The Many Robin Hoods 9

Walker thought that Robert Hode may have been born between the years 1285 and 1295, the son of Adam Hood who appears in the Wakefield Manor Court Rolls from 1274 to 1314, and possibly a forester in the employ of the Earl of Warenne, the lord of the manor of Wakefield. Robert Hode, as Walker tells us, appears in numerous notices in the Manor Court Rolls between the years 1308 and 1315, and he was frequently brought before the Steward of the Court for taking firewood; he was reprimanded and usually fined twopence. There are other records of a Robert Hodde/Hod in 1308.  Walker tells us that towards the end of 1316 Edward II called upon his nobles to raise a troop of their tenants to fight against the Scots who were making raids into Northumberland. Earl Warenne was to provide 200 foot soldiers, which the bailiff of the Manor Court picked by election from some of the lord’s tenants to go in the King’s army to Scotland, and at a Manor Court he called upon those elected to attend the muster. Robert Hode was elected to serve, but he did not attend the muster and was fined. There was another muster in 1317, and the Manor Court rolls only give the names of the tenants who did not respond to the summons and were therefore fined. Robert Hode’s name does not appear so Walker concluded that he had attended the muster.

Thomas, earl of Lancaster, lord of the manor of Pontefract, also became lord of the manor of Wakefield, and to him the tenants of the manor owed their allegiance. Once again there was a call to arms, this time by the Earl himself, who objected to the King’s misgovernment of the kingdom. Lancaster called for a levy of the tenants of his manors of Pontefract and Wakefield in order to raise two thousand footmen. According to Walker, Robert Hode was one of those who obeyed the summons and took up military service as an archer under the new lord, as his name does not appear among those tenants of the manor, who were fined for not attending the muster roll when called upon to do so by Simon de Balderston, Steward of the manor. Holt has rightly pointed out that the absence of Robin Hode’s name could mean that he had not been summonsed at all. There are no surviving court rolls covering the muster for the Earl of Lancaster’s army that fought at Boroughbridge in 1322, yet Walker maintained that Robert Hode must once more have served.

Walker mentions another record of Robert Hode in the Wakefield Manor Court Rolls in 1335, when he was summoned to appear before the Court for ‘resisting the lord of the manor’. He seemed certain that Robert Hode was part of the Earl’s army at Boroughbridge, as he mentions the ‘Contrariants Roll’ of 1322, preserved in the Wakefield Manor office, with the name or position of the properties with the rents received from the same, sometimes with the name of the former owner, then a Contrariant, the name given to the supporters of the Earl of Lancaster after the battle of Boroughbridge. He goes on to say that among these properties is one with ‘a rent of 23d. for a dwelling-house of five chambers of new construction on Bichill, Wakefield’. Walker believed that this was the land obtained by Robert and Matilda Hode in 1316, which is again mentioned in the Manor Court Rolls in 1357 and 1358 as ‘a tenement of Bichill formerly in the tenure of Robert Hode’. Holt discovered that there was no proof Robert Hode had built a dwelling house of five chambers on Bichill, this was a ‘tendentious error apparently based on an elementary misreading of the Latin record’, and no mention of it in the Contrariants Roll. Holt’s further comments are that ‘Walker’s additions to Hunter’s case are a tissue of errors’. The reality is that there remains two separate men: Robert Hode who was a tenant of the manor of Wakefield, but no proof that he was a dispossesed supporter of the Earl of Lancaster, and Robyn Hod porter of the chamber; and there is nothing plausible to identify the two as one and the same person.