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The Forest of Dean by H. G. Nicholls

The ten bailiwicks of Abbenhalle


It

also appears that at Carleon, Newport, Barkley, Monmouth, and Trelleck, the manufacture of iron was carried on by "smiths," who were connected with smith-holders living in the Forest, and supplying the ore, at each of which places it is remarkable that iron cinders have been found. The document concludes with the names of the forty-eight miners by whom it was witnessed, confirmed, and sealed.

[Picture: Map of limits of the Forest]

Such then were the mining privileges and regulations existing amongst the operatives of the Forest at this period, A.D. 1300, which by their settled and methodical character bear out the statement made in the preface to "the Customes," &c., that they had been then granted "time out of mind," and consequently were more ancient than the sieges of Berwick, to which it appears many of the Forest miners and bowmen were summoned, and perhaps received for services then rendered their peculiar rights.

Another important characteristic of this reign (Edward I.) is the unsettled state of the Forest boundaries, as indicated in the various perambulations which were made about this time. A record of that made in 1302 is preserved in the Tower of London, whilst the register of the perambulation performed by Letters Patent the year following, exists in Walter Froucester's transcript of it, in the possession of the Dean and Chapter of Gloucester.

Both documents agree in setting forth the same limits, no longer extending to Gloucester, Chepstow, and Monmouth, or even including Hewelsfield, Alvington, Ailberton, Lydney, Purton, Box, Rodley, Westbury, Blaisdon, Huntley, Longhope, Newent, Taynton, Tibberton, Highnam, Churcham, and Bulley as formerly; but confining them, as nearly as can now be determined, to the bounds laid down in the accompanying map of the district. It appears that these perambulations were made by a numerous and important staff of officers, comprising four King's justices especially appointed, the chief justice in Eyre, nine foresters in fee, four verderers, and twenty-four jurors--such was the importance then attached to those acts.

There are some further items of information extant of this date, viz. the ten bailiwicks of "Abbenhalle, Blakeney, Berse, Bicknoure, Great Dean, Little Dean, Stauntene, Le Lee, and Bleyght's Ballye, and Ruardean," held respectively by Ralph de Abbenhalle, Walter de Astune, William Wodeard, Cecilia de Michegros, the Constable of St. Briavel's Castle, Richard de la More, John de la Lee, Alexander Bleyght, and Alexander de Byknore; Henry de Chaworth had fifty-nine mines, and some forges; the timber wood of Kilcote was held by Bogo de Knoville; William Bliss held 180 acres of assart, and seventeen acres of meadow land; certain miners, named William de Abbensale, Walter and Elys Page, had been found digging mine at Ardlonde belonging to the Abbot of Flaxley, who at once removed them, and filled up the place. The question was now also raised as to the Crown possessing the right of conferring the tithes of the "assarted" (rooted up) Forest lands, not being within the bounds of any of the adjacent churches; when it was decided in the affirmative, the King exercising the claim in favour of the church of Newland, in consideration, probably, of the lordship of the manor being held by him, and the whole being formerly comprised in the Forest. A considerable proportion of such of the existing encroachments as are reputed the oldest pay tithes to Newland, a circumstance confirmatory of their alleged antiquity. {16}

The records we possess of the ensuing reign of Edward II. afford the interesting intelligence that on various public occasions the military services of the Foresters were required, and even at places as distant as


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