Page:VCH Surrey 1.djvu/477

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


POLITICAL HISTORY old forest boundaries and to the imposition of fines and compositions upon persons who had encroached upon the forests. The old controversy upon the limits of the forest of Windsor towards Surrey, supposed to have been laid to rest under Edward III., was revived again. The Earl of Holland, Chief Justice in Eyre of the forests south of Trent, was directed to hold a justice seat at Bagshot in I632, 1 where Noy the Attorney General claimed the whole Surrey bailiwick, that is the whole county west of the Wey and north of the Hog's Back, as part of the forest of Windsor. Several of the oldest inhabitants swore that to the best of their remembrance in the two preceding reigns it had always been reputed forest. Whereupon the Court unanimously affirmed this to be the fact. It is not likely that the oldest inhabitants were very clear in their minds about the difference between forest and the purlieus of the forest, and probably this is another of the many cases in which usurpa- tions of power had been accorded to previous sovereigns but were opposed and treated as grievances when Charles tried to have them confirmed. Not only the royal parks at Guildford, Woking and Byfleet, but the district generally had been treated as forest, as when the inhabi- tants had been compelled to remove their pigs for fear of upsetting His Majesty King James when riding in this ' district of the forest.' 2 Forest courts had been held within it. There is reference to a swaine moot at Bagshot on September 14, i623. 8 Poaching in this neighbourhood was commonly referred to as disorder in Windsor Forest. The inhabitants had themselves taken refuge in the assumption that it was forest when they wished to escape other burdens. They had excused themselves from loans because so much of the county was taken up by forest and parks.* In the late reign the county had petitioned against having to carry wood for the king from Alice Holt Forest in Hampshire on the ground of the many burdensome services in the county and of the large proportion of the county which as part of the forest of Windsor was exempt from these services, making the burden heavier to the rest. 6 It is fairly plain that though since the old delimitation of the forests three hundred years before Surrey had been properly excluded from the forest of Windsor, yet the encroachments of the Crown had been more than tacitly accepted for at least two generations. But the attempt to define the encroachment ended, as is not uncommon, in its complete defeat. Under the Long Parliament a commission was issued, under the Act for inquiring into the boundaries of all forests, for an inquiry into those of Windsor in Surrey. The commissioners included a majority in opposi- tion to the Crown, and at the inquest held at Guildford on January 7, 1642, they found that in the twentieth year of King James the only forest in Surrey was bounded by the pales of Guildford Park, and that as the grant of the park by Charles to the Earl of Annandale in 1630 had expressly declared it to be outside any forest whatever, the whole of the 1 St. P. Dam. September 19, 1632, vol. ccxxiii.

  • Loseley MSS. June 8, 1608, i. 55. See above. * Ibid, date cited, ii. 97.
  • Supra, p. 71. 6 Loseley MSS. J. I. undated.

403