skip to content

1621-2: Thomas Hobson sued by former employee John Rooke for withholding wages


John Rooke versus Thomas Hobson in the Vice-Chancellor's Court

This case ran for a year before disappearing from the records without obvious resolution. 

It began in July 1621 when John Rooke, servant now of one Master Sherman1, alleged Thomas Hobson owed him £7 in unpaid wages. In his defence, Hobson countered that some wages had in fact been paid over the period of two years and three months Rooke had been in his service and that he had settled a London debt for which the servant was in danger of being arrested. But Rooke had not done a good job as a driver. Hobson listed much negligent behaviour for which he was financially liable, including drinking on duty and ruining horse teams by racing other carriers, culminating in the death under the wagon wheels of a young woman to whom he had given a lift, contrary to the rules. 

Edward Sisseley, aged about 40, a longtime servant of Hobson, was summoned as a witness by Rooke. His statement in January 1621/2 however, seemed to confirm the views of his boss. Loyalty was rewarded. In Thomas Hobson’s will, Sisseley received the bequest of a messuage2

Thereafter, from February to July 1622, Rooke failed to appear in court, was pronounced contumacious and ordered to be arrested on at least a dozen occasions.

The documents digitised here comprise:

• Act Book entries recording the progress of the case, 20 July 1621-8 January 1621/2 (classmark: UA VCCt.I.9), 25 January 1621/2-29 March 1622 (classmark: UA VCCt.I.10), 5 April-1 July 1622 (classmark: UA VCCt.I.44) and 10 May-5 July 1622 (classmark: UA VCCt.I.48)

• Interrogatories of Thomas Hobson for Edward Sisseley, witness of John Rooke, 11 January 1621/2 (classmark: UA VCCt.III.26/14)

• Counter allegations of Thomas Hobson, 8 February 1621/2 (classmark: UA VCCt.III. 26/13).

• Personal response of Thomas Hobson and deposition of Edward Sisseley, 15 January 1621/2 (classmark: UA VCCt.II.22 ff.74r-75r)


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 Presumably John Sherman MA, brewer, lessee of The Eagle and Child inn on Bene’t St (see Sherman v. Hobson case).
2 C.H. Cooper, Annals of Cambridge Vol. 3 (Cambridge, 1845), p. 234.