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The Forest of Dean by H. G. Nicholls

Edward Revoke and James Drew of Little Dean


As

to injury done to the woods, the following presentments amongst many others made by the keepers were instanced:--"John Simons of Blackney, for cutting green orle wood. Edward Revoke and James Drew of Little Dean, for cutting and carrying away a young oak. The same Edward Revoke, for building some part of his house with wood out of the said Forest." Respecting these depredations the commissioners recommend that, in consideration of the colliers having, time out of mind, had an allowance of wood, but not timber for the support of their pits, but which has been stopped for some time, it may be again allowed to them by order of the verderers, and taken by view of a woodward or keeper. The Attachment and Swainmote Courts are stated to have been "duly kept, although ineffectually to the preservation of the Forest, as they can only convict, but cannot punish; and that the trespass-money paid into the said courts in this reign does not exceed 5s., the only remedy being in having a justice seat held for the purpose once a year, for six or seven years." The report is signed by Wm. Cooke, Re Pynder, Wm. Boevey, J. Viney, Jo. Kyrle, Phil. Ryley.

The _ninth_ Mine Law Court was held on the 25th of April, 1694, at Clearwell, before John Higford and George Bond, Esqrs.

It confirmed the punishment already awarded against "the abominable sin of perjury," to prevent which it directs that "no person shall be permitted

to sweare in his own cause unless it be for a matter transacted underground, or where it was difficult to have any witnesses;" nor shall any bargain be binding unless it be proved by two witnesses.

All causes of debt or damage amounting to 40s. were to be heard on both sides as in other courts, the verdict being given by a jury of twelve miners; but in lesser causes by the Constable of the Court. Provision was also made that "every defendant have twenty-four hours' notice to provide for his defence," every witness being allowed 12p. a-day, the fees of the Court remaining the same as before, all which, as well as the defendant's time, the plaintiff losing the cause, or being non-suited, had to pay. This "Order" also reduces the price of ore for Ireland from 8s. to 5s. a dozen bushels, pitched at Brockwere, or if at Wye's Green for 4s. ditto; fire-cole at 8s. a dozen bushels; smith's-cole, 6s., and charking at 8s., "without handing, thrusting, kicking, or knocking the same," under the usual penalty. Eighteen miners out of the jury of forty-eight signed their names themselves "to this Order," the remaining thirty only making their marks.

The earliest particular recorded in the next century bears date 1701, on the 27th January, in which year the _tenth_ Miners' Court of forty-eight sat at Clearwell, before Serjeant Powlett and George Bond, Esq., deputies to Charles Earl of Berkeley.

Its proceedings were as follows:--Certain temporary orders, dated the 12th March, 1699, and 11th November, 1700, regulating the loading of horses and carts, forbidding any coal to be sent off by the river Wye below Welch-Bicknor, authorizing the raising of money for paying the costs of the miners' debts in law, securing the Records of their Court, and making the present deputy constable of St. Briavel's Castle a free miner, were confirmed and made perpetual. Mention is also made for the first time of "the utmost seventy" being the greatest number ever comprised in the miners' jury. The order further directs that the Records of Mine-law, used at the hearing of the suit in the Exchequer, be recorded, and put into a chest, to be left in the custody of Francis Wyndham, Esq., whom the court had made a free miner, and that in paying any of the costs incurred in that cause a legal discharge be taken. Now the ton of 21 cwt. was fixed as a weight of coal, to be sold for 5s. to an inhabitant of the hundred, or for 6s. to foreigners; and every pit was to be provided with scales. Upwards of twenty of the forty-eight miners who formed the jury at this court put their names to the above verdict, the remainder being marksmen.


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