|Sir James Hales|
Canterbury city walls, just outside which Sir James Hales' manor of The Dungeon was situated
|Died||1554 (aged 53–54)
|Parent(s)||John Hales, Isabel Harry|
Sir James Hales (c. 1500–1554), English judge, was the son of John Hales (1469/70–1540?), Baron of the Exchequer. He refused to seal the document settling the crown on Lady Jane Grey, and during the reign of Queen Mary opposed the relaxation of the laws against religious nonconformity. His suicide by drowning resulted in the lawsuit 'Hales v. Petit', considered to be a source of the gravedigger's speech in Shakespeare's Hamlet.
James Hales was the eldest son of John Hales (1469/70–1540?), Baron of the Exchequer, of The Dungeon or Dane John, Canterbury, Kent, by Isabel or Elizabeth Harry. He had three brothers and a sister:
- Thomas Hales of Thanington.
- Edward Hales of Tenterden, who married Margaret Honeywood, the daughter of John Honeywood.
- William Hales of Nackington, Kent.
- Mildred Hales, who married John Honeywood of Seen.
Hales' father was a bencher of Gray's Inn, and Hales was admitted as a student there between 1517 and 1519. He was elected an ancient of the Inn in 1528. By 1530 he was acting a counsel in the Court of Requests, and in 1532 became a bencher of Gray's Inn. In 1541 he was appointed counsel to the corporation of Canterbury, and was an adviser to Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. On 4 November 1544 he was appointed King's Serjeant, and shortly thereafter King Henry VIII granted him the manor of Clavertigh in Elham, Kent. At the coronation of King Edward VI on 20 February 1547 he was made a Knight of the Bath. On 20 May 1549 he received a patent as a Justice of the Common Pleas.
Hales supported the Protestant reformation, and in February 1551 was among those who gave sentence of deprivation against Bishop Stephen Gardiner. However, in 1553 he was one of three judges who refused to seal the document by which John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland, and others attempted to settle the crown on the Protestant Lady Jane Grey. When Queen Mary came to the throne shortly thereafter, and greater tolerance towards Roman Catholics was expected, Hales pointed out in a charge to a jury at the Kent assizes that the current statutes against nonconformity had not yet been relaxed, and that the jury must find according to the law as it then stood. On 4 October 1553 the Queen granted Hales a renewal of his patent as a Justice of the Common Pleas, but when he came before the reinstated Bishop Gardiner, then Lord Chancellor, Gardiner refused to take Hales' oath as a justice, and had him committed in turn to the King's Bench prison, the Counter in Bread Street, and the Fleet. Hales was imprisoned for several months, during which time attempts were made to have him conform to Catholicism. He eventually complied, but after doing so, attempted to commit suicide with a penknife. In April 1554 Queen Mary ordered that Hales be released, and he is said to have been brought to her presence and given "words of great comfort". By then, however, his mental condition was so unsettled that on 4 August of that year, while staying at Thanington near Canterbury with his nephew, he drowned himself by lying face down in a stream. A coroner's inquest determined that his death, being self-inflicted, was a felony.
In 1558 Hales' widow instigated legal proceedings against Cyriac Petit to recover a lease of land in Graveney marsh which had been made in 1551 to herself and her late husband. Since the coroner had earlier ruled Hales' death to be a felony, the case, Hales v. Petit, turned on the abstruse point of whether the felony, i.e. Hales' suicide, had occurred during Sir James' lifetime or after his death. In 1562 the court ruled in favour of Petit. Plowden published a full report of the case in 1571. According to Baker Hales v. Petit is "often held up as an extreme example of abstract legal reasoning", and it is considered that Shakespeare alludes to it in the gravedigger's speech in Hamlet:
First Clown Give me leave. Here lies the water; good: here
stands the man; good; if the man go to this water,First Clown Ay, marry, is't; crowner's quest law.
and drown himself, it is, will he, nill he, he
goes,--mark you that; but if the water come to him
and drown him, he drowns not himself: argal, he
that is not guilty of his own death shortens not his own life.
Second Clown But is this law?
Hales is reported to be buried or else commemorated by an inscription in the Church of St. Mary Bredin, Canterbury, not far from his residence, The Dungeon:
Among the monuments and inscriptions are the following: .... A plain altar tomb on the south side of the altar rails, and round the verge an inscription for Humphry Hales, esq. son of Sir James Hales, deceased 1555. The same father Sir James Hales.
Marriages and issue
Hales was twice married. His first wife was Mary Hales; she and her sister, Agnes, wife of Clement Rede, were the daughters and coheirs of Thomas Hales (d.1520), Merchant of the Staple, of Filetts or Phyllis Court, Henley-on-Thames.
Hales' second wife was Margaret (d.1567), one of the daughters and coheirs of Oliver Wood (d.1521/2), esquire. She had been twice widowed before her third marriage to Hales. Her first husband was Sir Walter Mantell (d.1529) of Nether Heyford, Northamptonshire, by whom she had three sons, John, Walter and Thomas, and at least two daughters, Margaret and Anne. Margaret's eldest son, John Mantell, was executed for a felony in 1541. Her second son, Walter Mantell, was executed in 1554 for his part in Wyatt's rebellion, as was her grandson, also named Walter Mantell, son of John Mantell. The deaths of Walter Mantell the elder and Walter Mantell the younger are mentioned in Foxe's Actes and Monuments.
By her first husband, Sir Walter Mantell (d.1529), Margaret was the grandmother of the poet and translator, Barnaby Googe (1540–1594); her daughter, Margaret Mantell (d.1540), and Robert Goche (d. 1557) of Chilwell, Nottinghamshire, were the poet's parents. According to Lyne, since Googe's mother died when he was six weeks old he 'was probably brought up in Kent by his grandmother, Lady Hales'.
Hales' second wife, Margaret, is buried in the south or Woods chancel in St Mildred's Church, Canterbury, where there is a monument to her memory. She is also mentioned in the monument in Canterbury Cathedral  to her daughter Anne Mantell, wife of Richard Neville (c.1510–1599) of South Leverton, Nottinghamshire. Margaret's daughter, Anne, and Richard Neville were the parents of Thomas Neville (c.1548–1615), Dean of Canterbury.
Hales had two sons, Humphrey and Edward, both of Gray's Inn, and a daughter, Mildred. Humphrey was the father of Sir James Hales (d.1589), knighted by Queen Elizabeth at Cobham Hall in September 1573. Sir James Hales (d.1589) married Alice Kempe (d.1592), the daughter of Sir Thomas Kempe (d. 7 March 1591) of Olantigh in Wye, Kent, by his first wife, Katherine Cheney, daughter and co-heiress of Sir Thomas Cheney, Treasurer of the Royal Household and Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, by whom he had a son, Cheyney Hales. Alice is the dedicatee of Greene's Menaphon (published 1589), in which she is said to have been 'the patterne of a louing and vertuous wife, whose ioyes liued in hir husbands weale, and ended with his life'. After the death of Sir James Hales (d.1589), Alice married Sir Richard Lee (d. 22 December 1608) of Hook Norton, illegitimate brother of Queen Elizabeth's champion, Sir Henry Lee.
- Dane John Manor at machadoink.com, accessed 6 January 2013.
- Hales 1882, p. 62; Baker 2004.
- Betham 1801, pp. 130–6
- Hales 1882, pp. 62–3
- R. Cox Hales does not mention this brother.
- Baker 2010.
- Shaw 1906, p. 59.
- Foss gives the date as 10 May 1549.
- Baker 2010; Foss 1857, p. 371.
- Baker 2010; Foss 1857, pp. 372–3.
- According to Blackstone, the case is authority for the proposition that 'If a joint-tenant of any chattel interest commits suicide, the right to the whole chattel becomes vested in the King'.
- Baker 2010; Blackstone 1809, pp. 409–10; Noyes 1858, pp. 26–7; Foss 1857, pp. 373–4;.
- Hasted 1800, pp. 209–288.
- Townley 2011, pp. 76–7.
- According to Brayley, she died in 1577.
- Some sources state that Margaret's father was Oliver Wood, Justice of the Common Pleas, but according to Foss the only Justice surnamed Wood was Thomas Wood, Chief Justice in the reign of Henry VII.
- Leach 1790, p. 28; Salzman 1937.
- Dean 1999, p. 6.
- Leach 1790, p. 28.
- Simpson 1890, p. 227.
- Lyne 2004.
- Archer 2004; Richardson IV 2011, p. 383.
- Brayley 1808, p. 907.
- Mullinger 2004.
- Townley 2011, p. 76; Shaw 1906, p. 75; Burke & Burke 1838, p. 233.
- Some sources give her name as Cecily Cheney.
- Richardson III 2011, p. 276.
- Alwes 2004, p. 119.
- Chambers 1936, pp. 23, 175–9. 248.
- Alwes, Derek B. (2004). Sons and Authors in Elizabethan England. Cranbury, New Jersey: Rosemont Publishing. ISBN 9780874138580. Retrieved 12 January 2013.
- Archer, Ian W. (2004). "Wyatt, Sir Thomas (b. in or before 1521, d. 1554)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/30112. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- Baker, J.H. (2004). "Hales, John (1469/70–1540?)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/11912. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- Baker, J.H. (2010). "Hales, Sir James (c.1500–1554)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/11911. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- Betham, William (1801). The Baronetage of England. I. London: William Miller. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
- Blackstone, William (1809). Commentaries on the Laws of England, Book the Second. London: A. Strahan. pp. 409–10. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
- Brayley, Edward Wedlake (1808). The Beauties of England and Wales. VIII. London: Thomas Maiden. p. 907. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
- Burke, John; Burke, John Bernard (1838). A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Extinct and Dormant Baronetcies of England. London: Scott, Webster and Geary. p. 233. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
- Chambers, E.K. (1936). Sir Henry Lee; An Elizabethan Portrait. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
- Dean, Dennis R. (1999). Gideon Mantell and the Discovery of Dinosaurs. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521420488. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
- Foss, Edward (1857). The Judges of England. V. London: Longham Brown. pp. 370–4. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
- Hales, R. Cox (1882). "Brief notes on the Hales Family". Archaeologia Cantiana. XIV. London: Kent Archaeological Society. pp. 61–84. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
- Hasted, Edward (1800). The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 11. Canterbury: W. Bristow. Retrieved 6 January 2013.
- Leach, Thomas, ed. (1790). Reports of Sir George Croke . . . Revised and Published in English by Sir Harbottle Grimston. I (4th ed.). London: E. and R. Brooke. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
- Lyne, Raphael (2004). "Googe, Barnabe (1540–1594)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/11004. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- Mullinger, J.B. (2004). "Neville , Thomas (c.1548–1615)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/19965. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- Noyes, William Curtis (1858). An Address Delivered Before the Graduating Class of the Law Department of Hamilton College. New York: Baker & Godwin. pp. 26–7. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
- Richardson, Douglas (2011). Everingham, Kimball G., ed. Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families. III (2nd ed.). Salt Lake City. ISBN 144996639X.
- Richardson, Douglas (2011). Everingham, Kimball G., ed. Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families. IV (2nd ed.). Salt Lake City. ISBN 1460992709.
- Salzman, L.F., ed. (1937). A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 4. Canterbury: W. Bristow. pp. 271–6. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
- Shaw, William A. (1906). The Knights of England. II. London: Sherratt and Hughes.
- Simpson, Justin (1890). "Mantell of Heyford". In Taylor, John. Northamptonshire Notes and Queries. III. Northampton: Dryden Press. pp. 227–8. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
- Townley, Simon (2011). A History of the County of Oxford: Henley-on-Thames and Environs: Binfield Hundred, Part 1. XVI. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell and Brewer.
- Works related to Sir James Hales at Wikisource: Dictionary of National Biography, 1885–1900, Volume 24, pp. 28–9.
- Hales, John (1480–1540), History of Parliament
- Mantell, Matthew (before 1550–1589), History of Parliament
- Dane John manor, Canterbury, Kent
- Hales, from Hasted's History of Kent
- James Hales from Foxe's Book of Martyrs
- Lawsuit re manor of Phillis Court (Fyllettes) to which James Hales and his wife Mary were parties, National Archives catalogue
- Grant of 22 April 1521 to Mary, wife of James Hales, (1262, no. 22)
- Interest of Mary Hales in manor of East Ginge
- Manor of Fyllettes
- St Mildred's Church, Canterbury
- Lee, Sir Richard (1548–1608), History of Parliament
- Will of Humphrey Hales, son of Sir James Hales (d.1554), National Archives