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The Forest of Dean by H. G. Nicholls

And the vast heaps of cinders which they find


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:--


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