Document 4: The answer of Nicholas Porter and others to a bill of complaint brought against them in the Star Chamber during the reign of Henry VIII.
(Catalogue reference: STAC 2/14 folio 10)
In this section:
This document is the answer of Nicholas Porter and others to a bill of complaint brought against them in the Star Chamber during the reign of Henry VIII.
The court of the Star Chamber investigated cases of public disorder, official corruption, municipal and trade disputes, fraud, and disputes over the enclosure of land.
Star Chamber cases frequently allege public disorder, such as riots, forcible entry and assault, but many of them were in fact private disputes about rights to property. The violence would have been exaggerated in order to make the case a matter for the royal courts.
Star Chamber pleadings generally consisted of the bill of complaint, the answer, the replication and the rejoinder. This document is the answer of Nicholas Porter, William Nayler and William Wheler to the bill of complaint which was brought against them before the Star Chamber by John Ed and Edith his wife. It dates from the reign of Henry VIII.
The bill of complaint from this case has also survived, and we therefore know that John Ed complained that he was forcibly ejected from the manor of Freshwater on the Isle of Wight, which he was renting from Sir Nicholas Wadham, by Porter, Nayler and Wheler.
Answers normally begin with a statement claiming that the complaint was inaccurate, followed by the defendant’s version of the truth. They generally conclude with an overall denial of the facts in the bill of complaint, and a plea for the case to be dismissed with expenses for the defendant's wrongful vexation. Answers were made under oath.
The document is written in an early 16th-century mixed hand. It is predominantly secretary hand, the style used in document 3 (the examination of James Machary), but it also has some letter-forms from a legal hand.