Ref: EDC 5/1566/10

Catalogue Entry:

There is no catalogue entry for this cause but the papers are filed in a paper folder labelled EDC 5 (1566) NO 10 PRESCOT


Ellen [Helen] Smith contra John Moseley [Mosteley], Katherine Moseley [Mosteley], Isabelle Croft and Margery Powell.

The last two names have been crossed out in some places but not in others.






Type of Cause:

Defamation – sexual slander

Cause Papers:


Sentence (image 1)

Original Document

Click to view fullscreen


[5/1566/10 image 1]

In the name of God, Amen: the merits and circumstances of a certain cause of defamation or vulgar abuse which was disputed […] and is pending undecided before us having been heard, seen and understood and fully investigated by us, Robert Leche, bachelor of laws, vicar general in spirituals of the right reverend father in God, William, by divine permission lord bishop of Chester, and lawfully deputed official principal of his consistory court, between Helen Smith of the parish of Prescot, the plaintiff and complainant on the one part, and John Moseley and Katherine, his wife, the defendant and party complained of on the other part; with the parties aforesaid properly and lawfully proceeding before us […] by William Man, Master of Arts, her lawfully appointed proctor according to the acts of the court and the party of […] personally and Katherine Moseley, his wife, personally and by William Cowper, her proctor lawfully appointed this day according to the acts of the court; also, the party of the said plaintiff praying that sentence is passed and justice is administered to her, while the party of the aforesaid defendant also earnestly praying that justice is administered to them.

The whole and entire proceedings had and done in this cause having first been examined and diligently considered by us, and having observed what according to law should be observed by us in this behalf, we have thus thought fit to proceed to the pronouncement of the passing of our definitive sentence in the said cause, and we do proceed in this manner which follows:

Forasmuch as we know and clearly find by the acts enacted, brought, alleged, exhibited, confessed and proved done and had in the said cause that the aforesaid Helen Smith has sufficiently and fully founded and proved her claim in a certain libel of hers (the tenor of which follows and is thus; In the name of God, Amen: before you, William, by divine permission bishop of Chester etc., which libel we will have here read and inserted) and that nothing effectual has been and is brought on behalf of the said defendant and party complained of […] could destroy or in any way weaken […] of the said plaintiff and complaining party.

Therefore we, Robert Leche, Bachelor of Laws, official aforesaid, having first called upon the name of Christ, and having God himself alone before our eyes, from and with the advice of the learned in the law with whom we have consulted in a timely manner in this behalf, decree that they, John Moseley, Katherine Moseley, Isabelle Croft, Margery Powell, should be punished and corrected on account of their recklessness in the pronouncement of these defamatory words and we decree that they, John Moseley, Katherine Moseley, Isabelle Croft, Margery Powell, are to be condemned in the lawful costs incurred and to be incurred on the part of the said Helen Smith in this matter, and we do condemn them by this our definitive sentence or our final decree which we thus give and publish in these writings; reserving taxation of these expenses, and we do reserve it.

This sentence was read and issued by the judge aforesaid […] in the year of our Lord 1566, being then present there […] Thomas […], clerk, and John Barlow, rector of [Warmingham] witnesses and called to the premises etc..


[5/1566/10 image 1]

In dei nomine Amen Auditis visis et intellectis ac plenarie discussis per nos Robertum Leche in Legibus baccallarium Reverendi in christo patris ac domini domini Willielmi permissione [divina]
Cestrensis episcopi vicarium in spiritualibus generalem ac eius curie Consistorialis officialem principalem legitime deputatum M[eritis]
et Circumstantijs cuiusdam cause diffamationis seu turpis convicij que coram nobis inter [Helenam]
Smyth parochie de Prescot partem actricem et querelantem ex vna et Jhonnem Mosteley et Kate[rinam eius vxor][1]
partem ream et querelatam partibus ex altera ve[rtebatur …]
et pendet indecise Rite et legitime procedentes [partibus] predictis Coram nobis sufficienter et legitime […]
per Willielmum Man Artium magistrum eius procuratorum legitime apud acta constitutum parte vero […]
<per se et>  Katerina Mosley <eius vxor>[2] personaliter et  per[3] Willielmum Cowper eius procurator isto die ap[ud acta]
constitutum comparentibus parte quoque dicte actricis Sententiam ferri et Justiciam sibi [fieri parte vero]
antedicte <rea> Justiciam etiam illis fieri instanter postul[antibus]

Rimato per nos primitus toto et integro processu in huiusmodi causa habito et facto atque diligenter recen[sito]
Servatisque per nos in hac parte de Jure Servandis ad nostre Sententie diffinitiue prolationem in dicta caus[a]
ferendam sic duximus procedendum et procedimus in hunc qui sequitur modum

Quia per acta inactita deducta
allegata exhibita confessata et probata in dicta causa facta et habita comperimus et Luculanter invenimus prefatam
Helenam Smyth intentionem suam in quodam suo Libello cuius tenor Sequitur et est Talis In dei nomine
Amen Coram vobis Willielmo p[ermissione] diuina Cestrensi episcopo et cetera Quem Libellum hic prolectum et insertum
haberi volumus sufficienter et ad plenum f[un]dasse et [probasse] Nihilque effectuale ex parte dicte[4] rea et querelate
[fuisse et esse deductum …]
<partis agentis> Elideret aut quomodolibet eneruaret

Idcirco nos Robertus Leche in Legibus bacc[allarius]
officialis antedictus christi nomine primitus invocato ac ipsum solum deum pre oculis nostris habendum de et cum
consilio Jurisperitorum cum quibus mature in hac parte comunicavimus eosdem Jhoannem Mostley Katerinam Mostley Isabelle croft [Margeriam Powell]
propter suam temeritatem in huiusmodi verborum diffamatorium prolationem puniendum et corrigendum fore decernimus ac
ipsos Jhoannem Mostley Katerinam Mostley Isabellam croft Margeriam powell in expensis legitimis per partem dicte Helene Smyth in
hac parte factis et fiendis condempnandum fore decernimus et condempnamus per hanc nostram Sententiam diffinitiuam
siue hoc nostrum finale decretum quam siue quod ferimus et promulgamus in hijs scriptis Taxacionem expensarum
huiusmodi reseruantem et reseruamus

lecta et lata fuit huiusmodi sentencia per iudicem anted[ictum]
Anno domini 1566 presentibus tunc ibidem ibidem […]
Thoma […]  clerico et Johanne barlow rectore de […]
testibus ac premissis vocatis et cetera

[1] The names Isabelle Croft, widow, and Margery Powell were originally included here as defendants but have been crossed out.

[2] The names Isabelle Croft and Margery Powell again crossed out at this point.

[3] The name of the proctor Robert Parkinson has been crossed out at this point.

[4] The names John Moseley, Katherine Moseley, Isabelle Croft and Margery Powell are crossed out at this point.

Sentence (image 2)

Original Document

Click to view fullscreen


[5/1566/10 image 2]


Sentence of Helen Smith against John Moseley and others in a cause of defamation.

[In a later hand]


[Produced with the permission of the Chester Diocesan Board of Finance.]

Translation copyright ©2022 P J Cox All Rights Reserved


[5/1566/10 image 2]


Sententia Helenæ Smyth co[ntra]
et aduersus Jhonnem Mostley et
alios in causa diffamationis

[In a later hand]


[Produced with the permission of the Chester Diocesan Board of Finance.]

Transcript copyright ©2022 P J Cox All Rights Reserved


Ellen Smith – plaintiff

John Moseley – defendant

Isabelle Croft – defendant

Margery Powell – defendant

Katherine Moseley – defendant

John Barlow, rector of Warmingham – witness to the sentence

Thomas Haslingden – witness for the plaintiff (see transcript of EDC 2/8)

William Barnes – witness for the plaintiff (see transcript of EDC 2/8)


William Downham

Robert Leche


Defamatory words




William Man – for the plaintiff

William Cowper– for the defendant




Related Causes

EDC 5/1566/9 Prescot

EDC/1566/26 Winwick



See also EDC 5/1566/9 which comprises an absolutory sentence, probably a draft, in favour of Katherine Moseley against Ellen [Helen] Smith in what was probably the same cause.

Depositions in a defamation cause between Ellen Smith and Jane Taylor (EDC/1566/26 Winwick) show that John Moseley had bribed Jane Taylor to slander Ellen Smith.

The defamation comprised a claim that Ellen Smith had given birth to an illegitimate child. (See Deposition Book EDC 2/8 ff. 1v-2, 11-11v, 19v-20 for depositions etc. in this and associated causes).