reach a population of one thousand by 1600 (Peter Clark and Jean Hosking, Population Estimates of English Small Towns 1550–1851, Centre for Urban History, University of Leicester, Working Paper No 5 (Leicester, 1989; rev 1993), 61–6). The existence of 'a place then and there Called the somer howse' in Alton suggests that St Lawrence parish had a tradition of summer games, but no other evidence of that tradition exists. Churchwardens' accounts survive from 1625 and the first two years of accounts mention hocking, but nothing about summer games (see the St Lawrence's Churchwardens' Accounts, 1625–6 and 1626–7).

    25 May 1614; English; parchment; single membrane; 450mm x 542mm; good condition, although slightly frayed and torn at bottom, all writing still legible, left-hand edge perforated where previously stitched into a roll; on dorse, upper right corner: 'Serle versus Abrey et alios P<...> Ia R,' upper middle written vertically in another hand: 'Billam Serle versus Abrey,' in another hand across middle: 'Mercurij Vicesimo quinto die Maij Anno duodecimo Iacobi Regis' and below that in yet another hand: 'I Parker' (all these in ink), also bears more recent pencil markings: 'Star Cham Proc Jas I 262/11' and 'STAC 8/262/11,' at upper left of recto is attached the answer of the three Abreys, Verndell, Carpenter, Wake, and Silvester – it is formulaic and brief, a flat denial of all the charges (dated 26 May).

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