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The Forest of Dean by H. G. Nicholls

Upon paying twopence per annum

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.

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