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Archaeologia Cantiana -  Vol. 134  2014

A History of the Ecclesiastical Courts of the Diocese of Canterbury, 1566-86, based on the
   Cause papers bound within the Volume MS.F.4.12. By Karen Rushton

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Entry 5 f.12 verso – Libel, Defamation  - Transcription and Translation

Editorial Conventions
Each entry that has been selected for transcription is given with its entry number and folio number as well as the type of record and type of case. Directly following each transcription is a full translation of the entry, and the sections of entries that were originally in English are shown in italics in the translation. The transcription follows the original exactly in terms of spelling, punctuation and capitalisation. Also, capitalisation of certain words can be inconsistent or inaccurate but again it has been transcribed without corrections as not to do so would detract from the research value and would be wrongly influencing the record’s interpretation.
   All abbreviated words have been extended with the missing letters included in square brackets. Words and sentences that have been inserted later are indicated by a forward and backward slash to show where it has been inserted. In the same vein words that have been crossed out by the scribe are transcribed with a line running through them to illustrate the mistakes of the scribe and to try and remain true to the original. Where words have been seemingly joined together they are shown separately in the transcription apart from the occasions when the word ‘que’ has been added on the end of words to indicate ‘and’. Letters such as i and j and u, v, and n, which can often be indistinguishable from one another, are transcribed in the form they are written in rather than the letter they are supposed to represent when it is clear.
    In the translation Christian names have been anglicised but all surnames remain as in the original record. Correcting surnames to their modernised forms would not accurately reflect the meaning and is sometimes difficult to do, especially given the inconsistencies in the spelling of surnames, which is in itself a potentially interesting point. Similar to Christian names, all place names appear in the translation in their modern forms.

In dei no[m]i[n]e amen, coram vobis ven[er]abili viro mag[ist]ro
Thoma Lawse legu[m] doctore, Civitatis et dio[cesi]s Cant[uariensis]
Co[m]missario generali, l[egi]time deputat[o] v[est]rove in hac
p[ar]te surrogato, aut alio Iudice in hac p[ar]te compete
quocu[m]q[ue], Pars honeste mulieris Elestine Badfelde
uxoris Augustini Badfelde p[ar]ochie de Elmested Cant[uariensis]
dio[cesi]s, c[ontra] et adversus Thomam Bowser de ead[em] p[ar]ochia
ac c[ontra] quemc[um]q[ue] aliu[m] coram vobis p[ro] eodem in judice
l[egi]time comp[ar]en[s], dicit, allegat at in hiis script[is]
in iure p[ro]ponit articulatim p[ro]ut sequitur,

1. Inprimis vi[delicet] q[uo]d omnes et singuli qui convitia
vituperia, verbave contumeliosa, convitiosa,
Iniuriosa, obp[ro]briosa, scandalosa, sive diffamatoria
seu alia quecu[m]q[ue] ad infamiam, denigrac[i]onem vel
lesionem status bone fame aut opinionis alicuius
sonan[tia] sive tenden[tia] maliciose pub[li]ce contra bonos
mores alicui sive de aliquo dicunt, emittunt,
asserunt, p[ro]ferunt seu p[re]dicant, fuerunt ac sunt
iuxta iuris exigen[s] corrigend[um] et puniend[um],
Necnon vt ab h[uius]mo[d]i vituperiis verbisq[ue] contumeliosis
Iniuriosis, obp[ro]briosis, scandalosis, et diffamatorii
desistant, et penitus se abstineant infuturu[m] l[egi]time
de iure cogend[o], compellend[o], et compescend[o],
libellat ac ponit p[ar]s ista con[juncti]m divi[si]m ac de
quoli[be]t, Et petit q[uo]d dictus Thomas Bowser
r[esp]ondere compellatur cuili[be]t p[ar]ticule huius ar[ticu]le
p[er] hoc verbum credit vel non credit, si non
r[esp]ondiderit diverte, affirmative vel negative,

2. It[e]m q[uo]d p[re]no[m]i[n]atus Thomas Bowser, p[re]misso[rum] om[n]i[u]m
et singulo[rum] satis conscius, Ip[s]is tamen non obstans
sed post ac contra ea, mensibus Martii, Aprilis
Maii, Iunii, Iulii, Augusti, Septembris, octobris
Novembris, Decembris et Ianuarii, Anno d[omi]ni
1579, iam curren[ti], eor[um]ve mensiu[m] quoli[be]t uno sive

f.12 recto
aliquo, infra p[ar]ochiam de Stowtynge Cantuar[iensis] dio[cesi]s
seu alia loca publica eidem vicina, no[n]nulla verba
contumeliosa, convitiosa, obp[ro]briosa, scandalosa
sive diffamatoria, ad infamiam, denigrac[i]o[n]em
et lesionem status bone fame et opinionis
p[re]fate Elestine Badfelde, sonan[tia] et tenden[tia] eidem
Elestine, seu saltem de eadem nequiter et
maliciose dixit, emisit, ass[er]uit, et vociferavit
dicend[o] et publice affirmand[o] verba anglica
sequen[tia], seu alia eisd[em] in effectu consimilia
eundem effectu[m] importan[tia] vi[delicet]. Thow art or
she is a wytche, & thow art, or she is
naught of her body, or of thy body, i[n]nuend[o]
p[re]fatam Elestinam Badfelde, Ponit ac libellat
p[ar]s ista con[juncti]m divi[si]m ac de quoli[be]t, Et petit
vt supra

3. It[e]m q[uo]d p[re]fatus Thomas Bowser, Anno et mensibus
p[re]dict[is] eor[um]ve mensiu[m] quoli[be]t uno sive aliquo,
se h[uius]mo[d]i verbu[m] de p[re]fata Elestina Badfelde
vt p[re]fertur maliciose dixisse, emisisse et
publice p[re]dica[vi]sse, coram testibus no[n]nullis
fidedignis, sepius publice seu semet fassus est
recognovit, et iactitavit, Ponit ac petit vt

4. It[e]m q[uo]d p[re]textu et occasione p[re]dicto[rum] verbo[rum] p[ro]lac[i]on[is]
ass[er]c[i]onis, et publice affirmationis, status bona
fama et opinio p[re]fate Elestine Badfeld
ap[u]d bonos et graves enormiter leduntur et
gravantur, Boniq[ue] et graves habuerunt et habent
eandem in minore reputac[i]one et favore, Ponit
ac petit vt supra,

f.13 verso
5. It[e]m q[uo]d dictus Thomas Bowser fuit ac est p[ar]ochie de
Elmested Cantuar[iensis] dio[cesi]s, Et eo p[re]textu jurisdictionem
v[est]re (d[omi]ne judex an[ti]dicte) notorie subditus
et subiectus, Ponit ac petit ut supra,

6. It[e]m q[uo]d p[re]missa o[mn]ia et singula fuerunt ac sunt
vera, publica, notoria, manifesta, p[ar]iter
et famosa, Ac de et sup[er] eisdem laborarunt
et in p[rese]nti laborant publica vox et fama,
Unde facta fide de iure in hac p[ar]te requisita
ad quam faciend[um] iux[ta] iuris exigen[tiam], p[ar]s d[i]c[t]e Elestine
Badfelde offert se p[ro]mptu[m] et parat[um] p[ro] loco et tempore
congruis et oportunis, Petitq[ue] p[ar]s eadem jus et
iusticiam sibi fieri et mi[ni]strari cu[m] effectu dictu[m]q[ue]
Thomam Bowser p[ro] tante sue temeritat[is] excessu in
p[re]missis o[mn]ibus et singulis iux[ta] iuris exigen[tiam], corrigend[um]
et puniend[um] fore decerni et declarari, Ip[su]mq[ue]
Thomam Bowser in expens[is] l[egi]timis p[er] p[ar]tem p[re]fate
Elestine Badfelde in hac c[aus]a et occasione lit[is] h[uius]mo[d]i
fact[is] et fiend[is] de quib[us] p[ro]testatur condemnari,
Ac condemnat[ur] vsq[ue] ad debitam soluc[i]o[n]em ear[un]dem l[egi]time
cogi et compelli p[er] vos et v[est]ram Sententiam diffinitivam
in hac p[ar]te ferend[us] d[omi]ne judex an[ti]dicte, ulteriusq[ue]
fieri, statui et decerni in p[re]missis q[uo]d iustu[m] fuerit
p[re]missa p[ro]ponens con[jucti]m et divi[si]m non arctans se
ad o[mn]ia et singula p[re]missa p[ro]band[um] nec ad om[n]is
sup[er]flue p[ro]bac[i]onis de quo p[ro]testatur, sed quat[e]nus
p[ro]baverit in p[re]missis eatenus in petit[is] obtineat iuris
beneficio in o[mn]ibus semp[er] salvo v[est]rum officiu[m] quat[e]nus
oportebit humil[iter] implorand[o], d[omi]ne judex an[ti]dicte

In the name of God amen, before you the venerable man master Thomas Lawse, doctor of laws, Commissary general of the city and diocese of Canterbury, lawfully appointed or by you in this part substituted by any other suitable judge whithersover. The part of the honest woman Elestine Badfelde wife of Augustine Badfelde of the parish of Elmsted in the diocese of Canterbury, against Thomas Bowser of the same parish and against whosoever else lawfully appearing in court before us, does say, allege and in these writings in law propound articulately as follows.

1. Firstly, to say that all and singular who says, publishes or declares insolent, abusive, wrongful, opprobrious, scandalous or defamatory words, reproaches or insults or whatsoever others for the dishonour, denigration or harm to the good standing or reputation of anyone, sounding or extending publicly or maliciously against good morals to anyone or concerning anyone, were and are to be corrected and punished according to the law. And also that from these insolent, abusive, wrongful, opprobrious, scandalous and defamatory insults and words they should have desisted and completely restrained themselves, to be proven, called to account and restrained lawfully in the future according to the law. This part sues and produces jointly, separately and for each one. And she seeks that the said Thomas Bowser be compelled to answer affirmatively or negatively for any part of this article by his word whether he believes or does not believe, if he will not have answered you oppose.

2. Item, that the aforesaid Thomas Bower is aware enough of all and singular aforementioned things. Yet these notwithstanding but after and against them for the months of March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December and January in the year of the lord 1579,1 now current, or from any one or all of these months, he wickedly and maliciously said, published, asserted and loudly announced, within the parish of Stowting of the diocese of Canterbury or other public places in the same area, several insolent, abusive, opprobrious, scandalous and defamatory words for the dishonour, denigration and harm of the good standing, fame and reputation of the aforesaid Elestine Badfelde, speaking and extending to the same Elestine or at least concerning the same. By saying and publicly asserting of the words following in English or others with similar effect, causing the same effect, namely, Thow art or she is a wytch, & thow art, or she is naught of her body, or of thy body, implicating the aforesaid Elestine Badfelde. This part produces and sues jointly, separately and for each one. And she petitions as above.

3. Item, that the aforesaid Thomas Bowser, for the year and months aforesaid or by any one or all of these months, often publicly certified and boasted, or himself was acknowledged before several trustworthy witnesses, to have maliciously said, published and publicly proclaimed by himself this kind of word concerning the aforesaid Elestine Badfelde. She produces and petitions as above.

4. Item, that by the pretext and occasion of the aforesaid words of mentioning, assertion and public affirmation, the good status, fame and opinion of the aforesaid Elestine Badfeld are being greatly thwarted and burdened amongst the good and weighty. And the good and weighty held and hold the same in lesser reputation and favour. She produces and petitions as above.

5. Item, that the said Thomas Bowser was and is of the parish of Elmsted of the diocese of Canterbury. And by this pretext is subject to and falls under your jurisdiction, lord judge. She produces and petitions as above.

6. Item, that all and singular aforementioned things are true, public, notorious, equally evident and famous. And that concerning and upon the same a public voice and fame circulated and in the present does circulate.
Whereof, having been faithfully made as required by law in this regard, for which is to be made according to the necessity of law. The part of the said Elestine Badfelde offers herself readily and promptly for an appropriate and opportune time and place. And the same part seeks right and justice for herself to be made and administered with effect, and that the said Thomas Bowser be judged and proved for his great rashness with excess in all and singular aforementioned things, to be corrected and punished according to the necessity of law. And that Thomas Bowser be convicted for the lawful expenses to be had and made by the part of the aforesaid Elestine Badfelde in this cause and the occasion of this lawsuit. And he is being condemned for the lawful payment owed of the same to be forced and compelled by you and your definitive sentence to be brought in this regard, lord judge. And further, to be made, established and decided in the aforementioned things that she will have been just, declaring the aforementioned things jointly and separately. Not reducing herself to proving all and singular aforementioned things, nor to all the superfluous proof, concerning which she protests, but that it will have been proved hitherto in the aforementioned things that she should prevail by the benefit of law in all the matters sought, by humbly imploring your office that it will be necessary, lord judge.

   1. The months of the year are listed beginning at March rather than January as in England up until 1752 the year began on the 25th March. C. R. Cheney, A Handbook of Dates for Students of British History, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000).

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