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1630-1: Thomas Hobson pursued by William Empson in two simultaneous cases 


William Empson versus Thomas Hobson in the Vice-Chancellor's Court, first cause

William Empson versus Thomas Hobson in the Vice-Chancellor's Court, second cause

These cases began in November 1630 a couple of months before Hobson’s death. The first concerned his son, John, who had died an indebted man in 1619. Over the next 11 years, several townspeople came forward with the same story: Thomas Hobson had promised his son on his deathbed to settle what he owed1. William Empson of Chesterton, brewer, was one such, pursuing a £4 bond John had entered into four months before his death. The father, Empson alleged, had declared ‘Sonne lett not your debts trouble you (but thinke of the place whether you are to goe) for I will discharge this man’.

In the second case, Empson complained that poor upkeep of a partition wall between Hobson’s malthouse on Sparrows Lane, just to the south of the Market Square, and his close had allowed animals to stray and locals to carry their dead, recent victims of plague, across his land to burial. He estimated damages at £5.

Hobson did not appear in court to answer the charges. His health was doubtless too poor. Several weeks after his death in early January 1630/1, he was still being summoned to attend. Finally, the news reached the authorities; the arrest order issued on 28 January was crossed out.

The documents digitised comprise:

• Act Book entries recording the progress of the case, 12 November 1630 – 21 January 1630/1 (classmark: UA VCCt.I.11) and 28 January 1630/1 (classmark: UA VCCt.I.52)

• Allegations of William Empson respecting the debt of John Hobson (classmark: UA VCCt.III.31A/196)

• Allegations of William Empson respecting the trespass damage to his property caused by a poorly maintained malthouse wall (classmark: UA VCCt.III.31A/192)

• Request from William Rimer, kinsman of Thomas Hobson, to Registrary Tabor, clerk of the court, that the suit involving Hobson be postponed to the next court term (classmark: UA VCCt.III.31A/193).

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.