STAC 5/F1/5 - B A - Hil 39 Eliz - Dorset Somerset - Edmund Fanstone, Rafe Willes v Gyles Gyllet, William Collyns, Laurence Frye, Jane Frye, Richard Gyllet, Joan Gyllett, William Powell alias Bed, John Wiseman, John Langdon see STAC Fanstone
Transcribed by Helen Good
Bill Verso 10 Feb 39 Eliz
To the Queens most excellent Majesty
Humbly complaining show and inform your highness your majesty’s dutiful and loving subjects Edmund Fanstone of Okeford Fitzpaine in your highness County of Dorsett gentleman and Rafe Willes of West Chelborough in your said County yeoman That whereas heretofore agreements and conclusions have been made and put in w[. . . ] for and concerning a marriage to be had and solemnised betwixt your highness said subject Edmund Fanstone of the one party and Margaret Willis daughter of the foresaid Rafe Willes of the other party. After which agreements with the good liking and consent of the said Rafe there was affiance and lawful contract made and perfected between your highness said subject Edmund Fanstone and the said Margaret Willes.
But so it is right gracious sovereign that after this and before intermarriage and solemnisation thereof had, one Giles Gyllett of Barwicke in your County of Somerset a common carrier and a man of very lewd conditions knowing or made acquainted with the premises did combine and conspire together with one William Collyns, Lawrence Frye and Joane his wife, Richard Gyllett and Joane his wife, William Nowell alias Bed clark John Wiseman, Robert Frye and Joane Langdon with a rabble of others desperate persons to the number of twenty yet unknown to your highness said subject who being unlawfully assembled together at Barwick aforesaid and then and there being prepared and arrayed with swords, dagges, calivers and long piked staves and with other weapons as well invasive as defensive in or about the thirteenth day of January last past [. . . . ] forcibly and in riotous and routous manner they or some of them took and carried or caused to be taken and carried away the said Margaret Willes then and yet being within the age of fourteen years then unmarried out of or from the possession custody or government of her said father or those to whom her father committed her, and against the will of her said father and against the will of the said Margaret the said malefactors being then above the age of twenty years And the said rioters being so prepared then and there as aforesaid they or some of them did forcibly assault dangerously hurt and cruelly entreat Matthew Fanstone who was specially appointed to keep the said Margaret putting him in danger and despair of his life, And so most unlawfully unchristianly riotously and routously then and there haled the said Margaret and rent the garments of the said Margaret And did convey violently or caused to be conveyed violently riotously and riotously against the will of her said father as Is aforesaid into the house of the said Richard Gillett in Barwicke aforesaid and there restrained her from her liberty not suffering her father or any friend of hers to have access to her And not contented with their dangerous and pernicious practices unlawful in consideration of law pernicious in example barbarous in respect of the minority and sex of the said Margaret who could make no resistance or defence but with lamentable tears and entreaties. And the said malefactors in this manner rage and outrage prevailing he the said Gyles Gyilet and other the said malefactors in contempt and profanation of all laws and against your majesty’s laws and statutes in such case princely provided and royally established against such heinous malefactors and dangerous offenders he the said Gyles Gyilett and other the said malefactors practised wrought contrived or rather unlawfully extorted a contract or matrimony between the said Gyles Gyilett and the said Margaret whose unwillingness thereunto was such that she would by no means thereunto be allured and persuaded but still stood negatively resolved imparting and protesting onto them that she had formerly and before that time affied and contracted herself to your highness said subject Edmund Fanston from which assurance and affied determination she would never turn or change during life Notwithstanding which unwillingness of the said Margaret and knowledge of publication of the said former contract made with the said Edmund Fanston as aforesaid the said malefactors or some of them did riotously routously and in forcible manner take or convey or cause to be taken and conveyed the said Margaret from place to place and to places yet unknown to your said subjects and did draw the said Margaret to consent to contract or to be married to the said Gyles Gyilet against the world of your Highness said subjects answer the great grievance and to the intolerable wrong of your highness said subject Edmund Fanston who had and hath lawful interest and former assurance by lawful contract of matrimony in this said Margaret Willes,
Forasmuch therefore right gracious sovereign that these lewd misdemeanours and most unlawful practices riots routs and unlawful assemblies are hateful to God dangerous in example and highly repugnant and contrary to your Highness laws and statutes in such case most princely and royally provided the precedent whereof of worthy and condign punishment be not imposed upon such lewd and licentious offenders may give encouragement to others to perpetrate do and commit the like, Your highness said subjects therefore for duel reformation hereof do humbly pray your majesty’s most gracious writ of subpoena to be directed to the said Gyles Gyilet, William Collyns, Lawrence Frye and Joane and his wife, Richard Gillet and Joan his wife William Powell alias Bed, John Wiseman, Robert Frye and Johan Langdon commanding them and every of them by the same at a certain day and under a certain pain therein to be limited personally to appear before your majesty in your majesty’s Court of Star Chamber then and there to answer to the premises and further to abide such order and direction therein as to your majesty and your most honourable Council shall be thought meet and convenient, And your majesty’s said subjects according to their most bounden duties shall daily pray to god for your excellent majesty’s most royal estate in all felicity long to reign over us.
Answer 14 Feb Anno 39 Eliz
The joint and several answers of Gyles Gillett and Lawrence Frye two of the Defendants to the Bill of Complaint of Edmunde Fanston and Ralfe Willes Complainants
The said defendants sayen and every of them for himself sayeth that the said Bill of Complaint against them and others therein named is as these defendants are informed by their counsel very imperfect and insufficient in the law to be answered unto, framed and convised as these defendants verily think by the special labour and procurement of the said complainant Fanston without the privity of the other complainant Wills, of purpose to put these defendants to great unquietness in their minds and great expenses of their goods and chattels in suits of laws The advantage nevertheless of exception to the uncertainties and insufficiencies of the said Bill of Complaint to these defendants now and at all times hereafter saved and reserved. These defendants for answer to such points of the said Bill as our laid to the charge of these defendants by said Bill sayen And first percent Gyles Gillett for himself personally sayeth That he the defendant having been moved by the grandmother and other the friends of the said Margaret Wills in the said Bill named to contract matrimony with the said Margaret there did afterward pass speech between this defendant and the said Margaret to that purpose since which time and about five weeks now last past the said Margaret of her own accord came to this defendant Gillett to Barwicke the said Bill named being about five miles distant from the place where the said Margaret had before her abiding, And within some short time after this defendant Gillett with the good liking of the said Margaret took her to wife and was lawfully espoused unto her according to the laws and rites of Holy Church in that case requisite which being known to the complainant Fanston and the said the complainant together with Mathewe Fanston his uncle, John Wiseman, Robert Fry and divers others his complices upon Monday being the four and twentieth day of January now last past in very riotous manner assembled themselves at Barwicke aforesaid and then and there did forcibly enter the house of this defendant Gillett being then from home and then and there did violently take this defendants said wife and carried her away from the said house against the good will and consent of this defendants said wife, And carried away also with her some apparel money and other goods of this defendants Gillett which this defendants said wife had then and there about her and do yet detain this defendants said wife and the said apparel money and goods from this defendant. In which regard this defendant Gillett verily thinketh he hath greater cause to complain in this honourable court than the complainants have to sue or vex these defendants for any matter comprised in the said Bill, And this defendant further sayeth, That he neither did nor doth know of any goods or chattels which this defendant might have in marriage with the said Margaret and therefore [th..tolethe] the said Margaret shall be better preferred by her intermarriage with this defendant than any portion which she hath or ought to have may advance or benefit this defendant. And both the said defendants for and touching all and every other the offences and misdemeanours examinable in this honourable court Wherewith they or either of them are charged by the said Bill of Complaint sayen and either of them for himself severally sayeth That they nor any of them is guilty of the same supposed misdemeanours or of any off them in such manner and form as in and by the said Bill of Complaint is very untruely surmised against them, All which the said defendants now answering are ready to aver and prove as this Honourable Court shall award. And pray to be dismissed from the same with their reasonable costs and expenses in this behalf sustained.