skip to content

ca 1625-9: Thomas Hobson is tenaciously pursued for debt


Jeremy Goose versus Thomas Hobson in the Vice-Chancellor's Court 

This case is first known to us from a bond dated May 1625 in which the parties in dispute, Jeremy Goose and Thomas Hobson, agreed to obey the decision of arbitrators. Jeremy Goose, hosier, had sued Hobson for debts incurred by him and his son, John. Hobson was said to have promised John on his deathbed in 16181 that he would settle what he owed. Arbitrators - a college head, alderman and esquire bedell - considered the matter, minded to believe the promise had been made2. Reaching a decision in June 1625, they recognised debts had run up on all sides for 18 years; on his and his son’s behalf, Hobson owed Goose more than £500, while Goose owed £150 to Hobson. The arbitrators concluded in June 1625 that £358 should be paid by Hobson to Goose.

Judgement was given for Goose in March 1626 and payment of £250 by instalments set out, accepted by both sides. But in June 1627 Goose was back in court suing Hobson again because he had not paid as directed and listing further debts since incurred. Hobson denied responsibility for the additional debts, among them £44 due to a Master Isaac Seward (or Steward) at the Golden Lion, Cornhill, London. Further witnesses were summoned and examined but their depositions do not survive.

In January 1629, the court found for Goose a second time; this time in the sum of £100 plus 40 marks damages. Hobson paid up over the next two months. The wrangling over court expenses, chiefly proctors’ fees and the costs of drawing up documents, was settled by March of the same year. The total cost of the case was £35 8s, including defendant’s costs. 

This may be one of the longest cases in the court’s history; pursued over 64 court-days, spread over three years, ten months and 13 days. On average, suits were completed in eight court days, taking roughly four months.

The documents digitised here comprise:

• Act Book entries recording the progress of the case, 11 November 1625-21 March 1625/6 (classmark: UA VCCt.I.11), 2 June-2 November 1627 (classmark: UA VCCt.I.50) and 9 November 1627-16 March 1628/9 (classmark: UA VCCt.I.51)

• Bond to obey decision of arbitrators, May 1625 (classmark: UA CUR 6.2 f.1)

• Arbitration award, June 1625 (classmark: UA VCCt.III.28/9a-b)

• Allegations by Thomas Hobson, [1625] (classmark: UA VCCt.III.28/8)

• Depositions of arbitrators, described as witnesses of Jeremy Goose, September-October 1625 (classmark: UA VCCt.II.22 ff.185r-193v) and March 1625/6 (classmark: UA VCCt.II.23 ff.5r-6r)

• Allegations of Jeremy Goose, [?1627] (classmark: UA VCCt.III.29/107)

• Personal responses of Thomas Hobson, [1628] (classmark: UA VCCt.III.29/108) and November 1628 (classmark: UA VCCt.II.25 f.6r)

• Interrogatories of Thomas Hobson for witnesses of Jeremy Goose, [1628] (classmark: UA VCCt.III.29/109)

• Expenses calculations, March 1625-January 1629 (classmark: UA VCCt.III.30/208).

Except for entries in the Act Books, all records are transcribed. Latin abbreviations have been extended; spelling and punctuation transcribed as seen. 

For an outline of the jurisdiction and procedure of the University courts, and the methodology employed in presenting records online, see the introduction to this CUDL collection.

1 He was buried on 5 September 1619.
2 In the period 1625-31 several other townspeople came forward with the same story, doubtless encouraged in their suit by the arbitrators’ award; see also Litchfeild versus Hobson 1626, Willyamson versus Hobson 1629-31 and Empson versus Hobson 1630-1.