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The Forest of Dean by H. G. Nicholls

Mailscot and an adjoining tract to English Bicknor

On the 16th of August, 1838, the annual Report of the Commissioners of Woods was issued, signed by Lord Duncannon, B. C. Stephenson and A. Milne, Esqrs. It mentions that a piece of land in the parish of English Bicknor had been granted for school purposes, and that the Severn and Wye Tramway Company obtained the licence of the Crown to lay down a branch from Brook Hall Ditches to Foxes Bridge.

The only circumstance requiring notice in the following year is the decease of the second Commissioner of Woods, Sir B. C. Stephenson, who had long held the office, and he was succeeded by the Honourable Charles Gore.

The next annual Report bears date 29th July, 1840, and contains nothing calling for special notice.

The year 1841 is particularly important in the history of the Forest from its being the date of the present coal and iron mine awards, under the authority of the Mining Commissioners, the former being signed on the 8th of March, and the latter on the 20th of July. By these awards no less than 104 collieries were defined and assigned, together with twenty iron-mines, and certain rules and regulations were laid down for working them.

The duties of the Mining Commissioners having now closed, it must have been highly gratifying to those gentlemen to receive from the Government the following expressions of commendation, communicated by Mr. A. Milne:--"I am to convey to you our entire approbation of the zeal, ability, and sound discretion which appear to have marked all your proceedings in the performance of the very important, difficult, and laborious duties which devolved upon you, and their belief that, while the result will be very beneficial to the interests of the Crown, it will be attended with equal advantage to the great body of mining adventurers in securing their titles to the property on very reasonable and moderate terms, and subject to the regulations and conditions which seem to be well calculated to protect them from that constant and expensive litigation which had so long existed."

The total cost of adjusting the working of the coal and iron mines was 10,459 pounds 1s. 3d. The valuable services of the Mining Commissioners were again noticed in the annual Report of the Board of Woods, published on the 9th August in the following year, when 408 acres 2 roods were thrown open in Blakeney Hill (south) and the South Lea Bailey Copse, a similar extent of open Forest being enclosed at St. Low and Great Kenseley. It also adverts to an Act passed on 30th of July previous, dividing the Forest into ecclesiastical districts, constituting them "Perpetual Curacies," and attaching the churches of Christ Church, Holy Trinity, and St. Paul's to them, the stipends of each being raised to 150 pounds. The patronage of the two former was vested in the Crown, and the latter in the Bishop of the Diocese. The Act likewise authorizes the formation of a fourth district at Cinderford, and the erection and endowment of a church there: thus each district comprised the following number of acres:--

St. John's 5934 St. Paul's 7741 Holy Trinity 5859 Christ Church 3149 ------ Total 22,683

The same Report also notices the provisions now made for the relief of the poor, and for the abolition of the court and prison of the hundred of St. Briavel's. The Act for the relief of the poor is dated the 9th of July, and authorizes the introduction of the new Poor Law, dividing the Forest into the two townships of East and West Dean, by a line drawn in a diagonal direction from Lydbrook to Ayleford, being in fact almost the same boundary which separated the ancient divisions of "above and beneath the wood." The Act attached East Dean to the Westbury-upon-Severn Union, and West Dean to that of Monmouth. It also united the Hudnalls, the Bearse, the Fence, and Mawkins Hazells to the parishes of St. Briavel's and Hewelsfield, Mailscot and an adjoining tract to English Bicknor, and Walmore and Northwood's Green to the parish of Westbury-upon-Severn, for the support of their own poor, by means of rates levied as their respective overseers for the relief of the poor should direct.

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