A History of Sherwood 4

The next forest pleas of Sherwood were held at Nottingham on 1 January, 1287, before Sir William de Vescy, Thomas de Normanville, and Richard de Creping, justices in eyre of the lord king. (1) There were six verderers; Richard de Fort, William de Colwick, John de Annesley, Henry de Tinsley, William de Bevercotes, and Ralph clerk of Mansfield. Robert de Everingham was the forester-of-fee, and under him were eight sworn foresters.  Sir William de Vescy and his fellow justices found that the general assize of the forest had not been properly observed, at least since the last eyre held by Robert de Neville and others. In response, they issued special injunctions to the following effect:

That all verderers, in accordance with the charter of the forest, were to assemble every forty days to hold attachments for vert and venison and small pleas.

That they were to present a single roll of vert and venison to the justice in eyre, and not each one a separate roll for his own bailiwick.

That anyone dwelling in the forest found felling a green oak be attached for the next attachment court, there to find pledges till the next eyre, and to pay the price to the verderers; a second offence to be dealt with in like manner; but for a third offence to be imprisoned at Nottingham, and there kept till he be delivered by the king or justice of the forest.

That anyone dwelling outside the forest committing any trespass against the vert, his body is to be committed to prison till he be delivered by the king or justice; for a third offence he is also to lose his horses and cart, or his oxen and wagon, or their price, and that price is to be paid at the next attachment to the verderers for the king’s use.

That those dwelling in the forest caught cutting saplings, branches, or drywood from oaks or hazels, or thorns, or limes, or alders, or hollies, or such-like trees, without warrant, are to be attached by two good pledges to come to the next attachment court, there to be amerced for the king; but if it be for a sapling which is of greater price than 4d. or any higher sum, to be attached until the next eyre.

That escapes of beasts of the plough into the forest be pleaded in attachments, and amends taken for the use of the king.

That no man carry bows or arrows in the forest outside the king’s highway save a sworn forester, and on the king’s highway only in accordance with the assize of the forest.

That no man save a sworn forester or other sworn officer attach anyone in the future.

That any dweller outside the forest agisting his animals therein is to have such animals taken before the verderers and the price paid, and to make answer before the justices in eyre.

That the great burden of so many regarders is no longer to be endured, but that in this forest the number be limited to twelve.

And that those taken by night or in the fence month within the forest be dealt with as before.

It would appear that 350 deer (both red and fallow) had died of murrain in the year preceding the holding of this eyre, and were entered on the venison presentments. The Attachment, or Forty-day Court as it was sometimes called from the period at which it was summoned, was held by the verderers with much regularity in Sherwood for a long time after the pronouncement of the forest justices at Nottingham in 1287. These courts were held at four different centres, namely at Edwinstowe, Mansfield, Linby, and Calverton, on successive days of the same week.

1. For. Proc. Tr. of Rec. No. 27.