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Chancery pleadings: 1623 (Stapledon & Velly v. Atkins, Rowe, Docton, Cooke, Heard & Bagilhole)

National Archives ref: C 2/JasI/S31/26

Transcribed by David Carter  202020

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

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National Archives Catalogue entry:

Date: 1623 May 19
Record: C 2 - Court of Chancery: Six Clerks Office: Pleadings, Series I (1603-1625)
Short Title: Stapledon v Atkins.
Plaintiffs: John Stapledon, Richard Stapledon and John Vellie.
Defendants: William Atkins, Francis Rowe, Thomas Docton, Elizabeth Docton, John Cooke, Thomas Heard and John Bagilholes.
Subject: Messuages at Loworthy in the parish of Woolfardisworthy, Devon.
Document type: Pleadings

TNA Reference: C 2/JasI/S31/26
https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C5734241


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Description of documents:

Document 1:    
Complaint of John Stapledon, Richard Stapledon and John Vellie. 19th May 1623.
[This document is triplicated. The following transcript used all three copies to get the fullest and most accurate reading].

Document 2:
The answers of William Atkins, defendant. 27th May 1623.

Document 3:
The answers of Thomas Docton, defendant. 2nd Oct 1624.

Document 4:
The answers of Elizabeth Docton, defendant. 2nd Oct 1624.

Document 5:
The answers of Francis Rowe, defendant. 2nd Oct 1624.

Document 6:
The answers of John Cooke and John Bagilhole, defendant. 5th Oct 1624.

Document 7:
The further answers of William Atken, defendant. No date.

One curious aspect is that there is a 17-month gap between Document 2, and the subsequent documents.

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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:

Introduction:

Summary from translated Latin…
The initial title page shows that this is Royal writ dated 12 June 1624, addressed to William Hooper, Thomas Cholwill, John Olyver, William Stevens and Nathaniel Stevens, gents; for two or three of them to receive the response of Thomas Docton, Elizabeth Docton, Francis Rowe and Thomas Hearde to the petition of John Stapledon, and present this on a sheet of parchment, sworn with a corporal oath, for the matter to be heard at Westminster within the month following Easter.

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Document 1:

19 May 1623
Sannders

To the right ho[nourable] and right rev[er]end father in God John Lord Bishopp of Lyncolne Lo[rd] Keep[er] of the great seale of England.

In most humble wise complayning shew unto your good Lo[rdship]p your dayly or[ators] John Stapledon of Woolfardisworthie in the countie of Devon gent, Richard Stapledon sonne of the said John, and John Vellie of Hartland in the countie aforesaid gent that: 

Imprenis: About five years since uppon the motion instance and p[er]swation of Alice Docton, then wife of Thomas Docton of Docton in the said p[ar]ish of Hartland esq, a comunication and treaty of a marriage was had and made between John Stapledon gent, father of your said orator Richard Stapledon, and your orator John Vellie, and the said Thomas Docton and Allice his wife, touching a marriage to be had and made between your said orators Richard Stapleton and Honor Vellie, daughter of the said John Vellie and Phillepp his wife, naturall sister of the said Allice Docton, w[hi]ch treatye of a marriage soe farr p[ro]ceeded that the said marriage afterwards tooke effect with the good liking of all the said p[ar]ties.

And to futher the said marriage before it was accomplished, the said Thomas Docton was pleased by his indenture of lease bearing date the tenth day of November, 16th Jacobi Regis [i.e. 1618], made between the said Thomas Docton of th[e] one p[ar]t, and your said orator, and the said Honor Vellie of the other parte, for the some of one hundred pounds to him before hand paid by your said orator, for the some of two hundred and thirteene pounds six shillings and eight pence to be paid by your said orator Richard Stapledon, unto him the said Thomas Docton his executors or assignes, upon the thirteenth day of October in or about the said sixteenth yeare of our said soveraigne Lord King James etc [i.e. 1618], to demise lease and to farme lett unto your said orator Richard Stapledon and the said Honor Vellie, all those messuages, lands, tenem[en]ts, pastures and hereditaments with th[e] appurtenances in Loworthie within the parish of Woolfardisworthie in said county of Devon. And alsoe one meadow w[i]th the appurtenances at Loworthie Mill w[i]th free grinding at the same mill.

To have and to hould the said messuages and premisses w[i]th the appurtenances unto the said Honor Vellie and her assignes, for the term of nynetie and nyne yeares, from the determination surrender or forfeiture of a former estate, w[hi]ch your said orator John Stapledon had in the premisses, the remaynder thereof unto Richard Stapledon and his assigns for the terme of other nynetie and nyne yeares, if the said orator Richard Stapledon soe long live.

In which said recited deed indented amongst other conditions and promises, it is conditioned and p[ro]vided that if your said orator his executors, administrators or assigns did not pay or cause to be paid unto the said Thomas Docton his executors or assignes, the said some of two hundred thirteen pounds six shillings and eight pence upon the thirteenth daie of October then following, that then the said lease should be void and of noue effect, as by the said recited leasse and the said provisoe or condition therein conteyned, more fully and at large it doth appeare the w[hi]ch somme of two hundred and thirteene pounds six shillings and eight pence residue of the said fyne which was then to come and unpaid, albeit the same was payable by the leasse as is aforesaid, it was nev[er]theless concluded and agreed uppon betweene your said orator and the said Thomas Docton Alice his wife, and the said John Vellie in manner and forme following, Viz:
That the said John Vellie for and in lieu of his said daughters portion, should paie one hundred and sixty pounds parcell of the said some of two hundred thirteen pounds six shillings and eight pence then to be paid unto the said Thomas Docton, and the said lease soe made was for the ioyneture and mainetenance of the said Honor, in case shee should happen to survive her said husband, your said orator Richard Stapledon, upon w[hi]ch conclusion and treatie of marriage and upon the making of the said lease unto your said orator Richard Stapledon and the said Honor Vellie as aforesaid, the said marriage tooke effect, and your said orator in or about the month of November in the said sixteenth yeare of his Ma[jest]ys said raigne [i.e.1618], he did marrie and take to wife the said Honor Vellie, upon w[hi]ch said marriage may it please your good lo[rdshi]pp, albeit the said two hundred thirteene pounds six shillings and eight pence been mentioned in the condition of the said lease, yet was it then fullie accorded and agreed between the said parties as followeth, that is to saie that: the said John Vellie should paie one hundred and three score pounds thereof, and the said Alice Docton then at and before the sealing of the said lease, promised that shee would paie the said thirteene pounds six shillings eight pence part thereof or others so to dischardge or prove the same to be abated. And the said fortie pounds residue was only by the said agreement to be paid by your said orator unto the said Thomas Docton. 

After w[hi]ch the said Thomas Docton in or about five yeares since the makinge of the said lease died, and before his decease, made his last will and testament in writing.

And it is given and pretended by one Thomas Docton gentleman by the same, did devise the said messuages and premisses onto him the said Thomas Docton now of Docton and his heires, and of his said will did constitute and appoint the said Alice his wife his sole executrix, who after his decease made probate of the said will, and did take upon her the executor thereof, and thereby the said two hundred and thirteene pounds six shillings and eight pence paieable by the condition of your said orator Richard Stapledon’s said lease, became paieable unto her 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 love shee did beare unto the said Honor your orators wife, being her neece and kinswoman, and also unto your said orator John Vellie, did freelie and of her owne goodwill give and forgive unto the said John Vellie and the said Honor his daughter, the some of fortie pounds, over and besides the said thirteene pounds thirteene shillings and fower pence formerly given and p[ro]mised to be abated by the said Alice Docton, w[hi]ch said fortie pounds was in lieu and satisfaction and towards the payment of the said one hundred and three score pounds soe promised to be given by your said orator John Vellie in marriage as aforesaid, w[hi]ch guift and abatement of the said Alice then amounted in the whole to fiftie three pounds six shillings and eight pence, parcell of the said two hundred thirteene pounds six shillings and eight pence, being the whole monie w[hi]ch was to be paid for the said fyne, for that the said John Vellie father of your said orator Richard Stapledons wife, was to paie the said one hundred and twentie pounds residue thereof, the said fortie pounds being soe abated, and the said Alice did confess and made knowne unto divers this her guift and intention of the said £130.6s.8d unto and for your said orator Richard Stapledon and John Vellie, and did faithfully promise yo[u]r said orator John Stapledon that the same should never be demanded, had or received of your orator Richard Stapledon or the said John Vellie.

And your said orator John Vellie also sheweth and informeth your good lo[rdshi]pp, that Phillep Vellie your said orators wife, did in her life tyme viz: about nyne yeare now last past, tooke and deliv[er]d into the hands of the said Alice Docton, being her naturall sister and one in whome shee reposed most confidence, divers somes of monie to the value of one hundred and seventy pounds or thereabouts, by the consent and approbation of the said Thomas Docton deceased, and upon p[ro]mise that the said Alice would truly repay and deliver it again unto your said orators wife, who in her life tyme and after the death of the said Thomas Docton deceased, often confessed the said sev[er]al somes to have been soe received by her the said Alice, and w[i]thall faythfully promised repayment of the same, yet shee the said Alice never made payment of anie of them unto the said Phillep, or unto your said orator John Vellie as shee ought to have done, although shee were in her life tyme often demanded for the same.

And one Will[ia]m Atkens gent after her death, who pretends himself to be executor unto the said Alice, and yet to make paym[en]t of the said sev[er]all somes, he the said Will[ia]m Atken utterlie refuseth to doe, contrary to all right equitie and good conscience.

But the said Alice Docton being about three yeares sithence deceased, the said Will[ia]m Atkin p[re]tending title to all the goods and chattels of the said Alice as executor of the last will and testament of the said Alice, or as Administrator thereby, possessed himself of all the said Alice her goods, and also of all the goods of the said Thomas Docton deceased, and being informed of the condition in the count[er]part of the lease of yo[u]r said orator Richard Stapledon, soe made as aforesaid by the said Thomas Docton deceased, and by the p[er]swations of Thomas Docton now of Docton aforesaid, or some other his agent, p[re]tending that the said two hundred thirteene pounds six shillings and eight pence was to bee paid unto the executor of the said Thomas Docton by yo[u]r said orator Richard Stapledon, he the said Will[ia]m Atken confidentlye affirming and taking upon him to be executor or admnistrator aswell unto the said Thomas Docton deceased, as the said Alice p[ar]tlie by faire p[ro]mises and p[er]swations, and p[ar]tely by threats and suits in law, and by giving and p[ro]mising to give or abate the some of thirtie pounds, und[er]myned and cautelously gotte yo[u]r said orators John Stapledon and Richard Stapledon to enter into bond of a great penalty to pay two hundred one pounds and twelve shillings or thereabouts, at a day now past unto the said Will[ia]m Atken, w[hi]ch was pretended to be the residue of the said fyne of three hundred thirteene pounds thirteene shillings and fower pence, and due unto him as executor unto the said Alice Docton, then p[ro]mising unto your said orators that he would cause or p[ro]cure the said estate in rev[er]sion of the said messuages at Loworthie, soe as aforesaid grannted by the said Thomas Docton deceased to be made good and sufficient in lawe, or otherwise would make repayment of what hee should receive from your said orators.

All w[hi]ch your said orators John Stapledon and Richard Stapledon was drawne unto by reason of a certene paper draught purporting the last will of the said Alice Docton, and wheerein the said Will[ia]m Atken was named executor, was then shewed unto your said orators, but the said Will[ia]m Atken having by such pretences and p[ro]mises, gotten security for the said two hundred one pounds and twelve shillings, doth nowe utterlie refuse to paye or cause your said orators estate soe grannted by the said Thomas Docton to be made good. And now goeth out and reporteth that he never made any such pains unto your said orators, whereby your said orators John Stapledon and the said Honor Vellie, are like to be defrauded both of the reversion and estate soe grannted as aforesaid, and the monie also for your said orator say and hope to make it apparant unto this hono[ra]ble court, that he the said Will[ia]m Atken is not executor of the last will and testament of the said Alice Docton or of the said Thomas, nor adminstrator of their or either of their goods chattles or credits, neither are there any such wills extant as the said Will[ia]m Atken p[re]tended to your said orators.

And your said orator say likewise and hope to prove and make it appeare unto your good lo[rdshi]pp, that if any such wills there were the same was by the said Thomas and Alice Docton revoked and utterly disanulled and made voide in the life tyme of the said Alice Docton and Thomas Docton.

And the said Will[ia]m Atken neither executor or administrator unto the said Alice Docton, or the said Thomas Docton her husband deceased, but the same belongeth unto divers others of the kinsfolke, neere allies of the said Alice and Thomas Docton, who in truth and equity have best right and title to the p[er]sonall estate of the said Thomas and Alice Docton who died intestate.

And your said orator further shew and complayne unto your good lo[rdshi]pp, that divers suits and contentions are arisen, and now depending both in this ho[noura]ble court and his ma[jes]t[ie]s highe court of Star Chamber, and att the com[m]on lawes touching the said messuages and premisses betweene one Thomas Docton pretended devisee of the said Thomas Docton decessed, and Elizabeth Docton sister of the said Thomas Docton decessed, John Cooke, Franncis Rowe, John Bagilhole, and Thomas Heard, sisters sonnes, coheirs and the right heires of the said Thomas Docton deceased touching the validitie of the said will of the said Thomas Docton deceased. And they the said coheires have made claymes contryes unto and upon the whole or most p[ar]te of the said Thomas Doctons estate, and p[re]tend that your said orators estate is forfeited, and that they will take advantage thereof, and also that the said estate is voide at least for a third p[ar]te by reason that the said Thomas Docton decessed died seised of certain lands held of the Kings ma[jest]ie in capite, soe that if the said Atken should receive the said monie soe cunningly and indirectly gotten to be secured as aforesaid, your said orators are likelie to pay the same for noe consideration and to a strannger that in truth hath noe title or interest thereunto.

And further may it please your good lo[rdshi]pp there being also contentions and suits stirred up about the pretended will of the said Alice Docton, hee the said Will[ia]m Atken did give or allow the some of one hundred pounds or some other somme of monie, to pacifie the same and give way to the said Atken p[re]ceeding and touching the said pretended will of the said Alice, being advised and did well know that neither in law or in equitie, he was executor unto the said Alice, nor hath right or cann clayme any p[ar]te of the said two hundred one pounds and twelve shillings, from your said orators, otherwise then uppon the bond soe cunningly gotten as aforesaid, howbeit your said orator made tender of the said two hundred thirteen pounds sixe shillings and eight pence on the said thirteenth daie of October at the tyme and place of payment, where the same ought to be paid by the condition of your orators lease. But your said orator for the reasons aforesaid and for their owne safegard and certeinty after tender as aforesaid, did take and convey awaie the said monies, the w[hi]ch monie your said orators are and wilbe willing w[i]th such allowance and abatement as was given unto him the said Richard Stapledon and John Vellie by the said Alice Docton decessed, and was also due unto your said orator as delivered unto the said Alice by the said Phillep Vellie, to bring into this court there to remaine or otherwise to be disposed of, unto whomsoever your lo[rdshi]pp shall think meete, and appoint soe that your orators said lease may be secured unto him, and the said devisee or coheirs of the said Docton be barred and excluded from taking advantage of forfeitures or other pretence, whereby to avoid the said lease for w[hi]ch your said orators have and are ready to make paym[en]t, and the said two hundred thirteene pounds six shillings and eight pence being soe lawfully tendered as aforesaid, or else if it shall be soe thought fitt by your lo[rdshi]pp that the said Will[ia]m Atken give security unto your said orator for repayment of the said two hundred and one pounds and twelve shillings, w[hi]ch he p[re]tends is due unto him w[i]th consideration.

If in case it should fall out and appeare uppon trial, that he the said Will[ia]m Atken is not executor unto the said Alice Docton deceased, or hath not good title to receive the said monies mentioned in the said condition of the said lease of Loworthy, for yo[u]r said orator only desire the ayde of this ho[nourab]le court, if they maie pay the said monies but once, and that uppon payment of the said two hundred and one pounds and twentie shillings w[i]th such deductions as aforesaid, they maie rest quiett and free from all such other and further suits and troubles, whereunto they are saviett(?) by reason of the said debt, and last will of the said Alice Docton, and title of the said coheires, yet any of these things to doe or p[er]forme, he the said Will[ia]m Atken utterly refuseth, but contrarie wyse and in most unconscionable manner, hath comensed sev[er]all suits in this ho[noura]ble court of com[m]on pleas against your said orators John Stapledon and Richard Stapledon, and followes the same w[i]th all eagerness, intending thereby to recover the whole penaltie of the foresaid obligation of three hundred three score six pounds thirteene shillings and fower pence, for the paym[en]t of £201 and 12s, if he maie be therunto p[er]mitted by this hono[ra]ble court.

And your said orator John Vellie is likewise threatned by the said John and Richard Stapledon to be put in suit of law for £160 p[ar]cell of the said fine, w[hi]ch was by your said orator p[ro]mised to be paid and given with the said Honor his daughter in marriage as aforesaid, with £160, the said John Vellie will soe as hee may be allowed of the said fortie pounds soe given and abated as aforesaid by the said Alice Docton, and such other sommes as the said Alice had formerly received of the said Phillep Velley her sister, and your said orators wife be likewise willing and readie to pay, soe as his said daughter may be sufficiently secured to enioye the estate soe to her grannted by the said Thomas Docton deceassed, from all other titles and incumbrance by the said coheires intend or consideration whereof, and forasmuch as yo[u]r said orator could make noe better or surer tender, or paym[en]t of the £213.6s.8d, for the safegard of the said lease.

And for that the said devisee and coheires p[re]tended the said lease to be forfeited for non payment of the said £213.6s.8d as aforesaid, or otherwise ~?~ for a third part, and give out in speeches that they shall enter and take advantage of the said forfeiture, when your said orators said lease shall take comencem[en]t and come to be in possession, the w[hi]ch may be dangerous and verie pruidiciall unto your said orator Richard Stapledon and the said Honor his wife, if your said orators wittnesses should be dead, who canne paie the tender of the said monie as aforesaid, and for that yo[u]r said orators are now vexed w[i]th suits in lawe for the said £201 & 16s, and have noe securitie for the quiet enioyment of the said premisses, but lie open and subject to the troubles and incumbrances of the said devisee and coheires, and soe like to be inforced to try the title of the whole, and the said Will[ia]m Atken and others of the kindred and neere alies of the said Alice Docton, who strive and contend and boldlie doe give in speeches, and affirme that they will overthrow and make void the pretended last wills and testaments of the said Thomas Docton deceased and the said Alice Docton, whereon saith have beene alreadie attempted and p[ro]secuted, and other suits intended to be comenced against the said Will[ia]m Atken, touching the last will of the said Alice Docton.

And yo[u]r said orator John Vellie hath noe other remedy to come by, and obteyne the said sev[er]all som[m]es of monie soe aforesaid delivered unto the said Alice Docton by your said orator John Vellies wife, neither hath or can gett his daughter to be secured of the said lands at Loworthie, as in all equitie and honest dealing it ought to bee.

And yet not w[i]thstanding is threatned and likely to be putt in suite of law for the said £160 soe p[ro]mised as aforesaid, contrarie to all conscience and in equity, for all w[hi]ch confes and for your said orators hath noe meanes to plead to the accou[nt]s of the said Will[ia]m Atken uppon the said obligation soe cunningly gotten as aforesaid, whereby to salve themselves, but in rigor of lawe must be compelled to paye the same w[i]thout the ayde and assistance of this hon[orab]le court, neither have or cann gett a good and sufficient lease of the said lands at Loworthie, w[hi]ch is for the ioynture and dower and onlye staye and mayntenance of the said Honor Vellie, your said orator John Vellies daughter, but are liklie to paye the three hundred and thirteene pounds six shillings and eight pence for an estate w[hi]ch is nothing worth, nor cannot be made good, neither can your said orator John Vellie by the strict rules of the com[m]on lawes, compell the said Will[ia]m Atken to expresse what sev[er]all sumes your said orators wife delivered unto her the said Alice Docton, who in her life tyme often confessed and made the same knowne unto the said Will[ia]m Atken and some others, who although knewe of the same verrye well, and that as nowe due unto your said orator John Vellie, yet hee the said Will[ia]m Atken concealeth the same and refuseth to make paym[en]t thereof, contrarie to all equity and the intent and meaning of the said Alice Docton.

Neither have your said orators by the strict rules of the com[m]on lawes, any meanes to deteyne and keepe the said monies yet remaining and unpaid for the said lease in reversion, untill the validity of the same be here examined and approved to be a good and sufficient lease, but by this their humble petition to your lo[rdshi]pp in this honorable court, may it therefore please your good lo[rdshi]pp, the p[re]misses considered as well to grannt unto your said orator, his ma[jest]ts most gratious writt of subp[oen]a, to be directed unto the said Will[ia]m Atken, Thomas Docton the elder of Docton gen[t], John Cooke, Franncis Rowe, John Bagilhole, Thomas Heard and Elizabeth Docton, the devisee and coheirs of the said Thomas Docton deceased, thereby commanding them to be and p[er]sonallie to appear before yo[u]r good lo[rdshi]pp, in his ma[jesti]es high court of channcerie, then and there to annswere the p[re]misses, as alsoe his ma[jesti]es most gratious writte of injunction to be directed unto the said Will[ia]m Atken, his councelles, attornees and sollicitors, thereby commanding them to bee, and p[ro]hibiting them and ev[er]ye of them, to make staye and forbeare to p[ro]secute anie accou[nt]s or suits att the com[m]on lawe against your said orators or any or either of them, upon the said obligation of three hundred three score six pounds twelve shillings and fower pence, untill the matters here complayned of, be heard and det[er]myned before yo[u]r good lo[rdshi]pp.

And to strive to and abide such further order and direction heerein as to yo[u]r lo[rdshi]pp shall seeme meete, and that(?) ~~ble to equitie and good conscience.

And your said orators as their bounden duties are well and pray for your lo[rdshi]pp in health and happines long to contynew.

Signed: Geo Beare

= = = = = = = = =

Document 2:

Imp 27th May 1623, fo Mychell

The answer of William Atkins gent, defend[an]t to the [~blotted~] complaynt of John Stapledon gent, Richard his sonne, and John Velley gent complaynants.

The said defend[an]t saving unto him now and at all tymes hereafter, all advantages of exceptiones to the incertainetes repugnancies contrarieties and other ymperfections in the said Bill, for answer to the same he saith that:

He knoweth not upon whose motion intre alie or perswasion the marriage betweene the compl[ainan]t Richard Stapledon and the said Honor nowe his wife, daughter of the said John Velley, did taken effect and accompleished, neither doth this def[endan]t knowe that the said Thomas Docton esquire deceased in the said Bill named, was pleased for the furthering of the said marriage, to lease unto the said Hono[u]r Velley those messuages lands and tenen[en]ts called Lowathy, and the said messuage at Lowathie mill and free grinding at Lowathie Mill or any parte thereof, or the remaynder thereof to the said complaynant Richard Stapledon, as in the said Bill is sett forth. But the said defend[an]t doth thinck it to be true that the said Thomas Docton esquire was lawfull and absolute owner of the said messuage & lands and tenem[en]t, and that he was thereof seised of a good and perfect estate in fee simple. 

And that hee being soe thereof seized by his deed indented, bearing date the tenth daie of November in the sixteenth yere of the raigne of sovraigne Lord the Kings Ma[jes]tie that nowe is of England etc, and of Scotland the five and fiftieth [i.e. 1618], made betweene him the said Thomas Docton of th[e] one partie, and the said compl[ainan]t Richard Stapledon and the said Hono[u]r Velley of th[e] other partie, as well you consider now(?) other some of one hundred pounds of lawfull monie of England unto him the said Thomas Docton, by the said comp[lainan]t Richard Stapledon, at and before the sealing and delivery of the saide deed paid satisfied or assured to be paid, as alsoe in considertion of the some of two hundred and thirteene pounds six shillings and eight pence of like lawfull monie, more to bee paid by the said Richard Stapledon his executors administrators or assignes to the saide Thomas Docton his executors administrators or assignes, on the thirteenth daie of October next ensuing the date of the said deed, Att or in the then mansion dwelling howse of the said Thomas Docton called Docton sytuate within the parish of Hartland in the countie of Devon, did demise and grannte unto the said Richard Stapledon and Honor Velley, all and singular the said messuages lands and tenem[en]ts called Loworthy, and the said meadowe at Loworthie Mill w[i]th free grinding to the said mill. To hold all the same unto the said Honor Velley and her assignes, for the terme of fower score and nyneteene yeres if shee the said Hono[u]r should soe long live. The saide terme to comence and begynne ymeadiatlie after the death surrender forfeiture or other lawfull determynation of the estate terme and interest, w[hi]ch the said John Stapledon then had of and in the same. The remaynder of all the said premisses w[i]th th[e] appurtenances, unto the said compl[ainan]t Richard Stapledon his executors administrators and assignes, for and during the terme of other fower score and nyneteene yeres, yf hee the said Richard Stapledon and Allice Stapledon, sister of the said Richard Stapledon, or any of them the said Richard and Allice soe long doe live. 

And the said def[endan]t saith that he thinketh it likewise to be true that in the saide deed, there is conteyned amongst other conditions, one condition or provieoe that if the said Richard Stapledon his executors administrators or assignes, doe not well and trulie satisfie content and paie, or cause to be satisfied contented and paid, unto the said Thomas Docton his executors administrators or assignes, the foresaid somme of two hundred and thirteene pounds six shillings and eight pence, in and upon the daie before in the said recyted deed mentioned, at or in the place of the said deed(?) [faded]~fied, that then it should bee lawfull to and for the said Thomas Docton, his heires and assignes, unto all and singular the said demised premisses w[i]th th[e] appurtenances to reented, and the same to have agayne as in his or former estate. 

And the said def[endan]t saith that he knoweth not that it was concluded and agreed upon betwixt any of the said complaynants, And the said Thomas Docton and Allice his wife, and the said comp[lainan]t John Velley, that the said compl[ainan]t John Velley for and in liew of his said daughter ~[faded]~ should pay one hundred and three score pounds, parcell of the said somme of two hundred thirteene pounds six shillings and eight pence, w[hi]ch was to be paid to the said Thomas Docton, either doth this def[endan]t knowe that the saide lease was for the ~[faded]~ and maynetaynance of the said Honor, in case she should happen to survive her said husband the said complaynant Richard Stapledon, for it apeareth this def[endan]t is informed as well by the said comp[lainan]ts owne shewing in the said bill, as by the said lease itself, that the said complaynant Richard Stapledon had a power to dispose thereof from his said wife, if he would.

Neither doth this def[endan]t knowe that upon the saide conclusion and upon the makeing of the said lease as aforesaid, the said marriage between the said complayn[an]t Richard Stapledon and the said Honour Velley tooke effect. And the said def[endan]t alsoe denyeth that to his knowledge after the saide marriage, it was accorded and agreed betweene the said parties, that the said complayn[an]t John Velley should give one hundrded and three score pounds parcell of the said some of two hundred and thirteene pounds six shillings and eight pence. And that the saide Allice Docton then at and before the sealing of the said lease as in the bill is sett forth, or at anie other time, did promisse to paie the said thirteene pounds six shillings and eight pence parte thereof, or otherwise discharge or procure the same to be abated as alsoe in the said bill as surmised, or that the fortie pounds residue was onely to be paid to the said Thomas Docton by the foresaid agreem[en]t, or by any other agreement as in the said bill alsoe pretended.

And the said defend[en]t saith that he thinketh it to be true that the said Thomas Docton about fower yeres and a half last past, made his last will and testam[en]t in writing, by w[hi]ch as this def[endan]t hath heard and verily thinketh to bee true, he made and ordayned the said Allice Docton his sole executrix, and that by the same his last will he did devise the said messuages lands and tenem[en]ts and ~[faded]~ unto one Thomas Docton nowe of Docton aforesaid gent, his kinsman and to his heires, and that the said Thomas Docton esquire in shorte tyme after the makeing of his said will died.

And the said defend[an]t doth alsoe beleeve it to be true that the saide Allice Docton a short tyme after her said husbands death, did in due forme make probate of her said late husbands will, and did take upon her the execution thereof, and that thereby the said two hundred and thirteene pounds six shillings and eight pence payable by the conditions of the said lease, became payable unto the said Allice Docton as executrix unto her said late husband.

But the saide defend[an]t doth deny that to his knowledge, the said Allice Docton, after shee became executrix of her said late husbands will, for the love shee bare unto the said Honour wife of the said complayn[an]t Richard Stapledon, and to the said John Velley or either of them, or for any other cause, did further and of her owne accord or otherwise give and forgive unto the said complayn[an]t John Velley and the saide Hono[u]r his daughter, or to either of them, the saide somme of fortie pounds over and besides the said  thirteene pounds six shillings and eight pence as in the said bill is alsoe pretended, neither doth this defend[an]t beleeve ~[faded]~ for that(?) the complayn[an]t John Stapledon heretofore seemed to this defend[an]t, that he could testefie of his owne knowledge the promise of the saide Allice Docton, wherein whereupon this def[endan]t made him offer that if he would depose it, that he this defend[an]t would not ~[faded]~ question for the same, or to that effect, but the said complayn[an]t John Stapledon refused to doe it, for w[hi]ch cause this def[endan]t beleeveth it not to be true as he hath before expressed.

And the said defend[an]t doth deny that to his knowledge, the said Allice Docton did at any tyme confesse, or make knowne such her guift and intention of the said fiftie three pounds six shillings eight pence, or any parte thereof, unto and for the said complayn[an]t Richard Stapledon and John Velley, or unto either of them, or that(?) the said Allice Docton to this def[endan]ts knowledge, did promise the said complayn[an]t John Stapledon, that the same should never bee demannded or receaned(?) of the said complayn[an]t Richard Stapledon, or other said complayn[an]t John Velley, ~?~ the said bill is sett forth.

And the said defend[an]t doth alsoe deny that to his knowledge or thinking, the said Phillip Velley wife of the said complayn[an]t John Velley, did at any tyme take or deliver into the hands of the said Allice Docton, any somes of monie at all, by the consent and approbation of the said Thomas Docton deceased, or otherwise upon promise that the said Allice would trulie repaie and deliver it agayne unto the said Phillip Velley, as in the said bill is sett forth, neither doth the said defend[an]t knowe that the said Allice Docton in the lifetyme of her said late husband, or after his death, did confesse that shee receaved the said somes of monie or any of them or any parte thereof, or promised any repayment of the same, or of any part thereof, as the saide complayn[an]ts bill is alledged or otherwise.

And the said def[endan]t saith and knowledgeth that the said Allice Docton about fower years last past, did make her last will and testament in writing, and did thereby make and constitute this def[endan]t her said executor of the same.

And that shee the said Allice, about three yeres and three quarters of a yere last past, dyed, after whose death hee this def[endan]t dyd in one forme, make probate of the said last will and testament of the said Allice, Although there were great ~[illeg]~ the ~?~ against him, And doth acknowledge that hee hath taken on him the execution of the said will, and administration of the goods and chattells w[hi]ch came to his hands as executor of the said last will, in w[hi]ch amongst many other legacies, there was a legacy of six pounds thirteene shillings fower pence devised by the said Allice Docton to the saide Honor, nowe wife of the said complayn[an]t Richard Stapledon, w[hi]ch this def[endan]t hath paid accordinglie, but doth acknowledge that he hath refused to paie, or allowe to the said complan[an]t, the said somes of monie soe pretended by the complayn[an]ts, to be given or promissed to be paid or abated of the saide fine by the said Allice Docton, for that hee this defend[an]t verily thinketh there was never any such agreement or promise by the said Allice Docton, as the said compl[ainan]ts in their said bill doe pretent.

And the said defend[an]t doth alsoe acknowledge, that by reason of the said executorship of the last will and testament of the said Allice Docton, who alsoe hath before declared, was sole executrix of the last will and testament of the said Thomas Docton her late husband, hee this def[endan]t hath claymed and demannded to have and take the said some of two hundred and thirteene pounds six shillings and eight pence, w[hi]ch was unpaid of the said fyne for the saide messuages, and other the premisses soe leased by the said Thomas Docton deceased, to the complayn[an]t Richard Stapledon and Honor Velley as aforesaid, houbeis(?) upon a former suit in this honorable court, against him this def[endan]t, concerning the said complaynt demands, and upon the affermation of the said compl[ainan]t John Stapledon, that he could testefie the promisse of the said Allice Docton for the abatem[en]t of fortie pounds of the said suit, his def[endan]t was content that if the said complayn[an]t John Stapledon would make oath thereof, that hee this defend[an]t would allowe of it, but then the said John Stapledon refused to doe it, and was desirous to have an end therein w[it]hout any oath ~[illeg]~ the def[endan]t that he would of himself give some abatem[en]t of the said some, w[hi]ch hee this defend[an]t being desirous to live in quiet, did by the mediation of some friends, yeeld unto and did abate of the said some of two hundred thirteen pounds six shillings and eight pence, the some of thirtie pounds w[i]th w[hi]ch the complayn[an]t John Stapledon then held himself very well satisfied, and well delt w[i]th, and agreed to give setwribie(?) for the paym[en]t of the residue, being one hundred fower score and three pounds ~[illeg]~ shillings and eight pence, and alsoe to allowe to this def[endan]t for the forbearance thereof, after the rate of tenn pounds in the hundred for the yere, for soe long tyme as the same was forborne.

And the said defend[an]t saith that upon the said ~[illeg]~ ~[illeg]~ John Stapledon and Richard Stapledon, became bound to this def[endan]t for the paym[en]t thereof, accordinglie in the makeing of w[hi]ch bond or obligation, they were not undermyned or cautelously or anyway unduly drawne into the same, as the said complayn[an]t ~[illeg]~ ~[illeg]~ untruly and scandelously have alleged, but contrarywise this def[endan]t saith and doubteth not but to make good p[lea]se thereof to this hono[ora]ble court, that it was the earnest request and desire of the said complayn[an]nt John Stapledon, to enter into the said ~[illeg]~ ~[illeg]~ same, to the end he might have further tyme for payment thereof.

And this def[endan]t denyeth that he then, or at any other tyme, promised that he would cause the said estate soe grannted by the said Thomas Docton deceased to this complain[an]t Richard Stapledon ~[illeg]~ ~[illeg]~ wife, to be made good and sufficyent in lawe, or that otherwise he would make repaym[en]t of what he should receave from the said compl[ainan]t, as the compl[ainan]ts in their bill doe alsoe pretend. And alsoe denyeth that the said compl[ainan]t John Stapledon and Richard Stapledon ~[illeg]~ ~[illeg]~ to the sealing of the said obligation, to this defend[an]t, by reason of a paper draught purporting the last will of the said Allice Docton, wherein this def[endan]t was named executor, for the said def[endan]t saith as before, that the said obligation was made ~[illeg]~ ~[illeg]~ the said ~[illeg]~ betweene him and the said complain[an]t John Stapledon, upon the abatement of the said thirtie pounds as aforesaid, and not p~~red by any indirecte practises, as the said complanyn[an]ts most untruly doe p[re]tend.

And the saide def[endan]t doth acknowledge that he doth ~[illeg]~ procure or cause the said estate soe grannted by the saide Thomas Docton, to be made good, for he denyeth that he ever made any such promise, and knoweth not howe the same estate can be avoided, unles it by reason of some forfeyture comitted by the said complain[an]t(?) Richard Stapledon, sithence the making thereof, whereof this def[endan]t knoweth nothing, But saith hee is advised that the said leases made by the said Thomas Docton, was a good and perfect lease, being made out of mistake in fee simple, and ~[illeg]~ alledged by the complayn[an]ts in their said bill, that the said Thomas Docton held some lands by knightly service in Capite, and therefore the said lease was void for a third part, is very idle and frivelous for that the same, if it were true w[hi]ch this defendant beleeveth not, ~[illeg]~ noe cawse to make void the said lease for any parte.

And the said defend[an]t saith that if the saide complayn[an]t Richard Stapledon, have by reason of a forfetyure drawne his said lease in question, the same hath been through his more(?) wilfull ne~[illeg]~ ~[illeg]~, and not by meanes of this def[endan]t, and therefore hath noe cause to be releeved by this def[endan]t in the same.

And the said defend[an]t further saith that the said Allice Docton, as this defend[an]t verilie beleeveth, did make a will in writing under hand and seale, in the p[er]son of ~[illeg]~ sufficient witnesses, and therein did ordayne and make him this def[endan]t, her sole executor, albeit this def[endan]t was not personallie a witnes thereunto, yet saith that since her decease, hee hath onlie proved the said will, both in com[m]on forme, and also ~[illeg]~.

And that this defend[an]t ~[illeg]~ thereof hath paid to the said complayn[an]t Richard Stapledons wife, a legacy given her by the said Allice Docton, as he hath before declared, and alsoe hath thereupon paid and delivered divers other legacies to others to the value of five hundred and three score pounds or thereabouts, and alsoe saith that as he hath heard and verily beleeveth to be true, the said Thomas Docton did make and ordayne the said Allice his late wife, his sole executrix, but acknowledgeth that there have been some suite concerning the said Thomas Docton’s will, w[hi]ch this defend[an]t ~[illeg]~ have been more concerning the devise of his lands then for his p[er]sonall estate, w[hi]ch this def[endan]t beleeveth was litle questioned. And saith that notwithstanding the same suite, the said will for any thing this def[endan]t knoweth, standeth goode as well for his lands, as for his p[er]sonall estate, ~[illeg]~ ~[illeg]~ denyeth that to his knowledge or thinking, either the said Thomas Docton or the said Allice, did make anie revocation of the said wills or either of them, or otherwise did disanull the same or either of them, as the said complayn[an]ts doe pretend, But acknowledgeth that it is true ~[illeg]~ ~[illeg]~ sonne of the said complayn[an]t John Velley, did make some opposition against the will of the said Allice Docton, And did alsoe exhibite a bill into this hono[rab]le court, against him this def[endan]t concerning two obligations, by w[hi]ch he stood bounde to the said Thomas Docton for t~[illeg]~ ~[illeg]~ somes of fortie pounds at certeine(?) adanislong(?) before that past, pretending by his said suite against this def]endan]t in this hono[rab]le court, that the said Allice Docton in her life tyme had p[ro]mised to deliver him up the said obligations, and doth acknowledge that by the perswasion of said ~[illeg]~, did deliver up to the said Nicholas Velley the said two obligations, whereupon all suits were ended betweene him and the said Nicholas Velley, w[hi]ch this def[endan]t was perswaded unto, upon the confidente affirmation of the said Nicholas Velley, and of some proof w[hi]ch offered(?) to ~[illeg]~ premisses of the said Allice Docton unto him therein, and not for any question w[hi]ch this def[endan]t any way doubted of he could make, concerning the will of the said Allice Docton, and this def[endan]t verylie beleeveth that the said Nicholas Velley would never have questioned the will of the said Allice Docton, had not this def[endan]t putt him in suite at the common lawe, upon the said obligations, for untill that tyme he never made any question against the saide will, And doth absolutelie denye that he was advised, and did knowe or thinke that neither by lawe nor in equitie, he was ~[illeg]~ the said Allice Docton, nor had right to any parte of the said two hundred one pounds and twelve shillings as in the said bill is pretended.

And the said def[endan]t saith that the said compl[ainan]t Richard Stapledon, on the daie and at the place apoynted for the payment of the said two hundred and thirteene pounds six shillings and eight pence, did make shewe that he was come w[i]th a purpose to paie the same, and did tell out as this def[endan]t thinketh, about the some of twentie pounds, and had as it seemed more in baggs knitt up, but how much this def[endan]t knoweth ~[illeg]~ did he tender anie more to this def[endan]ts knowledge, then about the somme of twentie pounds, neither had he a purpose to paie anie more at all, for anything this def[endan]t could p[er]ceave at that tyme.

And therefore the said def[endan]t saith that if the said comp[lainan]t Richard Stapledon h~[illeg]~ ~[illeg]~ paym[en]t of the said monies, indangered the forfeyture of the saide lease to those to whome the reward thereof belongeth, he hopeth by the favo[u]r of this hono[ra]ble court, that he this def[endan]t is not to procure the said estate to be secured unto him, w[hi]ch lyeth not in this def[endan]ts power to doe, but w~[illeg]~ ~[illeg]~ the heires or devise of the said Thomas Docton deceased, whome the said comp[lainan]ts have not made parties to their bill of complaint, although the said heires or ~[illeg]~see bee as this def[endan]t taketh it compellable in equitie, to make good the said case if the ~[illeg]~ ~[illeg]~ not growing by or through, and such default of the said complaynants or either of them, as doth or shall in the judg[me]nt of this hono[rab]le court, exclude them or any of them from the benefitt of equity in that behalf. And alsoe hopeth that this def[endan]t shall not shall not become ~[illeg]~ ~[illeg]~ to the said complayn[an]ts of their demands upon their p[re]tended p[ro]misses of the said Allice Docton, w[i]thout good proof of the same.

And the said def[endan]t saith that whereas the said comp[lainan]ts doe in their said bill, seeme to make offer that if hee this def[endan]t will give soe writ is(?) unto them ~[illeg]~ ~[illeg]~ the some of one hundred and one pounds and twelve shillings or thereabouts unto him, upon the said obligation entred into by the saide complayn[an]ts John Stapledon and Richard Stapledon, w[i]th consideration if it should fall out and appeare upon errall(?) that hee this def[endan]t ~[illeg]~ ~[illeg]~ the said Allice Docton, or hath not good title to receave the said monies mentioned in the said condition of the said lease, he the said def[endan]t saith that he hopeth he shall not be compelled to give anie such security, it being as this def[endan]t comemeth a poynt(?) that may be ~[illeg]~ ~[illeg]~ ~[illeg]~ ~[illeg]~ the said def[endan]t doth acknowledge that in ~~eg~~d that the said complayn[an]ts John Stapledon and Richard Stapledon, not w[i]thstanding the kinde dealing of the def[endan]t w[i]th them in the abatem[en]t of the said somme of thirtie pounds, w[hi]ch was justlie due unto him, and ~[illeg]~ ~[illeg]~ ~[illeg]~ ~[illeg]~ shifte in questioning the said ~ouls of the said Thomas Docton and Alice Docton, w[hi]ch have been soe fullie proved as aforesaid, and hereby would defraud this def[endan]t of all the residue of the said somme of two hundred and thirteene pounds six shillings ~[illeg]~ ~[illeg]~ ~[illeg]~ said def[endan]t in frenidlie manner hath often requested and long expected, yet that to doe they utterlie refuse.

Therefore the said def[endan]ts hath comenced two severall accou[nt?]s at the com[m]on lawe against the said complayn[an]ts, To weet the one against the ~[illeg]~ ~[illeg]~ the ~~~gam, so the said complayn[an]t Richard Stapledon upon the said obligation as he hopeth by the favo[u]r of this hono[rab]le court, he may lawfullie doe howe bee at the said def]endan]t saith that, he hath not anie purpose w[i]th such eagernes to follow the ~[illeg]~ ~[illeg]~ pretent to recover the whole penaltie, but will accept of the principall w[i]th reasonable allowance for his costs, and for bearance of he may be satisfied thereof w[i]thout further suite or delay.

And whereas by the said bill, it is p[re]tended that the complayn[an]t(?) ~[illeg]~ ~[illeg]~ by the complayn[an]ts John Stapledon and Richard Stapledon, to be putt in suite of lawe for one hundred and three score pounds, p[ar]cell of the said suite for the said lease, w[hi]ch was by the said complayn[an]t John Velley, promissed to be paid as is in the said ~[illeg]~ ~[illeg]~ his daughter in marriage, The said def[endan]t saith that hee is advised that the contracts and promises between the said complayn[an]ts themselves, is nothing to him this def[endan]t, and were idlie and frivoulously incerted against him this def[endan]t, who is not~[illeg]~ ~[illeg]~ of this hono[rab]le court, is to paie or allowe to the said John Velley the said some of fortie pounds, soe pretended to be given by the said Allice Docton, and such other somme as the said complayn[an]t John Velley doth pretend that the said Allice Docton ~[illeg]~ Phillipp Velley, wife of the complayn[an]t John Velley, w[i]thout good proofe of the said p[re]tended guift promisses and receipts, neither doth this def[endan]t by the favo[u]r of this hono[ra]ble court, think himself chargeable to make good the said estats to the said ~[illeg]~ ~[illeg]~ by the said complayn[an]t John Velley doth p[re]tend in excuse of his not performance w[i]the the other complanynants.

And this def[endan]t denyeth that he did give or allowe the some of one hundred pounds, or any other some of monie, to pacefye any question ~[illeg]~ ~[illeg]~ the will of the said Allice Docton, or that he ever heard the said Allice Docton confesse or make known, that the wife of the complayn[an]t John Velley, did ever deliver unto her the said Allice Docton, anie some of monie to be by her the said Allice Docton ~[illeg]~ ~[ileg]~ bill(?) was intended(?) ~[illeg]~ that anie other matter or thing in the said bill alledged(?), materiall or effectual in the law to be answered unto, and not in this answer sufficientlie answered confessed and awarded to ~[illeg]~ ~[illeg]~ ~[illeg]~ ~[illeg]~ this honorable court shall award. And prayeth to be ~[illeg]~sse out of the same w[i]th his costs and charges in this behalf wrongfully susteyned.

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Document 3:

02 Oct 1624
The severall annswers of Thomas Docton gent, one of the defendants to the Bill of Complaint of John Stapledon gent, Richard his son, and John Velly gent, complaynannts.

The saide defend[an]t for annswer to the saide Bill of Complaint, according to an order of this hon[era]ble court made the XXVIII'th daye of April last past, sayeth:

That he verely beleeveth that the saide Thomas Docton esquire deceased in the bill named, was lawfullie seized in fee simple, of and in all the lands & premisses in the Bill mentioned. And being thereof soe seised, By his indenture of lease bearing date in or about the tenth daye of November in the sixteenth yere of the Raigne of o[u]r Sovraigne Lord James the Kings Ma[jest]ie [i.e. 1618] that nowe is made between them the saide Thomas Docton of the one p[ar]te, and the saide compl[ainan]ts Richard Stapledon and Honor Velly (now his wife) of the other p[ar]te, for the somme of one hundred pounds to him beforehand paid by him the saide compl[ainan]t Richard Stapledon, and for a some of two hundred thirteene pounds sixe shillings and eight pence, to be payed by him the saide compl[ainan]t Richard, unto him the saide Thomas Docton his executors or assignes, upon the thirteenth daye of October next followinge the date of the saide indenture, dyd demise lease and farme lett unto the saide compl[ainan]t Richard Stapledon, and to the saide Honor Vellie, all the forsaide lands and premisses in the Bill mentioned.

To have and to hold the same unto the saide Honor Vellye and her assignes, for the terme of fower score and nyneteene yeres, yf shee the said Honor soe longe should lyve, to commence and begyn from the surrender forfeiture or other lawfull determynation of a former estate, w[hi]ch the saide compl[ainan]t John Stapledon then hadd in the premysses. The remaynder thereof, unto the saide compl[ainan]t Richard Stapledon and his assigns, for the terme of other fower score and nyneteene yeres, yf the saide compl[ainan]t Richard and one Alice Stapledon his sister, or either of them, should soe longe lyve, in w[hi]ch saide recited indenture (amongst other conditions or provisoes), there is (as this defendant beleeveth) a provisoe or condition conteined, to the effect as in the saide Bill is sett forth, as in and by the saide recited indenture of lease (due reference being thereunto hadd whereunto this defendant for more certeintie referreth himselfe) more att large appeareth. 

And this def[endan]t sayeth That he verely beleeveth that the saide lease, when the saide Thomas Docton deceased made the same, was a good and sufficient lease, and doth still soe contynewe for anythinge this def[endan]t knoweth to the contrarie.

And this defend[an]t alsoe sayeth that shortly after the makeinge of the saide lease, the saide Thomas Docton deceased made his last will and testament in writing, and by the same will did (amongst other lands as this defendant beleeveth) give and devise the foresaid lands and premysses (in the Bill mentioned) unto Alice Docton (nowe alsoe deceased his then wife), To have the same to the saide Alice, for and duringe the terme of her naturall life, and after her decease unto this def[endan]t his kinsman, and to this heirs for ever. And of the saide will, he the saide Thomas Docton deceased, did constitute and appoint the saide Alice Docton to be his executrix, as in and by the saide last will and testament, due reference beine thereunto hadd (whereunto this def[endan]t for more certeintie refferreth himselfe) more fullie and at large appeareth.

And this def[endan]t alsoe sayeth that he verely beleeveth that the saide Alice Docton made probate of the saide will, and dyd take upon her the execution thereof, and thereby the saide £213.6s.8d, by the condition of the compl[ainan]ts lease, became due and payable unto her the saide Alice Docton as executrix to the saide Thomas Docton her husband, as this def[endan]t verely beleeveth.

And this def[endan]t alsoe sayeth that he verely beleeveth that the saide Alice Docton (shortlie after the probate of the saide will) made her last will and testament in writing, and thereof dyd make William Atken (one other of the defend[an]ts) her executor, and afterwards, that is to saye, about the XXIX'th daye of August in the seaventeenth yere of the Raigne of the the Kings Ma[jes]tie that now is [i.e. 1619], the saide Alice Docton dyed.

And this def[endan]t sayeth That he verely beleeveth That the saide William Atken hath made probate of the saide last will and testament of the saide Alice Docton, and hath taken upon him the execution thereof, soe that the saide some of £213.6s.8d (as this defendant verely beleeveth) ought to be satisfied and payed by the saide compl[ainan]t Richard Stapledon, unto him the saide William Atken, by reason of his executorship to the saide Alice Docton as is aforesaide.

And this def[endan]t sayeth That he doth not knowe that the saide compl[ainan]t Richard Stapledon tendred the saide some of £213.6s.8d on the saide XIII'th date of October, accordinge to the condition or provisoe in the saide recited lease before mentioned conteined, But this def[endan]t sayeth, That yf the saide compl[ainan]t Richard Stapledon dyd not tender the said some of £213.6s.8d accordinge to the said condition or provisoe, then is the same lease (as this defendant beleeveth) thereby in lawe forfeited to him this def[endan]t, howbeit this def[endan]t sayeth that he is soe farre from takinge of any advantage against the saide compl[ainan]t Richard Stapledon, concernynge the same (yf he maye soe doe), That he is and will be always readye to make any deede or doe any act or acts (att the costs of him the saide complainant), for the makeinge good of the saide lease unto him and to the saide Honor his wife, in such sorte as shall be thought fitt by this ho[noura]ble court, for as the saide compl[ainan]t Richard Stapledon will paye unto this def[endan]t all such costs and charges as this def[endan]t hath expended in this suite, and alsoe in a former suite which the saide compl[ainan]t Richard Stapledon had against this def[endan]t in this hon[ora]ble court, touchinge and concerning the verie cause nowe agayne complayned of, as this def[endan]t thinketh fit, for this def[endan]t sayeth That the compl[ainan]t Richard Stapledon in or about Michelmas terme, in the foresaide seventeenth yere of the Raigne of the Kings Ma[jes]tie that nowe is, dyd exhibitt his Bill of complaint into this ho[noura]ble court, against this def[endan]t and others, and dyd thereby pretend that he had made tender of the saide some of £213.6s.8d, accordinge to the condition or provisoe in the saide recited lease conteined, And dyd alsoe thereby suggest that this def[endan]t pretended the saide lease to be forfeited for non payment of the saide some of £213.6s.8d, and therefore sought to be relieved therein, As in and by the said Bill due being thereunto had (whereunto this def[endan]t for more certeintie referreth himselfe) more att large appeareth.

To w[hi]ch Bill this def[endan]t answered and said, that he was soe farre from takeinge of any advantage against the said compl[ainan]t Richard Stapledon, for the non paym[en]t of the saide some of £213.6s.8d, that he dyd then offer to this hon[oura]ble court, that yf he the said compl[ainan]t would satisfie and paye to the saide def[endan]t William Atken the saide some of £213.6s.8d, and the def[endan]ts costs in that suite, he this def[endan]t was and would be verie willing and readye to make any deed, or doe any reasonable act, to him the saide compla[ainan]t (att his only cost), for the makeinge good of the before recited lease, to him the saide compl[ainan]t, and to the same Honor his wife, in such sorte and by and under such reservations covennants and conditions as are and bee mentioned and expressed in the before recited indenture of lease, As in and by the saide answere (whereunto this defendant for more and certeintie refereth himselfe) more att large appeareth.

And this def[endan]t sayeth, That neither the saide compl[ainan]t Richard Stapledon, nor any other in his behalfe, nor any other of the compl[ainan]ts, dyd ever once request or demannde of this def[endan]t for to have him to make any lease or deede of the foresaide premisses, or to doe any act or acts to concernynge the same, otherwise then by this suite and the former suite before mentioned, And this def[endan]t sayeth That yf the saide compl[ainan]t Richard Stapledon any for him had once requested or demanded the same of him, that he (upon payment of the saide some of £213.6s.8d unto the saide defendant William Atken, and att the costs of him the saide complainant) would verie willingly have made any deede or any reasonable act unto him the saide Richard, for the better makeinge good of the before recited indenture of lease, and assureinge of the said premisses in such sorte as is before expressed, w[i]thout any suite in lawe att all, wherefore this def[endan]t th~~th(?) ~?~ the saide compl[ainan]ts, or some or one of them, shall be thought worthie by this ho[noura]ble court, to paye unto this def[endan]t good costs for puttinge of him to unnecessarie charges and trouble, w[i]thout any good or just cause, soe to doe as theis def[endan]t ~?~ ~?~.

And this defend[an]t sayeth that he hath not, nor doth not export or looke for any p[ar]te of the saide some of £213.6s.8d, for that the same doth wholy and rightfullie belonge and app[er]teine unto the saide def[endan]t William Atken, as this def[endan]t verely beleeveth, by being executor to the saide Alice Docton, whoe was executrix to the saide Thomas Docton deceased, as is aforesaide.

All w[hi]ch matters the said def[endan]t is and will bee ready to aver mainteyne and prove as this hon[erab]le court shall award, and humbly prayeth out of the same to be dismissed w[i]the his reasonable costs and charges in theis behaulfe susteyned.

Capta apud Docton infra par[is]h de Hartland in com[itatus] Devon, secundo die Octobris Anno Regni Dom[ini] n[ost]ri Jacobi nunc Regis Angli[e] etc, vicesimo secondo et Scot[orum] LVIII
Coram nobis: Thomas Cholwell, John Oliver

Signed: <HIS MARK> Thomas Docton

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Document 4:

02 Oct 1624
The severall answere of Elizabeth Docton, one of the defendants to the Bill of Complaint of John Stapledon gent, Richard his sone, and John Vellye gentleman complaynants.

The said defendant for answere to the said Bill of Complaint, according to an Order of this Ho[noura]ble Court, made the eight and twentieth day of April last past, sayeth that: Shee verely beleeveth that Thomas Docton esquire deceassed (in the Bill named), this defend[an]ts brother, was lawfully seised in fee simple of and in all the messuages lands and tenements in the Bill mentioned.

And beeing thereof seised dyd (as this defend[an]t beleeveth) by his indenture of lease bearing date in or about the tenth day of November in the sixteenth yeere of the Raigne of our Sov[er]aigne Lord James the Kinges Ma[jes]tie that now is [i.e. 1618], made betweene him the said Thomas Docton of the one p[ar]te, and the sayd complaynant Richard Stapledon and Honor Vellye (now his wife), of the other p[ar]te, for the somme of one hundred powndes to him before hand payd by him the sayd comp[lainan]t Richard, and for the some of two hundred thirteene powndes six shillings and eight pence to be payd by the sayd compl[ainan]t Richard, unto him the sayd Thomas Docton his executors or assignes, uppon the thirteenth day of October in the seaventeenth yeere of the Kings Ma[jes]ties Raigne that now is [i.e. 1619], did demise lease and to farme lett unto the sayd compl[ainan]t Richard Stapledon, and to the says Honor Velly, All those messuages landes and premisses in the Bill mentioned.

To have the same unto the sayd Honor Velly and her assignes, for the terme of fower score and nyneteene yeres, if shee the sayd Honor soe long should live. To commence and begynn from the surrender, forfeyture or other lawfull determination of a former estate, w[hi]ch the sayd compl[ainan]t John Stapledon then had in the premises, The remaynder thereof unto the sayd compl[ainan]t Richard Stapledon and his assignes, for the terme of other fower score and nyneteene yeeres, if the said compl[ainan]t Richard and one Alice Stapledon his sister, or either of them, should soe longe lyve.

And this defend[an]t allso beleeveth that in the sayd recyted deede indented, there is (as this defend[an]t hath heard) a provisoe or condition conteined, to the effect as in the sayd Bill is sett forthe, As in and by the sayd recited indenture of lease (whereunto this defendant for more certainie referreth herself) more att large appeareth.

And this defend[an]t allsoe sayeth, That shortly after the making of the sayd lease, he the sayd Thomas Docton (as this defendant verely beleeveth) made his last will and testament in writinge, and by the same dyd (amongst other lands as shee thinketh) devise the sayd messuages and p[re]misses unto Alice Docton his then wife, for the terme of her life, and after her deceasse unto Thomas Docton gent, one other of the defend[an]ts in the Bill named, and to his heyres for ever, and dyd thereby constitute and appoynt the sayd Alice Docton his sole executrix of the sayd last will and testament, and shortly after dyed. By and after whose decease, the sayd Alice Docton (as this defendant beleeveth) made probate of the sayd will, and toocke uppon her the execution thereof.

And this defend[an]t allso sayeth That shee verely beleeveth That the sayd Alice Docton afterwards, that is to say in or about the moneth of July in the foresaid seaventeenth yeere of the Kings Ma[jes]ties Raigne that now is [i.e. 1619], made her last will and testament in writing, and thereof dyd make William Atken gent (one other of the defendants in the Bill named), her executor, and afterwards about the nyne and twentieth day of August in the sayd seaventeenth yeere of the Kings Ma[jes]ties Raigne that nowe is, the sayd Alice Docton dyed.

And this defend[an]t sayeth that shee hath credibly heard and verely beleeveth it to be true, That the sayd William Atken hath made probate of the sayd last will and testament of the sayd Alice Docton, soe that (as this defendant verely beleeveth) the sayd William Atken ought to have the sayd some of two hundred and thirteen pounds six shillings and eight pence, by reason of his sayd executorshipp.

And this defend[an]t sayeth that shee is as shee taketh it, one of the coheyres of the sayd Thomas Docton deceassed, and shee utterly denyeth that shee did ever commence, or cause to be commenced, any suite against the sayd defend[an]t Thomas Docton the devisee, touching the valyditie of the will of the sayd Thomas Docton deceassed, whether the same were duely hadd or made, or whether the sayd devise or bequeste of the sayd Thomas Docton deceassed, were good or sufficient in law, to passe the sayd messuage and premisses unto the sayd Thomas Docton the devisee.

Neyther had or hath this defendant any such meaning or intention soe to doe, for that this defendant is fully p[er]swaded in her conscience, that the sayd will of the sayd Thomas Docton deceassed, was duely hadd and made, and that the sayd devisee and requeste of him the sayd Thomas Docton, was good and sufficient in law to passe the sayd messuages and premisses unto the sayd Thomas Docton the devisee.

But this defendant sayeth That shee hath credibly heard that some suites have been by some of the coheires of the sayd Thomas Docton deceased, commenced against the defend[an]t Thomas Docton concerning the same, but the same was done altogether w[i]thout the privity or consent of her this defend[an]t.

And this defend[an]t sayeth That shee doth not know whether the sayd compl[ainan]t Richard Stapledon dyd made tender of the sayd two hundred and thirteene pownds six shillings and eight pence, on the foresayd thirteenth day of October in the seaventeenth yeere of the Kings Ma[jes]ties Raigne that nowe is [i.e. 1619], But this defendant sayeth that shee beleeveth That yf the sayd compl[ainan]t Richard Stapledon dyd not tender the sayd some of two hundred and thirteene pownds six shillings and eight pence, according to the condition of provisoe in the sayd lease mentioned, then is the sayd lease thereby in lawe forfeited.

But this defend[an]t utterly denyeth That shee did ever pretend that the sayd lease was forfeited for non payment of the sayd some of two hundred and thirteene pownds six shillings and eight pence, or for any other cause, Or that shee hath made, or caused to be made, any entrye or claime in or to the sayd premisses, Or ever purposed to take any advantage of any forfeytures, yf any were or bee.

And this defend[an]t sayeth That shee knoweth not but that the lease made by the sayd Thomas Docton deceassed unto the sayd compl[ainan]t Richard Stapledon and Honor his wife is good, but yf the same be voyde for want of tender of the sayd some of two hundred and thirteene powndes six shillings and eight pence, or for any other cause, then the same is wholly in the power of the sayd defendant Thomas Docton (to whome the sayd lands and premisses now devised by the last will and testament of the sayd Thomas Docton deceassed as aforesayd) to make good the same lease againe, as this defendant verely beleeveth, and not in the power of her this defend[an]t, nor in the power of any other of the sayd defend[an]ts, as shee verely beleeveth, for that this defend[an]t sayeth That shee veriley beleeveth that the said Thomas Docton Docton deceassed (att the time of the making of his sayd last will and testament), was of a sound and disposing memory, and that hee hadd a good and sufficient estate and power in him, to grant the sayd lease (att the tyme of the granting thereof).

And this defend[an]t further sayeth That shee is soe farr from taking of any advantage against the sayd compl[ainan]t Richard Stapledon, uppon any forfeyture (yf any bee), and that there bee any right in her this defend[an]t, That shee is and will bee alwayes ready to make any deede (att the costs of him the sayd compl[ainan]t Richard Stapleton) for the making good of the sayd lease unto him, and to the sayd Honor his wife, in such sorte as shalbe thought fitt by this ho[noura]ble court, soe as the sayd compl[ainan]t Richard Stapledon, will paye unto her all such costs and charges, as this defendant hath expended in this suite, and allso in a former suite w[hi]ch the sayd compl[ainan]t Richard Stapledon had against this defend[an]t in this honorable court, touching and concerning the very cause now by him againe complained of, as this defend[an]t taketh it, for this defend[an]t sayeth That the sayd compl[ainan]t Richard Stapledon, in or about Michaelmas terme in the foresayd seaventeenth yeere of the Kings Ma[jes]ties Raigne that nowe is, dyd exhibit his Bill of Complaint into this ho[noura]ble court, against this defend[an]t and others, and dyd thereby pretend that hee had made tender of the sayd some of two hundred and thirteene powndes six shillings and eight pence, according to the condition or provisoe in the sayd recited lease conteyned, And dyd allso thereby suggest That shee this defend[an]t, pretended the sayd lease to be forfeited for non paym[en]t of the sayd some of two hundred and thirteene pownds six shillings and eight pence, and therefore sought to be releived therein against this defend[an]t, As in and by the sayd Bill (due reference beeing thereunto hadd whereunto for more certainty this defendant referreth herselfe) more at large appeareth.

To w[hi]ch Bill shee this defend[an]t answered and saydd, That shee was soe farr from taking of any advantage against the sayd compl[ainan]t Richard Stapledon for the non payment of the sayd some of two hundred and thirteene powndes six shillings and eight pence, that shee dyd then offer to this ho[nera]ble court, That yf he the sayd compl[ainan]t would satisfie and pay to the sayd defend[an]t William Atken, the foresaid some of two hundred and thirteene powndes six shillings and eight pence (together w[i]th this defendants costs in the sayd suite), she this defend[an]t was then very willing and ready (att the sayd compl[ainan]ts onely costs) yf any right were in her this defend[an]t, to make any deede, or doe any other reasonable act to sorte, and by and under such reservations covenants and conditions as are and bee mentioned in the before recyted indenture of lease, As in and by the sayd answere (whereunto this defendant for more certeinty heerein referreth herselfe) more att large appeereth.

And this defend[an]t sayeth That the sayd compl[ainan]t Richard Stapledon, nor any other in his behaulfe, nor any other of the sayd coml[ainan]ts, did ever once requeste or demannde of this defend[an]t, for to have her to make any lease or deede of the foresayd premisses, otherwise then by this suite and the former suite before mentioned.

And this defendant sayeth That yf the sayd compl[ainan]t Richard Stapledon, or any for him, had once requested or demannded the same of her this defend[an]t, That shee uppon payment of the sayd some of two hundred and thirteene powndes six shillings and eight pence unto the sayd defend[an]t William Atken and (att the costs of him the sayd compl[ainan]t Richard Stapledon) would very willingly have made any deede unto him the sayd Richard, for the making good of the before recited indenture of lease in such sorte as is before expressed, w[i]thout any suite in law at all, wherefore this defend[an]t hopeth that the sayd complaynants, or some or one of them, shalbe thought worthy by this ho[noura]ble co[ur]t, to pay unto this defend[an]t good costs for puttinge of her to unnecessary charge and trouble w[i]thout any good cause or reason, soe to doe as shee conceiveth.

And this defend[an]t further sayeth That shee hath not, nor doth not expect or looke for any p[ar]te of the sayde some of two hundred and thirteene powndes six shillings and eight pence, for that the same doth wholy and rightfully belong and app[er]teine unto the sayd defend[an]t William Atken, as this defend[an]t verely beleeveth, by beeing executor unto the sayd Alice Docton whoe was executrix to the sayd Thomas Docton deceased as is aforesayd.

All w[hi]ch matters shee this defend[an]t is, and will be readye to averr mayntaine and prove, as this honorable courte shall awarde. And humbly prayeth out of the same to be dismissed w[i]th her reasonable costs and charges in this behaulfe susteyned.

The signe of Elizabeth Docton

Capt[a] apud Docton infra par[is]h de Hartland in com[itatus] Devon, secundo die Octobris Anno Regii Dom niri(?) Jacobi nunc Regis Angli, vicesimo secondo et Scot LVIII
Coram nobis: Thomas Cholwell, John Oliver

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Document 5:

02 Oct 1624
The severall annswere of Francis Rowe, one of the defend[an]ts to the Bill of Complaint of John Stapledon gent, Richard his sonne, and John Vellye gent complayn[an]ts.

The said defend[an]t for annswere to the said Bill of Complaint, according to an order of this ho[noura]ble co[ur]te, made the eight and twentieth day of April last past, say[e]th:

That he verely beeleeveth that the said Thomas Docton esquire deceassed, now in this Bill named this defend[an]ts uncle, was lawfully seised in fee simple of and in all the lands and premisses in the Bill mentioned, and beeing thereof soe seised, did (as this defendant hath credibly heard and beleeveth it to be true) By his indenture of lease bearing date, in or about the tenth day of November in the sixteenth yeere of the Raigne of our Sov[er]aigne Lord James the Kings Ma[jes]tie that now is [i.e. 1618], made betweene him the sayd Thomas Docton of the one p[ar]te, and the said compl[ainan]t Richard Stapledon and Honor Velly (now his wife) of the other p[ar]te, for the some of one hundred pownds to him beforehand payd by him the sayd compl[ainan]t Richard Stapledon, and for the some of two hundred thirteene powndes six shillings and eight pence, to be payd by the sayd Richard Stapledon unto the sayd Thomas Docton, his executors or assignes, uppon the thirteenth of October next following the date of the sayd indenture, demyse lease and to farme lett the lands and premisses in the Bill mentioned.

To have the said unto the sayd Honor Velly and her assignes, for the terme of fower score and nyneteene yeeres, yf shee the said Honor soe long should live, to commence and beginn from the surrender, forfeiture or other lawfull determination of a former estate, w[hi]ch the sayd compl[ainan]t John Stapledon then had in the premisses, The remainder thereof, unto the sayd compl[ainan]t Richard Stapledon and his assignes, for the terme of other fower score and nyneteene yeeres, yf the sayd compl[ainan]t Richard and one Alice Stapledon his sister, or eyther of them, should soe longe live. In w[hi]ch sayd recited indenture amongst other conditions and provisos, there is (as this defendant beleeveth) a provisoe or condition contained to the effect as in the Bill is set forth. As in and by the sayd recyted indenture whereunto this defend[an]t for more certeinty referreth himselfe more att large appeereth.

And this defend[an]t sayeth That shortely after the making of the making of the sayd lease, he the sayd Thomas Docton made his last will and testam[en]t in writinge, and by the same will, dyd (amongst other lands as this defendant hath credibly heard, and verely beleeveth it to be true) give and devise the foresayd lands and premisses in the Bill mentioned, unto Alice Docton his then wife, nowe allso deceassed, for the terme of her life, and after her decease unto Thomas Docton gent, nowe one of the defend[an]ts, and to his heyres for ever, and thereof made the sayd Alice his sole executrix, As in and by the sayd will (whereunto this defend[an]t for more certeintie referreth himself) more att large appeereth.

And this defend[an]t beleeveth That the sayd Alice Docton made probate of the sayd will in the prerogative co[u]rt of Conterbury, by witnesses, howbeeit this defend[an]t confesseth that the probate thereof was much opposed by John Cooke, John Bagglehole, Thomas Heard and this defend[an]t, beeing fower of the next heyres at common lawe to the sayd Thomas Docton esquire deceassed, who dyd alleadge that the sayd Thomas Docton deceassed, att the tyme of making of his sayd will, was not of a sound and disposing memory, and therefore would (yf possibly they could) have overthrowne the sayd will, But this defend[an]t sayeth that they could not prevayle therein, But there was, as this defend[an]t beleeveth, a sentence given in the sayd court, that the sayd Thomas Docton deceassed (att the tyme of the making of the sayd will) was of a good and p[er]fect memory.

And this defend[an]t also confesseth That the sayd John Cooke, John Bagglehole, Thomas Heard and this defend[an]t, dyd about five yeeres last past exhibitt their Bill into this ho[noura]ble court, against the sayd defend[an]t Thomas Docton, and dyd thereby alsoe sett foorthe that the sayd Thomas Docton deceassed, att the tyme of the making of his sayd will, was not of a sounde and disposeing memory, In w[hi]ch suite many wittnesses were examined on e[a]che p[ar]te and publication had thereuppon (as this defendant is credibly informed), and then they were advised by their councell that they could not prevayle in the sayd suite, whereuppon they desisted from any further p[ro]secution thereof, w[hi]ch suite is since (as this defendant hath credyblie heard) dismissed out of this honorable court.

And this defendant sayeth That the sayd John Coocke (after such tyme as they were advised by their councell that they could not prevayle in the saide suite as aforesaide) dyd move and earnestly p[er]swade w[i]th this defendant, for to have him to ioyne him in another suite, w[hi]ch he (together with the sayd John Bagglehole and Thomas Heard) would attempt and prosecute against the defend[an]t Thomas Docton, in his Ma[jest]ies Ho[noura]ble Court of Starchamber, to the same purpose in effect that the foresayd suite was, w[hi]ch was formerly commenced in this ho[noura]ble court, w[hi]ch suite soe to be commenced in the sayd court of Starchamber, this defend[an]t utterly disliked, and would have had him to have rested satisfied w[i]th the former suites w[hi]ch they hadd thereabout.

Nowbeit the sayd John Cooke and the sayd John Bagglehole about three yeeres last past, dyd cause (as this defendant hath credyblie heard and verely beleeveth it to be true) a Bill to be exhibited into the sayd ho[noura]ble court of Starrchamber [TNA/ STAC8/119/11], in their names and also in the names of Elizabeth Docton, Thomas Heard and of this defendant, against the defend[an]t Thomas Docton and others, touching the validity of the last will and testament of the sayd Thomas Docton deceassed, and whether he were of a sound and disposeing memory at the time of the making thereof, w[hi]ch Bill and suite thereuppon is now allso dismissed out of the sayd honorable court, as this defend[an]t hath credyblie heard, and verely beleeeveth it to be true.

And this defend[en]t sayeth That he verely beleeveth that the sayd Alice Docton (yf shee had lived) ought to have had the sayd somme of two hundred thirteene powndes six shillinges and eight pence, by reason of beeing executrix to the sayd Thomas Docton her late husband.

And hee also sayeth That he verely beleeveth That the sayd Alice Docton made her last will and testam[en]t in writing, and thereby made William Atken (one other of the defend[en]ts) her executor, and that he hath made probate of the sayd Will, and hath taken uppon him the execution thereof, By reason whereof the sayd somme of two hundred thirteene powndes six shillinges and eight pence, became due and payeable unto him the sayd defend[an]t Atken, as this defend[an]t verely beleeveth.

And this defend[an]t sayeth that he knoweth not but that the lease made by the sayd Thomas Docton deceassed, unto the sayd compl[ainan]t Richard Stapledon and Honor his wife is good, but yf the same be voyde for want of tender of the sayd somme of two hundred thirteene powndes six shillinges and eight pence, or for any other cause, then the same is wholly in the power of the sayd Thomas Docton the defend[an]t (to whome the sayd lands and premisses were devised by the last Will and testament of the sayd Thomas Docton deceassed as aforesayd), to make good the same lease againe, as this defend[an]t verely beeleeveth, and not in the power of him this defendant, nor in the power of any other of the sayd defendants as he verely beleeveth.

For that this defendant sayeth That he verely beleeveth, that the sayd Thomas Docton deceassed (att the time of the making of his sayd last will and testament), was of a sound and disposeing memory, and that hee had a good and sufficient estate and power in him to grant the sayd lease (att the tyme of the grannting thereof), and he also verely beleeveth.

But this defend[an]t sayeth That yf the sayd complaynants will pay this defend[an]t his costs w[hi]ch they have putt him unto in this suite, he is and wilbe ready (att the sayd compl[ainan]ts cost) to make any deede unto the sayd Richard Stapledon, for the confirmation of his sayd lease, or doe any other acte or acts thereabout in such sorte as shalbe thought fitt by this honorable court.

And this defend[an]t sayeth that the sayd complainants, nor any of them, nor any other for them or any of them, did ever once demannd for to have this defend[an]t for to make any lease or deede of the foresayd premisses, otherwise then by this suite in this ho[noura]ble co[u]rte.

All w[hi]ch matters this defendant is and will be ready to averr and prove as this honorable court shall awarde. And humbly prayeth out of the same to be dismissed w[i]th his reasonable costs and charges in this behalfe susteyned.

Signed: Franncis Rowe

Capta apud Harton towne in com[itatus] Devon, secundo die Octobris Anno Regii Dom niri(?) Jacobi nunc Regis Angli etc, vicesimo secondo et Scot LVIII, Coram nobis: John Oliver, Thomas Cholwell.

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Document 6:

5th October 1624
The joint and sev[er]all annsweres of John Cooke and John Bagilhole, two further def[endan]ts to the Bill of Compl[ain]t of John Stapledon, Richard Stapledon, and John Velley compl[ainan]ts.

The benifit of Exception to the faultes, untruthes and other imp[er]fections of the said Bill of Compl[ain]t, to theis defend[en]ts and either of them, now and att all tymes hereafter saved and reserved for annsweare, to so many of the matters hearin contained, as doe any waie touch or concerne theis defend[an]ts, either of them, or wherew[i]th they are changed in or by the same, Say and either of them jointly and severally saith:

That they have heard and doe verely believe it to be true, that the said Thomas Docton gent decessed, in the said Bill named, in consideration of the marriage and of the somme of three hundred and thirteene pounds sixe shillings and eight pence, mentioned in the said Bill of Compl[ain]t, whereof one hundred pounds was beforehand paid, did in or about the tyme in the same Bill expressed, demise and lease unto the said Richard Stapledon, one of the compl[ainan]ts, and to the said Honor Velley, All those messuages, lands, tenem[en]ts and meadowe w[i]th th[e] appurtenances att Loworthy, w[i]thin the said parish of Woolfardisworthy and countie of Devon.

To have and hold the same unto the said Honor Velley and Richard Stapledon, in such or the like forto as is sett fourth in and by the said Bill of Comp[ain]t. And w[i]th or under such like provisoe or condition as is therein declared, viz:

That if the said Richard Stapledon his executors, administrators or assignes, did not pay, or cause to be paid, unto the said Thomas Docton his executors or assignes, the said somme of two hundred and thirteene pounds sixe shillings and eight pence, upon the thirteenth day of October then following, that then the said lease should be voide and of none effect.

And thies defend[an]ts say that for asmuch as the compl[ainan]t Richard Stapledon did not pay the said somme of two hundred and thirteene pounds sixe shillings and eight pence, on the said thirteenth day of October, unto the said Thomas Docton, his executors nor assignes, according to the promise of condition of the said lease as is ~?~ manifested by the compl[ainan]ts owne shewing they did not, thearfore theis defend[en]ts thinck, and are so advised by their councell, that the said lease and estate thearby grannted unto the compl[ainan]t Richard Stapledon and Honor Velley, is utterlie frustrate and voide in law. And that the reversion thearefor of a third parte att the least is now discended and come as of right it ought, unto this defend[an]t, And to the said Franncis Rowe, two other of the defend[an]t’s sisters sonnes, and Elizabeth Docton sister, the right heires att the common law of the said Thomas Docton deceased, In regard whereof theis defend[an]ts doe confesse that they have geiven out in speeches, that they and the rest of the coheires of the said Thomas Docton, will enter and take advantage of the said forfeiture when the said lease shall take commencement, and come to be in possession as they hope under the favour of this honorable court, they lawfulie may honbeit theis defend[an]ts think it reasonable and fitting as most agreable to equity and conscience, That the said compl[ainan]t Richard Stapledon and Honor his wife, should have the said lands and p[re]misses att Loworthy aforesaid, assured unto them according to the grannt of the said Thomas Docton, in as much as they have already paid one hundred poundes parcell of the fyne thearof, so as they will pay the residue being two hundred and thirteene pounds sixe shillings and eight pence, unto theis defend[an]ts and their cop[ar]tners, upon payment whearof theis defend[an]ts for their partes wilbe ready and willing to regrannt the said lands and tenements, unto the said compl[ainan]t Richard Stapledon and Honor his wife, for terme of their lives, according to the former agreement between them and the said Thomas Docton decessed, or to make any confirmation of the said former grant, as this honorable court shall direct.

But if the compl[ainan]ts shall refuse to pay the said somme of two hundred and thirteene poundes six shillings and eight pence, unto theis defend[en]ts and their cop[ar]tners, being parte of the consideration for w[hi]ch the said estate was granted, They being the heires and assignees in law of the said Thomas Docton decessed, then theis defend[an]ts hope that they and their cop[ar]tners, shall not (by the justice of this honorable court) be barred, excluded or restrayned from taking the advantage of the said forfeiture, and for non payment of the said somme of two hundred and thirteene pounds sixe shillings and eight pence, according to the condition or promise of the said lease, neither shalbe compelled or enforced by this honorable court, to make any account or confirmation of the said estate unto the compl[ainan]t and Honor his wife, w[i]thout that parte of the consideration w[hi]ch was not paid unto the said Thomas Docton in his life tyme, nor yett to his executors or assignes sithence his decesse, w[i]thout that that the said Thomas Docton deceased, did make his last will and testament, and thearby demised the said lands and tenemants unto the said Thomas Docton now living, as in the said bill is surmised [INSERTED LINE - NOT VERY CLEAR: for the said defend[an]ts saie that if there bee anie such will extant, the same maie underle(?) ~~cred(?) or co~~~tesiet~(?) as they hope to put to this hono[ra]ble court and for that purpose doe inferr themselves to certein depositions of wittnesses taken, and now remaynyng(?) in this hono[ra]ble court as these defendants thinke alied w[i]thout that that the said compl[ainan]ts, or either of them, did pay the said some of two hundred and thirteen pounds sixe shillings and eight pence, on the said thirteenth day of October, in the bill of compl[ainan]t mentioned, as in and by the same is pretended. 

And w[i]thout that also that any other matter or thing in the said Bill of Compl[ain]t contayned materiall or effectuall for theis defend[an]ts to annswear untto and not hearin already annsweared, confessed and avoided, trans[fer]ed or denyed is true, All w[hi]ch matters theis defend[an]ts, and either of them, are and wilbe ready to averre and prove, as this honorable court shall award.

And doe thearfore humbly pray from hence to be dismissed w[i]th their reasonable costs and charges in this behalf wrongfully sustayned.

Capt[a] et cognit apud Torringtone niligua(?) V'th die Octobris Anno R[egi]s Jacobi nunc Anglie y XXII et Scotie LVIII coram Rich[ar]d Vellie et Mathauies Stephens gen. virtate bris Dn due R[egi]s nob[is] et ais(?) direct(?).
Signed: Richard Velley, Nath Stephens, John Cooke, John Bagilhole.

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Document 7:

The further annswere of William Atken gent to the Bill of Complaint of John Stapledon gent Richard his sonne and John Vellye gent complayn[an]ts.

The saide defend[an]t for further annswere to the saide Bill of Complaint, according to the dyrections of a Report [~illeg~] S~?~ Richard Moore knight, one of the M's of this ho[noura]ble court, annswereth and sayeth:

That he neither knoweth any guift promise or agreem[en]t by the saide Alice Docton, for the giveinge, forgiveinge or libating of the sommes of fortie pounds and thirteene pounds six shillings and eight pence, or of either of them, in the saide Bill of Complaint and Report mentioned, or of any p[ar]te of the saide sommes, or of either of them. Neither hath this defend[an]t heard or knowen that the saide Alice hath confessed, or acknowledged any such guift, promise or agreem[en]t, by her in all or in any p[ar]te.

And this defend[an]t denyeth That Phillepp Vellye, in the saide Bill of Complaint and Report mentioned, did att any tyme or tymes, deliver or cause to be delivered, any somme or sommes of mony whatsoever to the saide Alice Docton, to this defend[an]ts knowledge or the p~?~, Neither hath this defendant heard the saide Alice Docton to confesse or acknowledge any such thinge.

And further this defend[an]t doth expressly saye and affirme, that the saide Alice Docton dyd make her last will and testament in writing, whereby shee made this defend[an]t her sole executor, and that shee never revoked the same to this defend[an]ts knowledge or thinkeinge.

And he also sayeth and affermeth, that he this defend[an]t had the same will in his custodie above a yere and halfe next after the death of the saide Alice Docton, and that the same will was seene and reade by divers and sundrie credible p[er]sons, and that some of them dyd examyne the same, w[i]th a copie in writinge w[hi]ch this defend[an]t nowe hath in his custodie besides, the same will was shewed in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, where this defend[an]t proved the same, and where there is alsoe a true copie of the same will yett extant to be seene, as this defend[an]t verely beleeveth.

Butt this defend[an]t confesseth that he hath not nowe the saide will in his custodie, nor doth knowe what is become thereof, for he sayeth that about easter last past was two yeeres he delivered the same will att the town(?) ~?~ HIDDEN IN CREASE ~?~ Calthropp for to be sent to London, because this defed[an]t was advised by the saide Mr Calthropp, that the ~?~ HIDDEN IN CREASE ~?~ must be of necessitie in London, then shortly after whoe receaved the same will from this defend[an]t, and p[ro]mised to send it to London for this defend[an]t within fower dayes then following, by the carry[er]s of Exon.

And this defend[an]t sayeth That the said Mr Calthroppe dyd (as he hath synce informed and told this defend[an]t, and w[hi]ch he verely beleeveth to be true) use his best endeavour to send the saide will to London accordingly, and the said Mr Calthroppe hath likewise told this defend[an]t that the said will was inscarrhed(?) [~LOST IN CREASE~], that he dyd verely thinke that some or one of this defend[an]ts adversaries had gotten the same, wherefore that defend[an]t as fullie p[er]sw~[aded?] [~LOST IN CREASE~] ~ton ~?~ that the said will (against the mynde and intention of the saide Mr Calthroppe, as this defend[an]t verely beleeveth [~LOST IN CREASE~] by some indirect and dishoneset means by some adversarie to this defend[an]t), intercepted and so by means thereof [~LOST IN CREASE~] synce and still is most dishonestly kept and w[i]th held from him this defend[an]t, by some or one of this def... [~LOST IN CREASE~] was as this defend[an]t verely beleeveth.

And this defend[an]t alsoe …..


THE TEXT IN THE REMAINDER OF THIS DOCUMENT IS PARTLY HIDDEN IN CREASES.
FURTHER EXAMINATION OF THE ORIGINAL IS NEEDED TO FULLY TRANSCRIBE THIS.


....thinketh thus to quest....
....and p[ar]tely alsoe for that the said....
....from the p'b't(?) John Vellye and....

verely beleeveth That the saide pl''''ts [plaintiffs?] John and Richard.....
....ynge the saide obligation of three hunred three score....
....understand that this defend[an]t hath not nowe 

the saide will w[hi]ch p[ar]tely imboldneth them....
....against them, And this defend[an]t alsoe sayeth That he....
....and against their owne d~?~?~ to indev~?~[er] 

to keepe from this defend[an]t the mony in.....
....igation and avettm[en]t of the saide Nicholas Vellie and at his costs and ch....
....as this defend[an]t hath credibly heard 

and verely beleeveth it to be.....
....become of the saide will as this defend[an]t verely beleeveth, And other....
....Velly his sonne soe to free(?) and 

discharge them against this.....
....not whether the saide will be extant or(?) not for that the saide will maye be burnt(?)....
....and thirteene shillings and fower 

pence w[hi]ch this defent.....
....intercepted as aforesaid, however he sayeth That the same standeth proved both....
....That this finke(?) 

was and is com.....
....defend[an]t hath a copye thereof w[i]th the probate of the same annexed under the seale of the pre....
....that he the said 

~~~~holy.....
....the same was soe proved as aforesaide, All w[hi]ch he this defend[an]t is and will be readye to aver....
....then is 

a fine.....honorable court shall award And humbly prayeth as in his former annswer he hath prayed.

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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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