Forest Eyre

The highest forest court, established by Henry II, held by itinerant forest justices, under the authority of two Chief Justices of the Forest, one for north and one for south of the river Trent, after 1238. The court was called into being by the king’s letters patent appointing justices to hear and determine pleas of the forest in a particular county or counties. Eyres could not meet oftener than every third year [fourth in some sources], and must be called at least forty days before sitting by two writs of summons from the forest justices, one to forest officers and one to the sheriff of the county in which the forest lay. Attendance was required of all forest officers, who must bring their rolls of record from attachment and swanimote courts, of offenders and their pledges, persons claiming liberties in the forest, every forest inhabitant below the rank of baron between the ages of 12 and 70, and four men and the reeve from every town and village and twelve men from each borough in the forest. A charge of items was read to a sworn jury of 14, 20 or 28 members. Sentence was passed on offenders tried at attachment and swanimote courts and at and the eyre itself, in which first and last cases, the judgement was traversable. Appeal against judgement at an eyre could only be made to the court of king’s bench, to which cases concerning illustrious offenders were also usually removed.(1)

1.  Forests and Chases in England and Wales, c. 1000 to c. 1850.