G is for Game

A forest was defined as:

'A certen territory of wooddy grounds and fruitfull pastures, priviledged for wild beasts and foules of forrest, chase and warren, to rest and abide in, in the safe protection of the king, for his princely delight and pleasure'
(Manwood 1598 in Cox,
The Royal Forests of England.)

Strictly speaking Rossendale was a Chase rather than a Forest because it was not under the direct possession of the king, but unusually was still subject to forest law.

The main breaches of forest law related to encroachment, enclosure, venison trespass (i.e. any game) and vert trespass. Venison trespass comprised the hunting of deer (re, row and fallow) boar, hare, wolf, fox,marten, coney pheasant and partridge. Each dead animal was examined and fines issued for lax custody. Any trespass with dog and bows was regarded as poaching.

Vert trespass included assarting (or clearance), astigment (pasturage), pannage (foraging with pigs for acorns and beech nuts) and turnery (peat cutting). Limited rights of vert were granted to the residents who were few in number, comprising mainly of foresters and the keepers of the vaccaries which emerged in the C12. The area was included in the perambulation of the Lancashire forests in 1228 by William Blundel and others, who recommended a relaxation of forest law. Gradually after this date the land was increasingly used for cattle farming, probably primarily for oxen. Smallholding developed and piecemeal enclose took place.

The foresters were recompensed in kind with the tenants being obliged to provide them with sustenance. There were complaints that the foresters had committed 'divers displeasures and annoyances against the tenants, their wyfes and servants and sundry wise by theire coming to theire houses for theire mead and drink' (
Cox). This was converted to a payment of £12.13..4 for the foresters' upkeep. Somehow this payment lapsed in 1461 and by 1501 the officers were given stringent orders to recover payment. This may have been a factor in the tenants requesting deforestation which was granted in 1507.

Administration was via the courts of the Honor of Clitheroe, predominantly the Halmote, and selected transcripts can be found in Farrer's
'Clitheroe Court Rolls'

An excellent summary of early English Forest Law can be found by Jane Winters on
Early English Laws.