Cecil Papers: May 1609

Pages 169-172

Calendar of the Cecil Papers in Hatfield House: Volume 24, Addenda, 1605-1668. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1976.

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May 1609

1609, May 2. Receipt for 40/-, "my Lord Treasurers free gifte to mee for makeinge of a speech before Brittains Burss on May day in the morninge".
Signed: Francis Berrey. Endorsed: "xls given to one Berry for makeinge of a speech before Brittains Bursse on May daye." ⅓ p. (Box U/2.)
Kingswood Forest.
[After May 6, 1609]. "Observations towching the cause in question between his Maty and others concerning the foreste of Kingeswood.
The common people of the countrye use noe other appellation of Kingswood but the Foreste of Kingswood, which hath continued amonge them manie generations by tradition. [Marginal note: That Kingeswood is a Foreste.]
The adversaryes woulde have it onlie a chace. Everye forest contayneth in it a chace, but not contrarye. But a justice seate hath bene kepte for this place (as is sayde) and therefore a foreste. And consequentlie it can not be denyed but the soyle with all the profits were ab origine the Kinges. So that neyther the whole nor any part of theis forest groundes coulde passe from the Kinge but by speciall graunte, and whosoever hath used the same without such lawfull graunt, he is a meere intruder upon the Kinge. [Marginal note: It hath officers and lawes which a chace hath not.]
Some suche grauntes maye peradventure be produced by some of the defendants, and the same maye carrye wordes to seeminge good purpose to confirme their pretended righte. But if theis grauntes be dulie examined, ther wilbe found a great defecte, for if there be wordes of lande and wood lyinge within Kingeswood and yet the quantitie how muche nor the place where it lyes, noe butts, boundes, meeres or lymited markes, to expresse the meaninge of the grauntor, it is a question what passeth in the graunt. But they to confirme their claymes will produce a companie of sillie countrye partially affected inhabitantes, stryvinge by them to prove the use, who can not speak of above 60 or 70 yeares, a weake prooffe, to depryve the Kinge of soyle, timber, wood, bushes, mineralls and whatsoever profits. They havinge noe recorde will force the Kinge to show recorde for his owne most auntient righte. But noe dowbt the lawe will adjudge it playne that prescription avayleth nothinge agaynst the Kinge without recorde in such a case. [Marginal note: Some may show graunts for lande and wood in Kingeswood, yet short to carrye what they clayme.]
Of this nature I take the claymes of the Lorde Barkeley and La. Newton whoe pretend their case (being alike) verye clere, for that they can showe grauntes and confirmations de Rege in Regem for longe time of lande and woode in Kingswood, not mentioninge wher it should lye nor how muche it shoulde be. And yet under couler of this, they carrye awaye above 1300 acres of soyle, wood, coale and all other profits. Wheras it is unknown whether their pretended portion be affected out of the forest (as it is verye like) or the moste of it, for where the forest is for the most part ells where invironed with a wall, about the place of their clayme there appeareth none. [Marginal note: Lo. Barkley and La. Newton. If the graunte be good, it must be for a quantitie expressed, and no confirmation can increase the portion.]
Within the divisition [sic] of the Lorde Barkeley and Ladie Newton ther are certayne subdivisions, as the La. Staffordes, Mr Westons, Sir Rowland Lacies, one Mr Evenses and one Mr Prizes. Theis are distinguished by boundes of composition betweene them and the Lorde Barkeley and La. Newtons clayme, and because their graunde division hath noe boundes by the wordes of the graunt, they adventure to take in the supposed boundes of the parish of Bitton Hanham. But I take it thowgh a foreste may lye invironed with manie parishes, it is a question whether the forest it selffe be parcell of the parishes or not. But the poynte materiall is they are to prove the extent of their clayme by autentique recorde. [Marginal note: Lo. Barkeley and La. Newton for want of a limited proportion in their graunt have made the supposed boundes of the parish the boundes of their portion.]
Sir Henrye Billingesley claymeth two partes. The firste confineth his owne manor of Sison not divided from the mayne foreste, and that he holdeth (as is sayd) by the name of Purlieu, which can not be unlesse it be a forest, and that part some time to have bene deaforested, which he must prove. [Marginal note: Sir Hen. Billingesley hath 2 shares, his firste Purlieu.]
The seconde parcell claymed by him lyeth above haulfe a mile from any part of his manor above 600 acres. By what couler he claymeth it, it is to me unknown, but as it appeareth onlie by use, the auntient enymie to the Kinges right. [Marginal note: 2, forest by consequens.]
One Mr Barkley hath a division adjoyninge the former above 500 acres by the like title. [Marginal note: Mr Barkeley.]
Mr Chester, owner nowe of the Barton in fee, hath all the reste 1380 acres, pretendinge it to be parcell of the manor of Barton, wher it appeareth that the castle was the head seate of all the manor and the Barton was in nature as in name a meere graunge of provisition [sic] for the castle. And therfore not likelie without suffitient wordes to passe the foreste in his graunte that his clayme can be good. [Marginal note: Mr Chester. The Barton, supposed to bee a manor, was but a graunge for provision to the castle.]
And like unto his I holde Mr Barkleyes and Sir Henrye Billingsleyes to be, for that they are all parcell of the Barton hundred as Mr Chesters is. And if Mr Chesters belonge to the Barton so doe theires. But there is but one small tenement of all the supposed manor of Barton borders anie thinge nere the forest. But another manor lyes betwene the forest and it. [Marginal note: Sir Henr. Billingsleys, Mr Barkeleys, Mr Chesters partes ly all within the hundred of Barton.]
To speake of the Kinges part, he hath neyther quantitie nor qualitie but quite exempted the foreste. The Kinge was not so fortunate to be at the sharinge. But they say the Kinge hath a riche portion, herbage, for his deere. It is some no thinge, for nowe are there noe deere lefte for the herbage. [Marginal note: The Kinge hath a foreste but other men share all the lands and profits.]
In two dayes travayle everye waye throwgh the principall lawnes and covertes of the foreste, there will hardlie be seene 2 brace of deere in a herde. But in two howres travayle a man may finde 4 herde of goates nere 40 in a herde. His Maty beinge at contynuall charge with officers of his game whoe suffer the royall game to fall and the moste abandonable foes to forest game to flourish. [Marginal note: In steede of the Kinges deere the country have filled the foreste with goates.]
Suche abuses, as in this, are in the moste of his Mats forestes, chaces and wastes, whose originall increase and force have bene begotten, cherished and confirmed by time, negligence and corruption of some originall and succeeding officers; as also by the too much greatnes of some forest comaunders whose proper territories confined the forestes, chaces, etc. And to put more life into theis abuses, the neglect of kinges in takinge the benefite of their owne lawfull revenew, as of their timber, wood, bushes, mineralls and such like profites, hath bene a great furtherance. For kinges sparinge for love of posterities, subjectes spoylinge for present lucre, officers connivencie for affection or gayne, hath bredd use, use custome, custome habite, of whence growes that prescription which all offenders holde and mayntayne to be stronge enowgh (as it were) to curbe or coosen the Kinge of the meere revenewes of his crowne. [Marginal note: How suche gross abuses have growne upon his Mats forestes and chaces.]
It may be observed into what degrees of discontentment the rude vulgar begin to run upon the shadowe of his Mats takinge benefit of his own woodes. Some stick not to resiste with rebellious force his Mats officers that come not to sell but to see, as in the Forest of Deane. What is it probable they would have attempted if such lawfull sale had bene made, as his Maty maye. Some others, and it may be observed in generall, where his Maty hath made the smalest sales in aboundinge woodes, the hartes of the inhabitantes are so sett on fire as (though they seeme to hurle at the instruments) they kick agaynst his Mats prerogative. [Marginal note: The degrees of the peoples discovery of their discontentmentes at his Mats taking some small profit of his owne woodes.]
I doe verilie beleve that his Maty hath lost more by precedinge negligence and corruption of officers in profits accruable by forestes, chaces and wastes then now his Maty quietlie reduces unto his crowne. [Marginal note: His Maty hath lost nere as many forest profites as he now receyveth.]
Many perticulars are needfull to be remembred upon this occasion, but my ignorance and present weaknes can not nor dutie will not suffer me to bee more (being too) tedious."—Undated.
Endorsed: "Forrest of Kingeswood." 2⅓ pp. (132. 169.)
[See H.M.C. Salisbury MSS, Vol. XXI, p. 50.]
John Witham and Roger Tocketts to the Earl of Salisbury.
[After May 31, 1609]. Thomas Johnson, by virtue of the King's commission dated March 29, issued a proclamation at Darnton, co. Durham, informing the inhabitants of the neighbourhood of Gainford that he would appear on a certain day to sell some of the King's trees in Gainford Wood. He remained there two days, but few people came to buy trees, and even those who wished to purchase timber refused 200 of the best trees at eight shillings a tree. Johnson with Henry Tonge, a Justice of the Peace, sold to petitioners and certain others 1200 trees at 6/8 a tree, and took a bond from them for the payment of £400 to the Bishop of Durham to the King's use upon the last day of June. Petitioners and others felled, sold and carried away many trees and disposed of the bark to tanners in the vicinity. Lately, however, upon information made by Mr Haggat, Salisbury and Sir Julius Caesar have prohibited any further felling or transportation of trees at Gainford, and sent letters to that effect to the Bishop of Durham and Haggat.
Petitioners inform Salisbury that, notwithstanding the contract of sale, they have not felled more than 760 trees, and of that number have not sold more than 220, nor carried away more than 70. All these trees, in the opinion of the Bishop of Durham, Haggat and others, are unfit to be used in the Duke's building, since they are small. However, the bark of the said 1200 trees has been sold to tanners, who have spent much money in peeling the trees and are now prevented from taking the bark away.
In view of these circumstances, petitioners ask that the contract be allowed to stand. If it is found unfitting that so many trees should be sold, they propose that those already felled should be carried away by the buyers, since they are tenants of the King who have bought the timber for their own use. As for the trees that Salisbury thinks should not be sold, there should be abated 6/8 for every such tree. They request finally, that the Bishop of Durham should receive the money due for the felled trees, and upon payment redeliver the above-mentioned bond to them.—Undated.
1 p. (P. 472.)
[See H.M.C. Salisbury MSS, Vol. XXI, p. 60.]