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Letter from Lord Norris to James I seeking a pardon for his manslaughter conviction

[p. 53] To the Kings Majestie

Most gratious Soveraigne. The advantage which mine Adversaries hath taken in first presenting his complaint freely and uncontroled would have afflicted me greatly had I not knowne that your Majestie hath given to your Judges injuncition Audite alteram partem. That I entred into discourse with the Lord Willoughbie in Church of Churchyeard may make it manifest thay I had noe disposicion at all to quarrell. The rest of the world is wide enoughe for men soe affected. They that prophame such places trust more to the place then theire own worth. That I was improvidently in such a [p. 54] place by him surprised, muffled in mine owne cloke and treacherously buffetted, shewed that I suspected noe such assaulte as was there made upon mee, And that I was soe disgracefully and ignobly assaulted by the Lord Willoughbie, and hee in noe sorte by mee, yett will I hope to satisfie any even indifferent judgment much more the supreame judgment and supreame Judge that I had nothing in mine intention either towardes the Master or the man. It is true (most gratious Soveraigne) that I after the Lord Willoughbies dishonorable indignitie by mee repelled, I seeing an unknowne face \coming/ feircely with his sword upon mee for my life, (in defence wherof) God himself, the Law of Nature and Nations doth warrant us to contend, I was forced either to have foregone it at a Ruffines [Pigott] comaund or by resisting to yeald yt up to your Majestie to whome I vowed it (when sooner you shall commaund it) to your service.

This I presume to write to a King in whome restes the spiritt of honor and by that spiritt I hope your Majestie will judg That Hee which will runne from his owne defence, being injurously assaulted, will alsoe runne from the defence of his Soveraigne Maister.

[p. 55] I alsoe presume in all humilitie to addresse my self to a Prince rightly indued with the spiritt of Justice joyned to the divine vertue of Commpassion, by both which, I nothing doubt your Majestie will judg when you shall be truly informed of the proceeding and succeeding wrongs offered mee that I am and will bee

Your Majesties most humble and Loyall Subject

F: Norreis

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Letter from Lord Norris to James I seeking a pardon for his manslaughter conviction

Author
Francis, 2nd Baron Norris of Rycote
Date
[c.10 September 1615]
Medium
Manuscript

On 9 September 1615 Francis, 2nd Baron Norris of Rycote, was convicted of the manslaughter of Jonathan Pigott, a servant of Robert Bertie, 14th Baron Willoughby (CSP Dom. 1611-18, pp. 306, 308). Pigott was killed when Norris struck him with a sword during a violent quarrell with Lord Willoughby in a Bath churchyard. Lord Willoughby is also said to have been stabbed in the breast by Norris. The cause of the altercation is not known, but Norris appears to have been feuding with members of the Bertie family from at least May 1610 (Sawyer, Winwood's Memorials, vol. 3, pp. 154-5). Norris wrote this letter, of which this is a copy, to the King seeking a pardon. He portrays himself as the innocent party and to have been "disgracefully and ignobly assaulted" by Willoughby. He contends that upon seeing Pigott "coming feircely with his sword upon mee for my life" that he was forced to act in self defence. Norris was pardoned by the King.

Transcript

[p. 53] To the Kings Majestie

Most gratious Soveraigne. The advantage which mine Adversaries hath taken in first presenting his complaint freely and uncontroled would have afflicted me greatly had I not knowne that your Majestie hath given to your Judges injuncition Audite alteram partem. That I entred into discourse with the Lord Willoughbie in Church of Churchyeard may make it manifest thay I had noe disposicion at all to quarrell. The rest of the world is wide enoughe for men soe affected. They that prophame such places trust more to the place then theire own worth. That I was improvidently in such a [p. 54] place by him surprised, muffled in mine owne cloke and treacherously buffetted, shewed that I suspected noe such assaulte as was there made upon mee, And that I was soe disgracefully and ignobly assaulted by the Lord Willoughbie, and hee in noe sorte by mee, yett will I hope to satisfie any even indifferent judgment much more the supreame judgment and supreame Judge that I had nothing in mine intention either towardes the Master or the man. It is true (most gratious Soveraigne) that I after the Lord Willoughbies dishonorable indignitie by mee repelled, I seeing an unknowne face \coming/ feircely with his sword upon mee for my life, (in defence wherof) God himself, the Law of Nature and Nations doth warrant us to contend, I was forced either to have foregone it at a Ruffines [Pigott] comaund or by resisting to yeald yt up to your Majestie to whome I vowed it (when sooner you shall commaund it) to your service.

This I presume to write to a King in whome restes the spiritt of honor and by that spiritt I hope your Majestie will judg That Hee which will runne from his owne defence, being injurously assaulted, will alsoe runne from the defence of his Soveraigne Maister.

[p. 55] I alsoe presume in all humilitie to addresse my self to a Prince rightly indued with the spiritt of Justice joyned to the divine vertue of Commpassion, by both which, I nothing doubt your Majestie will judg when you shall be truly informed of the proceeding and succeeding wrongs offered mee that I am and will bee

Your Majesties most humble and Loyall Subject

F: Norreis

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