Star Chamber Case: Steill v. Mitchell et al

TNA: STAC 5/S30/16

Item 1, single sheet, col 1

To the tune of ffiliday ffloutes mee.
M Come to me pritty Lasse.
and Harken to my Plainte.
ffor since I maried was.
I have Liued discontent.
My wife is very olde.
I Cannot merry be.
there is nor ‸⸢wealth⸣<...>th nor golde
Can make her sweete to me:
I Lye both daie and night
in suche a Heauye plighte.
that nothinge can delight.
Comforte me ffauncis
F Sweet Michaell shewe your greefe
vnto your trustie ffreinde.
Yf I can yealde releife.
you shall have me at Commaunde.
And ffaithfull will I proue
Soe longe as life doth laste.
Doubte not my dearest Loue
but shew your Sorrowes past
And I will ready bee
to ease your maladie.
In this extremetie.
F welcome to Frauncis:
M For this Kindnes of Love
a Thousand thanks to the
yff thou wilt Constant proue
I will disclose to thee
the greefe and mightie paine
I live in Howerly
with suche a Ielous queane
ffrowninge soe sowerly
That livinge in this striffe
I loose my very life
ffye on my wicked wife
F Welcome to ffrauncis.
M This night yf thou Consent
I meane so<.>e sicke to be
My wife thou shalt acquainte
with my Infirmitie
And shew her in this Case
I meane alone to lye
And to haue thee my Lasse
to beare me Companie
Where we shall passe this nighte
with greate Ioye and delighte
suspected of noe weight
F Welcome to Francis.
It shall not be denyed
to worke this pollicie
ffarewell sweete Master myne
I goe with speed from thee
vnto my Mistress then
for to shew her this Case
M Adue sweete I praie,
god guide you on the waie
I shall praie night and daie
ffor my sweete ffrauncys.

col 2

To the Tune of ffortune/
Wife Come ffrauncis Come make hast and goe with me
it is tyme to rest for suche a one as me
my bones are olde and bloude hath fledd awaie
I marvell muche what makes my husband staie
F Harde Happ god watt your husband is not well
sore sicke he lyes and willed me to tell
He is in bed and meanes a lone to lye
and for his ease woulde haue noe Companie
Wife Alac Alac woe worth this luckles night
and fie vppon this Luckles wight
who hath enioyed my ritches and my treasure
and for all that in me he takes no pleasure
Whie would he refuse to lye with me his wife
as Carefull of his health as of my life
And would not make me privie to his greeffe
who woulde haue sought to yealde him some releeffe
F O Mistress deare lett all your Sorrowes passe
some Sodaine ffitt oppressed him alas
Tomorrow I hope ‸⸢in god⸣ he wilbe well
till then god g Night and soe I bid farewell
To the tune of take thy old Cloake about thee
M What newes quoth he my prettie peate/
mee thinks thou lookes full merely
How faires my wife is she in bedd
that I may haue thy Companie
F Good sir your wife is malecontent.
but what of that it greeves not me
what propper man would give consent
to lye with such a drugge as shee.
M Come on sweete hart and doe not staie
for sore I longe in bedd to be
where we shall haue good sporte and plaie
And passe this night with game and glee.
F Leade you the waie Ile Come a pace
I thinke the tyme as longe as yee
Till each the others Corps imbrace.
Lye still old queane a poxe on the
To the Tune of the Ladies of Essex Lamentacion/
Wife Sighinge sore in woofull wise./
with heauie harte and waterie eyes
Noe rest nor quietnes Can I take
to thinke vppon my vnkinde make
Whoe hath against all lawe and righte
fforsaken me poore seely wighte
Allac and welladaye will I singe
Since my Ioyes they are done
Welladay will I singe nowe
Iohn How noe good Cosen whatt makes you mone
In suche a Case to be alone
That you can take no rest nor ‸ sleepe ⸢nor⸣ rest
but be with greeffe soe sore opprest
Wife I feare that frauncis is this nighte
possessed of my lawfull righte./
John Allthoughe I be her brother deare
to punnishe her I will not spare
with due desert for such an offence
to suche a Craftie wanton wenche
Therefore make hast and doe not staie
Come followe me I will leade the waie. Alac:

col 3

To the Tune of ffor her Aperne
F What gallant hap had I Lustie brave lasse
To scape soe soudenly
from an olde dotinge asse
with my aperne with my aperne
And here I meane to hide my face
with my white aperne
Shee was not soe secretly
within the Chamber dore
But I stole as prively
Into this hall flore: with my Aperne &c.
Here in this present place
will I seeme to be
Sounde sleepinge on the grounde
when they Come to seeke me: with my Aperne &c
Soe shall I sure bee
ffree from all blame
And evermore henceforth
keepe my most honest name.
To the Tune of the Cobler
Wife Come John what shall we doe now for to finde her
I marvaile muche in mynde
what is become of her
But wee will not leave it thus
vntill we finde her
Yett I hope all is well
since she is not yonder
John But look where I doe espie
the sleepie wenche where she doth Lye
What ffrauncis rise vp now I crie
Come to your Mistress quickly
Wife Call againe Cosen John
Call out I pray you.
John Whatt ffrauncis are you deaffe
Can you not heare me
M What stirr is this I heare
are you now maddinge
Sicke men Cannott take theire rest
for this your gaddinge.
I heare of your suspicious heade
allthoughe extreamely sicke I laide
You thought that I had bene in bedd
with this your maiden ffrauncis.
I wishe you make amendes for this
for this greate Slaunder
vniustly laide vppon her
for me you tender
John Cosen your ffault is greate
therefor Crave mercie
Wife pardon vpon my knees
my extreame ffollye
ffor never will I till I die
suspect my husband wrongfully
Good michaell thinke no worse on me
but let vs end in ffreind shippe

Item 3, single membrane (17 May 1602) (Bill of complaint)

To the Quenes most excellent maiestie

Complayning sheweth vnto your maiestie your highnes Daylie oratour and obedyent subiect Michaell Steell of Skelton within your maiesties County of yorke That Whereas your said subiect hath att all tymes heretofore behaved himself well cyvilly and orderly and hath lyved emongest his neighbours and others your maiesties loving subiectes quietly and honestly And during all the tyme afforesaid hath bene of good name and fame And hath lyved in good credytt reckoning accompt and reputacion and so vprightly emongest his neighbours your most loving subiectes That he hath noe way bene sclaunderous nor his good name impayled nor impeached nor his credytt brought in questyon by any person or persons Whosoeuer vntyll now of late that ys to say on or about the fyrst day of November ‸⸢december⸣ last past that one William Bowes of Ellerbeck Within your maiesties County of yorke <...> Edward Mennell ‸⸢esquire⸣ and ffrancis Mytchell having conceyved some causeles displeasure against your said subiect dyd combyne themselves together with diuerse other persons vnknowne to your subiecte whose names he humbly prayeth he may insert in this byll so soone as he shall know the same And the said William Bowes Edward Mennell and ffrancis Mitchell and the said other vnknowne persons so Combyned & not having the fear of god before theyre eyes nor any care or regard of your maiesties good and godlie lawes and statutes in that Cause made and provyded have most wyckedly vncharytably and vngodlyly Conspyred Complotted practised and devised to defame and sclander your said subiect and vtterly to take away his good name and to ouerthrow his credytt and to bryng him into vtter disgrace with your highnes loving subiectes And to that end they the said William Bowes Edward Mennell and ffrancis Mytchell and diuerse ⸢the said⸣ other persons of theyr confederates vnknowne to your said subiect as ys said haue synce your maiesties last generall and free pardon contryved and made or some of theim with the consent ⸢procurement⸣ and pryvyty of the rest have falsely Contryved and made <..> ‸⸢and⸣ caused to be contryved and made diuerse seuerall opprobryous infamous and schlaunderous libells against your said subiect and against one ffrances Thorneton his mayd servant And especyally synce the said last generall pardon they or some of theim or some others by theyr <.......> by practyce had emongest theim and With theyr consentes and pryvytyes have falsely caused or procured to be contryved and made one very fowlle false and sclaunderous libell conteyned in a schedule hereunto annexed against your said subiect and against his said mayd servant. And they and euery of theim haue openly geven out in speeches that the said libell was made against the said mychaell Steille your said subiect he having a wief and against his said mayd servant most wyckedly accusyng yourr said subiect to lyve incontynently with the said ffrances. and that the said libell was ment and intended against your said subiect and they the said William Bowes ffrancis Mytchell and Edward Mennell. haue att seuerall tymes ‸⸢synce the said last generall pardon⸣ openly in the seuerall markett townes of Bedell North allerton and Topcliffe within the county of yorke and in diuerse other places within the said county of yorke seuerally ‸⸢openly⸣ published the said libell and to the greater disgrace of your said subiect they the said William Bowes Edward Mennell and ffrancis Mytchell or some of theim with the consent of the rest haue made or caused to be wrytten and made seuerall copyes of the said libell and have geven the same to stag<.> players who by practyce and procurement of the said William Bowes Edward Mennell and ffrancis Mytchell and by conspyracy had emongest theim haue att the ending of their playes sunge the same as a Iygg to the great sclandall of your said subiect and to the vtter impayrement of his credytt And therby they haue brought him your said subiect into vtter disgrace emongest his neighbores and others your maiesties loving subiectes to his great vexacion and greif And they the said William Bowes Edward Mennell and ffrancis Mytchell or some of theim have confessed that they contryved and made the said libell And that they dyd meane and intende the same against your said subiect to thend to take away his good name and to impeach his credytt and to bryng him into infany infamy and sclaunder ‸⸢therby⸣ as much as they could The which doinges of the said William Bowes Edward Mennell and ffrancis Mytchell ar nott onely contrary to your maiesties lawes in that behalf made and provyded. And ar done synce your highnes last generall and free pardon and so remayne vnpardoned but haue bene and ‸⸢in⸣ tyme to some wylbe to the great scandall and inpayrement of your subiectes credytt and reputacion And the same wylbe to the evyll example of other lewd disposed persons to comitt the like lewd offences if condigne punishement be nott herein shortly had and provyded. May yt therfore please your maiestie to grant vnto your said subiect your maiesties wytt of subpena to be dyrected to the said William Bowes Edward Mennell and ffrancis Mytchell. Comaunding theim ‸⸢and euery of theim⸣ therby att a certain day and vnder a certein payment therein by your maiestie to be lymitted and appointed to be and personally to appear before your maiestie in your highnes court of starchamber then and ther to answer the premisses and to stand to such order and dyreccion touching the premisses as to your maiestie and the lordes of your highnes court of starchamber shall seme to stand with equity and conscyence And your said subiect shall daylie pray to the almighty for your maiestie in health and happynes long to reign over vs

(signed) H Tophan

Item 2, single membrane (18 June 1602) (Defendants' Answers)

The ioynte and severall answeres of William Bewes gentleman Edmund Mennell Esquier and ffrancis Mytchell Defendantes to the bill of Complaynt of Michaell Steele Complainant

The said defendantes and euerye of them savinge to themselves all advantage of Excepcion to the incerteyntie and insuffycyencie of the sayde byll of Complaynte for answere there vnto they and everye of them saie That as to anye wicked vncharitable and vngodlie Consperycie Complotte practice and device to defame and slaunder the Compleynante Or to the contryvinge and makeinge or the consentinge procureinge or privytye of the Contryvinge and makeinge Or the causeinge to be contrived and made of anye approbryous infamous and slaunderous Lybell againste the Compleynante and againste the saide ffrauncis Thorneton in the bill of Compleynte named his mayde servante And as to that by the bill is supposed that they these Defendantes by practize had amongest them and with there consentes and pryvyties haue falselie caused or procured to be contryved and made one verie foole false and slaunderous Libell conteyned in the Scedull to the bill of Complainte annexed againste the Compleynant and againste his said mayde servand And to all other the vnlawefull publisheinge of the said Lybells or anye of them And to all other the Lybellinges vnlawefull makeinge or causeinge to be written and made of anye Coppyes of the said Libell or the givinge thereof to Stage players or to the procureinge of them att the end of there plaies to singe the same as a Iigge to the Scandall of the Complaynant and to the vtter ympechement of his creditt And to all other the misdemeanoures where with these Defendantes or anye of them are in and by the saide bill of Complaynte Charged they and euerye of them pleade ⸢therevnto⸣ not guyltie All which matters these Defendantes and everie of them are and will be readye to averre maynetayne iustifie and prove as this Honorable Courte shall awarde And praye to be dismissed with there reasonable Costes and Chardges in this behalfe most wrongfullie susteyned

(signed) William Pennyman

Item 4, single membrane (23 May 1604) (Defendants' rejoinder)

(signed) William Miller The Reioynder <...>wes and Edw<...>me &c and ffr<...>
Defendantes <...>n of mewhat <...> pleynant per<...>

The sayd defendantes saving to themselves all advantage of except<...>erteyntye and <...>the said Repl<...>herevnto they<...> everye of them for himself seuerallye sayeth that theire said seuerall answeres <..> in all and euerie <...> and thynges in th<...>hem Conteyned <...>sufficient and verye true in such sorte manner and fforme as the same be by the said Defendantes in theire said seuerall Aunsw<......>ett downe and specified <...>said Defendantes further saie that the sayd Compleynantes Replicacion in all and euerye the matters and thinges wherin the same contradicteth or repugneth these defendentes sayde answere is most false and vntrue, without that that these Defendentes or anye of them did by Complottinge and practize had amongest them contrive make and publishe the slaunderous libell in the bill of Compleynt mencioned against the saide Compleynant; and against the sayde ffrances Thorneton in the bill of Compleynt named mallicyously and of purpose vtterlye to discredit and to bring the Compleynantes good name in question, without anye cause att all given vnto them by the Compleynant soe to doe as is in and by the sayde Replicacion vntrulye surmised without that that these Defendantes or any of them are Common libelleres or have since the makeinge of the slaunderous libell mencioned in the bill falselye and slanderouslye contryved and made or published two other seuerall libells against divers other persons of good creditt and reputacion in the Countye of yorke to the greate disgrace slaunder and discreditt of the sayde persons as is likewise in and by the Replicacion of the Compleynant most vntruly surmised And without that alsoe that these defendantes are and for the space of divers yeres past have byn persons of evill demeanor and haue euerye one of them misdemeaned himself in diuers severall kindes Or that these defendantes Edmond Mennell and William Bowes were heretofore bounde, and as yett stande still bounde for the good behaviour before his maiesties Councell in the North at the instance and suyte of the Repliant whome they had formerlye divers waies formerlye wronged and abused as playnelye appeared before his maiesties sayde Councill as is in and by the saide Replicacion alsoe most vntruelye surmysed, And without that alsoe that since the makeinge or publisheinge of the sayde libell the sayde William Bowes one of the Defendantes in the shoppe of one William Bell in Allerton sayed that the Compleynant should not travell in the Countrye but he shoulde be beaten and that soundlye and that in such sort that he shoulde never cast it Or that the said William Bowes one of the Defendantes further reported that he would procure certeyne blewe Cappes meaninge borderers or North Countrye men to kyll the Compleynant and he shoulde never knowe whoe did the same as is lykewise in and by the saide Replicacion most falselye and slanderouslye surmysed And without that alsoe that the sayde Defendant Edmond Mennell vppon servinge of the proces of Subpena vppon him awarded out of this Court, att the suyte of the Compleynant did miscall and revyle the Replyant behinde his backe and vttered harde speeches agaynst him and sayed that if the Compleynant had byn there he woulde haue made him eate the same proces and willed the Repliantes servant to tell the Replyant that he woulde make the Replyant fynde fower payere of legges when he shoulde meete with him, meaneinge to make the Repliant Runne awaye for feare of beinge kylled Or that att that tyme the sayde Edmond Mennell did make an assaulte and affray vppon the Replyantes sayde servant, whoe served him with <..> proces out of the Honorable Court for answeringe of the saide bill of Complaynt Or that in that affraye the sayde Edmond Mennell did sore hurt hym as is likewise in and by the sayd Replicacion most falselye surmised Or that affidavit was made thereof since accordinglie to the knowledge of this defendant Edmond Mennell ffor this Defendant Edmonde Mennell sayeth that if anye such affidavit be made, the same affidavit is most false and vntrue And thereof this Defendant hopeth this Court will take due consyderacion: Or that this Defendant Edmond Mennell for that offence standes comytted to the pryson ‸⸢of⸣ the fleete by order of this honorable Court to the knowledge of this Defendant And without that alsoe that the Defendantes to be further revenged agaynst the Replyant did assemble and gather together certeyne presons vnknowen to the Compleynant within the Town of North Allerton vppon a markett daye a fayer daye there whoe were prepared with Cordes to bynde this Repliant if they should have happened to meete hym in the Towne Or that for that purpose they did come to the said Towne on Companye of the sayde Edmond Mennell Or that the same daye the sayd Edmond Mennell did ryde vppon and downe the sayde Towne seekinge to have mett with the Repliant of purpose to have bett the Repliant with a bull Pysell, which this Defendant Edmonde Mennell had in his hande as is in and by the sayde Replicacion likewise most vntruly surmised./ And without that alsoe that this Defendant Edmond Mennell since the sayde pretended tyme they entred bonde for the good behavior did beate one (blank) Todd beinge the Repliantes kinsman, and one he knewe did affect the Repliant, Or that he did beate him with a switchinge rodde in a publique assemblie at a horse runnynge in disgrace of the Repliant he knoweinge hym to be the Repliantes kynsman as is in and by the sayd Replicacion alsoe vntruelye surmised Or that in soe doeinge this Defendant Edmond Mennell hath forfeited any bond or Recognysance wherein he became as is aforesayd, for this Defendant sayeth that if there were anye such matter he is well assured the Repliant in his great malice against this Defendant would prosequute this Defendant vppon the same bonde or Recognizance with all extremytye. And without that alsoe that the sayde William Bowes hath since the entringe of the said pretended bonde procured his servantes to assault the Repliant and in Cruell and despightfull manner to shuilder the Repliant and to give vnto him verye harde wordes Or that this Defendant William Bowes hath also since that tyme vttered harde speaches against the Repliant and therein revyled hym and hath done what he Cann by slaunderous speeches to take awaye the Replyantes good name as is likewise in and by the sayde Replicacions most vntruely surmised, with this alsoe that half a yere att the least before the sayd supposed libell made the Compleynant had turned his wief from him to shift for her self, And did keepe howse together with his servant ffrances and livyed with her verye suspicyouslye and in Comen evill voyce And ffame And these Defendantes haue byn informed of diuers other verye lewde and wicked Courses and behavioures vsed by the Compleynant against his sayde wief and in maynteynytnge the sayde ffrances his servant to the great scandall and evell example of all the neighboures neere adioynynge, the partyculers whereof these Defendantes doe forbeare to sett downe, but leaves the same to be spoken of by such as are them selves privye and acquaynted with the truth thereof And without that alsoe that anye other matter or thinge in the Replicacion of the sayde Compleynant conteyned matteriall or effectuall to be by them these Defendantes Reioyned vnto and is not in this theire Reioynder sufficyentlye confessed and avoyded conuersed or denyed is true All which matteres these Defendantes are and will be readye to averre iustifye and prove as this honorable Court shall award and pray as in there sayde answere they have prayed

(signed) William Pennyman

  • Marginalia
    • °Iu<..> 18 Iunij Anno 44o Elizabeth Regine signed William Miller°
  • Footnotes
    • ffauncis: for ffrauncis
    • so<.>e: letter smudged; likely r
    • ‸ sleepe: carat misplaced; for sleepe ‸
    • <...>: approximately 15 characters erased
    • stag<.>: letter lost to hole in MS
    • sclandall: for scandall
    • wytt: forwrytt
    • <...>wes: up to 16 characters lost to tear
    • Edw<...>me: up to 20 characters lost to tear
    • ffr<...>: up to 18 characters lost to tear
    • <...>n: up to 12 characters lost to tear
    • me: 2 minims form; reading uncertain
    • <...>: up to 17 characters lost to tear
    • per<...>: up to 15 characters lost to tear
    • except<...>erteyntye: up to 10 characters lost to tear
    • <...>the: up to 14 characters lost to tear
    • Repl<...>herevnto: up to 15 characters lost to tear
    • they<...>:up to 16 characters lost to tear
    • <...>up to 13 characters lost to tear
    • th<...>hem: up to 15 characters lost to tear
    • <...>sufficient: up to 14 characters lost to tear
    • <...>said: up to 10 characters lost to tear
    • out: 1 minim for u
    • presons: for persons
    • on: for in
    • Replicacions: for Replicacion
  • Endnote

    As the Star Chamber documents reveal, the jig was played at a variety of locations around the North Riding, including Bedale, Northallerton, Osmotherley, Hilton, as well as Grimscar in the West Riding.

    Lawyer William Pennyman was the JP who signed all the papers in the Star Chamber jig.

  • Document Description

    Record title: Star Chamber Case: Steill v. Mitchell et al
    Repository: TNA
    Shelfmark: STAC 5/S30/16
    Repository location: Kew

    Although a number of jigs survive from the period, this appears to be the only example directed at an individual (see Clegg and Skeaping, Singing Simpkin, pp 182–198, and also the Introduction).

    1602–4; English; paper and parchment; 4 items tied together, item 1: single sheet, items 2–4, single membranes; 200–410mm x 315–535mm; item 3 endorsed 'Lune decimo Septimo Maij Anno xliiijto Elizabeth Regine | (signed) William Miller | P Trinitie.'

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