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The Forest of Dean by H. G. Nicholls

And of the Lea and Flaxley parishes


and are acts of injustice and usurpation." They affirmed that the present usage of foreigners possessing mines was not of long standing,--that it dated from the discontinuance of the Mine Law Court in 1777, by which all such intrusions were strictly checked and prevented; that this Court had been in full operation upwards of 500 years, as they verily believed, and so continued until the last 60 years, meeting periodically under the presidency of the Constable appointed by the King, and attended by his deputies and by the King's Gaveller; and that, if this Court were re-established, and their rights and privileges restored to them, there would be no difficulty in finding capital for the proper working of the mines. The memorial was signed by 1,036 persons, professedly free miners. But, as to this being the fact, a further memorial was presented to the Commissioners on the 23rd of December, urging "that no person should be considered a free miner whose birth from parents free miners cannot be proved, in addition to their having been born in the Forest, and worked in the mines a year and a day." According to such rule, the original number of 1,036 would be reduced to 798. On the 24th of December this year (1834) another memorial, coming from free miners in the occupation of stone-quarries within the Forest, was laid before the Commissioners, pleading in few words for similar rights and customs in respect of stone-quarries as were claimed in regard of mines. The names of thirteen quarrymen were attached thereto.

Upon the 9th and three following days of June in the ensuing year (1835) the Dean Forest Commissioners, at meetings held in London, received letters from the Bishop of the diocese, from the clergymen of the Forest, and of the Lea and Flaxley parishes, recommending the parochializing the Forest for ecclesiastical purposes, either by means of curates with small chapels, or by dividing the whole into a certain number of distinct districts severally provided with a church and an incumbent. The Commissioners reported unanimously in favour of making the Forest parochial; and for all spiritual purposes they recommended an assignment of districts to each of the churches already built, as also the erection of a church and parsonage at Cinderford, with a stipend of 150 pounds annexed, to which amount the salaries of the three existing ministers should also be raised. They further recommended the enlargement of the Lydbrook school-room into a chapel, with 80 pounds stipend to the clergyman serving it; and they likewise advised forming Viney Hill, having a population of nearly 800, into a district, or annexing it to Blakeney, the church there, and minister's salary, being enlarged accordingly. They also suggested that the 150 persons residing on Pope's Hill should be united to Flaxley, with 20 pounds added to the clergyman's stipend; and that the Lea Bailey, with its 100 inhabitants, should be annexed in the same manner, and under the same conditions, to the Lea parish.

In the second place, as to the relief of the poor inhabitants of the Forest, the Commissioners were of opinion that it would be impossible to raise a fund for this purpose by means of rates on property, as so much was in the actual occupation of the Crown, or connected with mining, or the holders being too poor to bear the burthen. They advised, therefore, that about 1,600 acres of the Forest land should be enclosed and let out for the purpose of furnishing such a provision, to be dispensed at the discretion of a Board composed of the constable of St. Briavel's Castle, the verderers, clergymen, and deputy-surveyor, and the magistrates acting for the Forest division, and six inhabitants as coadjutors. {122}


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