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Chancery pleadings: 1619 (Stapledon v. Docton)

National Archives ref: C 2/JasI/S4/14
Transcribed by David Carter 2020

[Most punctuation, all line-spaces and implied letters in brackets have been added by the transcriber to aid understanding. Spelling remains verbatim]

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National Archives Catalogue entry:

Record: C 2 - Court of Chancery: Six Clerks Office: Pleadings, Series I (1603-1625)
Date: 1619/20 Jan 19
Short title: Stapledon v Docton.
Plaintiff: Richard Stapledon.
Defendants: Thomas Docton and Elizabeth Docton, William Ackyn, John Cooke, Francis Rowe, Thomas Heard and John Baglehole.
Subject: Lands in Loworthy in the parish of Woolfardisworthy, Devon.
Document type: [pleadings].

TNA Reference: C 2/JasI/S4/14
https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C5732447
 


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Description of documents:

Document 1:    
Complaint of Richard Stapledon of Woolfardisworthy. Undated.

Document 2:
The answers of Thomas Docton, defendant. 19th Jan 1619/20.

Document 3:
The answers of William Atkyn, defendant. 19th Jan 1619/20.

Document 4:
The answers of Elizabeth Docton, defendant. 19th Jan 1619/20.

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Explanation of the case:

Analysis and Interpretation of the documents:

[The following summary and analysis covers two sets of linked cases - C2/JasI/S4/14 (1619) and C2/JasI/S31/26 (1623)].

In Oct 1618, Thomas Docton (c.1538-1618) and his wife Alice Docton agreed to the marriage of Alice's niece Honour Velly to Richard Stapledon.

A property called Loworthy in Woolfardisworthy was agreed to be leased to the couple for 99 years. This lease was conditional on the pre-payment of £100 by Richard Stapledon, and also £213.6s.8d by Richard Stapledon to Thomas Docton, provided that John Stapledon (father of Richard) surrendered his 99-year lease to these lands. If Richard Stapledon did not pay £213.6s.8d, then this arrangement would be void.

It was also agreed that John Velly (father of Honour) should pay £113 to Thomas Docton, this being his daughter's portion of this £213.6s.8d.

The marriage probably took place at Woolfardisworthy (where there are no surviving records until 1723), but there is an Exeter Diocese Marriage Licence dated 27th Nov 1618 for Richard Stapledon of Woolfardisworthie, and Honor Velly of Hartland.

After the marriage, it was then stated that John Velly would pay £160, Alice Docton said she would pay £13.6s.8d, and Richard Stapledon had to pay the residue of £40.

Thomas Docton died on 15th November 1618, and the money therefore became payable to his widow Alice, who agreed to forego receiving £53.6s.8d, but John Velly still had to pay £160. Alice Docton died on 29th August 1619, having appointed her great nephew William Atkin her executor, even though he was only 19 years of age.

Richard Stapledon offered to pay the outstanding money to William Atkin, but in the meanwhile, the Wills of both Thomas Docton and Alice Docton were legally challenged, and others (John Cooke, Francis Rowe, John Baglehole and Thomas Heard) were saying that because the money had not been paid, the lease was therefore void and they had the right to seize this property because they believed that they were the rightful heirs of Thomas Docton.

In C2/JasI/S4/14 (1619) Richard Stapledon is challenging Thomas Docton junr, William Atkin, Elizabeth Docton, John Cooke, Francis Rowe, John Baglehole and Thomas Heard, to the Court of Chancery to answer for their actions.

In response:

Thomas Docton junr (1564-1638), the legal heir of Thomas Docton (c.1538-1618) said that the full sum of £213.6s.8d was still outstanding, and should be paid to him. If paid, then he is willing to honour this lease to Richard Stapledon, but he knew nothing about Alice Docton foregoing the £40 from Richard Stapledon and her other promise to pay the remainder of £13.6s.8d.

William Atkin confirmed that he had acted as executor to Alice Docton, and had already paid some of her legacies, and sold many of her possessions at an advertised sale which took place at the Docton mansion. Over £400 was raised from that sale, and this included £16 of items purchased by Richard Stapledon and his parents, and no-one challenged his right to do this.
William Atkin also said that he was present at Docton on 12th and 13th October 1618, but Richard Stapledon never offered to pay the outstanding money to him at that time. However at 3pm on 13th October John Stapledon, Thomas Estcott and Nicholas Velly were outside the house, and Thomas Estcott put about £50 on the nearby 'Hepping Stone', and Nicholas Velly also added three leather bags which he said contained the remaining portion of the £213.6s.8d. Richard Stapledon said that he offered this to William Atkin as payment, although the money was never seen or counted, and for some reason the bags said to contain the money, were taken away around 5pm (half-hour before sunset).
William Atkin also said that he knew nothing about Alice Docton foregoing the £40 from Richard Stapledon and her other promise to pay the remainder of £13.6s.8d.

Elizabeth Docton (sister of Thomas Docton, 1538-1618), confirmed the marriage arrangement and the sums of money to be paid. But after Thomas' death, she knew nothing about Alice Docton foregoing the £40 from Richard Stapledon and her other promise to pay the remaining £13.6s.8d.


In C2/JasI/S31/26 (1623), the previously agreed financial arrangements were again stated as being factual.

A further dispute is also recorded, in that Philipp[a] Velly (nee Atkin, sister of Alice Docton nee Atkin) lent £170 to her sister Alice about 9 years previously, but never received any of the promised repayment.

In addition, as well as being executor to Alice Docton, William Atkin also had to administer the unresolved estate of her husband Thomas Docton who had died a year before her. He got an agreement from John and Richard Stapledon for them to pay £201.12s, this being part of £313.13s.4d due to him in the role of Alice Docton's executor.

John and Richard Stapledon now deny that William Atkin is the rightful executor, that he had no right to be paid this money, and that he is just out to defraud them of the lease on the Loworthy estates.

The situation was further complicated when repeated allegations were again raised that Thomas Docton's will was forcibly obtained from him, and that John Cooke, Francis Rowe, John Baglehole and Thomas Heard are also claiming to be the rightful heirs of Thomas Docton's estate . However, this document states that these people had been advised by councell that they could not hope to win that case, so they withdrew their previous suit only to try again here.

In response:

William Atkin repeated his statements from the previous case, and added here that he was unaware of £170 being lent by Phillip[a] Velly to Alice Docton.

The other defendants, Thomas Docton junr, Elizabeth Docton, Francis Rowe, John Cooke and John Bagilhole also make similar lengthy statements to those made previously.


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Transcription of documents:

Document 1

To the right ho[noura]ble Francis Lord Verulam Lord Chancellor of England.

In as humble manner complayning sheweth unto your good Lo[rdshi]pp yo[u]r daylie orator Richard Stapledon of Woolfardisworthie in the county of Devon gent.

That whereas about a year and half since upon the motion instance and p[ur]suasion of Alice Docton the wife of Thomas Docton of Docton in the p[ar]ish of Hartland in the said County of Devon esq[uire]s, a remmuneration or treaty of Mariage was had and made betweene John Stapledon gent your Orators ffather, and John Velly gent and the said Thomas Docton and Alice his wife, touching a mariage to be had and made betweene your said Orator and Hono[u]r Velly daughter of the said John Velly, and neece unto the said Alice Docton to wit daughter of the said John Velly and Phillip his wife, naturall sister of the said Alice Docton, w[hi]ch treaty of mariage soe farr p[re]ceeded that the said mariage afterwards tooke effect w[i]th the good liking of all the said parties.

And to further the said mariage before it was accomplished the said Thomas Docton was pleased by his indenture of lease bearing date the tenth day of November in the sixteenth yeare of the raigne of our sov[er]aigne Lord James [i.e. 1618] is made betweene the said Thomas Docton of th[e] one p[ar]tie, and your said Orator and the said Honor Velly of th[e] other p[ar]tie, for the some of One hundred pownes to him beforehand paid by yo[u]r said Orator, and for the some of Two hundred and thirteene pownes Six shillings and Eight pence to be paied by yo[u]r said Orator unto him the said Thomas Docton his executors or assignes upon the Thirteenth day of October last, did demise lease and to farme lett unto your said Orator and the said Honor Velly, all those messuages lands tenem[en]ts pastures and hereditam[en]ts with their appurtenances in Loworthie within the p[ar]ish of Woolfardisworthie aforesaid, and alsoe one meadowe w[i]th th[e] app[ur]tenances at Loworthie Mill w[i]th free grinding at the same mill.

To have & to holde the said messuages and prem[is]es with their app[ur]tenances unto the said Honor Velly and her assignes for the terme of ffower score and Nineteene yeares from the determination surrender or forfeiture of a former estate w[hi]ch the said John Stapledon had in the premisses the remainder unto yo[u]r said Orator and his assignes for the terme of other ffower score and Nineteene yeares if your said Orator should soe long live.

In w[hi]ch said recited deede indented amongst other conditions and p[ro]visoes it is conditioned and p[ro]vided that if your said Orator his ex[ec]utors administrators or ass[ignes] did not pay or cause to be paied unto the said Thomas Docton his ex[ec]utors or assignes the said some of Two hundred and Thirteene pownes Six shillings and Eight pence upon the said Thirteenth day of October, that then the said lease should be voied and of nowe effect as by the said recited lease, w[i]th the said p[ro]viso or condition therein conteyned more fully and at large it doth and may appeare.

The w[hi]ch some of Two hundred and Thirteene pownes Six shillings and Eight pence residew of the said ffine w[hi]ch was then to come & unpaied payable by the said lease as is aforesaid, was concluded and agreed betweene yo[u]r said Orator and the said Thomas Docton Alice his wife, and the said John Velly in manner and forme following, to wit that the said John Velly for and in lieu of his said daughters portion should pay One hundred & Thirteene pownes parcell of the said Two hundred and Thirteene pownes Six shillings and Eight pence then to be paied unto the said Thomas Docton, & upon w[hi]ch communication and treaty of mariage upon the making of the said lease unto your said Orator & the said Honor Velly as aforesaid, the said mariage tooke effect & yo[u]r said Orator in or about the moneth of November last past did mary and take to wife the said Honor Velly.

Upon w[hi]ch mariage may it please yo[u]r good Lo[rdshi]pp, albeit the said Two hundred & Thirteene pownes Six shillings and Eight pence be mentioned in the condition of the said lease yet was it then truly concluded & agreed betweene the said parties as followeth, that is to say that the said John Velly should pay one hundred & Three score pownes thereof, and the said Alice Docton then at & before th[e] ensealing of the said lease p[ro]mised she would pay the said Thirteene pownes Six shillings and Eight pence p[ar]te thereof, & the said fforty pownes residew was only by the said agrem[en]t to be paied by yo[u]r said Orator unto the said Thomas Docton.

After w[hi]ch the said Thomas Docton in or about a yeare since & since the making of the said lease died, and before his decease made his last will and testam[en]t in writing, and by the same did devise the said messuage & p[re]misses unto Thomas Docton now of Docton aforesaid and his heires, and did constitute & appoint the said Alice his wife his sole executrix who after his decease made p[ro]bate of the said will & did take upon her the execution thereof, and thereby the said Two hundred and Thirteene pownes Six shillings & Eight pence by the condition of yo[u]r Orators said lease became payable unto the said Alice Docton as executrix unto the said Thomas Docton her husband deceased, w[hi]ch said Alice Docton after shee became executrix as aforesaid for the favor shee did beare unto the said Honor yo[u]r Orators wife being her neere and kinswoman as aforesaid did freely and of her owne goodwill give and forgive unto yo[u]r said Orator and the said Honor his wife, Three and ffifty pownes Six shillings & Eight p[ar]cell of the said Two hundred and Thirteene pownes Six shillings and Eight pence being the whole money w[hi]ch yo[u]r said Orator was to pay of the said ffine, for that the said John Velly ffather of yo[u]r Orators wife was to pay the said One hundred and three score pownes residew thereof.

And the said Alice did confesse & make knowne unto div[er]s this her guift and intention of the said Three & ffifty pownes Six shillings and Eight pence unto & for yo[u]r said Orator, and did further sully p[ro]mise the said John Stapledon yo[u]r orators ffather, that the same shoulde never be demanded had or received of yo[u]r said Orator.

Since which may it please yo[u]r good Lo[rdshi]pp the said Alice Docton alsoe made her last Will & Testam[en]t in writing thereof, did make one William Atkin her ex[ecu]tor and about the thirtieth day of August last past died, and the said William Atkin being an infant under age hath not made p[ro]bate of the said will of the said Alice Docton, and div[er]s suites and contentions are arisen & now depending before yo[u]r good Lo[rdshi]pp in Chancery touching the said messuages and p[re]misses betweene the said Thomas Docton p[re]tended [ONE WORD CROSSED OUT] of the said Thomas Docton deceased & Elizabeth Docton his father, & coheire John Cooke Francis Rowe, John Baglehole & Thomas Hearde, sisters sones & other coheirs of the said Thomas Docton deceased.

Touching the validity of the said will of the said Thomas Docton deceased, whither the same was duly had and made as aforesaid, and whither the said devise and bequest of the said Thomas Docton was good and sufficient in law to passe the said messuages & premisses unto the said Thomas Docton the said devisee, Soe [DOCUMENT TORN] it please yo[u]r good Lo[rdshi]pp for that there are alsoe contentions about the will of the said Alice Docton, for that the said pretended executor hath not made p[ro]bate of the said will of the said Alice Docton as w[i]thin [DOCUMENT TORN] nor writing to give security unto yo[u]r Orator to save yo[u]r said Orator harmles upon paym[en]t of the said Two hundred and [LOST IN CREASE] [DOCUMENT TORN] of October last of the said whole Two hundred & Thirteene pownes Six shillings [LOST IN CREASE] where the same ought to be [LOST IN CREASE] [DOCUMENT TORN] as he conceiveth, neither the executor of the said Alice before [LOST IN CREASE] said will nor any others were or are sufficiently interested or authorized to have or receive the said money ~?~ [DOCUMENT TORN] any security to be saved harmles thereof as is [LOST IN CREASE] thereupon yo[u]r said Orator for his owne safeguarde & certeinty after tender as aforesaid did take and carryaway w[i]th him the said money [DOCUMENT TORN] ~~tor and wilbe willing w[i]th such allowance & abatem[en]t as was given unto him by the said Alice Docton deceased, to bring into this Court or to make paym[en[t thereof unto the said William Atkin [DOCUMENT TORN] said will of the said Alice Docton, or unto whomsoever yo[u]r Lo[rdshi]pp shall appointe soe that yo[u]r Orators said lease may be saved unto him & the said devisee or coheirs of Thomas Docton be [DOCUMENT TORN] advantage of forfeitures or p[re]tence of forfeitures of yo[u]r Orators said lease the said Two hundred and Thirteene pownes Six shillings and Eight pence being soe lawfully tendered as [DOCUMENT TORN] ~~ay and at the very place of paym[en]t as aforesaid.

The premisses therefore tenderly considered and for asmuch as yo[u]r said Orator coulde make noe better or surer tender or paym[en]t of his said Two hundred and Thirteene pownes Six shillings and Eight pence for the safeg[u]ard of his said lease, and for that the said devisee and coheires pretend yo[u]r Orators said lease to be forfeited for non paym[en]t of the said Two hundred and Thirteene pownes Six shillings & Eight pence, and doe give out speeches that they will enter and take advantage of the said fforfeiture when yo[u]r Orators said [DOCUMENT TORN] ~~em[en]t & come to be in possession, the w[hi]ch may be very danngerous and p[r]educiall(?) unto yo[u]r said Orator and his said wife if your Orators witnesses should be dead who can pue(?) [DOCUMENT TORN] ~~oucy as aforesaid may it therefore please yo[u]r good Lo[rdshi]pp to grannte unto yo[u]r Orator the Kings Ma[jes]ties most gracious writt of s[ub]p[oen]a to be directed to the said Thomas Docton, William [DOCUMENT TORN: probably ‘Atkin, Elizabeth’] Docton, John Cooke, Francis Rowe, John Baglehole and Thomas Heard, commannding them and every of them at a certen day and under a certen paine therein to be lim[i]ted p[??]s~?~ [DOCUMENT TORN] yo[u]r good Lo[rdshi]pp in his ma[jes]ties high Court of Chancery, then and there to answere the premisses and further to stand to and abide such order and direction therein [DOCUMENT TORN] to stand w[i]th equity and good conscience.

And as duty b~~deth yo[u]r Orator shall daylie pray yo[u]r lo[rdshi]pp long and p[ro]sperous health & happiness.

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Document 2

The Sev[er]all Annswere of Thomas Docton gentleman one of the defendants To the 
Bill of Complaynte of Richard Stapledon complaynante.

All benefit and advantage of Exception unto the untrueths incertaintye and insufficiencie of the said Bill of Complaint unto this defend[an]te now and at all tymes hereafter saved and reserved, The said defend[an]te for full and playne Answere to soe much of the said Bill as in any sorte toucheth or concerneth himselfe & sayeth That he is fullie p[ur]suaded and verely beleeveth it to be true that Thomas Docton late of Docton in the p[ar]ish of Hartland in the county of Devon esquire in the Bill named, did by his Indenture of lease bearinge date in or aboute the tenth day of November in the Sixteenth y[ea]re of the Raigne of o[u]r Sov[er]aigne Lord James [i.e. 1618] the Kinges Ma[jes]tie that now is, made betweene him the said Thomas Docton of the one p[ar]tie, and the said compl[ainan]te and the said Honor Vellie (now the compl[ainan]ts wife) in the Bill alsoe named of the other p[ar]tie, for the Some of One hundred pounds to him beforehand paid by the said Compl[ainan]te, and for the Some of two hundred and thirteene poundes sixe shillinges and eight pence, to be paid by the said compl[ainan]te unto him the said Thomas Docton his executors or assignes, uppon the Thirteenth day of October last, and for or uppon no other consideration (to this defendants knowledge), did demise lease and to ffearme let unto the said compl[ainan]te and to the said Honor Vellie.

All those Messuages landes tenem[en]ts pastures and hereditaments w[i]th there app[ur]tenances in Lowoethie w[i]thin the p[ar]ishe of Woulfordisworthie, And alsoe one Meadowe with th[e] appurtenances at Loworthie Mill w[i]th free gryndinge at the same Mill.

To have and to holde the said Messuages and p[re]misses w[i]th there app[ur]tenancies, unto the said Honor Velly and her assignes for the terme of ffower score and nyneteene y[ea]res, from the Surrender forfiture or other lawfull determynation of a former estate w[hi]ch the said John Stapledon in the Bill named had in the p[re]misses.

The Remaynder thereof unto the said compl[ainan]te and his assignes for the terme of other ffower score and nyneteene y[ea]res, if the said compl[ainan]te and one Alice Stapledon the compl[ainan]ts sister or either of them should soe longe live.

In w[hi]ch recited deade indented (amongst other conditions and promises) there is as this defend[an]te taketh it, A promise or condition contayned to the effects as in the said Bill is set forth.

And this defend[an]te sayeth that as he verely beleeveth it is alsoe contayned in the said resited lease, that the said some of two hundred and thirteene poundes sixe shillinges and eight pence, should be paid on the said thirteenth day of October last past, At or in the then Mansion dwellinge howse of the said Thomas Docton deceased called Docton, scituate lyinge and beinge in the p[ar]ish of Hartland aforesaid, as in and by the said resited lease remeaninge in the custodie of the said compl[ai]nante (as this defendant thinketh) due reference beinge thereunto had, whereunto this defend[an]te for all and ev[er]ye of the matters aforesaid in the said resited lease before mentioned to be contayned referreth himselfe, more fully and at large appeareth.

And this defend[an]te alsoe sayeth that shortly after the makinge of the said lease, the said Thomas Docton now deceased made his last will and testamente in writing, and by the same will did (amongst other landes) as this defend[an]te beleeveth, give and devise the foresaid Messuages and p[re]misses unto Alice Docton now alsoe deceased, his then wife.

To have the same to the said Alice for and duringe the terme of her naturall life, And after her decease unto this defend[an]te, his kinsman and to his heires forever.

And of the said Will he the said Thomas Docton deceased did constitute and appoynte the said Alice Docton his then wief, to be his executrix as in and by the said last will and testam[en]te, now beinge and remayninge in the custodie of this defend[an]te due reference beinge thereunto had whereunto this defend[an]te for more certeintie thereof refereth himselfe more at large appeareth, after w[hi]ch the said Thomas Docton dyed.

And this defend[an]te alsoe sayeth, That he verely beleeveth that the said Alice Docton made probate of the said Will and did take uppon her the execution thereof, and thereby the said two hundred and thirteene poundes sixe shillinges & eight pence by the condition of the said compl[ainan]ts lease became payable unto her, the said Alice Docton as Executrix unto the said Thomas Docton her husband deceased, as this defend[an]te verely beleeveth.
And this defend[an]te alsoe sayeth That the said Alice Docton after the probate of the said Will by Wittnesses and a Sentance given there uppon in the Prerogative Courte, as this defend[an]te hath credibly harde and verely beleeveth it to be true, made her last will and testament in writing, and thereof did make one William Atken (one other of the defendants in the Bill named) her executor, and afterwardes that is to say aboute the Nyne and twentieth day of August last past, the said Alice Docton died.

And this defend[an]te sayeth That he hath credibly hard and verely beleeveth it to be true that the said William Atken hath made probate of the said last will and testament of the said Alice Docton in the Prerogative Courte aforesaid, and hath taken uppon him the execution of the said last will and testam[en]t, soe that now the saide some of two hundred and thirteene poundes six shillings and eight pence as this defend[an]te beleeveth ought to be satisfied and paide by the saide complain[an]te unto him the said William Atken by reason of his Executorshipp to the said Alice Docton as is aforesaid.

And this defend[an]t confesseth that there is a sute now dependinge in this most hono[ra]ble courte wherein John Cooke, Ffrancis Rowe, John Baggelhole and Thomas Hearde defend[an]ts alsoe in this Sute are compl[ai]nants against this defend[an]te and others, w[hi]ch sute is to prove (as this defendant by his councell is informed) whether that the foresaid Thomas Docton deceased were of good and p[er]fect memorye at the tyme of the makinge of his said last Will and testam[en]t, before mentioned.

And this defend[an]te sayeth that as he this defend[an]te hath credibly hard and verely beleeveth it to be true or hath beene alreadye proved by good and Sufficiente wittnesses in the Prerogative Courte and [HIDDEN IN CREASE] hath been there given, that the said Thomas Docton deceased at the tyme of the makinge of his said Will was of a good and p[er]fect memory, But the said Alice Docton in her lief tyme was not, nor the said William Atken her executor is not any p[ar]tie to the said fate as this defend[an]te verely beleeveth.

And this defend[an]te denyeth that the said Elizabeth Docton (one other of the now defendantes) is to this defend[an]ts knowledge p[ar]tie to the before mentioned sute, wherein the said Cooke Rowe Baggelhole and Heard are compl[ainan]ts against the defend[an]te, nor p[ar]tie to any other sute to this defend[an]ts knowledge or thinkinge, wherein this defend[an]te is made a defend[an]te.

Neither have the said Cooke Rowe Baggelhole and Heard or any of them to this defend[an]ts knowledge, any other sute here in this hono[ra]ble courte againste this defend[an]te other then the sute before mentioned.

And this defend[an]te sayeth That he doeth not know that the said compl[ainan]te tendred the said some of two hundred and thirteene poundes sixe shillinges and eight pence, on the said thirteenth day of October last according to the condition or provisoe in the said recited lease before mentioned contayned.

But this defend[an]te sayeth that of the said compl[ainan]te did not tender the said some of two hundred and thirteene poundes sixe shillinges and eight pence accordinge to the condition or promise in the saide recited lease before mentioned then is the same recited lease, thereby in lawe fforfeited to him this defend[an]te as he beleeveth.

But this defend[an]te utterly denyeth (to his now remembrance) that he did ever p[re]tend that the said lease was forfeited for Non payment of the said two hundred and thirteene poundes sixe shillinges and eight pence, Or that (to his now remembrance), he did ever give out speeches that he would enter or take advantage of the said forfeiture when the compl[aina]nts lease should take comencem[en]te, or come to be in possession as in the said Bill of Complainte is set forthe and suggested.

And this defend[an]te sayeth that he is so farr from takeinge of any advantage against the compl[aina]nte for the Non Paym[en]t of the said some of two hundred and thirteene poundes sixe shillinges and eight pence, that he doeth now offer to this hono[ura]ble courte that if the compl[ainan]te will yet Satisfie and paye to the said William Atken the said some of two hundred and thirteene poundes sixe shillinges and eight pence and this defend[an]ts costs in this sute, he this defend[an]te is and wilbe very willinge & readye to make any deede or doe any reasonable acte to the complayn[a]nte, At his the compl[ainan]tes only costes for the makinge good of the lease before recited unto him the said compl[ainan]te and to the said Honor his wief in such sorte and by and under such reservations coven[a]ntes and conditions as are and be mentioned and expressed in the saide recited Indenture of lease, made by the said Thomas Docton deceased unto the said compl[aina]nte and the said Honor his wief.

And this defend[an]te sayeth that he beleeveth that a Marriage is had [HIDDEN IN CREASE] the compl[ainan]te and the said Honor Velly, But what agreem[en]te or conclusions were had or made for the said Marriage this defend[an]te knoweth not.

And this defend[an]te denyeth that at the motion [HIDDEN IN CREASE] or p[ur]suation of the said Alice Docton (to this defendants knowledge) a communication or treaty of Marriage was had or made betweene the saide John Stapledon the compl[ainan]ts father, and John [HIDDEN IN CREASE] and the said Thomas Docton deceased, and the said Alice Docton touchinge a marriage to be had or made betweene the said compl[ainan]te and the saide Honor Velly daughter of the said John Vellye, Or that the said Alice Docton (to this defendants knowledge) did at or before or after th[e] ensealinge of the lease before recited promise to pay thirteene poundes six shillings and eight pence p[ar]cell of the ffyne before mentioned, or any p[ar]te thereof.

Or that the said Alice Docton (to this defendants knowledge) after or before that she became Executrix as aforesaid, did for the favour she did beare unto the said Honor the compl[ainan]ts wief, beinge her neere and kinswoman or for any other cause freely or of her owne good will or otherwise give or forgive unto the said compl[ainan]te and the said Honor his wief or either of them ffiftye three pounds sixe shillings and eight pence or any p[ar]te thereof, p[ar]cell of the said two hundred & thirteene poundes six shillings and eight pence.
Or that the said Alice (to this defendants knowledge) did confesse or make knowne unto diver (or any) that her guifte or intention of the said ffitye three poundes six shillinges and eight pence unto or for the said compl[ainan]te.

Or that the said Alice (to the knowledge of this defendante) did ever promise the said John Stapledon compl[ainan]ts father that the same should nev[e]r be demannded had or receaved of the said compl[ainan]te As in the said Bill of Complaynete is set downe and surmised.

And without that, that any other matter or thinge in the said Bill of complainte mentioned materyall or effectuall to be Annswered unto by the said defend[an]te and not herein Sufficiently Answered unto [CROSSED OUT: by the said] confessed Avayded trav[er]sed or denyed (to the knowledge of this defend[an]te) is true.

All which matters this defend[an]te is and wilbe readye to aver maynetaine and prove at this hono[ura]ble courte shall awarde. And humbly prayeth out of the same to be dismissed with his reasonable costs and charges in this behalfe most wrongfully sustayned.

Capta apud Harton towne in Com[itatus] Devon Decimo Nono die January Anno Regni d[o]m[ini] n[ost]ri Jacobi nunc Regis Anglie etc Decimo Septimo, Et Scot[ie] LIII.
Coram nobis
Thomas Cholwill
Charles Yeo
Hn: Prust
Signed: <HIS MARK> Thomas Docton

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Document 3:

The Sev[er]all Annswere of William Atkyn one of the defendants to the Bill of Complaynte of Richard Stapledon compl[ainan]t.

All benefit and advantage of Exception unto the untruthes incertaintie and insufficiencie of the said Bill of Complaint unto the said defend[an]te now and at all tymes hereafter saved and reserved, The said defend[an]t for full and plaine Answere to soe much of the said bill as doeth in any sorte touch or concern himselfe & sayeth, That he verely beleeveth it to be true, that Thomas Docton in the Bill named, late of Docton in the p[ar]ish of Hartland in the county of Devon esquire, did as this defend[an]t beleeveth by his Indenture of lease bearinge date in or aboute the Tenth day of November in the XVIth y[ea]re of the Raigne of our Sov[er]aigne Lord James the Kings Ma[jes]tie that now is, made betweene hym the said Thomas Docton of th[e] one p[ar]te and the said compl[ainan]te and the said Honor Vellie now the compl[ainan]ts wief, in the Bill alsoe named of th[e] other p[ar]te, for the some of One hundred pounds to him before hand paid by the said Compl[ainan]te, and for the some of CCXIII£ VIs VIIId, to be paid by the said compl[ainan]te unto hym the said Thomas Docton his executors or assignes, upon the XIIIth day of October last past, and for or uppon noe other consideration to this defend[an]ts knowledge, did demise lease and to farme lett unto the said compl[ainan]te and to the said Honor Velly, All those messuages landes tenem[en]ts pastures and hereditaments w[i]th their app[ur]tenances in Loworthie w[i]thin the p[ar]ishe of Wolfardisworthie.

And alsoe one meadowe with th[e] appurtenances at Loworthie Mill w[i]th free gryndinge at the same Mill, To have and to holde the said Messuages and p[re]misses w[i]th their app[ur]tenances unto the saide Honor Vellye and her assignes for the terme of 99 yeares, from the surrender forfeiture or other lawfull deat[er]mynation of a former estate w[hi]ch the said John Stapledon in the Bill named had in the p[re]misses.

The Remaynder unto the said compl[ainan]te and his assignes for the terme of other 99 y[ea]res yf the said compl[ainan]te and one Alice Stapledon the compl[ainan]ts sister or either of them should soe longe live.

In w[hi]ch said recited deede Indented (amongst other conditions and provisoes) there is as this defend[an]te taketh it, a proviso or condition conteyned to the effects as in the said Bill is set forth.

And this defend[an]te alsoe sayeth that as he verely beleeveth it is alsoe conteined in the said recited Lease that the said somme of CCXIII£ VIs VIIId should be paid on the said XIIIth day of October last past, At or in the then Mansion dwelling house of the said Thomas Docton deceased called Docton scituate lyinge and beinge in the p[ar]ish of Hartland, As in and by the said recited lease remayninge in the custodie of the said compl[ai]nant as this defend[an]t thinketh due reference beinge therenuto had whereunto this defend[an]te for all and ev[er]ye of the matters aforesaid in the said recited lease afore mentioned to be contayned referreth himselfe more fullie and at large appeareth.

And this defend[an]te alsoe saith that shortely after the makinge of the said lease, the said Thomas Docton now deceased made his last will and testament in writinge, and of the same will made Alice Docton his then wief, and this defend[an]ts Aunt, his sole Executrix, As in and by the same will being of Record in the Prerogative Co[u]rt (as this defendant verely beleeveth) appeareth.

And this defend[an]te saith, That the said Alice Docton after the decease of the said Thomas Docton did take upon her the execution of the said will of the said Thomas Docton and (as this defendant hath credibly heard and verely beleeveth it to be true) did make probate thereof in the said Prerogative Co[u]rte by witnesses and thereupon a sentence was given in the said Co[u]rte.

After all which, that is to say in or about the two and twenty day of Julie, the said Alice Docton made her last will and testament in writing, and by the same made and constituted this defend[an]t her executor, As in and by the said Will remayning in the Custodie of this defend[an]t appeareth.

After w[hi]ch that is to say in or about the XXIXth day of August last past, the said Alice Docton dyed.

After whose decease this defend[an]t tooke upon hym the Execution of the said last will and testament of the said Alice Docton, and within shorte tyme after ~?~ ~?~ and before the said XIIIth day of October last past, he this defend[an]t paid some p[ar]te of the Legacies given by the said will of the said Alice Docton.

And this defend[an]t alsoe synce her decease, and before the said XIIIth day of October did sell much of the goods and chattles w[hi]ch he had by the said will of the said Alice Docton as executor unto her as aforesaid, amounting to the some of fower hundred pounds or upwardes, of w[hi]ch or of the most p[ar]te thereof the said Compl[ainan]t or the said John Stapledon his ffather were not ignorant as this defend[an]t verely beleeveth, and the rather for that the sale of the said goods or the most p[ar]te thereof, was made at Docton aforesaid att sev[er]all open Survey or Surveys thereof, w[hi]ch were made knowen before hand in divers and sundrey p[ar]ishes and m[ar]ket townes thereabout, and the said compl[ainan]t and his father and Mother alsoe were p[re]sent at the sale of some p[ar]te thereof, and the said compl[ainan]t and his said ffather and Mother did buy soe much of the goods w[hi]ch were the said Alice Doctons, as did amount to the somme of sixetene pounds or thereabouts award did never demand any acquittance for their discharge of this defendant.

And this defend[an]t saith that there was not then any exception taken (to this defendants knowledge) by any p[er]son against the said defend[an]t, for or concerning the sale of the said goods to have any acquittance or discharge for the same from this defend[an]t ~?~ ~?~ man w[hi]ch then bought any of the said goods of this def[endan]t or of any other for hym or in his behalf, did never cram any securitie or discharge of this defend[an]t for the sale thereof to this defend[an]ts knowledge.

And this defend[an]t saith that he was p[re]sent at and in the said late Mansion dwelling house of the said Thomas Docton deceased called Docton, scituate lying and being in the foresaid p[ar]ish of Hartland, On the foresaid XIIIth day of October last past, all the foresaid day and some others with hym, as this defend[an]t did then and there untill the last instant of the same daye looke and exspect to receave from the said Compl[ainan]t or his assigns, th[e] aforesaid some of CCXIII£ VIs VIIId according to the condition or p[ro]viso before mentioned in the said recited lease conteyned, but neither the Comp[lainan]t nor any for hym (at the last instant of the said XIIIth day of October last past) did then come to pay or satisfie the same to hym this defend[an]t, that this def[endan]t could by any means see or heare of.

But this defend[an]t saieth and confesseth that the said compl[ainan]t the said John Stapledon the compl[ainan]ts father (Thomas Estcott Nicholas Velly and the complainants mother with others on the said XIIIth day of October last past neere about two of the clocke in the afternoone of the same day came to or neere the said late Mansion dwelling house of the said Thomas Docton deceased called Docton aforesaid, & then and there neere about three of the clocke ~?~ before in th[e] afternoone of the same day, uppon the Hepping stone neere the said Mansion dwelling house, the said Estcott told out upon the same stone some mony w[hi]ch as he the said Estcott then said was ffiftie and odde powndes, and the said Nicholas Velly did then and there alsoe take out of a Port Mantuau three lether baggs which were shewed foorth by the said Velly, and wherein as the said compl[ainan]t and the said Velly did then say was soe much mony, as with the mony then before told by the said Estcott, did in all amount to the somme of CCXIII£ VIs VIIId.

And the said compl[ainan]t did then say Here I tender CCXIII£ VIs VIIId, yf I may have a discharge, whereupon this defend[an]t forthwith answered, Here I am ready to receave it, and will give you a discharge for the receipt thereof.

But this defend[an]t saith expresly that the said leather baggs, nor any of them ~?~ then in this defend[an]ts presence or otherwise to this defend[an]ts knowledge opened, and whether there were mony in them or not, or how much mony there was in them (if there were any), this defend[an]t knoweth not.

Neither did the said compl[ainan]t then make knowne (to this defendants now remembrance) wherefore he made such tender as is before mentioned, but presently upon such tender made as aforesaid the said Nicholas Velly put uppe the said three lether baggs into the said Port Mantuau againe, and carried away the same, and the said John Stapledon the compl[ainan]ts father put uppe the mony w[hi]ch was told by the said Estcott into a Canvas bagge, and soe the same was carried away alsoe by the compl[ainan]ts mother, and for the compl[ainan]t w[i]th others, did then depart away from thence about the space of halfe an hower or neere thereabouts before the setting of the Sunne that day as this defend[an]t verely beleeveth and hopeth to make good proofe thereof to this hono[ura]ble co[u]rte.

And this defend[an]t saith that on the said XIIIth day of October, he this defend[an]t was of the age of nyneteene yeares and above, soe that this defend[an]t, as he hath bene informed, was then of sufficient age to give the compl[ainan]t a sufficient discharge for the paym[en]t of the said somme of CCXIII£ VIs VIIId, if the said compl[ainan]t would have paid the same unto him.

And this defend[an]t was then ready to give the compl[ainan]t a discharge thereof if he would have paid the same, and would be very willingly have p[er]formed the same, and is still willing soe to doe.

And this defend[an]t alsoe saieth that he hath now since the said 13 day of October last, proved the said last will and testament of the said Alice Docton in the Prerogative Co[u]rte, and hath the same in his custodie.

And this defend[an]t hath now of late (since the probate thereof) acquainted the said compl[ainan]t therewith, and hath in friendly manner requested the said compl[ainan]t to satisffie unto hym the said defend[an]t, the foresaid somme of CCXIII£ VIs VIIId and that he this defend[an]t will give him a suffucient discharge for the same, But the said compl[ainan]t doth altogether refuse and deine soe to do.

And this defend[an]t saith that he doth not know of any opposition that was made against the probate of the last will and testament of the said Alice Docton his said Testatrix, other then that this defend[an]t hath heard that there was a Caveat entred concerning the same, but there was noe p[ro]secution thereof to the knowledge of this defend[an]t.

And this defend[an]t saith that he verely beleeveth that if there had been any farder opposition [HIDDEN IN CREASE] that the said will could not have been proved in soe shorte a tyme as it is now proved, after the decease of his said Testatrix.

But this defend[an]t saith that he hath credibly heard and verely beleeveth it to be true, that there was great opposition against the last will and testament of the said Thomas Docton deceased, before the same could be proved by witnesses, And yet at length (as this defendant hath credibly heard) the same was proved, and a sentence given thereupon in the said Prerogative Court as is aforesaid.

And this defend[an]t saith that he beleeveth that a Marriage is had between the compl[ainan]t and the said Honor Velly, but what agreem[en]ts or conclusions were had or made for the said Marriage this defend[an]t knoweth not.

And this defend[an]t denyeth that at the motion instance or p[ur]suation of the said Alice Docton (to this defendants knowledge), a communication or treaty of a marriage was had or made between the said John Stapledon the compl[ainan]ts father, and John Velly in the Bill named, and the said Thomas Docton deceased, and the said Alice for ~?~ touching a marriage to be had or made between the said compl[ainan]t and the said Honor Velly, daughter of the said John Velly.

Or that (to this defendants knowledge) it was concluded or agreed upon between the said ~?~ compl[ainan]t and the said Thomas Docton deceased, Alice his wief, and the said John Velly, that the said John Velly in lieu of his said daughters portion, should pay CLX£ p[ar]cell of the said CCXIII£ VIs VIIId then to the ~?~ said Thomas Docton deceased.

Or that (to this defendants knowledge) the said Alice Docton then att before or after th[e] ensealing of the said lease, promised that she would pay CCXIII£ VIs VIIId p[ar]cell of the said somme of CCXIII£ VIs VIIId before mentioned or any p[ar]te thereof.

Or that the said Alice Docton after or before that she became Executrix as aforesaid, did (to this defendants knowledge) for the favour she did beare unto the said Honor the compl[ainan]ts wief, being her neere and kinswoman (or for any other cause), freely or of her owne good will or otherwise, give or forgive unto the said Compl[ainan]t or the said Honor his wife, CCXIII£ VIs VIIId p[ar]cell of the said somme of CCXIII£ VIs VIIId or any p[ar]te thereof.

Or that the said Alice (to this defendants knowledge) did confesse or make knowne unto div[er]s (or any) that her guift or intention of the said CCXIII£ VIs VIIId unto or for the foresaid(?) compl[ainan]t.

Or that the said Alice (to the knowledge of this defendant) did ever promise the said John Stapledon the compl[ainan]ts father, that the same should never be demannded, had or receaved of the said defendants As in the said said Bill of Compl[ain]t is set downe and surmised.

And without that that any other matter or thing in the said Bill of compliante mentioned materiall or effectuall to be answered unto by the said defend[an]t, and not herein sufficiently answered unto confessed and avoided traversed or denied (to the knowledge of this defendant) yet true.

All which matters this defend[an]t is and wilbe ready to averre maintaine and prove as this hono[ura]ble court shall award. And humbly praith out of the same to be dismissed with his reasonable costes and charges in this behalf most wrongfully susteyned.

Capta apud Harton towne in Com[itatus] Devon Decimo Nono die January Anno Regni d[omi]ni n[ost]ri Jacobi nunc Regis Anglie etc Decimo Septimo, Et Scot[ie] LIII
Coram nobis
Thomas Cholwill
Charles Yeo
Hn: Prust
Signed: William Atken

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Document 4:

The Sev[er]all Annswere of Elizabeth Docton one of the defendants To the Bill of Complaint of Richard Stapledon compl[ainan]t.

All benefit and advantage of Exception unto the untrueths incertaintie and insufficiencie of the said Bill of Complaint unto this defend[an]t now and at all tymes hereafter saved and reserved, the said defend[an]te sayeth that she beleeveth it to be true that Thomas Docton deceased in the Bill named this defend[an]ts natural brother, by his Indenture of lease bearinge date in or aboute the tenth day of November in the XVIth y[ea]re of the Raigne of our Sov[er]aigne Lorde James the Kings M[ajes]tie that now is, made betweene him the said Thomas Docton of the one p[ar]te, and the said compl[ainan]te, and the said Honor Velly in the Bill named of th[e] other p[ar]te, for the some of One hundred pounds to him before hand paid by the said Compl[ainan]te, and for the some of two hundred and thirteene poundes sixe shillinges and eight pence to be paid by the saide compl[ainan]te unto him the said Thomas Docton his executors or assignes, upon the thirteenth day of October last past, and for noe other consideration to her knowledge, did demise lease and to farme lett unto the said compl[ainan]t and to the said Honor Velly, All those Messuages landes tenements pastures and hereditaments w[i]th their app[ur]tenancs in Loworthie within the p[ar]ishe of Wolfordisworthie aforesaide.

And alsoe one meadowe with th[e] appurtenances att Loworthie Mill w[i]th free grynding at the same Myll. To have and to holde the said messuags and premisses with their app[ur]tenances unto the said Honor Vellye and her assignes for the terme of 99 yeares, and afterwardes unto the Compl[ainan]t And his assignes for the terme of other 99 yeares, yf the said compl[ainan]te and one Alice Stapledon the compl[ainan]ts sister, or either of them should soe long live.

And this defend[an]t alsoe beleeveth that in the said recited deed indented there is, as this def[endan]t taketh it, a proviso or condition conteyned to the effect as in the said Bill is set foorth.

And this def[endan]te saith that as she verely beleeveth, it is alsoe conteyned in the said recited lease, that the said some of CCXIII£ VIs VIIId should be paid on the said XIIIth day of October last past, At or in the then Mansion dwelling house of the said Thomas Docton deceased called Docton, scituate lying and being in the p[ar]ish of Hartland aforesaid.
As in and by the said recited lease remayninge in the custodye of the said compl[ai]nante as this defend[an]t thinketh due reference being therenuto had whereunto this def[endan]te for all and ev[er]ie of the matters aforesaid in the said recited lease before mentioned to be conteined referreth himselfe, more fullie and at large appeareth.

And this defend[an]te alsoe saith that after the makeing of the said lease, the said Thomas Docton dyed, and that before his death and after the makeing of the said Lease, he the said Thomas Docton made his last will and testam[en]t in writing, and by the same did (amongst other landes as she thinketh) devise the said Messuags and premisses unto Alice Docton his then wief, for terme of her lief, and after her decease unto Thomas Docton now of Docton, one other of the def[endan]ts in the Bill named and to his heires, and did thereby constitute and appoint the said Alice Docton his sole Executrix, who after his decease (as this defendant verly beleeveth) made probate of the said will and tooke upon her the Execution thereof, As in the said Bill of Complaint is mentioned & expressed.

And this defend[an]t alsoe saieth that the said Alice Docton afterwardes, that is to say in or about the moneth of Julie last past, made her last will and testam[en]t in writeing, and thereof did make the said William Atkin, one other of the defend[an]ts in the Bill named, her Executor, and afterwardes about the XXIXthe day of August last past the said Alice Docton died.

And this defend[an]t saith That she hath credibly heard and verely beleeveth it to be true, that the said William Atkin hath made probate of the said last will and testa[me]nt of the said Alice Docton, soe that (as this defendant verly beleeveth) the said William Atkin ought to have the said somme of two hundred & thirteene powndes sixe shillings and eight pence by reason of his said Executorship.

And this defend[an]t saith That she is, as she taketh it, one of the coheires of the said Thomas Docton deceased, But this defend[an]t utterly denieth that there hath beene, or is any suite or suites betweene the said Thomas Docton, one other of the def[endan]ts and this defend[an]t, touching the validitie of the will of the said Thomas Docton deceased, whether the same were duely had or made, or whether the said demise or bequest of the said Thomas Docton deceased, were good or sufficient in lawe to passe the said Messuags and premisses unto the said Thomas Docton the said demisee, neither hadd or hath this defend[an]t any such meaning or intention soe to doe, for that this defend[an]t is fully p[ur]suaded that the said will of the said Thomas Docton deceased, was duely hadd and made, and that the said demise and bequeste of him the said Thomas Docton was good & sufficient in lawe to passe the said messuags and premisses unto the said Thomas Docton the devisee.

And this defend[an]t alsoe denieth That the said Alice Docton (to this defendants knowledge) did att or before, or after th[e] ensealing of the lease before recited, promise to pay XIII£ VIs VIIId or any p[ar]te thereof, p[ar]cell of the said some of CCXIII£ VIs VIIId before mentioned, Or that the said Alice Docton after or before that she became Executrix as aforesaid, did (to this defendants knowledge) for the favour she did beare unto the said Honor the compl[ainan]ts wief, being her neere and kinswoman (or for any other cause), freely or of her owne good will or otherwise, give or forgive unto the said compl[ainan]t and the said Honor his wief, or either of them LIII£ VIs VIIId, p[ar]cell of the said two hundred and thirteene powndes sixe shillings and eight pence or any p[ar]te thereof.

Or that the said Alice (to this defendants knowledge) did confesse or make known unto divers (or any) that her guift or intention of the said LIII£ VIs VIIId unto or for the said compl[ainan]t, Or that the said Alice (to the knowledge of this defendant) did ever promise the said John Stapledon the compl[ainan]ts father, that the same should never be demannded had or received of the said compl[ainan]t, As in the said Bill of Complaint is set downe or surmised.

And this defendant saieth that she doeth not know whether the said compl[ainan]t did make tender of the said CCXIII£ VIs VIIId on the XIIIthe day of October last, for that this defend[an]t was not present, if any such tender were made in such sorte as in the said Bill is expressed.

But this defend[an]t saieth that she beleeveth that if the said compl[ainan]t did not tender the said some of CCXIII£ VIs VIIId according to the condition or proviso aforesaid in the said lease mentioned, then is the said lease thereby in law forfeited.

But this defendant utterly denieth that she did ever pretend that the said lease was forfeited for non payment of the said some of CCXIII£ VIs VIIId, Or that she did ever give out speeches that she would enter or take advantage of the said forfeiture when the compl[ainan]ts lease should take commencem[en]t or come to be in possession, as in the said Bill is set foorth and suggested, ffor this defend[an]t saieth That if the said compl[ainan]t will yet satisffie and pay to the said William Atkin th[e] aforesaid some of CCXIII£ VIs VIIId, together with this defend[an]ts costes in this suite, she this defend[an]t is very willing and readye, at the compl[ainan]ts only costes, if any right be in this def[endan]t to make any deede or doe any other reasonable act to the said compl[ainan]t, for his better satisfaction therein for the makeing good of the lease before recited, to him the said compl[ainan]t and the said Honor Vellye his wief, in such sorte and by and under such Reservations Covenants and Conditions as are and be mentioned and expressed in the before recited Indenture of lease made by the said Thomas Docton deceased unto the said compl[ainan]t and the said Honor Vellye.

And without that that any other matter or thing in the said Bill of Complaint mentioned materiall or effectuall to be answered unto by the said defend[an]t, and not herein sufficiently answered unto confessed and avoyded tran[s]f[er]ed or demised (to the knowledge of this defendant) ys true, All w[hi]ch matters this defend[an]t is and wilbe readie and averre maintaine and prove as this ho[noura]ble co[u]rte shall award.
And humbly praieth out of the same to be dismissed with her reasonable costes and charges in this behalf wrongfullie susteyned.

Capta apud Docton in Com[itatus] Devon Decimo Nono die January Anno regni d[omi]ni n[ost]ri Jacobi Dei gra[tia] Ang[li]a ffrance etc LI(?) ib[ide]m Regis fidei defensor[is] etc decimo septimo et Scotie LIII.

Coram nobis
Thomas Cholwill
Charles Yeo
Signed: <HER MARK> Elizabeth Docton

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The Decision:

The decision of this court is not contained in these documents, although it is possible that the case never went to court, once the arguments had been seen by all parties.


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