Case of Mydleton v Whit c1560 (PRO C3 125/42)

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This is a civil case in the Court of Chancery between William Middleton, plaintiff, and William White, defendant.  The White family had owned Daltons Farm (now called Hartley Manor) since about 1531, and in 1554 they leased it to one John Gardner.  He died in 1559, and William Middleton married his widow Joan.  However William White, allegedly "a man given to trouble and unquietness" then tried to evict William Middleton before he could harvest his crop.  We do not know the outcome of the case, but the fact that the Middletons continued to farm the 100 acres into the 18th century would suggest that William Middleton was successful.  The case provides a lot of useful information about the 16th century farm.

To the Right Honourable Sir Nicholas Bacon, knight, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England.

In humble manner sheweth and declareth to your honourable lordship, your worship's humble orator, William Mydleton of Nusted [Nursted, near Meopham]in the county of Kent.  That where one William Whit of Hartley in the county aforesaid was seized in his demesne as of fee of and in one messuage, a barn and a hundred acres of land with the appurtenances, set, lying and being in Hartlye aforesaid; and so being thereof seized about 6 years past did demise and to farm let to one John Gardner now deceased the same messuage, barn and other the premises to hold and occupy at the will and pleasure of the said Whit for the yearly rent of six pounds and for thirty shillings to be paid to the chief lord of the fee thereof and after the said Gardner, bout one year past and more died.  After whose death one Joan the late wife of the said Gardner and now the wife of your lordship's said orator, likewise by the assent, permission and sufferance of the said Whit, held and occupied the premises by the space of one half year or thereabouts and did sow with grain, that is to say, with wheat, barley, oats, beans, peas and tares - threescore acres of the premises or thereabouts.  For after your lordship's said orator (.....?) married with the said Joan.  And after sowed and placed the said grain being in several .... the barn aforesaid, parcel of the premises and after the said White entered into the premises; whereupon your said orator, for a convenient and reasonable time for the threshing and avoiding thereof agreed with the said Whit to make him reasonable recompense for the same; whereunto the same Whit assented and agreed and promised convenient time and liberty to your said orator for the same.  Yet so it is Right Honourable Lord, that the same Whit being a man given to make trouble and unquietness, contrary to his said agreement and promise mde in that behalf hath taken, threshed out, spoiled, consumed and spent to his own use a great part of the corn and grain aforesaid, and will in no wise grant and suffer your said orator by himself, his servants or addignees to come or enter into the siad barn to thresh or take his said corn or grain.  By reason whereof your said orator is enforced not only to lose or omit his season's in soiwng of grain, but also to his great charge to buy and provide other grain for the necessry and complete finding of his household and family to his great hinderance and islike to sustain the loss of the whole and remnant thereof very shortly, which ammounteth to the value of £40 and above, unless it may please your good lordship the premises considered, and for that your orator knoweth not the certainty of the said grain so already consumed by the said Whit nor the certain value thereof, to grant to him the Queen's Majesty's writ of subpoena to be directed to the said William Whit commanding him thereby personally to appear before your honourable lordship in the Queen's Highness's honourable court of chancery under a certain pain therein to be limited, at a day certain therein likewise to be prefixed, then and there to answer to the prmises and to abide therein such order and directions as your lordship's said orator according to his bounden duty shall pray to God for the prosperous success of your lordship's honour long to endure.