Despite Silver’s claims it was through “the strange vices and devices of Italian, French and Spanish Fencers” that the English learned the use of “these Apish toyes”, there is clear evidence the English has their own, long established style of rapier fencing. The first English master to write on the rapier was Joseph Swetnam in 1617, and his style was peculiarly English.
Swetnam’s principles and language were quite similar to that of Silver, speaking of the “seven principall rules”, “the place”, the “time of offence”, “to keepe space”, to form a “true defence”, a “perfect guard” and a “cross”. This would indicate that both were branches of the same English tradition, and unlike Silver, Swetnam may well have been a member of the Masters of Defence.
Swetnam’s simple style of rapier is born out of a very practical observation, that;
“I say there is great ods betwixt fighting in the field and playing in a fence-schoole, for in the field being both sober, I meane if it be in a morning upon cold blood, then every man will as much feare to kill as to be killed, againe a man shall see to defend either blow or thrust in the field then in fence-schoole, for a man will be more bold with a foile or a cudgell, because there is small danger in either of them. But when they come to tell their tale at the point of a rapier, they will stand off for their owne safety”
Although he is be an outlier in the context of European rapier sources, Swetnam may well represent the mainstream English style as taught by the Masters of Defence.