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The Forest of Dean by H. G. Nicholls

Stopped a waggon belonging to Mr


parts. Wallmore 2 3 0 1 24 Northwood Green 3 4 0 1 33 The Bearce - 3 1 1 13 Mawkins Hazles - 5 15 1 28 The Tence 6 10 10 0 9 Glydden - 2 0 0 28 --- ---- ---- --- --- 589 1798 1385 3 21

Upwards of seventeen different Reports on the condition of "the Forest and Land Revenues of the Crown" were made to Parliament by the Commission of 1788, a fact which will partly explain the delay which took place in carrying out the plans recommended in the Commissioners' Third Report with reference to the Forest of Dean. The chief improvements effected were in the roads, under an Act passed in the year 1795, for mending, widening, and altering the existing roads, and making new ones through the Forest to places adjoining, in the parishes of Newland, Lydney, and Awre. Mr. John Fordyce, now the Surveyor-General, alluding to the subject in his Report, dated 1797, says, that an arrangement had been made with the principal inhabitants in the neighbourhood, whereby the cost of keeping

up the roads was to be met by means of turnpikes, the Crown constructing them in the first instance.

The year 1795 is associated with the disturbances commonly called, even now, for they are not forgotten, "the Bread Riots." They arose from the circumstance of the foresters being mainly dependent upon the adjacent farms for their corn, but which was now, owing to war, largely bought up by the Government, mostly at Gloucester and Bristol, for the supply of the army and navy. Hence the inhabitants of the Forest district were left destitute of those supplies which the miners and colliers of the Forest considered they were entitled to, in return for the fuel which they furnished to the farmers.

The following extracts from the contemporary numbers of 'The Gloucester Journal' minutely relate the acts of violence which ensued:--

"On Saturday morning, 30th October, 1795, as Mr. King's waggon, of Bollitree, was bringing a load of barley to the Gloucester Market, it was beset by a number of colliers from the Forest of Dean near the Lea Line, who inquired what the bags contained, and when told that it was barley, they cut the bags to examine; whilst this was passing, a waggon, loaded with wheat, came up the hill belonging to Mr. Dobson, of Harthill, in the parish of Weston, which was taken to in the same manner, and both waggons with the grain were taken off to a place in the Forest of Dean, called Drybrook, where the people divided the corn, and sent back the waggons and horses to the owners." The next Saturday "a party of foresters, chiefly from the neighbourhood of Lidbrook, stopped a waggon belonging to Mr. Prince, of Longhope, loaded with ninety-two bushels of wheat, and lodged it in Ross Market-house, professedly with the intention of selling it out on Monday morning at eight shillings per bushel. A magistrate, however, reached Ross early on Monday, and, accompanied by ten of the Essex Light Dragoons, saw the grain reloaded into Mr. Prince's waggon, and sent it off under their escort. In about an hour upwards of sixty foresters collected together, and set off in pursuit of the waggon. The magistrate followed on horseback, and at the Lea he came up with the waggon, which he sent on, and ordered the cavalry to stop till the approach of the mob. They soon made their appearance, and being at first somewhat refractory, the ringleader was taken into custody; when, after the most persuasive remonstrances of this very active magistrate, and the patient forbearance of the soldiery, they were at last prevailed upon to give up the desperate idea of rescuing the grain, and returned peaceably to Ross."

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