The Many Robin Hoods 7

Roger Godberd

Between 1266 and 1272, Nottinghamshire and the neighbouring counties of Derbyshire and Leicestershire, were the target of a crime spree led by Roger Godberd, who was identified as ‘leader and master’. He was a tenant of William de Ferrers, earl of Derby, in Swannington, Leicestershire, on the western bounds of the forest of Charnwood. Godberd was a member of the garrison of Nottingham castle in 1264, and seems to have joined Simon de Montfort in the Barons War of 1264 – 5. In 1272 the king announced that Roger had been captured by Reginald de Grey, of Codnor, (one of the robber’s old comrades-in-arms in the Nottingham garrison of 1264) this is described in the records. He was held prisoner at Nottingham Castle, then at Bridgnorth, and then at Chester, where Reginald de Grey was justiciar, and it was thought there was no further record of him. After Godberd’s capture, a local knight by the name of Richard Foliot, was accused of sheltering him and also one Walter Devyas and others; this led the sheriff of Yorkshire to come to take his castle at Fenwick. There is a parallel here with part of the  story in the Gest; the sheriff of Nottingham comes to take the castle of  Sir Richard at the Lee who is sheltering Robin. In reality Foliot chose to surrender his castle whereas Sir Richard did not. Foliot’s lands included Grimston and Wellow on the eastern bounds of Sherwood, and also Fenwick, Stubbs and Norton, which lay in the valley of the Went, about six miles below Wentbridge. He held these lands as a tenant of the Lacys of Pontefract. His castle at Fenwick, is no more than five miles from Barnsdale. Brian Benison (Robin Hood: The Real Story) claims that Godberd was the original Robin Hood, eventually pardoned, and allowed to return to his farm, where he remained until his death. Robert Lynley has compiled a list of the records concerning this notorious criminal.

This section contains information found in Robin Hood, (Holt, 1982, pp. 97-99).

Robert Hood of Wakefield

Joseph Hunter was the first to use medieval government records in an attempt to prove that parts of the Gest were historical fact, and in 1852 he published The Great Hero of the Ancient Minstrelsy of England, ‘Robin Hood‘. He was born in 1783, the son of a Sheffield cutler, and from 1809 to 1833  was a Presbyterian minister at Bath. During this period he wrote two histories of Hallamshire (S. Yorkshire), 1819, and the deanery of Doncaster, 1828, 1831. From 1838 to 1861 he was assistant keeper of the public record office, where he edited and published records of medieval government, these are still held in high regard. With the resources available to him, Hunter established that the journey of ‘Edward our comely king’, through the royal forests of Yorkshire and Lancashire and then to Nottingham, which is mentioned in the Gest, fits with the royal progress made by Edward II between April and November 1323; and that between 24 March and 22 November 1324, subsequent to this journey, a Robyn Hod appears as one of the royal porters of the Chamber; and also that a Robert Hode and his wife Matilda were in the court rolls of the manor of Wakefield in 1316 and 1317. All of this was fact, but then Hunter went a step further. He claimed that the Wakefield Robert Hode, (Wakefield is only ten miles from Barnsdale), became an outlaw because he was a supporter of Thomas earl of Lancaster, (Thomas was executed for his rebellion against Edward II after his defeat at the battle of Boroughbridge in 1322). Hunter believed that this Robert Hode made his peace with Edward II when he came to Nottingham in November 1323, and entered the royal service where he appears in the records as Robyn Hod porter of the chamber; and after wearying of his new role, returns to Barnsdale in 1324 and ceases to appear in the records.

This section contains information found in Robin Hood, (Holt, 1982, pp. 45-46).