From Manx Soc vol IV,VII & IX


* As the forests, commons, or wastes of the Island are at the present time undergoing the process of disafforestation, the editor has printed the following charter, as being the only document extant bearing upon the subject of royal forests. The Forests belonged originally to the Crown, and the Kings had at different periods granted parts and parcels of them to private individuals, who had grubbed them tip, and made them arable and pasture; but yet all those parts retained the name of forest. These forests belonging to the King as his own demesnes, or as the sovereign lord, were a continual source of vexatious suits, as well against those who held them of the King, as against the neighbouring freemen, under pretence of the rights of the crown. There is no original of this charter extant, nor any copy older than the first of Henry

John, by the grace of God, King of England, &c. Know ye, that for the honor of God and the health of our soul, and the souls of our ancestors and successors, and for the exaltation of Holy Church, and for the reformation of our kingdom, vre have, of our free, and good will, given and granted, for us and our heirs, these liberties hereafter specified, to be and observed in our kingdom of England for ever.

I. Imprimis, All the forests made by our grandfather, King Henry, shall be viewed by honest and lawful men; and if he turned any other than his own proper woods into forests, to the damage of him whose wood it was, it shall forthwith be laid out again and disafforested. And if he turned his own woods into forests, they shall remain so, saving the common of pasture to such as were formerly wont to have.

II. Those men who dwell without the forest, from henceforth shall not come before our justiciaries of the forest, upon common summons, but such as are impleaded or the pledges of any, for any that were attached for something con. cerning the forests.

III. All woods that have been taken into the forests in our own time shall forthwith be laid out again; and the like shall be done with the rivers that have been taken or fenced in by us during our reign.

IV. The archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, barons, knights, and free tenants who have woods in any forests, shall have their woods as they had them at the time of the first coronation of our grandfather, King Henry, so as they shall be discharged for ever of all purprestures,f wastes, and assarts„, made in those woods, after that time, to the beginning of the second year of our coronation; and those who for the time to come shall make waste, purpresture, or assart in those woods, without our licence, shall answer for them.

V. Our inspectors or viewers shall go through the forests to make a view, as it was wont to be at the time of the first coronation of our said grandfather, King Henry, and not otherwise.

VI. The inquisition or view for lawing* of dogs which are kept within the forest for the future shall be when the view is made, that is, every three years, and then shall be done by the view and testimony of lawful men, and not otherwise.; and be whose dogs at such time shall be found unlawed, shall be fined three shillings; and for the future no ox shall be taken for Jawing, and such Jawing shall be according to the common assize, namely, the three claws of the dog's fore-foot shall be cut off, or the ball of the foot taken out. And, from henceforward, dogs shall not be Jawed, unless in such places where they were wont to be Jawed in the time of King Henry, our grandfather.

VII. No forester or bedel+ for the future, shall make any aleshots,+ or collect sheaves of corn or oats, or other grain, or lambs or pigs, nor shall make any gathering whatsoever, but by the view and oath of twelve inspectors; and when they make their view, so many foresters shall be appointed to keep the forest as they shall reasonably deem sufficient.

VIII. No swainmote, for the time to come, shall be holden in our kingdom oftener than thrice a year; that is to say, in the beginning of fifteen days before Michaelmas, when the agisters come to agist the demesne woods; and about the feast of St. Martin, when our agisters are to receive their pannage; § and in these two swainmotes, the foresters, verderers, and agisters shall meet, and no other, by compulsion or distress ; and the third swainmote shall be holden fifteen days before the feast of St. John the Baptist, concerning the fawning of our does; and at this swainmote shall meet the foresters and verderers, and no other shall be compelled to be there.

IX. And furthermore, every forty days throughout the year, the verderers and foresters shall meet to view the attachments of the forest, as well of vert as venison,li by presentment of the foresters themselves; and they who committed the offences shall be forced to appear before them; but the aforesaid swainmotes shall be holden but in such counties as they were wont to be holden.

X. Every freeman shall agistlf his wood in the forest at his pleasure, and shall receive his pannage.

XI. We grant also that every freeman may drive his hogs through our demesne roads freely and without impediment, and may agist them in his own woods or elsewhere, as be will; and if the hogs of any freeman shall remain one night in our forest, he shall not be troubled, so as to lose anything for it.

XII. No man for the time to come shall lose life or limb for taking our venison; but if any one be seized and convicted of taking venison, he shall be grievously fined, if he hath wherewithal to pay; and if he hath not he shall lie in our prison a year and a day; and if after that time he can find securities, he shall be released ; if not, he shall abjure our realm of England.

XIII. It shall be lawful for every archbishop, bishop, earl, or baron, coming to us by our command, and passing through our forest, to take one or two deer by view of the forester, if present: if not, he shall cause a horn to be sounded, lest he should seem to steal them. Also, on their return it shall be lawful for them to do the same thing.

XIV. Every freeman, for the future, may erect a mill in his own wood, or upon his own land, which he hath in the forest, or make a warren, or pond, a marl-pit, or ditch, or turn it into arable, without the covert in arable land, so as it be not to the detriment of his neighbour.

XV. Every freeman may have in his woods, the avyries of hawks, of sparrowhawks, falcons, eagles, and herons; and they shall likewise have the honey found in their woods.

XVI. No forester for the future, who is not a forester in fee, paying us rent for his office, shall take cheminage ;* that is to say, for every cart two-pence, for half a year, and for the other half year two-pence, and for a horse that carries burden, for half a year, a half-penny, and for the other half year a half-penny ; and then only of those who come as buyers, out of their bailiwick, to buy underwood, timber, bark, or charcoal, to carry it to sell in other places, where they will; and for the time to come, there shall be no cheminage taken, for any other cart or carriage horse, unless in those places where anciently it was wont, and ought to be taken ; but they who carry wood, bark, or coal, upon their backs to sell though they get their livelihood by it, shall for the future pay no cheminage for passage through the woods of other men. No cheminage shall be given to our foresters, but only in our woods.

XVII. All persons outlawed for offences committed in our forests, from the time of Henry, our father, until our first coronation, may reverse their outlawries without impediment, but shall find pledges that for the future they will not forfeit to us, in our forests.

XVIII. No castellan or other person shall hold pleas of the forest, whether con. cerning vert or venison ; but every forester in fee shall attach pleas of the forest'{` as well concerning vert as venison, and shall present the pleas or offences to the verderers of the several counties ; and when they shall be enrolled and sealed under the seals of the verderers, they shall be presented to the chief forester, when he comes into those parts to bold pleas of the forest, and shall be determined before him.

XIX. And all the customs and liberties aforesaid, which we have granted to be holden in the kingdom; as much as belongs to us towards our vassals, all of our kingdom, as well laicks as clerks, shall observe as much as belongs to them towards their vassals.

1. Encroachment upon the King's lands.

2 Grubbing up wood, and making it arable, without licence.

3 Cutting off their claws, &c.

4 Bailiff of the forest.

$ That is, taking ale shots to execute the offender.

§ Money for feeding hogs with masts in the King's forests.

`1 That is, the offences that were committed in cutting wood or killing deer.

Take in his neighbour's cattle to feed.

Fees for passing through the forest.

t- May seine the body or goods of the offender to make him appear.



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