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The Forest of Dean by H. G. Nicholls

To any other kilns thereon for 5s


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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.


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