Petition Against Lady Bacon and Sir Owen Smith, ca. 1630, L.d.639

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This article features a transcription of a Folger Shakespeare Library manuscript, Petition Against Lady Bacon and Sir Owen Smith, L.d.639, (ca.1630) featured in the Age of Lawyers Exhibition, September 13, 2015-January 3, 2016.

More manuscripts from this collection can be found in Guide to the Bacon-Townshend collection, 1550-1640

The petition at the center of this document was addressed to the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, Thomas Coventry. It sought a month-long postponement in Lady Knyvet's suit against Lady Bacon. The response to the petition is described in the letter from the lawyer Arther Bickerton written on the flaps to each side of the petition. Coventry ruled that "it were injustice in him to give way to any longer delay." Chancery had a reputation for drawn-out cases, perhaps inspiring his refusal.


Below is a semi-diplomatic transcription of folio 1r of Folger manuscript L.d.639. The transcription below was created by the Early Modern Manuscripts Online (EMMO) project. To access an image of the original leaf, click on each transcription's heading.

L.d.639, folio 1 recto

To the Right Honorable Thomas Lord Coventer

Lord Keeper of the Greate Seale of England

The humble Petition of Elizabeth Ladie Knyvett and others

plaintiffs Against the Ladie Bacon and Sir Owen Smith Knight Defendentes

Humbly sheweth

That whereas this cause consisting of matter of Accompt standeth referred by

your Lordshipps Order to Mr Page one of the Masters of the Court before whome there

haue been many meetings by both parties and their Counsell, wherein the Master

haveing by his paines brought the same neere to a Conclusion in Michaelmas Tearme

it was then conceyved on all parts that two dayes more before the saide Master

might end the same, And was therefore by the saide Master with the consent of the

Counsell and Sollicitors on both sides, referred till the first Tewesday of this

Tearme; and then noe time to bee pretermitted for finishing thereof. Yett at the

saide daie (notwithstandinge that the Master had then wholly disposed of himselfe

for this cause; and the Counsell and Sollicitor for the plaintiffs attended the same)

Yett neverthelesse the Defendents, their Counsell, nor Sollicitors came not, wherebythe

hearinge and conclusion thereof was then delayed by their default, wherevppon

the plaintiffs Sollicitor afterwards meetinge with the Sollicitor for the Defendente earnest

ly desired him that he would assent to some other day before the ending of this

Tearme for a finall hearing thereof before the saide Master, for that the plaintiffs

Counsell (which they relyed vppon) could not stay after the tearme to attend it,

But the Defendents Sollicitor would not assent thereto, but hath since been with

the saide Master, and suggestinge to him the assent of the plaintiffs Sollicitor

hath procured a new warrant for hearinge of the saide cause vppon the

Monday and Tewesday after this Tearme whereas before ^hee understood that the

plaintiffs Counsell could not then attend the same, And endeavor to inforce the

plaintiffs to those dayes of attendance by some direccion from your Lordshipp

as they pretend.

May it therefore please your good Lordshipp that since it hath

been delayed this whole Tearme by the Defendents default, and

soe stands that of Necessitie the plaintiffs Counsell instructed,

cannot after the end of the Tearme attend the same, That

the farther proceedings therein may bee respected vntill the

begininge of the next Tearme: And the Master directed to

appoint then a new and finall day for this cause. And your

Petitioners shall euer pray for your Lordshipps happines and

encrease of honour.

Note: The following is written vertically to the right of the main body of text -


I came to acquinte you what ill sucksesse my Lady hath

Likewyse had with my Lordship concerninge your peticion, I assure

you shee endeuored what shee could, & shee was pleased to

call mee in to assiste her in expleaineinge to your Desire, but

all that wee could say would not prevaile with him to alter

the time appoynted but wished vs both to rest satisfied

for hee was asshamed that any cause that any cause should

Depend soe Longe in refference, & sayd it were in iustice in him

to gaine way to any Longer Delay and that it were better the Ladye

Note: The following is written vertically to the left of the main body of text -

knevett should be at the charge to keepe her Counsell

in towne a moneth then hee should be the cause to delay

it vntill the next Tearme, and this was his the conclustion

of his resolution, and soe beinge sorye I could doe you

noe better service herein, will euer remaine

you r assured servant

Arthur Bickerton