The Forest of Dean - An Historical and Descriptive Account
by H. G. Nicholls
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This ebook was transcribed by Les Bowler.

[Picture: Portraits of two Iron-Miners]

[Picture: Title Page]



John Murray, Albemarle Street. 1858.


Disappointment expressed by others and felt by myself that a History of the Forest of Dean should never have appeared in print, and an impression that a considerable amount of interesting information relative to it might be brought together, combined I may add with the fact that there seemed no probability of such a work being otherwise undertaken until old usages and traditions had passed away, have induced me to attempt its compilation. I here venture to publish the fruit of my labours, in the hope that the reader may derive some portion of that pleasure which the prosecution of the work has afforded me, and trusting that the same indulgent consideration which led the officers of the Government, the gentlemen of the neighbourhood, and many of the intelligent Foresters to aid in the execution, will by them and the public be extended to the work itself.

I have endeavoured to make it as complete as possible by supplying every known circumstance, mostly in the words of the original narrator, and yet trying so to harmonize the whole as to engage the attention of the general reader, but more particularly of the residents in the district, by acquainting them with the past and present state of one of the most interesting and remarkable localities in the kingdom.

H. G. N.

July, 1858.


PAGE Portraits of two Iron-miners in their working dress Frontispiece Effigy of a Forest Free Miner Titlepage The Buck Stone 3 South side of the Nave in St Briavel's Church 8 Entrance to St Briavel's Castle from the North 11 The Speech House 51 Court Room in the Speech House 64 Norman Capital in Staunton Church 99 Ancient Font in Staunton Church 100 Interior of the Debtors' Prison in St Briavel's Castle 114 Court Room in St Briavel's Castle 115 Holy Trinity Church and Schools, Harry Hill 162 Christ Church, Berry Hill 166 St Paul's Church, Park End 169 St John's Church and Schools, Cinderford 171 Lydbrook Church and Schools 173 Stone Coffin-lids at Flaxley Abbey 180 The Refectory of Flaxley Abbey 181 Open Timber Roof of the Abbot's Room at Flaxley Abbey 181 St Anthony's Well 182 The original Chapel at Flaxley, as it appeared in 1712 189 Flaxley Church, and Abbey in the distance 190 The Tomb of John de Yrall, Forester in Fee, in Newland 200 Churchyard The King's Bowbearer, from an ancient Tomb in Newland 201 Churchyard "Jack of the Yat," supposed to be the oldest oak in the 207 Forest The "Newland Oak" 208 An Oak, near York Lodge 209 The Devil's Chapel, in the Scowles, near Bream 213 "King Arthur's Hall," on the "Great Doward" 215 Effigy of a Forest Free Miner, reduced from a brass of 217 the fifteenth century in Newland Church Leather Sole of a Shoe, found in the old workings 218 Iron Mattock-head, 9 inches long, found in the old 218 workings Oak Shovel, 30 inches long, found in the old workings 218 Light Moor Colliery 241 General View of the Centre of the Forest, from the top of 244 Ruardean Hill Geological Map of the Forest 245 Vertical Section of the Plump Hill, according to Mr 248 White's diagram Forest of Dean to face page 15 General Map of the Forest of Dean at the end

CHAPTER I. A.D. 1307-1612.

Origin of the name "Dean"?—The "Buck Stone," and other Druidical remains—"The Scowles," &c., and other ancient iron-mines, worked in the time of the Romans—Symmond's Yat, and other military earthworks—Domesday Book, and investment of this Forest in the Crown—William I., and probable date of Free Miners' Franchise—Castle of St. Briavel's first built; Giraldus—Flaxley Abbey founded—King John at Flaxley and St. Briavel's—The constables of St. Briavel's and wardens of the Forest—Date of the ruins of St. Briavel's Castle—Iron forges licensed by Henry III.—Perambulation of 1282, and first "Justice seat"—Seventy-two "itinerant forges" in the Forest—Date of Miners' laws and privileges—Perambulation of 1302—Edward I., grants in the Forest—Newland Church founded—Free miners summoned to the sieges of Berwick, &c.—Edward II., grants in the Forest—Edward III., ditto—Richard II., ditto—Henry IV., ditto—Henry V., ditto—Henry VI., ditto—Severn barges stopped by Foresters—Edward IV., and retreat hither of the Earl Rivers and Sir J. Woodville—Edward VI. farmed the Forest to Sir A. Kingston—Design of the Spaniards to destroy the Forest—Papers from Sir J. Caesar's collection, viz. Sir J. Winter's negotiations relative to the iron-works, &c.—Blast furnaces erected.

The district known as "the Forest of Dean" is situated within that part of Gloucestershire which is bounded by the rivers Severn and Wye. Its name is of doubtful origin. Was it so called from its proximity to the town of Mitcheldean, or Dean Magna, mentioned in Domesday Book, and which, agreeably to its name, is situated in a wooded valley, the word "Dean," or "Dene," being Saxon, and signifying a dale or den?—or do we accept the statement of Giraldus, and some other writers, that the Forest of Dean obtained its name from the Danes sheltering themselves in it, secured by its shades and thickets from the retaliation of the neighbouring people, whose country they had devastated?—Or, again, do we "fancy," with Camden, that "by cutting off a syllable it is derived from Arden, which word the Gauls and Britons heretofore seemed to have used for a wood, since two very great forests, the one in Gallia Belgica, the other amongst us in Warwickshire, are called by one and the same name, Arden"? This latter suggestion Evelyn, in his 'Sylva,' accepts, in which he is supported by the fact that the name of "Dean" is first met with in William the Norman's survey.

Probably the earliest trace of this locality being inhabited exists in the Druidical rocks which are found on the high lands on the Gloucestershire side of the Wye. The chief of them is "the Buck Stone," so called perhaps from the deer which sheltered beneath it, or else from its fancied resemblance to that animal when viewed from certain distant spots. It is a huge mass of rock poised on the very crest of Staunton Hill, which being of a pyramidal form, and almost 1000 feet high, renders the stone on its summit visible in one direction as far as Ross, nine miles off. A careful examination of the structure of the rock, and particularly of the character of its base, will show that its position is natural. But that the Druids had appropriated it to sacrificial purposes, is evident from a rudely hollowed stone which lies adjacent. In shape "the Buck Stone" is almost flat on the top, and four-sided, the north-east side measuring sixteen feet five inches, the north seventeen feet, the south-west nine feet, and the south side twelve feet. The face of the rock on which it rests slopes considerably, and the bearing point is only two feet across. This part may be an unbroken neck of rock, but apparently the entire block has crushed down upon its base, as though, from having once formed the extremity of the portion of cliff near, it had fallen away, and had accidentally balanced itself in its present position. {2} The texture of "the Buck Stone" is similar to that of the slab of rock on which it rests, commonly known as the old red sandstone conglomerate of quartz pebbles (a stratum of which extends through the whole district), exceedingly hard in most of its veins, but very perishable in others; and hence perhaps the form and origin of this singular object.

[Picture: The Buck Stone]

In addition to the above, there is a large mass of grit-stone, from nine to ten feet high, standing in a field on the north side of the road leading from Bream to St. Briavel's, named "the Long Stone." Another, called by the same name, and of similar character, occurs on the north-east side of the Staunton and Coleford road; but nothing remarkable is known of either of them, only their weather-worn appearance shows that they have been exposed to the action of the elements during many centuries.

Next in order of time to the above remains are the ancient Iron-mines, locally termed "Scowles," {4} which were undoubtedly worked when this island was occupied by the Romans. This appears certain from the coins, &c., which have been found deeply buried in the heaps of iron cinders derived from the workings of these mines. A highly interesting MS. Dissertation, written about the year 1780 by Mr. Wyrrall, on the ancient iron-works of the Forest, a subject on which he was well informed, being a resident in the neighbourhood, is conclusive on this head. He states:—"Coins, fibula, and other things known to be in use with that people (the Romans), have been frequently found in the beds of cinders at certain places: this has occurred particularly at the village of Whitchurch, between Ross and Monmouth, where large stacks of cinders have been found, and some of them so deep in the earth, eight or ten feet under the surface, as to demonstrate without other proof that they must have lain there for a great number of ages. The present writer has had opportunities of seeing many of these coins and fibula, &c., which have been picked up by the workmen in getting the cinders at this place, in his time; but especially one coin of Trajan, which he remembers to be surprisingly perfect and fresh, considering the length of time it must have been in the ground. Another instance occurs to his recollection of a little image of brass, about four inches long, which was then found in the cinders at the same place, being a very elegant female figure, in a dancing attitude, and evidently an antique by the drapery."

Numerous additional traces of the same people have been discovered in this neighbourhood, viz., a Roman pavement, tesserae, bricks, and tiles at Whitchurch, already mentioned; remains of Ariconium, a town, it seems, of blacksmiths, at Bollitree; a camp, bath, and tessellated pavement at Lydney; and coins to a large amount, indicative of considerable local prosperity, on the Coppet Woodhill, at Lydbrook, Perry Grove, and Crabtree Hill—of Philip, Gallienus, Victorinus, Claudius Gothicus, &c.

Crabtree Hill being situated near the centre of the Forest, renders the discovery of Roman antiquities there especially interesting. On 27th August, 1839, a man who was employed to raise some stone in Crabtree Hill, of which several heaps were lying on the surface, in turning over the stone found about twenty-five Roman coins. The next day, in another heap about fifty yards distant, he found a broken jar or urn of baked clay, and 400 or 500 coins lying by it, the coins being for the most part those of Claudius II., Gallienus, and Victorinus. The spot is rather high ground, but not a hill or commanding point, and there do not appear any traces of a camp near it. Some of the stones seemed burnt, as if the building had been destroyed by fire. There was no appearance of mortar, but the stones had evidently been used in building, and part of the foundation of a wall remained visible. A silver coin of Aurelius was likewise picked up.

Similar discoveries have been made in other places. At Seddlescombe, in Sussex, one of the earliest iron-making localities in the kingdom, Mr. Wright, in his interesting work entitled 'Wanderings of an Antiquary,' mentions several Roman coins, especially one of the Emperor Diocletian, having been met with in a bed of iron cinders, manifestly of great antiquity, since four large oaks stood upon its surface.

An interval of a few hundred years brings us to the probable date of the next class of antiquities, viz. the military earthworks yet traceable in the neighbourhood. They are four in number, commencing with the lines of circumvallation which enclose the promontory of Beachley; next, the camp and entrenchments on the high lands of Tidenham Chase; then, a camp near the Bearse Common; and, as a termination to the chain, the triple dyke defending Symmond's Yat. Some have regarded these remains as forming the southern termination of Offa's Dyke, which that sovereign constructed about the year 760, to prevent the Welsh from invading his kingdom of Mercia; but they are not sufficiently uniform or continuous to warrant such a conclusion. They seem rather to be connected with the incident which the Chronicles of Florentius Vigorniensis relate as taking place A.D. 912:—"The Pagan pirates, who nearly nineteen years before had retired from Britain, approaching by the province of Gaul, called Lydivinum, return with two leaders, Ohterus and Hroaldus, to England, and, sailing round West Saxonia and Cornubia, at length reach the mouth of the river Sabrina (Severn), and, without delay, invade the northern lands of the British, and, exploring all the parts adjoining the bank of the river, pillage most of them. Cymelgeac, a British bishop who occupied the plains of Yrcenefeld (Archenfield), was likewise taken; and they, not a little rejoicing, carry him off to their ships, whom, not long after, King Edward ransomed for forty pounds of silver. Soon after, the whole force, leaving their ships, return to the aforesaid plains, and make their way for the sake of plunder; but suddenly as many of the inhabitants as possible of the adjoining towns of Hereford and Glevum (Gloucester) assemble, and give them battle. Hroaldus, the leader of the enemy, and his brother Ohterus, the other leader, with a large part of the army, are slain. The rest are put to flight, and driven by the Christians into a certain fence (septum), where they are at length besieged, until they give hostages, so that as fast as possible they depart King Edward's realm." Mr. Fryer, of Coleford, ingeniously supposes that Symmond's Rock was the scene of the above contest, which may possibly be correct.

Edward the Confessor is stated in Domesday Book to have exempted the Forest of Dean from taxation, with the object apparently of preserving it from spoliation. The exact terms used are, "has tras c' cessit rex E. quietas a geldo pro foresta custod," manifesting an interest in its protection on the part of the Crown, to which no doubt it had now become annexed. Probably in those early days the King possessed the right to all lands not under cultivation or already apportioned, just as the Sovereign of our own day exercises the right in our colonial territories, and makes specific grants to private individuals. Thus, Mr. Rudder, in his 'History of Gloucestershire,' remarks that "originally all the lands of the subject are derived from the Crown, and our forests may have been made when the ancient kings had the greater part in their own hands." Agreeably with which principle, combined with the attractions which the Forest of Dean possessed as a hunting ground, it was sometimes visited for the sports of the chase by William the Conqueror, who in the year 1069 was thus diverting himself when he received information that the Danes had invaded Yorkshire and taken its chief city. Roused to fury by these tidings, he swore "by the splendour of the Almighty" that "not one Northumbrian should escape his revenge;" an oath which he put into prompt and terrible execution. It seems not improbable that upon one of these royal visits the miners of the Forest applied for and obtained their "customes and franchises," which, even in the less remote days of Edward I., were granted, as the record of them declares, "time out of minde." The demand which the Conqueror made upon the citizens of Gloucester for thirty-six "Icres" of iron yearly, each of which comprised ten bars, made at their forges, six in number, wherewith to furnish his fleet with nails, was procured doubtless from this Forest, for which impost the above-named grant was possibly designed as a compensation.

The 'Annals' of Giraldus, relative to the reign of Henry I., inform us that the Castle of St. Briavel's, or Brulails was now built by Milo Fitz-Walter, with the design of confirming the royal authority in the neighbourhood, and of checking the inroads of the Welsh; but, extensive as its ruins still are, they seem to contain no trace of so early a period. The only vestige of that age is seen in the Parish Church, which stands opposite the north entrance of the castle. Henry created Fitz-Walter Earl of Hereford, and committed the castle of St. Briavel's, and the district adjoining, to his care. The 'Itinerary' of the same writer speaks of "the noble Forest of Dean, by which Gloucester was amply supplied with iron and venison." Tithes of the latter were given by this King to the Abbey there.

[Picture: South side of the Nave in St. Briavel's Church]

In the fifth year of the succeeding reign of Stephen, by whom the gifts just mentioned were confirmed, the Forest of Dean, that is, its royal quitrents, were granted to Lucy, Milo Fitz-Walter's third daughter, upon her marrying Herbert Fitz-Herbert, the King's chamberlain, and progenitor to the present Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery. So profuse a gift on such an occasion may seem almost incredible; but its tenure, we must remember, was precarious, the Forest itself being continually exposed to danger by its proximity to the Welsh border. Mahel was this lady's youngest brother, of whom Camden records that "the judgment of God overtook him for his rapacious ways, inhumane cruelties, and boundless avarice, always usurping other men's rights. For, being courteously treated at the Castle of St. Briavel's by Walter de Clifford, the castle taking fire, he lost his life by the fall of a stone on his head from the highest tower." It should be observed, however, that, according to Sir R. C. Hoare, Camden is mistaken in placing the scene of Mahel's catastrophe in the Forest of Dean; Brendlais, or Bynllys, as mentioned by Giraldus, being a small village on the road between Hereford and Hay, where a stately tower marks the site of the ancient castle of the Cliffords, in which most likely this tyrant lost his life.

In this year also, A.D. 1140, the Abbey of Flaxley was founded by Roger, the Earl of Hereford's eldest son, by whom it was partially endowed, and who named it "the Abbey of St. Mary de Dene," the site being formerly included in the precincts of the Forest. The institution of the Abbey was confirmed by Henry II., who further enriched it by granting permission to the monks to feed their cattle, hogs, &c., in the Forest, repair their buildings with its timber, and have an iron-forge there. In course of years the Fitz-Herbert interest in the Forest and Castle of St. Briavel's, passing through the families of Henry de Bohun and Bernard de Newmarch, was released by the former to King John, who granted them at the close of his reign to John de Monmouth. The 'Itinerary' of this monarch shows that he often visited the neighbourhood, no doubt for the diversions of the chase, viz.:—

A.D. 1207, at Gloucester Nov. 14, Wednesday. St. Briavel's ,, 15, Thursday. ,," ,, 16, Friday morning. Flaxley ,, ,, ,, evening. St. Briavel's ,, 17, Saturday. Hereford ,, 18, Sunday. 1212, at Flaxley ,, 8, Thursday. ,, ,, 9, Friday. St. Briavel's ,, 10, Saturday. ,, ,, 11, Sunday. ,, ,, 12, Monday. Flaxley ,, ,, Monday evening. 1213, at St. Briavel's ,, 28, Thursday. ,, ,, 29, Friday. Monmouth ,, ,, Friday evening. ,, ,, 30, Saturday. St. Briavel's ,, ,, ,, Flaxley ,, ,, ,, Gloucester ,, 30, Saturday. 1214, at Braden's Coke Dec. 11, Thursday. Ashton ,, ,, ,, Flaxley ,, ,, ,,

From this date Bigland, in his 'County History,' arranges nearly an unbroken succession of the constables of St. Briavel's Castle, and wardens of the Forest of Dean, viz.:—

A.D. 1215 17 King John John de Monmouth. 1260 44 Henry III. Robert Waleran. 1263 47 ,, John Giffard (Baron). ,, ,, Thomas de Clace. 1282 12 Edward I. William de Beauchamp Earl of Warwick. 1289 19 ,, John de Bottourt (deprived). 1291 21 ,, Thomas de Everty. 1298 27 ,, John de Handeloe. 1300 29 ,, Ralph de Abbenhalle. 1307 1 Edward II. John de Bottourt (restored). 1308 2 ,, William de Stanre. 1322 15 ,, Hugh Le Despenser (senior). 1327 18 ,, John de Nyvers. ,, 20 ,, John de Hardeshull. 1341 14 Edward III. Roger Clifford (Baron). 1391 14 Richard II. Thomas de Woodstock Duke of Gloucester. 1436 14 Henry VI. John Duke of Bedford. 1459 38 ,, John Tiptoft Earl of Worcester. 1466 6 Edward IV. Richard Neville Earl of Warwick &c. 1612 9 James I. Henry Earl of Pembroke. 1632 10 Charles I. Philip ,, 1660 1 Charles II. Henry Lord Herbert of Raglan Duke of Beaufort. 1706 5 Queen Anne Charles Earl of Berkeley. 1700 9 ,, James ,, 1736 8 George II. Augustus ,, 1755 27 ,, Norborne Berkeley Esq. Lord Bottetourt. 1760 1 George III. Frederic Augustus Earl of Berkeley. 1814 54 ,, Henry Somerset Duke of Beaufort. 1838 Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests.

Judging from the architectural character of the remains of St. Briavel's Castle, the whole of which seem to belong to the middle of the thirteenth century, and closely to resemble in several features the neighbouring castles of Chepstow and Goodrich, viz. in their entrances, angular-headed arches, and three-cornered buttresses, the present building was probably erected by John de Monmouth, at the cost of the Crown, paid out of the increasing receipts which now accrued to it from the charges levied upon the iron mines and forges at work in the district. The latter, being itinerant forges, were ordered to cease until the King, Henry III., should command otherwise, which appears to have led to the Chief Justice in Eyre directing that none should have an iron-forge in the Forest without a special licence from the Sovereign.

[Picture: Entrance to St. Briavel's Castle from the North]

By royal permission the Abbot of Flaxley possessed both an itinerant and a stationary forge; one of the former kind also belonged to the men of Cantelupe. Henry Earl of Warwick had likewise forges in his woods at Lydney, as well as others in the Forest, and these formed no doubt but a small part of the whole number. The dimensions of these forges may be judged of by the two at Flaxley consuming more than two oaks weekly, to the destruction of much timber, in lieu of which the King gave the Abbey 872 acres of woodland, which still forms part of the property at the present day, under the name of "the Abbot's Woods."

During the long reign of Henry III. pasturage was granted to the men of Rodley, who also in common with the King's people might hunt the boar. Commonage was likewise given to the Abbot of Flaxley. The bailiwick of Dean Magna was granted to Walter Wither. The men of Awre were allowed, by custom, pasturage in the Forest; those of Rodley, estover, dead and dry wood, with pannage and food for cattle as well.

The earliest of the various perambulations of the Forest, in the ensuing reign of Edward I., was in the year 1282, and comprised the peninsula formed by the Severn and Wye, proceeding north-east as far as Newent, and north to Ross, as in fact it had always done. It may be also observed that about this period the Abbot of Gloucester purchased thirty-six acres of land in Hope Maloysell, held by Gilbert and Julian Lepiatte, receiving also Thomas Dunn's gift of all his lands in the same parish. The most ancient of the justice seats for these parts sat the same year at Gloucester Castle. By its proceedings, some of the records of which happily still exist, we learn that upwards of seventy-two "Forgeae errantes," or moveable forges, were found here; that the sum which the Crown charged for licensing them was at the rate of seven shillings a year, viz. three shillings and six pence for six months, or one shilling and nine pence a quarter; that a miner received one penny, or the worth of it in ore, for each load brought to any of the King's ironworks; but if conveyed out of the Forest the penny was paid to the Crown; and that in those cases where a forge was farmed, forty-six shillings was charged. {12} No less than fifty-nine mines were let at this time to Henry de Chaworth, who had besides forges at work in the Forest.

A careful examination of the oldest copy extant of 'The Miners' Laws and Privileges,' regarded, as Mr. Wyrrall tells us, writing in the year 1780, "as the Magna Charta of our miners and colliers," incontrovertibly proves that it belongs to this period. It was first printed by William Cooper, at the Pelican in Little Britain, 1687, from a manuscript copy preserved in the office of the Deputy Gaveller, to which a postscript is added, "written out of a parchmt. roll, now in ye hands of Richard Morse of Clowerwall, 7 June, 1673, by Tho: Davies." Richard Morse was then one of the deputy gavellers. The date of the compilation has heretofore been considered as determined by the wording of the short introduction with which it is prefaced, commencing thus—"Bee itt in minde and Remembrance what ye Customes and Franchises hath been that were granted tyme out of Minde, and after in tyme of the Excellent and redoubted Prince, King Edward, unto the Miners of the Forrest of Deane, and the Castle of St. Briavells," &c., in which words it will be observed that only the name of King Edward is mentioned, the number not being added, although for some cause or other all modern copies insert "the Third," and hence the impression that the collection was then formed; whereas the description given in the paragraph immediately following, specifying what were then the limits of the Forest, shows its date to be that of the first of the Edwards, since the bounds are therein recorded as extending "between Chepstowe Bridge and Gloucester Bridge, the halfe deale of Newent, Rosse Ash, Monmouth Bridge, and soe farr into the Seassoames as the blast of a horne or the voice of a man may bee heard." But these limits ceased to prevail soon after the beginning of the fourteenth century, and consequently an earlier date must be assigned for the above record than has commonly been given to it.

The body of the document, originally, it would seem, unbroken, as now printed is divided into forty-two paragraphs or sections, but expressed in very rude and involved phraseology, confirming its antiquity, as still further appears by the nature of the incidents which it contains. It specifies, first of all, the franchises of the mine, meaning its liberties or privileges, as not to be trespassed against, and consisting apparently in this, that every man who possessed it might, with the approval of the King's gaveller, dig for iron ore or coal where he pleased, and have right of way for the carrying of it, although in certain cases "forbids" to sell might be declared. A third part of the profits of the undertaking belonged to the King, whose gaveller called at the works every Tuesday "between Mattens and Masse," and received one penny from each miner, the fellowship supplying the Crown with twelve charges of ore per week at twelve pence, or three charges of coal at one penny. Timber was allowed for the use of the works above and below ground. Only such persons as had been born and were abiding in the Forest were to "visit" the mines, in working which the distance of a stone's throw was always to be kept, and property in them might be bequeathed. The miners' clothes and light are mentioned, and the standard measure called "bellis," to the exclusion of carts and "waynes." It alludes to "the court of the wood," at the "speech" before the Verderers, but more particularly to the court for debtors at St. Briavel's Castle, and to the mine court, as regulated by the constable, clerk, and gaveller, and the miners' jury of twelve, twenty-four, or forty-eight, where all causes relating to the mines were to be heard. "Three hands," or three witnesses, were required in evidence, and the oath was taken with a stick of holly held in the hand. The miners of Mitchel Deane, Little Deane, and Ruer Deane are called "beneath the wood."

It also appears that at Carleon, Newport, Barkley, Monmouth, and Trelleck, the manufacture of iron was carried on by "smiths," who were connected with smith-holders living in the Forest, and supplying the ore, at each of which places it is remarkable that iron cinders have been found. The document concludes with the names of the forty-eight miners by whom it was witnessed, confirmed, and sealed.

[Picture: Map of limits of the Forest]

Such then were the mining privileges and regulations existing amongst the operatives of the Forest at this period, A.D. 1300, which by their settled and methodical character bear out the statement made in the preface to "the Customes," &c., that they had been then granted "time out of mind," and consequently were more ancient than the sieges of Berwick, to which it appears many of the Forest miners and bowmen were summoned, and perhaps received for services then rendered their peculiar rights.

Another important characteristic of this reign (Edward I.) is the unsettled state of the Forest boundaries, as indicated in the various perambulations which were made about this time. A record of that made in 1302 is preserved in the Tower of London, whilst the register of the perambulation performed by Letters Patent the year following, exists in Walter Froucester's transcript of it, in the possession of the Dean and Chapter of Gloucester. Both documents agree in setting forth the same limits, no longer extending to Gloucester, Chepstow, and Monmouth, or even including Hewelsfield, Alvington, Ailberton, Lydney, Purton, Box, Rodley, Westbury, Blaisdon, Huntley, Longhope, Newent, Taynton, Tibberton, Highnam, Churcham, and Bulley as formerly; but confining them, as nearly as can now be determined, to the bounds laid down in the accompanying map of the district. It appears that these perambulations were made by a numerous and important staff of officers, comprising four King's justices especially appointed, the chief justice in Eyre, nine foresters in fee, four verderers, and twenty-four jurors—such was the importance then attached to those acts.

There are some further items of information extant of this date, viz. the ten bailiwicks of "Abbenhalle, Blakeney, Berse, Bicknoure, Great Dean, Little Dean, Stauntene, Le Lee, and Bleyght's Ballye, and Ruardean," held respectively by Ralph de Abbenhalle, Walter de Astune, William Wodeard, Cecilia de Michegros, the Constable of St. Briavel's Castle, Richard de la More, John de la Lee, Alexander Bleyght, and Alexander de Byknore; Henry de Chaworth had fifty-nine mines, and some forges; the timber wood of Kilcote was held by Bogo de Knoville; William Bliss held 180 acres of assart, and seventeen acres of meadow land; certain miners, named William de Abbensale, Walter and Elys Page, had been found digging mine at Ardlonde belonging to the Abbot of Flaxley, who at once removed them, and filled up the place. The question was now also raised as to the Crown possessing the right of conferring the tithes of the "assarted" (rooted up) Forest lands, not being within the bounds of any of the adjacent churches; when it was decided in the affirmative, the King exercising the claim in favour of the church of Newland, in consideration, probably, of the lordship of the manor being held by him, and the whole being formerly comprised in the Forest. A considerable proportion of such of the existing encroachments as are reputed the oldest pay tithes to Newland, a circumstance confirmatory of their alleged antiquity. {16}

The records we possess of the ensuing reign of Edward II. afford the interesting intelligence that on various public occasions the military services of the Foresters were required, and even at places as distant as Berwick-upon-Tweed, which, owing to its position as a border town, and the contests then waging between the English and Scotch, was repeatedly lost and won by both sides. From the year 1174 to 1482 it changed owners upwards of sixteen times. The sieges to which our choice Foresters were summoned appear to have been those of 1310, 1311, 1315, 1317, 1319, and 1355. On the first occasion the Constable of St. Briavel's, and Keeper of the Forest of Dean, was commanded to select one hundred archers and twelve miners. In the following year writs were addressed to the Sheriff of Gloucester, directing that, out of fifty men to be chosen from the county, the larger number should be from the Forest of Dean, and urging expedition in sending them. The next writ, issued four years afterwards, was sent to the Sheriff of Herefordshire, and is entitled "Concerning the Choice of Soldiers in the Forest of Dean," and orders ninety-six men of those parts to be provided. Two years later the Keeper of St. Briavel's is directed to bring two hundred men to Northallerton; and again, two years afterwards, he is to take twenty of the strongest miners in his bailiwick to Newcastle-upon-Tyne; and a writ was addressed to all mayors, sheriffs, bailiffs, &c., reciting the aforesaid instructions, and commanding that assistance should be rendered them whenever it was needed during their journey. In connexion with these incidents, it is stated by Guthrie, the historian, that Sir Edward Manny bringing engineers out of the Forest of Dean, and Edward III. investing the place with a prodigious army, the Scots capitulated. They were also ordered by the same King to join his forces at Portsmouth in 1346 and 1359.

From these facts we are justified in concluding that the population then inhabiting the Forest were regarded as a brave and skilful race, not merely in their own quarter of the kingdom, but also in the camp of its Kings. They were skilful with the bow from following the chase on the King's behalf, and were of course able sappers and miners from the nature of their everyday occupations. Indeed, the tradition now in vogue amongst the Foresters, is, that their ancestors were made free miners in return for the aforesaid services; but it has been shown that the franchises of the mine date from an earlier period. {18}

The researches of the Rev. T. D. Fosbroke, as printed in his History of the county, supply most of the following additional particulars of this reign. The Bishop of Llandaff, who already claimed the moiety of a fishery at Bigswear on the Wye, to which the parish of Newland extends, received a grant of the newly cleared Forest lands for founding a chantry at the latter place. Tithes to the amount of ten pounds from the iron-mines in the Forest were given to that dignitary, but the Dean of Hereford and the Canons, with the Rectors of St. Briavel's and Lydney, aided by their servants and others, violently carried them away, the see of Hereford then comprising all these parts. The vineyard of Norton, together with certain wastes, were let to John de Witham and his heir for 50s. 6d. per annum, provided two hundred acres of the adjoining soil were brought into cultivation and enclosed at a certain rent, by which all injury to the Crown would be avoided, Norton not being a vineyard, but a "lacius" worth sixpence per annum. So also William Jote might hold one hundred acres, twenty lying in Michelerleye, and eighty in Brakenford, and also the Prior of Lanthony two hundred and seventy acres, upon paying twopence per annum. The Abbot of Gloucester had leave to cut wood in Birdewoode and Hope Mayloysell, without demand or view of the Forester. The men of Rodley Mead Forest were allowed to have firewood and mast for their swine. John de Abbenhall held a certain bailiwick of the King by the service of guarding it with bows and arrows. Robert de Barrington held forty acres of waste near Malescoyte-wood. Ralph Hatheway was seized of forty acres in Holstone. Bogo de Knoville was seized of Kilcot-wood, and Henry de Chaworth had a forge in the Forest.

By the sixth year of Edward III. (A.D. 1333) the dispute between the Dean and Chapter of Hereford and the Bishop of Llandaff, relative to the tithes of the iron-mines in the parish of Newland, was settled in the Bishop's favour, who also obtained the great tithes and the presentation to the living, all of which still continue attached to that see, and in connexion with which it may be observed, that by far the larger part of the fabric of the church at Newland exhibits the style of architecture which prevailed at that period. It is a large building, and the tower is particularly fine.

Parliament now confirmed the perambulations made in 26th and 28th Edward I., which reduced the bounds of the Forest to the limits which, with some slight exceptions, remained in force till within the last twenty-five years. The ensuing items of information, taken from Mr. Fosbroke's valuable work on the county, apply to this period. Guy de Brien, to whom the Forest was farmed, obtained wages from the Crown for the payment of four foresters, who were allowed the privilege of cutting all underwood within the same from seven years to seven years. J. Flory held the bailiwick of the Lee, and John Preston that of Blakeney. Robert Sappy, warden of the Forest, petitioned Parliament for some allowance to be made him, as, owing to the late alienations of Crown property in favour of the monks of Tintern and the Bishop of Llandaff, he no longer received the usual pay of one hundred shillings per annum. The Abbey of Gloucester had twigs granted to it for the annual repairs of the weirs at Minsterworth and Durry; a similar privilege was enjoyed by the lords of the manor of Rodley, provided the twigs were fetched once a day with two horses, between the 14th of September and the 3rd of May; heavy timber was also allowed for the same purpose. John Juge succeeded to the bailiwick of the Lee, but was unlawfully deprived of it by John Talbot, who held the castle on Penyard as well as Goodrich. William de Staunton held the bailiwick there, and Reginald Abbenhall the woods. Walter Ivor held that at Blakeney, after Roger Flotman. The Abbot of Gloucester had ninety acres of land in Walmore, at eight pence an acre rent, for cultivation, but not for commonage. John Joice and his heirs had a grant of 116 acres in several parcels in the Forest, at the yearly rent of nineteen shillings and four pence.

In the reign of Richard II. John Wolton obtained the grant for life of a place called Stowe. It was found that a monk from the convent of Grace Dieu was celebrating mass in the Forest for the souls of the King, his successors, and ancestors, holding two carucates of land, ten acres of meadow, and six acres of wood, a fact which may account for the name of "Church Hill," at Park End. Thomas Hatheway was a chief forester. A bailiwick in the Forest, with lands in Lee-Walton and Lee in Herefordshire, were held in tail, remainder to Richard Curle, by Thomas de Brugg and Elizabeth his wife. The Castle of St. Briavel's and the Forest were given in special tail to the Duke of Gloucester, who was afterwards empowered by Parliament to constitute justices and other officers then usually attached to such properties.

In the time of Henry IV. William Warwyn held a certain bailiwick here by the service of being a forester in fee. Another office called "the forester's wyke" was filled by Henry de Aure. In the succeeding reign this Forest was held in capite as the King's heir, by John Duke of Bedford, under a grant made by Henry IV.

Whilst the throne was occupied by Henry VI. we have chiefly to notice the complaint, which the traders of Tewkesbury made to the Government, that "their boats and trowes conveying all manner of merchandise down the Severn to Bristol, &c.," had been stopped at the coast of the Forest by great multitudes of the common people dwelling thereabouts, who seized their vessels, carried away the corn, threatened their lives if they resisted, and forbad any complaint being made, on their coming that way again. The petition caused letters of privy seal to be proclaimed in those parts to the effect that "no man of the said Forest should be so hardy to inquiet or disturb the people passing the said river with merchandise, upon pain of treason." But the account proceeds to say that "the said trespassers came to the said river with greater routs and riots than ever they did before, there despoiling at divers times eight trowes of wheat, rye, flour, and divers other goods and chattels, and the men of the same cast overboard, and divers of them drowned, and the hawsers of the same trowes cut away, and mainstrung the owners of the said goods, who should not be so hardy as to cause any manner of victuals to be carried any more by the same stream, much or little, for lord or for lady, as they would hew their boats all to pieces if they did so." More stringent measures were therefore evidently necessary, and in 1429 the Parliament passed an act, enforcing a restoration of the plunder, and amends for the injury done, within fifteen days, and the offenders to be imprisoned, or else the Statute of Winchester would be enforced against them.

The singular perquisite of a bushel of coal, worth twenty pence, from each pit, at the end of every six weeks, was now attached to the office of "capital forester of all the foresters," held at this period by Robert Greyndour. The King's lands, manors, castles, and other possessions in this Forest, were also granted to Henry Duke of Warwick, for one hundred pounds annual rental.

After the accession of Edward IV., and his unpopular marriage with Elizabeth Woodville, this Forest was the spot to which, upon the defeat at Edgecote (26th July, 1469), her father the Earl Rivers and her brother Sir John Woodville fled, where they were recaptured and carried to Northampton, their place of execution. A sergeantry, called woodward of the Lee Baile, was then held by John Throckmorton, Esq.

In the reign of Henry VIII. the office of Bleysbale and forestership of fee was filled by William Alberton. A rental of sixty-five shillings and sixpence was paid to the Crown for certain lands in the Forest held by the priory of Monmouth; and others, called Cley-pitts, Litterfield, and Hill Hardwell, paid two shillings and four pence. Letters patent granted the custody of the Gablewood to Henry Bream.

Edward VI. farmed the Forest to Sir Anthony Kingston. How far the Forest population were interested in the stirring events of the Reformation, we are, unfortunately, left to conjecture; but the suppression of the adjacent Abbeys of Tintern and Flaxley, with their large possessions, must have brought the changes of the period visibly home to them.

The reign of Elizabeth brings us to the date of an incident more generally notorious perhaps than any other in the history of Dean Forest, viz. its intended destruction by the Spanish Armada. Evelyn in his 'Sylva' thus mentions it:—"I have heard that in the great expedition of 1588 it was expressly enjoined the Spanish Armada that if, when landed, they should not be able to subdue our nation and make good their conquest, they should yet be sure not to leave a tree standing in the Forest of Dean." Were it not that he particularly states that he had "heard" the report, we should conclude that he obtained his information from Fuller's 'Worthies,' published two years previously, where it is mentioned with this only difference, that "a Spanish ambassador was to get it done by private practices and cunning contrivances." Fuller had probably read this account in 'Samuel Hartlib, his Legacy of Husbandry,' published in 1655, where, speaking of the deficiency of woods at that time, he writes—"the State hath done very well to pull down divers iron-works in the Forest of Dean, that the timber might be preserved for shipping, which is accounted the toughest in England, and, when it is dry, as hard as iron. The common people did use to say that in Queen Elizabeth's days the Spaniards sent an ambassador purposely to get this wood destroyed."

As Mr. Evelyn writes that he "heard" what he states of the matter, Mr. Secretary Pepys was probably his informant, who was told it by his friend Sir John Winter, who again heard it from his grandfather, Sir William Winter, vice-admiral of Elizabeth's fleet, but kinsman to Thomas Winter of Huddington, who at the close of this reign was constantly aiding the Spanish Romanists in their intrigues here, and eventually took part in the Gunpowder Plot. Such tradition is highly to the credit of the Forest timber of those days, if not to the iron as well. Both must have been renowned for supplying an important portion of the materials used in the Royal dockyards, which were at this time much enlarged, an increase of the navy being found necessary; whilst the stock of timber then standing in different parts of the kingdom was judged so insufficient for the wants of the Government, that recent acts of the legislature had directed that "twelve standils or storers likely to become timber should be left on every acre of wood or underwood that was felled at or under twenty-four years' growth," and prohibited the "turning woodland into tillage," and required that, "whenever any wood was cut, it must be immediately enclosed, and the young spring thereof protected for seven years." Moreover, no trees upwards of a foot in the square were to be converted into charcoal for making iron.

The returns from Sir Julius Caesar's collection preserved in the Lansdowne MSS. recognise the above regulations, as well as the market for wood created by the Forest iron-works, now greatly enlarged; they possess considerable interest, and will be found in Appendix No. I.

CHAPTER II. A.D. 1612-1663.

Grants in the Forest to Earl of Pembroke—Mining restricted to the Foresters—Iron cinders of old workings re-smelted in the new furnaces—Last justice seat held in 1635, extending the limits of the Forest to those of Edward I.—Grant to E. Terringham—Forest surveyed in 1635—Sale of the woods to Sir J. Winter—Disturbances of the Civil War at Coleford, Highmeadow, Ruerdean—Adventures of Sir J. Winter at Westbury, Little Dean, Newnham, Lydney—Events on the north side of the Forest—Incidents of the Protectorate, riots and devastations of the Forest—Sir J. Winter's patent restored—Effects of a great storm—Survey of the Forest in 1662—Mr. J. Pepys and Sir J. Winter on the Forest—The latter resumes his fellings—Inhabitants suggest replanting and enclosing the Forest—Act of 20 Charles II., c. 3—Sir J. Winter's licence confirmed.

On the 17th of February, 1612, William Earl of Pembroke obtained a grant "of 12,000 cords of wood yearly for twenty-one years at 4s. per cord, being 2400 pounds, and reserving a rent besides of 33 pounds 6s. 8d. per annum," with "liberty to dig for and take within any part of the said Forest, or the precincts thereof, such and so much mine ore, cinders, earth, sand, stone, breaks, moss, sea coal, and marle, as should be necessary for carrying on the iron-works let to him, or which he should erect; no person or persons whatsoever other than the said Earl to be permitted during the said term to take or carry out of the said Forest any wood, timber, mine ore, or cinders, without consent of the said Earl, except such timber as should be used for his Majesty's shipping." The Earl obtained, on the 13th June of the same year, a grant of "the lordship, manor, town, and castle of St. Briavel's, and all the Forest of Dean with the appurtenances, and all lands, mines, and quarries belonging thereto, except all great trees, wood, and underwood, to hold for forty years at the yearly rent of 83 pounds 18s. 4d., and an increase rent of 3 pounds 8d."

It appears that, soon after these leases were granted, the miners, hitherto accustomed to dig for ore in the Forest, resumed their work without the Earl's consent, and an information was filed against some of them by the Attorney-General. Upon this, an order, dated 28th January, 1613, was made by the Court, "that those miners, and such others as had been accustomed to dig ore in the Forest, upon the humble submission for their offences, and acknowledgment that the soil was the King's, and that they had no interest therein, and upon their motion by counsel that they were poor, and had no other means of support, and praying to be continued in their employment, should be permitted, out of charity and grace, and not of right, to dig for mine ore and cinders, to be carried to his Majesty's iron-works, and not to any other place, at the accustomed rates; if the farmers of the King's iron-works should refuse to give those rates which, as well as the number of diggers, were to be ascertained by Commissioners to be named by the Court, that then they might sell the ore to others; but no new diggers were to be allowed, but only such poor men as were inhabitants of the said Forest." It was not intended that this order should always continue in force, but only until such time as the cause brought in the name of the foresters should be heard and determined. This, however, appears never to have been done, as no decree was obtained, probably from the miners considering it best to accept the terms offered, regarding the above order as a record in their favour, since it provided that "no new diggers were to be allowed, but only such poor men as were inhabitants of the said Forest;" a view, it may be remarked, agreeing with that which the free miners took in their memorial of 1833. {25}

The cinders adverted to were the ashes or refuse left by a former race of iron manufacturers, whose skill was too limited to effect more than the separation of a portion of the metal, but which the improved methods, now introduced into the district, turned to a good account. A return made in 1617, by Sir William Coke, &c., to a commission issued out of the Exchequer, to inquire concerning the Forest of Dean, states that "His Majesty, since the erecting the iron-works, had received a greater revenue than formerly." Their structure is described in "The Booke of Survey of the Forest of Dean Ironwork," dated 1635, from which it appears that the stone body of the furnace now adopted was usually about twenty-two feet square, the blast being kept up by a water-wheel not less than twenty-two feet in diameter, acting upon two pairs of bellows measuring eighteen feet by four, and kept in blast for several months together. Such structures existed at Cannope, Park End, Sowdley, and Lydbrook. Besides which, there were forges, comprising chafferies and fineries, at Park End, Whitecroft, Bradley, Sowdley, and Lydbrook. Messrs. Harris and Chaloner, &c., as farmers to the Crown, held all of them on lease.

The last justice seat in Eyre, or Supreme Court of Judicature for the royal forests, was held the same year as the above (1635) at Gloucester Castle before Henry Earl of Holland, on which occasion "the matter concerning the perambulation of this Forest was solemnly debated," the counsel for the Crown producing the bounds thereof as settled by the 12th of Henry III. and 10th Edward I., with the view of obtaining its re-extension to Gloucester, Monmouth, and Chepstow. On the other hand, the counsel for the City of Gloucester, &c., brought forward the perambulations made 26th and 28th Edward I., confirmed by Letters Patent 29th Edward I., and by an Act of 10th Edward III. The Grand Jury, not being able to agree to their verdict on that day, which was a Saturday, desired further time in a matter of such weight; and on the Monday following decided, that the more extensive limits, comprising seventeen additional villages, were the true ones. But "their inhabitants being fearful that they would be questioned for many things done contrary to the Forest Laws, the King's Counsel, in regard of their being but new brought in, and long usage, thought it not fitt to proceed with any of them at that justice seat." Amongst some 120 claims to rights and privileges of various kinds preserved in the Office of Public Records, {27} and put in at the same Court, was one of Philip Earl of Pembroke to be Constable of the Castle of St. Briavel's and Warden of the Forest, under a grant from the King, and, as such, Chief Judge of the Mine Law Court.

In A.D. 1637 a grant was made to Edward Terringham of "all the mines of coal and quarries of grindstone within the Forest of Dean, and in all places within the limits and perambulations thereof, as well those within his Majesty's demesne lands, and the waste and soil there, as also all such as lay within the lands of any of his Majesty's subjects within the perambulation of the said Forest, to his Majesty reserved, or lawfully belonging, to hold for thirty-one years, at the yearly rent of 30 pounds."

The next year (1638) is marked by the first effort which the Crown seems to have made to renew the crops of timber in the Forest, rendered necessary by the report that, on surveying it, a supply of no more than 105,557 trees, containing 61,928 tons of timber, and 153,209 cords of wood, of which only 14,350 loads were fit for shipbuilding, was found, as "the trees were generally decayed, and passed their full groath." Accordingly, under the direction of Sir Baynham Throckmorton, 16,000 or 17,000 acres were ordered to be taken in, "leaving fit and convenient highways in and through the same." After sundry meetings, the commoners consented thereunto, few or none objecting, in consideration of 4000 acres set apart for their use on the different sides of the Forest, as follows:—On the side next Lydney and Awre, 550 acres; towards Ruerdean and Lydbrook, 350 acres; near to St. Briavel's, 500 acres; towards Little Dean, Flaxley, Abenhall, and Mitcheldean, and the Lea, 876 acres; in Abbot's Wood, 76 acres; on the side nearest to Newland and the villages of Breme, Clearwell, and Coleford, 900 acres; towards Newland, 174 acres; next to Bicknor, 350 acres; and towards Rodley and Northwood, 100 acres. The Lea Bailey, containing the best timber, was not included, but left open. The proportion observed in the size of these common lands is probably indicative of the way in which the population surrounding the Forest was distributed. Traces of the bounds of some of these allotments may yet be made out, by the remains of the ditches and banks with which they were fenced.

Such a scheme, if judiciously carried out, would have done much to secure the object in view, only it was connected unhappily with the entire sale made under the date of 20th February, 1640 (15th Charles I.), to Sir John Winter, of all the mines, minerals, and stone-quarries within the limits of the Forest, to work and use the same, together with all timber, trees, woods, underwood growing in any part thereof, in consideration of 10,000 pounds, and the yearly sum of 16,000 pounds for six years, and of a fee farm rent of 1950 pounds 12s. 6d. for ever. This bargain was equivalent to selling the Forest altogether, and the inhabitants of the district, being greatly dissatisfied, took advantage of the approaching civil distractions to throw down the fences which Sir J. Winter had already begun to make.

Of those distractions, the first that occurred in this part of the county took place on the 20th February, 1643. Clarendon and Corbet record, that on this day Lord Herbert, the Earl of Worcester's eldest son, and the King's Lieutenant-General of South Wales, marched through Coleford and the Forest of Dean for Gloucester, at the head of an army of 500 horse and 1500 foot, the outfit and preparation of which is stated to have cost 60,000 pounds. At Coleford their progress was impeded by a troop of Parliamentarians under Colonel Berrowe, aided by a disorderly rabble of country people. An affray ensued, during which the old market-house was burnt, and Major-General Lawley, who commanded the foot, "a bold and sprightly man," with two other officers, were shot dead from a window, although not one common soldier was hurt. Colonel Brett was then put in command of the foot, Lord John Somerset continuing at the head of the horse. They forced a passage through, after capturing Lieutenant-Colonel Winter, together with some inferior officers and common soldiers, and so, putting the rest to flight, marched without further molestation for Gloucester.

In the April following, Sir William Waller, retreating from Monmouth towards Gloucester through the Forest, narrowly escaped capture by Prince Maurice, who was at hand to intercept him with a considerable force. Alluding many years afterwards to this adventure, he writes:—"Upon my march that night through the Forest of Dean, it happened through the sleepiness of an officer, that the main body was separated from the fore troope with which I marched, so that I was fain to make an halt for above half an hour, within little more than a mile of the Prince's head-quarter, in broad daylight; the allarme taken, and not 120 horse with me. Nevertheless, itt pleased God in his infinite mercy to direct the rest of my troopes to me; and, under the conduct of his providence, to grant me a safe and honorable retreat to Gloucester, in despight of the enemy, who charged me in the reare, with more loss to himself than to me."

But the individual who figured most prominently in these parts at this eventful period was the ardent royalist Sir John Winter. His case is thus quaintly stated by Sanderson:—"From the pen, as secretary to the Queen, he was put to the pike, and did his business very handsomely, for which he found the enmity of the Parliament ever after;" so that Corbet, one of their devoted adherents, designates him "a plague," and his house of White Cross, near Lydney, "a den." This place he had been secretly strengthening against attack for some time, storing it with arms and ammunition, and collecting soldiers; but he did not openly declare himself until the siege of Gloucester was raised, on 5th September, 1643. During the ensuing winter, and on to the 7th of May following, Corbet speaks of him as "referring all his industry to his own house," described as being "in the heart of the Forest," of which, says the same writer, he had "obtained the entire command," and from whence he succeeded in making constant attacks upon the adjoining small Parliamentary garrisons of Huntley and Westbury, who were treacherously sold to him by Captain Thomas Davis, and he was thus enabled to advance almost to Gloucester. Upon the day just named, in the year 1644, the following affray happened at Westbury, occasioned by Colonel Massy's attempt to recover it for the Parliament. Corbet says:—"Here the enemy held the church, and a strong house" (understood to be Mr. Colchester's) "adjoining." "The Governor (Colonel Massy), observing a place not flanked, fell-up that way with the forlorne hope, and secured them from the danger of shot. The men got stooles and ladders to the windowes, where they stood safe, cast in granadoes, and fired them out of the church. Having gained the church, he quickly beat them out of their workes, and possest himself of the house, where he took about four score prisoners, slaying twenty others, without the losse of a man."

Upon the same day a similar but more fatal encounter took place at Littledean, a village situated under the east slopes of the Forest hills, and as yet occupied for the King. "Here," says Corbet, "the governor's troop of horse found the enemy stragling in the towne, and, upon the discovery of their approach, shuffling towards the garrison, which the troopers observing, alighted and ran together with them into the house, where they tooke about 20 men. Neere unto which guard, Lieutenant-Colonel Congrave, Governor of Newnham, and one Captain Wigmore, with a few private souldiers, were surrounded in some houses by the residue of our horse. These had accepted quarter, ready to render themselves, when one of their company from the house kils a trooper, which so enraged the rest, that they broke in upon them, and put them all to the sword: in which accident, this passage was not to be forgotten that expressed in one place an extreame contrariety in the spirits of men under the stroke of death: Congrave died with these words, 'Lord receive my soule!' and Wigmore cryed nothing but 'Dam me more, dam me more!' desperately requiring the last stroke, as enraged at divine revenge." The spot where these officers fell is considered to have been at Dean Hall, in the dining-room, near the fireplace.

Corbet next goes on to recite how Colonel Massy followed up these exploits by marching to Newnham the next day, "where," says he, "a strong party of Sir John Winter's forces kept garrison in the church, and the fort adjoining," (on a spot which has been turned lately into public pleasure grounds,) "of considerable strength, who at that instant were much daunted and distracted by the losse of Congrave, their governor. Our men were possest of the town without opposition, and recovered the houses, by which they got nere the workes. The Governour (Massy) commanded a blind of faggots to be made athwart the street, drew up two pieces of ordnance within pistoll shot, and observing a place not well flanked where he might lead up his men to the best advantage, himself marched before them, and found that part of the work fortified with double pallisadoes; the souldiers being provided with sawes to cut them down, and having drawn them close within a dead angle, and secure from their shot, and drawing the rest of his forces for a storme, the enemy forthwith desires a parley, and to speake with the governour, which he refused, and commanded a sudden surrender. In this interim some of the enemy jumpt over the workes, and so our men broke in upon the rest, who ranne from the out worke into the churche, hoping to cleare the mount which we had gained. But our men were too nimble, who had no sooner entred the mount, but rushed upon them before they could reach home, and tumbled into the church altogether. Then they cryed for quarter, when, in the very point of victory, a disaster was like to befall us: a barrell of gunpowder was fired in the church, undoubtedly of set purpose, and was conceived to be done by one Tipper, a most virulent Papist, and Sir John Winter's servant, despairing withall of his redemption, being a prisoner before, and having falsified his engagement. The powder-blast blew many out of the church, and sorely singed a greater number, but killed none. The souldiers, enraged, fell upon them, and in the heate of blood slew neere 20, and amongst others this Tipper. All the rest had quarter for their lives (save one Captaine Butler, an Irish rebell, who was knocked down by a common souldier), and an 100 prisoners taken. The service was performed without the losse of a man on our side."

Emboldened to proceed, and anxious to take advantage of Sir John Winter's absence at Coleford, Colonel Massy marched on forthwith to Lydney House. He did not attack it, however, so well was it fortified and provided, and courageously defended, by Lady Winter, who, upon being pressed to deliver, answered—

"Sir,—Mr. Winter's unalterable allegiance to his King and Sovereign, and his particular interest to this place, hath by his Majesty's commission put it into this condition, which cannot be pernicious to any but to such as oppose the one and invade the other; wherefore rest assured that in these relations we are, by God's assistance, resolved to maintain it, all extremities notwithstanding. Thus much in Mr. Winter's absence you shall receive from


To inconvenience so daring a lady would be contrary to the Colonel's gallantry, and he drew off to the adjoining hills towards the Forest, the better to meet Sir John Winter and Colonel Mynne, who were reported to be returning with a considerable strength of horse, assisted by the Lord Herbert's forces. But the Royalists not appearing, Massy contented himself with setting fire to Sir John's iron-mills and furnaces, and in the evening marched back to Gloucester.

Lydney House and Berkeley Castle remained the last strongholds of the Royalists in the county of Gloucester. The restless proprietor of the former was perpetually engaged in attempts to restore the King's declining cause, and in particular to reduce the inhabitants of the Forest, which was an object of some importance, as their iron-works, &c., afforded supplies to Bristol, then besieged by the Parliament forces. The foresters had declined in their loyalty, through Sir John Winter's occupying their woods, from which his enclosures excluded them. Accordingly his name is rarely absent from the accounts given by contemporary writers, of efforts made in this neighbourhood for the Crown. Most likely he assisted Prince Rupert in his first attempt made in the month of September, 1644, to fortify and establish a permanent guard on the promontory at Beachley, but from which they were quickly dislodged by Massy. We know he was present when the same effort was renewed a month later, and had a second time to be relinquished, Sir John Winter only effecting his escape by hard riding, and making a desperate descent upon the river Wye, by which he was only just enabled to reach the Prince's ships lying at its mouth.

So favourable an opportunity as this defeat gave for the capture of Lydney House was not to be lost, and it was invested forthwith. Timely aid was however rendered about the 2nd of April, 1645, by the arrival of Prince Maurice with a force of 2,000 horse and 1,500 foot, who, as they marched towards it from Hereford, took advantage of the occasion to lay waste the Forest, as a retribution on the inhabitants for having deserted the King's cause. Corbet says that "they plundered the houses to the bare walls, driving all the cattell, seizing upon the persons of men, and sending them captives to Monmouth and Chepstow, except such as escaped to us by flight, as many did with their armes, and some few that saved themselves in woods and mine pitts." The same authority adds that "the King's forces returned a second time into the Forest, and took the gleanings of the former harvest." In the course of the month of May the royalists retired, and Sir John Winter, resolving that his house should never harbour his enemies, burnt it to the ground. He then joined the King, by whom he was presently despatched with letters to the Queen, in France, and mentioning him in these terms—"This bearer, Sir John Winter, as thy knowledge of him makes it needlesse to recommend him to thee, soe I should injure him if I did not beare him the true witnesse of having served me with as much fidelity and courage as any, not without much good successe; though some crosse accydents of late hath made him (not without reason) desire to waite upon thee, it being needfull that I should give him this testimony, least his journey to thee be misinterpreted."

The estate which Sir John Winter thus vacated in this neighbourhood was soon after assigned to his opponent by the House of Commons, who ordered on the 29th of September, 1645, "that Major-General Massy, in consideration of his good and faithful service which he hath done for the kingdom, shall have allowed him the estate of Sir John Winter (who is a delinquent to the Parliament) in the Forest of Dean; all his iron-mills, and the woods (timber trees only excepted not to be felled), with all the profits belonging to them; and ordered that an order at once should be brought into the House to that purpose." Eventually, however, Sir John Winter recovered his property, through the influence probably of the Lords in Parliament, who appear to have favoured him. On his return to this country he nevertheless seems to have been imprisoned, for on the 7th of September, 1652, we find him liberated from the Tower, upon bail for three months, on account of sickness; a term of liberty which was enlarged upon the 7th of December, on the same security, to three months longer, with permission to go where he pleased within twenty miles of London. On the 17th of the same month he was remanded back to the Tower.

Evelyn tells us that at this time Sir John Winter amused himself with a project for charring coal. "July 11th, 1656.—Came home by Greenwich Ferry, where I saw Sir John Winter's new project of charring sea-coale, to burne out the sulphure and render it sweete. He did it by burning the coals in such earthen pots as the glasse-men mealt their mettal, so firing them without consuming them, using a barr of yron in each crucible or pot, which barr has a hook at one end, that so the coales being mealted in a furnace wth other crude sea-coales under them, may be drawn out of the potts sticking to the yron, whence they are beaten off in greate halfe-exhausted cinders, which being rekindled make a cleare pleasant chamber fire, deprived of their sulphur and arsenic malignity. What successe it may have, time will discover."

Reverting to Sir John Winter's retreat from Lydney, it may be remarked that, with his retirement from the Forest district, its south side became quiet; not so its north, for there the following incidents occurred. The first of them arose from Colonel Massy's efforts to retake Monmouth, which he strove to accomplish by feigning a sudden retreat from before it towards Gloucester, as though he had received unfavourable tidings. With this view he and his forces drew off some three miles into the thickets of the Forest, sending out scouts at the same time to prevent his being surprised by the enemy. Intelligence of their disappearance being reported within the garrison to Lieutenant-Colonel Kyrle, who was in the secret, he speedily set out in pursuit, but was himself surprised with a troop of thirty horse, near midnight, by Massy, in Mr. Hall's house, at High-Meadow. A combination of their forces being effected, they returned to Monmouth, and with mutual aid, favoured by a dark and rainy night, recaptured the town, much to the joy of the Colonel and his friends. Kyrle, an ancestor of "the Man of Ross," lived at Walford, where he was buried, and where his helmet is still preserved.

The capture of Monmouth proved to be only temporary, as the place was again lost, thus exposing that side of the Forest to the incursions of the Cavalier troops. To check these invasions, the garrison of High-Meadow was carefully kept up. Ruerdean, six miles to the west, and well situated for guarding the Forest on the north, was made another military post, being intended to stop plunderers from the King's garrison at Goodrich, and where there is a spot yet called "Shoot-Hill," adjoining which many cannon-balls have been found. Probably the site of the old castle at Bicknor was also converted into an out-station, guarding the two parallel valleys which there pass up towards the middle of the Forest from the Wye. This station would likewise assist, from its relative position, in transmitting signals between Ruerdean and High-Meadow, or even from Gloucester, if the Beacon, which formerly stood on the crest of Edge Hill, were included in the range. Such posts would be serviceable to the Parliamentary Colonel Birch, when engaged in the siege of Goodrich Castle, not more than four miles north of Ruerdean; for his supplies would be drawn chiefly from the Forest, as indeed appears from a letter dated 4th July, 1646, in which he says, "We have supplies of shells for our granadoes from the Forest of Dean."

Several traditions of violence and blood, referring no doubt to this period, are preserved by the inhabitants of these parts of the Forest, one of whom reports an act of cruelty perpetrated on a householder living in the little hamlet of Drybrook, who was struck down, and his eyes knocked out, for refusing to give up a flitch of bacon to a foraging party. Another legend, relative to the same neighbourhood, preserves the memory of a skirmish called "Edge Hill's Fight," from the spot on which it occurred. It is true that some of the neighbouring foresters suppose it to be "the Great Fight mentioned in the almanack," an idea which might perhaps have given rise to the story, were it not that a small stream which descends from the place in question bears the name of "Gore Brook," from the human blood which on that occasion stained its waters.

The ensuing years of the Protectorate, judging from the frequent notices in the Parliamentary Journals to that effect, appear to have been destructive to the timber of the Forest rather than to life or property. Frequent orders were issued by the Committee of the House of Commons charged with the care of the Forest of Dean, forbidding the felling of any more trees whatever, and ordering that any which had been cut down should be sold for the benefit of the Government. The gentlemen of the county were invited to assist herein, both by viewing any timber which had been felled, and also by causing any of it which they judged fit to be reserved for shipping to be brought into the stores of the Navy. Sir J. Winter asserts that during the time of the Commonwealth above 40,000 trees were cut down by order of the House of Commons.

In 1650 the above-named Committee ordered all the iron-works to be suppressed and demolished. Six years later a Bill was brought in and passed, signed by the Protector Richard, for mitigating the rigour of the Forest Laws, and for preserving the timber, which all contemporary testimony on the subject states to have gone miserably to wreck during the civil wars. On the 11th of May, 1659, Colonel White reported to the House of Commons, that "upon the 3rd day of this instant month divers rude people in tumultuous way, in the Forest of Dean, did break down the fences, and cut and carry away the gates of certain coppices enclosed for preservation of timber, turned in their cattle, and set divers places of the said Forest on fire, to the great destruction of the young growing wood." This riot was probably excited by the efforts which the Government had recently made for the re-afforesting of 18,000 acres; to effect which 400 cabins of poor people, living upon the waste, and destroying the wood and timber, were thrown down.

It would be interesting to know what was the disposition of the inhabitants of the Forest, and of the neighbourhood generally, towards the exiled Sovereign, as the way to his restoration began to open out. A slight clue is afforded by Captain Titus's letter, reporting to the King that "he had been in the Forest of Dean, and had found the gentlemen very forward; that several of them had engaged for considerable numbers."

The return of Charles at once restored Sir John Winter to liberty, and to the benefits of the Patent which the late King had granted him, as also to his place as Secretary and Chancellor to the Queen Dowager. He proceeded to act upon the former, by repairing his enclosures, in spite of determined opposition from the neighbouring inhabitants, who strongly represented to the Government that the continuance of that grant would injure both it and the public. Sir Charles Harbord, under date 28th of December, 1661, thus describes the way in which the above complaint was preferred:—"His Majesty hath been pleased to be present with my Lord Chancellor, and Lord Treasurer, &c., at the hearing of this business, and hath given order that a Commission shall be forthwith issued out of the Exchequer to inquire into the state of the Forest; intending, upon the return of the said Commission, to acquaint the Parliament with the true state of the business; and to recommend it to their wisdom to provide that the said Forest may be restored to his Majesty's demesne, and re-afforested, and improved by enclosures for a future supply of wood for a constant support of the iron-works there, producing the best iron of Europe for many years, and for the produce of timber for the navy, and other uses in time to come; which might be of great use for defence of this nation, the old trees there standing being above 300 years' growth, and yet as good timber as any in the world; and the ground so apt to produce, and so strong to preserve timber, especially oaks, that within 100 years there may be sufficient provision there found to maintain the navy royal for ever." Perhaps the ancient trees here named are those of which Sir John Winter spoke in the "good discourse" Mr. Pepys had with him, as "being left at a great fall in Edward the Third's time, by the name of forbid-trees, which at this day are called 'vorbid trees.'"

Here it may be noted, that there happened on the night of 18th February, 1662, a dreadful storm of wind, alluding to which Pepys writes:—"We have letters from the Forest of Deane, that above 1,000 oakes and as many beeches are blown down in one walke there;" and Mr. Fosbroke has recorded from some other source, that near Newent "the roads were impassable till the trees blown down were cut away, in some great orchards it being possible to go from one end to the other without touching the ground."

The Commission mentioned above was directed to Lord Herbert, as Constable of the Castle of St. Briavel's and Warden of the Forest, and others, to examine the state and condition thereof. After a careful survey, it was reported by them that they had found 25,929 oaks and 4,204 beeches, containing 121,572 cords of wood, fit for being converted into charcoal, as used at the iron furnaces, and 11,335 tons of ship timber suitable for the navy. They add, however, that "cabins of beggarly people, with goats, sheep, and swine, began to invade the same as formerly." A fresh agreement was forthwith entered into with Sir John Winter on the part of the Crown, who thereupon surrendered his former Patent, reserving the woods called Snead and Kidnalls, and nominated Francis Finch and Robert Clayton to receive a new grant of all such trees as were not fit for shipping, together with the use and occupation of the King's iron-works, and liberty to dig for and use iron ore and cinders in the Forest. Touching the drawing up of this agreement, Mr. Pepys's 'Diary,' under date 20th June, 1662, supplies us with the following particulars:—"Up by 4 or 5 o'clock, and to the office, and there drew up the agreement between the King and Sir John Winter about the Forest of Deane; and having done it, he come himself, whom I observed to be a man of fine parts; and we read it, and both liked it well. That done, I turned to the Forest of Deane, in Speede's Mapps, and there he shewed me how it lies; and the Lea-bayly with the great charge of carrying it to Lydney, and many other things worth knowing." They evidently enjoyed each other's society, for in the month of August next following they again met at "the Mitre," in Fenchurch Street, "to a venison pasty," whither Mr. Pepys was brought "in Sir John Winter's coach, where I found him" (he records) "a very worthy man, and good discourse, most of which was concerning the Forest of Deane, and the timber there, and iron workes with their great antiquity, and the vast heaps of cinders which they find, and are now of great value, being necessary for the making of iron at this day; and without which they cannot work." Evelyn's Diary of 5th November, 1662, also points to the same topic:—"The Council of the Royal Society met to amend the Statutes, &c., dined together; afterwards meeting at Gresham College, where was a discourse suggested by me, concerning planting his Majesty's Forest of Dean with oake, now so much exhausted of ye choicest ship-timber in the world."

Sir John Winter lost no time in acting upon the privileges conferred on him by the late agreement; but just as on the former occasion, it gave extreme dissatisfaction to the neighbourhood, whose complaints reached the House of Commons, and forthwith a committee was appointed to investigate the whole matter; from which committee Sir Charles Harbord reported to the House, "that Sir John Winter had 500 cutters of wood employed in Dean Forest, and that all the timber would be destroyed if care should not be speedily taken to prevent it." The report of the committee was accompanied by certain propositions, which manifest a public spirit highly creditable to the neighbourhood, although "the great difficulty" is noticed "with which the many freeholders that had right of common and other privileges were prevailed with to submit the same to the Crown for enclosing the said Forest." These propositions were made the basis of the ensuing Act, and I insert them without abridgment. They are headed:—

"Proposals by and on the behalf of the Freeholders, Inhabitants, and Commoners, within the Forest of Dean, for the preservation and improvement of the growth of timber there.

"Imprimis, That 11,000 acres of the wastle soil of the Forest of Dean, whereof the Lea Baily and Cannopp to be part of the said wastle, may be enclosed by his Majesty, and discharged for ever from all manner of pasture, estovers, and pannage; and if ever his Majesty, or his successors, shall think fit to lay open any part of the said 11,000 acres, then to take in so much elsewhere, so as the whole enclosure exceed not at any one time 11,000 acres.

"That all the wood or timber which shall hereafter grow upon the remaining 13,000 acres shall absolutely belong to his Majesty, discharged from all estovers for ever, and pannage for twenty years next ensuing. That the whole wastle soil be re-afforested, and subject to the Forest laws; but that the severity of the Forest laws be taken off from the lands in several, belonging to the freeholders and inhabitants within the said Forest, they themselves being contented to serve his Majesty, according to their several offices and places, as formerly at the Forest courts.

"That the deer to be kept on the said waste soil may not exceed 800 at any one time; and the fees which belong to the particular officers, touching venison, may be preserved to them, as to venison only, and not to wood and trees.

"That it is consented to that the winter heyning and fence month, according to the Forest law, being such times wherein no kind of cattle be permitted to abide in any part of the said waste, may be understood to be from Saint Martin's day in the winter to Saint George's day in April; and afterwards, from fifteen days before Midsummer to fifteen days after.

"That all grants of any part of the waste soil of the said Forest be re-assumed and made void; and that no part of the said waste or soil be aliened for ever from the Crown, or farmed to any particular person or persons, by lease or otherwise.

"And that this may be settled by Act of Parliament.


The importance of the foregoing propositions appears from the use made of them, more than a century afterwards, by the Commissioners of Woods and Forests in 1788, who informed the descendants of those gentlemen who appended their names to the above document, that they had thereby lost all claim to any perquisite in the way of bark and windfalls; observing also, that the important Act of 1668 (20 Charles II.) resulting from it was approved by and obtained at the desire of the freeholders, inhabitants, and commoners then living.

Another proposition intended to further the preservation of the Forest woods was presented to the Lord Warden of the Castle of St. Briavel's by the freeholders thereof, promising on their part to relinquish claims to wood and timber for so long a time as "his sacred Majesty" should resolve to suspend his iron-works therein, whom they implore to call in the patent granted to Sir John Winter.

Some idea may be formed of the strength of public feeling against Sir John Winter, on account of his wholesale fellings of the Forest timber, by the decision which Mr. Pepys records his "cousin Roger" to have given upon him, viz. that "he deserves to be hanged." In order that the mischief might be put an end to as soon as possible, late as it was in the session, a bill was brought into the House for settling the Forest, and preserving and improving the wood and timber. Parliament was prorogued, however, before the bill could pass, and its promoters had to be content with the House "recommending the Lord Treasurer and the Chancellor of the Exchequer to take care for the preservation and improvement of the Forest." This recommendation appears to have had no influence on Sir John Winter, for on a new survey made in 1667 it was reported to Government that out of the 30,233 trees sold to him, only about 200 remained standing, and that from 7000 to 8000 tons of timber, fit for his Majesty's navy, was found wanting. He would seem to have felt some alarm at this report, for twice about this time he resorted to Mr. Pepys, who writes, 15th March, 1667—"This morning I was called up by Sir John Winter, poor man, come in a sedan from the other end of the town, about helping the King in the business of bringing down his timber to the sea-side in the Forest of Deane;" and again 30th April, "Sir John Winter, to discourse with me about the Forest of Deane."

All the propositions sent up to the Government in 1663 were incorporated in the Act of 20 Charles II., chap. 3, which also provided that the new enclosures should be perfected within two years, in favourable and convenient places, the cost of making and maintaining them being met by the sale of such trees as would never prove timber; that no trees were to be felled until they had been viewed and marked by two or more justices of the peace, under a penalty of twenty pounds; that no fee-trees were to be allowed, and all grants to be void; that every freeholder might do what he pleased with his land; that no enclosure was to be mined, quarried, or trespassed in; that the bounds of the Forest were to remain as settled in 20 James I.; that all lawful rights and privileges relating to its minerals were to continue, with permission to the Crown to lease coal-mines and stone-quarries for periods not exceeding thirty-one years; that the letters-patent granted for a term not expired to Sir John Winter, Kt., Francis Finch and Robert Clayton, Esqs., should remain good, as also, certain leases granted to Thomas Preston, Esq., and Sir Edward Villiers, Kt. After all that had occurred, it seems strange that Sir John Winter should have obtained permission by Act of Parliament to retain his patent; he had however several powerful friends, and also strong claims on the Crown in consideration of his services during the civil war.

CHAPTER III. A. D. 1663-1692.

First "Order" of forty-eight free miners in Court—8,487 acres enclosed and planted—Speech-house begun—Second order of the Miners' Court—The King's iron-works suppressed—The six "walks" and lodges planned out—All mine-works forbidden in the enclosures—Third order of the Miners' Court—Enclosures extended—Fourth order of the Miners' Court—Speech-house finished—The Forest perambulated—Fifth order of the Miners' Court—Proposal to resume the King's iron-works rejected—Sixth and seventh orders of the Miners' Court—Riots connected with the Revolution—Eighth order of the Miners' Court—Dr. Parsons's account of the Forest.

Contemporaneously with the important Parliamentary enactments noticed in the preceding chapter, there took place, on the 18th of March (1663), the earliest session of a local but very significant court, that of "the Mine Law," whose date and proceedings have been preserved. It was held at Clearwell before Sir Baynham Throgmorton, deputy constable of St. Briavel's Castle, and a jury of forty-eight free miners, and shows that the Forest Miners of that day were a body of men engaged in carrying on their works according to rule, so as to avoid disputes or unequal dealing.

The Court ordered and ordained, as respects the western half of the district, that the minerals of the Forest could only be disposed of, beyond the limits of the Hundred, by free miners; that no manner of carriage was to be used for transporting them, nor more than four horses kept by any one party; that the selling price was to be determined by six "Barganers"; but that any free miner might carry "a dozen" of lime coal to the lime slad for 3s., to the top of the Little Doward for 5s. 6d., to any other kilns thereon for 5s. 4d., to the Blackstones for 5s., to Monmouth for 5s. 6d., to the Weare over Wye for 4s., to Coldwall for 3s. 6d., to Lydbrook for 3s., and to Redbrook for 4s. 4d.; that no young man who had not served an apprenticeship for five years should work for himself at the mine or coal, nor should any of the "labourers" do so unless they had worked seven years, neither was any young man to carry coal, &c., unless he was a householder; and that none should sue for mine, &c., but in the Court of the Mine, under the penalty "of 100 dozen of good sufficient oare or coale, the one-half to be forfeited to the King, and the other halfe to the myner that will sue for the same." The originals of this foregoing, and of the seventeen succeeding "Orders," written on parchment, are preserved in the office of the Deputy Gaveller at Coleford. The forty-eight signatures to it are almost effaced, and about half have "marks" affixed to them, but the whole are written in the same hand.

The new Act of 1668 was soon brought into operation. Immediately after it had passed, upwards of 8,487 acres of open land were enclosed and planted, the remaining 2,513 acres being taken in some time afterwards. The following statement of Mr. Agar, then surveyor of the woods, shows that the cost of making the enclosures was raised as the Act directed. He said that he "received several sums of money by the sale of cordwood to Mr. Foley and divers others, and of the timber that did happen to arise out of the old oaks and beeches felled for the cordwood and other uses, and of wood that I sold to the colliers for their pits, in the whole amounting to 5 pounds,125 8s. 9.25d., which money was expended in buying Cannope, &c., of Banistree Maynard, Esq., at 1,500 pounds; in setting up his Majesty's Enclosures in the said Forest, of 8,400 acres, with gates, stiles, &c., and some reparations of them; in employing a sworn surveyor to admeasure them; in building part of the Speech House; in divers repairs at Saint Briavel's Castle; in the charge of executing two several commissions, and other services in the said Forest."

In allusion to the item of timber sold to the colliers, the commissioners, in their report of 1788, remark:—"Immediately after the passing of the Act of 1668, the colliers, who, it is said, now pretend to have a right to whatever timber they find necessary for carrying on their works in the Forest, without paying anything for it, then purchased it from the Crown." It seems also that "the Speech House" was then commenced, although it was not finished until 1682.

The second existing Order of the Mine Law Court states that it met in 1674, on the 9th March, at Clowerwall, before Sir George Probert, deputy constable of St. Briavel's Castle, chiefly with the design of raising a fund for defending in a legal way the rights of the free miners, and affording them support when injured at their work.

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