Types of Cause: Defamation – unknown

Types of Cause: Defamation – sexual slander

Suits for sexual slander became increasingly common in ecclesiastical courts during the sixteenth century, and Chester was no exception.


Christopher Haigh, ‘Slander and the church courts in the sixteenth century’, Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society, vol 78 (1975).

J. A. Sharpe, Defamation and sexual slander in early modern England : the church courts at York, Borthwick Papers no. 58.

Woman accused of sexual misconduct

EDC 5/1/7 – Agnes Rosbothom contra Robert Haryson
EDC 5/17/4 – Isabelle Holden contra Roger Rishton
EDC 5/1566/9 – Ellen [Helen] Smith contra Katherine Moseley
EDC 5/1566/10 – Ellen [Helen] Smith contra John Moseley [Mosteley], Katherine Moseley [Mosteley], Isabelle Croft and Margery Powell.
EDC 5/1575/1 – Jane Shepherd contra Francis Sefton and his wife, Margaret
EDC 5/1575/2 – Ellen Bamvile contra Rose Smith

Man accused of sexual misconduct

EDC 5/1575/4 – Urian Bowdon contra William Charlton and Ellen Lether

Types of Cause: Defamation – other

By the late fifteenth century it was becoming accepted practice in cases of defamation where the underlying accusation represented a wholly spiritual offence for the suit to be heard in the church courts, whereas accusations of a temporal nature were heard in the secular courts. However, where the alleged defamatory words involved both types of accusation either court might have jurisdiction.


R. H. Helmholz, ‘Select Cases on Defamation to 1600’, Selden Society, vol. 101 (1985).


EDC 5/1591/2 – Andrew Brednam c. Henry Aneon. The accusation involved religious deviance and dishonesty.


EDC 5/1/6 – John Minshull and Sir Gilbert Lightfoot, chaplain, contra Alice Scariot. The plaintiffs in this unusual defamation cause claimed that Alice had defamed them by saying that they had bribed her to defame someone.


Types of Cause: Correction business – matrimonial

Types of Cause: Correction business – contempt of religion

Types of Cause: Benefice cases – disputed presentation