BILL OF COMPLAINT AND ANSWER, 1595
Records of a case raised by Essex labourer James Chipperfield are held at The National Archives (C 2/Eliz/C1/29)
BILL OF COMPLAINT BY JAMES CHIPPERFIELD
This will be in the top left-hand corner (in Latin before 1733).
Bills often start with “Humbly complaining sheweth...”
The complainant named, “where” or “whereas” signifies the background to the case will follow, in which several family members may be named.
The name of the complainant appears on the first line.
After the background, “now” indicates the body of the complaint has begun.
Their names then follow: here Nicholas, Edmond and Johan. Surnames are often given, too. In this case the defendants have already been described in the body of the complaint: “Nicholas Farnham of Duxford co Essex yeoman, Edmond Pakeman of Maldon co Essex yeoman and Johan his wife.”
ANSWER OF NICHOLAS FARNHAM
The names of the defendants giving this answer, and the names of the complainants, are given on the top line.
Having supplied their full answer, defendants will often ask for the case to be dismissed.
Defendants usually open by denying that there is any truth in the bill of complaint.
They then go on to answer each point that has been raised, acknowledging it to be true or untrue, adding in their own information.