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The Forest of Dean by H. G. Nicholls

Although they were backed by Sir Baynham Throckmorton


On

the 28th of September, 1675, at the recommendation of Sir Charles Harbord, to whom the plan was probably suggested by the precedent of the ten bailiwicks into which the district had been anciently divided, the Forest was formed into six "walks," or districts, a keeper being appointed to each. Six lodges were built for their use in convenient situations, with 30 acres of land attached, "for the better encouragement and enabling of the said keepers to attend and watch over the said enclosures within their several walks, and to preserve the same, and the young springs of wood and trees thereon growing, and to grow from time to time, from spoil and harm." The names given to each of the six divisions were derived from some of the most eminent living characters of that day. Thus, the Speech House, or King's Walk, was so called after Charles II.; York Walk and Lodge after the Duke of York; Danby Walk and Lodge after the Earl of Danby, prime Minister at the time; Worcester Walk and Lodge after Henry Marquis of Worcester, the then constable of the Castle of St. Briavel's, and warden of the Forest; Latimer Walk and Lodge after Viscount Latimer; and Herbert Walk and Lodge after Lord Herbert; in the two last instances, out of compliment to the Worcester family apparently. The Speech House was so called from its being intended for the use of the ancient Court of "the Speech," as mentioned in the Laws and Franchises of the Mine. Now also a grant of sixty tons of timber was made by the King
towards rebuilding the parish church of Newent, as a tablet therein declares.

How strictly the enclosures were preserved at this time against all mining operations, is shown by the refusal which Sir Charles Harbord gave to a petition presented to the Treasury by several gentlemen and freeholders of the parish of Newland, for leave to make a coal level through an enclosure, although they were backed by Sir Baynham Throckmorton, Deputy-Governor of St. Briavel's Castle, who had also been one of the Commissioners first appointed for carrying out the Act of 1668, and who gave it as his opinion that agreeing to the prayer of the petition would conduce to the preservation of the woods in the Forest, and the convenience and advantage of the country. The wording of the refusal was very peremptory, to the effect that "the enclosures could only be preserved for timber by being kept discharged from all claims;" that "although miners and quarrymen had been long permitted to dig where they pleased, yet that they could not prove their right to do so; and as to coal-works, any such claims were unknown, much less any liberty of cutting his Majesty's woods for the support thereof; and the same ought to be totally suppressed, and would be so by a good officer, as Colonel Wade was in the time of the Usurpation, and that only by the Forest Law, and the ordinary authority of a Justice of Peace." It is not unlikely that in the last observation a hint was intended to be given to Sir Baynham Throckmorton, lest he should compromise his independent position with the colliers in the Forest by publicly accepting, as he had done the year before at their Mine Law Court, "their thankfull acknowledgment of the many favors received by them from him," in return for which they agreed that, when he "should send his own horses or waynes to any of the colepitts for cole, the miners shall presently seame and load them before any other person whatever."


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