History of the Ancient Forest and   Chase of Sutton Coldfield & The Border Districts

written in 1860 by an unknown author
The original book from which this is scanned was written in 1860 by an unknown author. Inside the cover is a label enscribed Henry J Clements (left).  The colouration surrounding the image is that of the original inside cover. The book was published, in London, by Simpkin, Marshall & Co. Stationers Court & Birmingham, Benjamin Hall, High Street. MDCCCLX. Somebody later had written in, in pen, By Miss Bracken.

The book has been scanned from the original and may contain a few scan errors. Notable in the software is the habit of changing 'w' to 'W'. 'c' to 'e', and vice versa and 'H' to 'll'. I try and change what I find but will have missed a few few. It can read ancient and foreign words with ease - strange?  Here then is the result of my long, long, scanning process, with images added by me as illustration.
THE ANCIENT Forest and Chase of Sutton Coldfield extended over a tract from seven to ten miles square, in the heart of England, on the north-west border of Warwickshire, and in the Hundred of Hemlingford. It was bounded on the south and east by the river Tame; and on the west by two little streams, one the Holbrook, rising on the western side of Barr Beacon and joining the Tame at Perry Barr Bridge, the other, bearing the names of Bourne and Blackbrook, rising on the eastern descent of Barr Beacon, and, taking its course to Shenstone, there bending sharply, and marking the northern boundary of the Chase to the Tame at Drayton.

From the ridge of Barr Beacon, which rises 750 feet above the level of the tide at Brentford, and runs due north and south, the land descends in successive undulations, and at Tamworth the river is only 150 feet above the tide level at Brentford. In this district the sandstone shews itself on some of the low hills, where nature has been economical of a productive soil ; but the meadows and marl tracts are well endowed, and cultivation has found an ample reward as it worked from the river upwards, until stayed by the stern pale of Sutton Park. There the remotest antiquity entrenches itself, and our woods and heaths are the remains of a period when the wolf slunk leisurely down the tangled slope on which now  stands Sutton; when the growl of the bear interrupted the nightingale in Nuthurst, and the beaver instituted his canny Warden and Corporation on the Ebrook.

The country abounded in woods of oak and holly, and was well watered by numerous small streams, rising within its own limits, and, after lingering in swamps, finding their way to the Tame. The Ebrook drains the centre region near Sutton. The old topographer, Plott, supposed that the arch-druid resided on Barr Beacon, that the contiguous wilds received their denomination Cyl (a temple) or Coel (an omen or beacon), from the British tongue. Coelmain, pronounced Caebine, signifying stones of omen, Col (a sharp hill), and Bar (a summit) also offer British derivations for these names of Barr and Coldfield - the latter accommodated to the Saxons’ experience of the air and the soil. Salmon, another writer in the past century, says, “ there are lines drawn round the hill (Barr Beacon), on one side enclosing a large camp in form of a half-moon."

Several stones have been removed from the northern side of the hill, near Aldridge, and one was destroyed by gunpowder. A few mounds yet remain: one, north of the church at Aldridge, on high ground, may denote the burial place of a chief. Two circular mounds are in a hollow of the Beacon, scarcely now reclaimed from a swamp, to the south of Bourne pool. The larger one is about seventy yards in diameter, and ten feet above the level of the surrounding land. There is no trace now of the ditch which was said to encompass it. These mounds are composed of sand. They are overlooked by the ridge of the hill, and were probably originally concealed by thick oak wood, and protected by a marsh. The larger one has been lately planted with trees. An earthwork at the east side of Bourne Pool was described by antiquaries of the last century, as “ enclosing an area of about eighty yards by twenty-five yards, the square eastern end being somewhat longer than the opposite end, which has at one corner an entrance across the surrounding treble ditch. The eastern end has an additional enclosure attached to it." The last sixty years of cultivation have almost destroyed the trace of these ancient banks and fosses. They were a mile distant from the Roman Ickneild Street. These places, if the abodes of early British settlers, may have owed their position in an ungenial region to some Druidical attraction on the hill. The following particulars of the discovery of a warrior’s grave in this vicinity, on land now possessed by the Hon. E. Swinfen Jervis, are extracted from a correspondence obligingly communicated by Major Tennant:



From Mr. Hamper to Dr. Meyrick Deritend House, March 25, 1824.

On the 12th of last month, as some labourers were removing earth from the side of a hill at Greensborough Farm, at Lower Stonall, they discovered, about six feet below the surface, a grave, cut north and south, in the sand rock, and shaped like one in a churchyard. Fragments of human bones, or a piece of decayed wood, about the size of two hands, were all that the excavation contained; but within a few inches of the west side were found lying, in the loose sand, two swords, some spear heads, celts, and several other relics, all of bronze, which, by permission of William Tennant, Esq., the owner of the estate, I submit to your examination.

The large sword and spear head, and a celt, appear to have been broken by main force, probably when the remains of the warrior were committed to the peaceful sepulchre. By the desire of Mr. Tennant, my friend, Shirley F. S.Perkins, Esq., accompanied me to the spot on the lst inst., when the grave was again opened by the same workmen.

"Greensborough Hill is a pleasant knoll, commanding an extensive prospect. The course of the Icknield Street was within a mile to the south·east, and the Roman station, Etocetum, about two and a half miles distant, S.S.W. It is also midway, in a direct line between Wall and Barr Beacon .... . We could not perceive any traces of circumvallation; but its site would offer great natural advantages for military defence; The valley on the south of the hill having been a morass, and the surrounding district having been covered with wood, as the name of Bosses implies.  Near the surface of the ground, immediately over the grave, the skeleton of some animal was dug up, apparently of the porcine class, though, if a boar, no tusks were visible: but in our judgment, and in that ofthe labourers, it was a modern deposit. There were drawings made of the twenty-two relics, and forwarded with this letter to the Society of Antiquaries.

1. Sword, in two pieces. .
2. Sharp sword, or dagger.
3. Spear head.
4. Ditto, fragment.
5, 6, 7. Ferules.
8. Ferule, in two pieces, broken since it was dug up.
9. Spear head, fragment.
10, 11. Cylinders
12, 13. Rings.
15, 16. Pommels of sword handles.
17, 18, 19. Celts.
21. A lump of lead, found in No.10 or ll.
22. A lump of copper

(the author appears to have omitted 14 and 20 from the list above. The naval gent mentioned, Tennant, appears to have two ranks as well Captain & Major! Major is not a Naval rank - mk)

These are in the possession of Captain Tennant, R.N.
Dr. Meyrick to HENRY Ennis, Esq., Secretary to the Society of Antiquaries. March 30, 1824.

Our friend, Mr. Hamper, has requested me to accompany this communication with some remarks of my own .....

The materials of which the weapons are composed, viz., copper alloyed with tin, prove that they must be ascribed to the ancient Britons. The Romans, though they retained this compound metal for their armour, had, long prior to their invasion of Britain, fabricated their arms of steel; and the quantity of iron with which the mountains of the Baltic are so fully impregnated, had suggested its use to the Anglo-Saxons before their arrival.

No. 1, the sword, called by the Britons cleddyff and also the dagger, cleddyfan, exhibit in their hilts the rivet holes for fastening on what formed the handle. This in some instances was of the same material, but seems to have been generally of horn .....

Nos. 17, 18, 19, commonly called celts, were the bwyelbawan or battle axes of of the Britons, known to them before the invasion of the Romans ....

lf I am right in my conjecture, those cylindrical boxes, Nos. 10 and 11, are the greatest curiosities in the collection. I presume they were each furnished with fiat pieces on their tops, through which the butt end of a lance might pass, and lit into the socket below, and thus form that sounding cylinder which was attached to the lances of some tribes of Britons, with the intention of terrifying cavalry. These balls were filled with little bits of metal that made a tinkling noise, for which purpose also were the holes in their sides. ....

The sword pommels, and the hollow rod of oifice broken in two, are worthy of being engraved, as nothing of the kind has been previously exhibited? If the neighbourhood of Barr Beacon were carefully investigated, probably further traces of aboriginial occupation might be brought to light. That long lonely eminence which overlooks the country around, is such a height as was chosen by Keltic priests for their public sacrifices. Thither would resort the Cornavian Britons from clusters of beehive-like huts, enbowered in woods. Here the oak became at once a temple and an object of worship, and from the summit of the hill the priests examined the luminaries of heaven. The red flame ascended from the Beacon , the arch-druid summoned to horrid rites; and man’s blood was shed by a creed as cruel, perhaps the same, as that which brought divine vengeance on the nations of Canaan.

Maney Hill, a lesser eminence, has a name suggestive, not only of the early working of its stone quarries, but that on its head were probably stones (meéné, Br.) arranged in a circle for Druids, or for their harmless successors, the British Bards. The latter held convocations termed gorsed, or assembly, within a circle, round which upright stones were placed. The Bards having laid a sword upon the high altar stone in the centre, proclaimed themselves men of peace, and recited their poems. The idea that such stones have been here is favoured by a popular tradition that, in early times, preparations were made for building the church on Maney Hill, but that, in the night, spirits always carried away the stones to the present site of the sacred edifice as well as the fact that in the year 1853-4 a large stone was turned out of a hedge-row on the hill , it measured about live feet in length and two feet in width and thickness, and was of a fine grained, hard, dark, substance, apparently limestone or trap ; but it was unfortunately broken up for the roads before its nature could be ascertained. It was much worn, and retained no marks of a tool. At length the time arrived when the cruelties of civilized heathenism were made the scourge of barbarian crime.

The Roman Road in Sutton Park
The Romans invaded Britain with no object but conquest. They penetrated into its woody fastnesses. The natives boldly met them and fell - they rallied; but the disciplined Roman pressed forward; and after more than a century of struggles, the courageous but disunited tribes were subjugated, and Britain became a province of the Roman empire. The conquerors secured its possession by camps and entrenchments, roads and bridges. Our woods and swamps might have afforded a safe retreat for rebellious natives, but they offered little obstacle to the Roman legions when roads were carried through them.

The grand road which obtained the name of Watling Street (Qwaith, the work, Lleng, of the legion), from Dover to Chester, ran close on the northern boundaries of our Chase, over the Hints hills to Etocetum now the village of Wall, near Lichfield. A native fortification had stood here, from which the Cornavii had been driven, and it was afterwards held by a Roman garrison. The palings of an ancient stockade have been dug up there. At Wall the Watling Street was crossed by another military way, reaching from Southampton to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, called the Ickneild Street. This enters Warwickshire at Alcester, passes through Birmingham close by St. George’s church, crosses the Tame near Perry Barr bridge, and runs across the Coldfield in a perfectly straight line to Etocetum. It is still to be traced over the hogs at the west side of Sutton Park, a wonderful memorial of engineering skill and enterprise. Here it shews itself raised high with gravel, and the pits whence material for the road was taken are frequent along its course. Diggings lately made have exposed the broken stones which formed its solid foundation, and fourteen centuries have not destroyed the outline. Its width is sixty feet, it has a gentle slope from the centre, and on each side is bounded by a ditch. For a mile and a half over the land of the Park, the Ickneild Street has remained undisturbed since the period of the Romans , but outside it has been effaced from the commons on the north, by the inclosure of 1825, and from Barr common on the south by the inclosure of 1855.
Its course has been partially followed by lanes. The Birmingham historian, Hutton, speaks with enthusiasm of exploring the vast waste of Sutton Coldiield, and from the ridgeway near King’s Standing, viewing at once two miles’ length of the Roman way. Some writers consider the name of Ickneild to have been the Saxon denomination of the old road through the Ikeni (head men) who had conquered the Coritani, and settled in Derbyshire, and that, supposing it correctly written, Rickneild, the additional r would only signify the further, or northern, Ikeni. A small earthwork near Wall may have been a Roman sentry station on this road. The subjugation of the tribes, effected by every variety of cruelty and oppression, was followed by their gradual civilization; whilst the Gospel, spreading from Jerusalem through the territories of Rome, made its way to Britain, and won to itself disciples equally amongst the conquerors and the conquered. Christianity reached this land in the purity of apostolic teaching. Welsh traditions say that the family of Caractacus were among its earliest converts. Its progress among the natives was for a time encouraged by the Roman governors, from a desire to counteract the practices and influence of the Druids. As civilization advanced, the borders of the Tame (Br. the overflowing) must have received settlers and cultivation. The names of some places seem to indicate their early origin: Drayton, from Tref; pronounced Drav ; Minworth, from Maenuwr, a place with in stone boundaries; Curdworth, from Cwrt, a fortified place.

The persecution of the Christian faith reached Britain under Diocletian  [AD. 94] and raged ten years, when, it is said, a large number of Christians were slaughtered on the spot called Christian Field, near Lichfield. Native princes and bishops had been the founders of Churches before Constantine became the first Christian emperor. He favoured the Church in this island; but as Christianity was diffused in profession, it gradually lost its purity and power. Luxury and superstition debased it. The word of God, which at one time had been the rule of life to the Jew and the Greek, was neglected; and the rulers of the state were less acquainted with the requirements of God’s law than had been the most illiterate pious Jew and early Christian convert.

Corruption in morals and oppression met with no restraint; and a contemporary author says, “the just burthens of the rich are laid upon the poor, with an injustice unknown among the Goths." It is recorded by another, that the Britons ruined their country through the rapacity of their princes, the abandoned manners of the people, and their bishops’ neglect of preaching. In the 5th century England and Wales were divided, it is said, into thirty districts, governed by native princes under Roman chiefs, with a bishop in each state, who enjoyed much consideration. The people were then classed either as freemen or slaves. After the departure of the Roman armies there appear to have been thirty independent states, under kings perpetually at war with each other the most unscrupulous gaining the pre-eminence so that this island was called the land of tyrants.
The vicious Gwyrthern, or Vortigern  (A.D. 450) attained the ascendancy in his day, and to uphold his tyranny he invited the Saxon pirates to his aid, and thus opened a way to their conquest of his country, and the expulsion of its people from the soil. The barbarian adventurers, whose name may have meant Sons of Sakai, were an important branch of the Scythian  race, descended from Japhet, which had gradually migrated from the east of the Caspian sea to the shores and entrance of the Baltic; there they became pirates, and for ages desolated the coasts of civilized Europe. Having discovered the disunited condition of the Britons, and the wealth of their land, they ceased not to pour armed multitudes into the island until they had made it their own. During more than two centuries the invasion was resisted by native princes: Arthur, one of the celebrated heroes, fought twelve battles to maintain his crown.

  Letocetum today
During these years of havoc the land felt the pressure of a heavier judgment than even the tramp of the Caesars. The Northmen knew nothing of mercy. Christianity and the arts fled before them , and then, at the sound of advancing barbarians, weeping families may have rushed from the orchards at Perry Barr, and the groves of Erdington - from the pleasant farm at Minworth, and the villa adorning Drayton: their chariots, bearing all portable goods, meeting on the great highways at Etocetum, as they hastened from dwellings of luxury to seek in the rugged hills of Wales a refuge, an unquiet exile, amid privations and ceaseless war. If the escaped bondsman sought a summer liberty in our woods, the hunger of winter brought him again under the yoke - a Christian slave to a heathen master. The character of the Pagan Saxons was that of fearless marauders. They desolated with fire and sword, and rejoiced in peril. They were of large stature, with blue eyes and light coloured long hair. Their loose linen vests were adorned with trimmings, woven in various colours. Their outer garment was a cloak, and they wore shoes.  A new condition of things arose. The Saxons brought with them a few rude laws and customs, gloomy superstitions, and the worship of deceased heroes: and during the long period of struggle, they adopted some of the order which they had disturbed. As they won territory the Saxon war chiefs assumed the titles and privileges of the British kings, and they claimed the soil as their own. They reserved for their particular use large tracts, and enfeoffed their nobles with the remainder.
Whilst they had occupied Germany, a portion of land was, for the season, allotted to individuals, and afterwards restored to the community, the more powerful having had the larger share, and a considerable tract near each settlement being common to the tribe. These customs were transferred to England, and Sutton has not yet forgotten her field-acres and commons. Small kingdoms, beginning with that of Kent, were progressively established, and Christianity was revived, as obtained from the influence of enslaved British natives, or from the corrupted foreign source: and though the truth was overlaid with superstition, it shewed enough of divine light to expose the grossness of heathenism and to soften the manners of barbarians. We now enter on the story of that family of the invaders, called Angles, who forced their way into the interior of the island, peopled our neighbourhood, and were at length formed into the kingdom of Mercia, a word supposed to be derived from boundaries.  

This state at length included all the midland and some of the eastern counties. One of its earliest kings, Penda, was a restless warrior and a persecutor of Christianity. [AD 665] He was slain by the king of Northumbria, who thereupon built a church  and founded a bishopric at Lichfield. Dwina was the first bishop of the Mercians, and Chad one of the earliest preachers among them; he became bishop in 669. And, under the son of Penda, Christianity was professed and encouraged. Ethelbald, the Proud, was a sovereign who greatly increased the power and fame of Mercia. [AD 716] He waged an obstinate warfare with the Britons, who inhabited Wales. He claimed to be bretwalder, or emperor, over the other Saxon kings. Boniface, an Angle, archbishop of Metz, in a long letter to this prince, praises his charity and justice, and reproves his immoralities. He writes, " spare your own soul, spare a multitude of people perishing by your example, for whose souls you must give account." .This king afterwards gave charters to monasteries, and one of them exhibited the doctrine then inculcated when it said, “ that he has felt the necessity of considering how he might, by good works, set his soul free from every tie of sin." He was beaten in an engagement with the West Saxons at Sekendon - [AD 755] where the tumulus over the slain is still conspicuous ; and afterwards he was treacherously slain. In his days Leofric, earl of Chester, flourished, from whom the Saxon earls of Mercia and Warwick claimed descent.

After the province had suffered many troubles, Offa was made king of Mercia, and he speedily extended its power. By the Welsh, whom he partially subdued, he was called " the Terrible." To secure his acquisitions on their borders, he cast up a vast fortified entrenchment, extending from Chester to the Wye, called, to the present day, Offa’s Dyke; and, after another destructive battle at Rhuddlan, the Welsh became his vassals. Offa subdued all the Saxon states south of the Humber, and his victorious midland troops added the opulent city of London to Mercia. But he acquired East Anglia by an act of the basest treachery, and the murder of its beguiled and confiding young prince ; who, seeking a daughter of Offa for his wife, was assassinated [AD 792]  whilst partaking hospitalities, perhaps at the royal residence at Tamworth. Jealous of Kent, he obtained from the Pope that the arehiepiscopal see of all the Mercians should be moved from Canterbury to Lichfield. Mercia had five bishoprics. But after his death the succeeding Pope annulled the whole proceeding. Lichfield remained a small place during the Saxon period , for, after the Norman conquest, when it was ordained that bishops should quit villages and reside in cities, its bishops migrated to Chester, and afterwards to Coventry.  Offa permitted the learned Englishman, Alcuin, to visit and remain at the French Court, where he became tutor to the wise, but illiterate, Charlemagne. That monarch, who designated himself the greatest prince of eastern Christendom, styled Offa the most powerful king of the west.

To secure the succession, Offa summoned a great council of the clergy and nobles, and, with their assent, he associated his son Edric with himself on the throne. He made Tamworth his usual residence, and though the royal palace has been destroyed for several centuries, its site may be traced in the castle gardens. There are coins extant struck at his mint at Tamworth; they excel in workmanship those of any other Saxon monarch. Amongst the wastes reserved by Saxon princes for royal sport, the forest wilds of the Coldfield would not be unfrequented when a king resided on its borders at Tamworth or Kingsbury , for, as it is read, to the latter place a great Witena-gemot was summoned by a later king. And as the Saxons, when not engaged in war, were devoted to the chase, these woods and heaths have doubtless witnessed many raids on their ancient occupants, the wolf, the wild boar, the ox, and the red deer. Sutton probably originated in a few dwellings for officials of the chase, and acquired the name from being the most southern hunting station, reckoned from Tamworth, or from its lying on the south side of the hill. 

Beautiful Sutton!
Wast thou not cradled
Far in the forest,
Beneath the hill cliff,
Where the tall oak trees
Gathered around thee,
Raising their fond arms
To bless thy repose?
Did not thy little hands
Play with the young fawns,
Gazing upon thee
With seer-like eyes?
What heard they stirring
The blossom-bush nigh thee?
What saw they Hicker
The stream at thy feet?
Only the song-bird
Awaking the chorus;
Only the sweet breath
Of winds from the south.
After a reign of forty years Offa died [AD 795] and was buried in Bedfordshire, on the Ouse, and not where the tumulus at Swinfen bears his name. His efforts to raise his family at the expense of justice failed, and the last survivor ended a life of crime as a beggar in the streets of Pavia. Cynewulf, a succeeding king, dated a charter from his palace at Tamworth, and waged a cruel war with Kent and Wessex.

Bearwolf carried his Mercian subjects into unsuccessful wars with Egbert, a prince of Kent, and with the east Saxons, by whom he was slain. [AD 800] After his death Mercia lost its independence, and retained only a nominal king. Egbert, who had seen many troubles, and profited by them them, soon became Bretwalder of Britain. [AD 827] But the subordinate chiefs still held the right of making war on each other, and good government and national power could not exist. From the court of Charlemagne, Alcuin wrote to warn his countrymen of their danger, and entreat them to take example from history; but in vain. And the heathen Danes soon became their unwearied scourge. The land was again desolated with fire and sword. The Guida, or Death Song, over one of the sea kings, celebrates his depredations, and says, “ the sight was pleasing to my heart, as when my blooming bride I seated by me on the chair of state/’ Although Jutes, Swedes, Norwegians, and Danes, joined in the expeditions against England, the Saxon states would not combine to resist them. Thus the enemy, having prevailed in the north, crossed the Humber and entered Mercia, took Nottingham, and all East Anglia, where king Edmund, refusing to deny his faith, was cruelly martyred, and in every place Christians were put to death with tortures. [AD 870]. England had suffered extreme misery when Alfred, its celebrated champion, succeeded to the throne of the West Saxons, and of the empire. His queen, Elswitha, was the daughter of a Mercian nobleman, and was descended from Mercian sovereigns. In one year he fought nine pitched battles, and lesser combats, with the Danes. But new fleets of adventurers were daily arriving. The barbarians entered Mercia again and wintered at Repton, where they burned the fine monastery, the burial place of several Mercian kings. [AD874.] Burshed, then king of l\/Iercia, fled in dismay. His people negotiated a treaty with the Danes, and received as ruler a Thegn name Ceolwolf, after which they never regained the appellation of a kingdom. All but the peasantry fled from the plundered country, and these were miserably oppressed until the Danes themselves removed the governor. Perhaps the recesses of our woods concealed a few poor fugitives from the rapacity of the enemy, and the holly hursts closed their thick bowers over many weary limbs and aching brows. The old Barr Beacon might often redden the midnight with its warning glare, in reply to the bale·fire on Cannock Chase, until Alfred had gained such advantages over the invaders that he was enabled to prescribe terms to them, and allow them to settle in the east and north of England. [AD 878].

Warwickshire was not ceded to them. In occupying territory the Danes began to profess Christianity. Their dialect and their names have been engrafted on our northern counties. Alfred placed his daughter, Elfrida, and her husband, Ethelred, in command of the province of Mercia. England advanced in improvement. The king had, with difficulty, himself attained to some learning, and he therefore used every exertion to convey the advantage to others, and especially to the clergy, whose character and teaching he sought earnestly to improve. The learned Mercians Plegmond, Ethelstan, and Warwolf and celebrated foreigners, were invited to his court. He founded schools, and, to confer religious knowledge on his people, translated some portions of the Scriptures, as well as other pious works. He revised and improved the laws, and, as Egbert had previously done, he divided England into counties, and sub-divided them into hundreds. Alfred laboured for the benefit of his people with unremitted zeal, until he sank under the disease which had been the painful companion of his exertions during the whole period of his unquiet reign. He died at the age of fifty-four. [AD 902]. He must be ranked with the most wise and benevolent of monarchs, and the most indefatigable and self-denying of patriots.

We will now view the state of England united, as the country had been for many years, under one sovereign. The supreme legal tribunal was the Witena - gemot, a kind of House of Lords. Ethelred, with the consent of Alfred, convened at Gloucester all the Witena of Mercia - bishops, eoldermen, and all the nobles. The Scire-gemot had a bishop, eolderman, and inferior persons. The Fok-gemot was established for tradesmen. Frankpledge was the regulation by which the lower classes of people were formed into companies of ten freemen or more, for the preservation of peace and law; mutually responsible for each other’s appearance, in case any were accused of a crime. The investigation by the scire-gerif, or sheriff, of these companies, in order to maintain their numbers, was called the View of Frankpledge.

The earliest Saxon laws betray a higher appreciation of property than of life. Murder was only punished by fines to the family of the deceased and to the state, in ignorance of the rule given to our forefather, Noah, “ whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed." The Ware and the Mund were the protection and privilege of each man. The Ware was his valuation according to his station in life, which, in case of his murder or injury, was paid by the oifender. The Mund was his right to such protection. Much of the judicial proceedings rested on oath, therefore the punishment of perjury was severe. Superstition led to the ordeals of fire and water, in the attempt to discover a diffcult case. If, after thrusting the hand into boiling water, or carrying a weight of red-hot iron, the limb shewed no very ill effects, the accused person was pronounced innocent. Great opportunities for fraud occurred in these modes of detection.

Although trial by jury was not the established Saxon law, the principle was at times acted on. The three great burdens on land were the Fyrde-foerelde, the Bryge-geweorc, and the Weal or Foesten-weore. The first consisted in the providing of a certain number of armed men, proportioned to the rated quantity of land, who were to fight under the king or his officers. Five hides of land usually found one soldier. The custom of Warwick was, that ten burghers should serve for the rest; 100s. was the forfeit for each ; and death was the punishment for desertion from the army when the king led it. The other two taxes on land were for the building and repairing of bridges and forts. The land was also subject to many other levies from sub-proprietors. The powerful sometimes seized provisions. So, in one grant, it is engaged that the king should not, on that estate, require his pasture; nor the entertainment of foesting men: nor of those who carried hawks and hounds. The lords of the land were little sovereigns over their manors, and were termed drythne, é.e., lords, and held on their estates their own courts of civil and criminal jurisprudence. The spirit of the feudal system was gradually introduced - a union of northern customs with Roman law. The homage, or “ becoming your man," was brought from the forests of Germany. It bound the man to follow his protecting lord. For this allegiance he received perhaps a steed, a purse of gold, or a grant of land. The term fief, or feud, is a corruption from the Roman law term, emphytensis. The term vessel was applied to any one holding land under a chief lord. Property was transferred by a very simple ceremony. Sometimes, if land, by cutting a turf and throwing it into the lap of the purchaser; or, if a house, by delivering the key. And tokens of right, such as a glove, or a horn, were preserved in the place of written documents. King Athelstan is said to have granted large tracts in Cumberland by the following lines :

" I, King Athelstan, give to Pollen, `
Odeham and Rodeham,
Als quid and als fayre,
Als ever they mine wear,
And yor to witnes, Maude my wife."

There were ethlings, or nobles, by birth and by landed property. Five hides of land, a church and kitchen, a bell~house and burghate seat, and an office in the king’s hall, rendered a man a thane, or ihegn. At a later period the title of earl superseded that of eolderman. The occupiers of land were termed ceorl, geneat, tunesman, etc. The freeman might be a servant, but he could change his master, and he was exempt from the ignominious punishments which attended the slave. The slave was bought and sold with or without the land , but it became a charity, induced by Christianity, to manumit this oppressed class. There is a will, by a lady Wyniieda, which sets free the daughter of Burhulf, at Cinnuc (Cannock ?), and Aethelgythe, at Colleshylle, and several others. Land was distinguished in law by various names, as boc-land (under a grant by book), &c. The hide contained from sixty to 120 acres, and was supposed a sufficient quantity to maintain one family. In Cambridgeshire, in the year 960, land was bought at one shilling per acre, or six pounds for a hide ; and Adelwolf, abbot of Ely, usually gave that price, or less; but once having paid forty shillings for a parcel of land, “which no man in his senses would value at more than twenty shillings," this extravagance, and some attendant expenses, led him to cry out against the wickedness of the times, and the ambition of the laity. About that time a sheep was valued at a shilling that is, one shilling and threepence of our money - an ox, six times the value of a sheep ; a cow, four times the value; and horses were sold from twelve to thirty-six shillings. The most numerous farm animals were the swine. Thus, a nobleman bequeaths, by will, a hide of land and 100 swine; and to a priest, 100 swine, for the good of his soul ; and to another priest, the same number of swine; and to his daughter, two thousand swine. These herds were fed in the woods.

The clothing of the Anglo-Saxons was of wool ; linen was but little used, and silk and cotton were unknown. They used no wheeled carriage, except a rude cart. Christianity, in a degree, influenced the laws of the Saxons. Enactments were made against some heathen practices, and for the furtherance of religion. As an instance, any slave might be set free whose master had compelled him to desecrate the sabbath day. There was a severe code for fast days. If a master gave meat to his servant on those days, he was liable to the pillory. In 653, Honorius, archbishop of Canterbury, ordained parishes. Burials in churchyards were first permitted in 752. Tithes were appointed to be paid to particular Churches in 970. But through general neglect of the source of truth, holy scripture, the faith inculcated by an ignorant clergy bore but a distorted resemblance to the revealed will of God, and had, in consequence, little power to raise the people to the standard of gospel morality. A neglect of clerical fees was taught to be amongst the deepest sins, and liberality to monastic establishments the highest of virtues. In 1013 the abbot of Peterborough purchased the supposed body of St. Florentine, all but the head, for £50, and made an offering of it to Christ and St. Peter. No respectable person could  make a will without seeking pardon for his sins by bequeathing bounties to a monastery, for the good of his soul, and of the souls of his ancestors. Flagrant vices were but little restrained, and oppression, cruelty, and sensuality, were the features of the time. The Saxons loved song, and roving minstrels were in much favour, but their compositions did not improve the characters of their auditors; and coarse Vamusements tended to the retaining of barbarous manners. Drunkenness grew inveterate. Learning was despised. Young nobles were educated only for war and the chase. Trade and agriculture were unnoticed by the government at most periods, and exorcisms were resorted to for the purpose of improving the land.

Some dialogues, written in Saxon, by order of Alfred, represent the different employments of the working people.

The ploughman says :" I go out at daybreak urging the oxen to the fields. It is not yet so stark winter, that I dare keep close at home, for fear of my lord. I have a boy to threaten the oxen with a goad, who is now hoarse through cold and bawling—it is a great labour because I am not free."

The shepherd says : " In the first part of the morning I drive my sheep to their pasture,and stand over them in the heat and cold, with dogs, lest the wolves destroy them."

A herdsman says : " All night I stand watching the oxen in the meadows, on account of thieves."

On the death of Alfred [AD 905] - the crown was contested by his son, Edward the Elder, and his nephew, Ethelwald: Mercia remained true to the son of Alfred, and Ethelwald entered the province, and plundered it. The Danes had been repulsed on the Severn many years before, by the eolderman Ethelred, with his Mercian army. [AD 911] The invaders now again crossed the country towards that river, but Edward, with Mercian troops, drove them back. The brave Ethelred, who had governed Mercia with almost royal power, now died- [AD 91] and his wife Ethelfleda, worthy of her father, King Alfred, remained sole ruler of the province. Foreseeing dangers, she secured every point of defence. [A.D. 913.] The Saxon chronicle states that " she and all the Mercians went and built the fort at Tamworth (where she raised the keep on an artificial mound), in the fore part of the summer; and before Lammas, that at Stafford ; in the next year, that at Eddesbury, and in the same year, that at Warwick; in the following year, that at Chirbury, and that at Vlfarburton, and that at Runcorn."
She afterwards sent an army into Wales, stormed Brecknock, and made prisoner the wife of the Welsh king. [Am. 916.] The chronicle adds, "this year, with the help of God, Elfleda conquered the town called Derby, with all that thereto belongs (from the Danes)  [A.D.918.] —-and there were also slain within the gates four of her thanes most dear to her." She then won the town of Leicester; and the people of York had promised submission, when she died at Tamworth. [AD 920] " Then rode king Edward, her brother, to the borough of Tamworth, and all .the people of Mercia turned to him, both English and Danish. He ordered a Mercian army to Manchester, in Northumbria, to man it, and repair it."

On the death of Edward the Mercians recognized Athelstan as sovereign, and he again subdued some of the Welsh princes, and united to Mercia all the country between the Severn and the Wye. In a bloody battle he conquered the Danes, the Mercian and London troops being under the valiant Mercian chief, Turchill, who decided the victory. On this a Saxon poet writes :

Tamworth Castle
"The Mercians, too,
The hard hand-play,
Spared not to any;
Of those that with Aulaf,
Over the briny deep,
In the ship’s bosom,
Sought this land
For the hardy fight?
             


Athelstan framed some good laws, and enacted that each of the royal manors should be subject to an annual charge for the relief of the destitute. The steward, or reeve, was once a year to redeem a slave. This charitable act must therefore have been a privilege of Sutton. His brother, Edmond the Athling, or Prince, succeeded him. [AD 942] The Danish king, Olave, from Ireland, headed the Northumbrians, penetrated as far as Tamworth, stormed the town, and, after much slaughter, carried it, and gave it up to pillage. But after another bloody battle at Leicester, terms ·were concluded, and Mercia remained for a time internally at rest, whilst fearful contests were carried on in the northern states. The church of Home had increased her influence over the Saxons, and at this time she insisted on the celibacy of the clergy. In the reign of Edwy the clergy and people were instigated to rebellion by the talented monk, Dunstan, and the Mercians made Edgar their king [AD 959] - who extended his power so far that at Chester he received as his vassals, Kenneth, king of the Scots; Malcolm, king of the Cumbrians ; Maceus, the Dane, king of Mona; three kings  of the Welsh; and two kings from Galloway and Westmere, who then used the declaration, " I will become thy man, I Till love what thou lovest, and choose thy will, &c." This  supremacy was not preserved by the successors of Edgar.

Alfere, the eolderman of Mercia, was the chief leader af the party which opposed Dunstan, and expelled the monk from the province. At length Dunstan, recovering is power, a conference was agreed on. Both, parties attended at Colne in great strength, when Dunstan called for a miracle to favour his cause, and immediately the floor of the room gave way in that part on which his adversaries were placed, and they were killed or injured in its fall. A grave suspicion rests upon Dunstan of having contrived this mode of discomfiting his enemies.

Alferic, who had succeeded his brother Alfere in the earldom of Mercia, engaged in a conspiracy against king Ethelred, the Unready. He twice betrayed the cause of his country, and deserted to the Danes, upon which, to avenge the crime of the father, the king put out the eyes of his son. Every attempt to buy off the Danes encouraged a fresh invasion ; every effort to arrest their progress failed, through delay and mismanagement ; and the undisciplined militia of England did more injury to their country than to their enemies. Ethelred married Emma, sister of the duke of Normandy, and her French attendants abetted the Danes. In the year 1002 the king gave the wicked and inhuman order for the massacre of all the Danes within his power. This horrible atrocity was accomplished, and was heard of with universal detestation. It was followed by a lengthened retribution. The king, feeble and immoral, was incapable of judicious measures. He appointed his mean and profligate son in-in-law, Edric Streone, to the vice-royalty of ·Mercia, over its own nobles. Civil war overran the country; not a chief was left who was able or willing to assemble a force - each fled as he could; and not one shire would support another. The Danes conquered sixteen counties, and obtained the payment of £48,000, i. e., the price of 771,056 acres of arable land. The king ordered the population of Mercia to take the field instead of gathering in their harvest. The faithless Edric joined the enemy, with all his muster; and the king fled to Normandy, leaving Sweyne, the Dane, master of England. On his death [A.D 1014]  the English recalled Ethelred, on conditions of reform in which we see the germ of Magna Charta.

During the ensuing period of treachery and strife, Mercia was plundered on its borders by English rebels and by foreign invaders; but it remained true to King Ethelred and his successor, Edmund Ironside. The latter five times raised an army against Canute, but was at length betrayed by Edric, and murdered. [AD 1017]  Canute then reigned over England, and confirmed the base Edric in the vice-royalty of Mercia. The Mercian noble, Leofric, earl of Chester, at that time ruled his district with remarkable vigour. His wife was the beautiful Lady Godiva, who obtained from him privileges for the people of Coventry. At length, in a quarrel with Canute, the traitor Edric was struck down, his body was thrown into the Thames, and head was placed on a spike over the highest gate in London. Canute treated the English as a conquered people, and they gave their oppressors no rest. He made Leofric his captain general. Taxes were levied with great vigour. If zhe assessment were not paid by the end of the third day, the land was seized and sold for government. On the death of Canute, Leofric, earl of Mercia, by some called duke, espoused the cause of Harold Harefoot, the supposed son of Canute, and he was recognized as king of Mercia and Northumbria, whilst Hardicanute was acknowledged in Wessex. The succeeding reigns were marked by murders and revenge.

When the Saxon line, in the person of Edward the Confessor was restored by the aid of Leofric [AD 1O41] the king’s long residence in Normandy having given him a partiality for that country, Frenchmen and their customs and language were made familiar to the English. The king was sur rounded by foreigners, and whilst the nation was distracted by factions, the few strongholds of the realm were garrisoned by French and Norman soldiers. Leofric, wise and wealthy, was, in conjunction with earl Siward, of Northumbria, the support of Edward’s throne; especially against the insolent earl Godwin, nephew of Edric the Traitor, who had obtained enormous wealth and power. Leofric died [AD. 1057] at an advanced age. His son, Algar, carried on the contest with Godwin. The state of society, and the character of the Godwin family, may be inferred from an outrage committed in revenge for an insult received at a banquet in king Edward’s hall at Windsor. Harold, one of the sons of Godwin, was serving his royal master with wine, when his brother Tosti, in a fit of jealousy, seized him by the hair of his head. Still in violent anger, Tosti hastened down to Hereford, where Harold had ordered preparations for the king’s entertainment. There he captured his brother’s servants, cut of their heads and limbs, and threw them into the casks of wine, mead, ale, and cider, intended for the sovereign’s use. The crime was suffered to go unpunished.

This Harold, the son of the humbly born Godwin, ascended the throne on the death of Edward. [AD 1066.] Morcar and Edwine, the grandsons of Iieofric, possessed great influence; the one in Northumbria, and Edwine, who married the sister of Harold, in Mercia: but the Battle of Hastings [AD 1066] terminated the Saxon power in England, and gave the crown to William, duke of Normandy, who had been chosen by his kinsman, the late king Edward, as successor to the throne. The earls of Northumbria and Mercia were not present at Hastings, though they had been forward in repelling the previous invasion of the Norwegians. For the last three hundred years Saxon writers had remarked on the seasons, and we learn the following particulars. The winter of 763 was thought unparalleled for severity. The frost lasted from the first of October to February. Most of the trees and shrubs perished. In 793 there was a great famine and mortality. From 820 to 824 there were severe seasons, with pestilence, and mortality of men and cattle. Many perished from cold. In 976, with a severe famine, the frost continued from the first of November to the end of March. In 1005 there was a great and dreadful famine, and a similar one in 1043-4. Here may be given particulars of the two great families who, in the later Saxon age, held the Sutton Forest:


The pedigree of Alwine, earl of Warwick, commences with Arthgal, one of the famous knights of king Arthur’s Round Table, and the first earl of Warwick. The syllable Arth, in his name, signifies bear; and he took the bear as his ensign, which has ever since been the badge of the earls of Warwick.

(It is at this point in the narrative that I would add a little of my own research and look at the name of the so called 'king' Arthur. As stated above, Arth, or Arf means Great Bear or great chief. Arthur was not actually a king as such but was a great leader from Wales. See my website here for this page. Arthur was much embellished and romanticised at the same period in which this book was originally written, as indeed, was Robyn of the Hood.) m.k.
Mowidius, his successor, was a man of great valour. He is said to have slain a giant in single combat, who, to encounter him, had pulled up a young tree by the roots, and stripped it of its branches: for which the victor was assigned by the heralds the cognizance of a ragged staff, in silver, on a sable shield. Another earl, we find, in the days of Alfred and Edward the Elder, named Rohund, was a famous warrior. His onlychild, Felicia, married Guy, son of Siward, baron of Wallingford. This Guy became earl of Warwick, in right of his wife, and was so celebrated that the Welsh claim for him a British extraction. One of his traditionary exploits was his combat with Colbrand, the Danish giant, whose people, after ravaging the land, offered thus to decide the claim to the crown.

King Athelstan, at Winchester, was in dismay, as his most trusty knights were absent. Heraud de Ardene was beyond sea, in search of Reynburn, the son of his lord, sir Guy, who had been stolen by foreigners, and carried into Russia; earl Rohund was dead; and sir Guy was on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. In this dilemma the king received the promise of a palmer, humbly performing his vows in the church, that he would meet the insulting foe. The king and his court, and all the trembling populace, gazed from the walls of Winchester; the camp of Danish warriors surveyed the field from the other side. Their champion advanced to the combat so heavily armed that his steed could scarcely carry the weight , and before him was drawn a cart loaded with terrible weapons. At the first encounter, a stroke from the giant chopped off the head of the pilgrim’s charger. Recovering his feet, the alert palmer aimed at the crest of the Dane, but could only reach his shoulder. In the fury of the fray the monster dropped his club, bossed with iron, and the palmer took that opportunity of striking off his hand. Notwithstanding this discomfiture on his right, the vigorous giant plied the fight until sunset, when loss of blood obliged him to faint, and the champion of England cut off his head. Then ran the Danes, and rejoiced the English. The palmer refused all honours, and only in confidence to the king revealed the name of Sir Guy. He then repaired to Warwick, and, unknown, received for three days alms of his sorrowing countess, who daily fed thirteen poor people. He then retired to a cell in the rock, since known as Guy’ s Cliff, and after passing two years there as a hermit, he felt the approach of death, and sent his wedding-ring to the lady Alicia, who buried him, with all honours, in the year 929.

Her son, Reynburn, inherited her paternal lands, and the earldom of Warwick. Having been camied into Russia in his childhood, he had signalized himself on the continent by many deeds of valour, and maintained the family honour. On his return to England he married the lady Leonetta, the beautiful daughter of king Athelstan. He died near Venice, and was buried at the same place. He left as his successor Wayeat, or Weyth, the Humid, a devout man, as was also his son Ufa, or Huve, the Humid, to whom succeeded Walgeat, who was in special favour with king Ethelred ; but for his wicked oppressions was deprived of all his lands, in the year 1006. It does not appear whether or not they were restored to him, but Warwick and a great part of the county was shortly after wasted by Canute. Wigod, his hereditary successor, was a potent lord in the reigns of Ethelred, Edmond, and the Danish kings.

He married the sister of Leofric, earl of Mercia. To him succeeded Alwine, contemporary with King Edward the Confessor. In the Domesday Survey he is called Alwinus, vicecomes, either because he exercised the power of his uncle, the earl of Mercia, here in Warwickshire, as his ancestors had done as deputies and reputed earls, or else that he had the custody of the county to the king’s immediate use. This Alwine left issue Turchill, a great man in those days. He was vicecomes to Edwine, grandson of earl Leofric, who is, in an ancient MS., styled Comes Warwici ; but, as in Domesday Book, the profits of the shire are all reckoned to the king, it should seem these vicecomites were immediate officers to the king, and not to the earls of Mercia. Turchill resided at Warwick, and is styled by the Normans de Warwici. He was the first Englishman that adopted the Norman fashion of surnames ; and he wrote himself de Eardene, from the Arden, or woodland district in which his estates lay. He had not rendered assistance to Harold in the Battle of Hastings, and he continued to possess great estates, no less than forty-eight manors in this county, besides others elsewhere. But though employed to strengthen the castle of Warwick by Wfilliam, he was not entrusted with it. At that time it belonged to the earl of Mercia, or the king. All his domains were wrested from his son, and his descendants held some few of the manors only by military service to the Norman nobility. This ancient English family, from whom several of our noble families are descended, sank into private life, and their further pedigree, to the present day, will be found under the history of Peddimore, one of their estates.

We will endeavour to discover the circumstances of the Sutton Forest at the time of the Conquest. During the Saxon period of six centuries the rights of the Chase were reserved to the Mercian kings, or to the Mercian earls, who latterly were the viceroys of the kings of England, and who sometimes resided at Tamworth, and perhaps at Kingsbury. From them the earls of Warwick, who had become connected with the earls of Mercia, may, perhaps, have held the Chase. Grants in fief to inferior landowners had been made from time to time, so that the more fertile borders were in cultivation, and were valued in Domesday Book as follows:

In Perry Barr there were three hides, held by Drogo. At Witton, one hide, valued at 20s.

In Erdington, three hides, valued at 30s., a mill, rated at 3s., and woods, one mile in length and half-a-mile in breadth. It belonged to Edwine earl of Mercia.

Minworth contained one hide, and woods, half-a-mile in in length and three furlongs in breadth. It was the freehold of one Godwin, and in the Conqueror’s time was possessed by Turchill de Warwick.

Curdworth contained four hides, and woods, half-a-mile in length and less in breadth; the whole being valued at 50s. One Ulvinus held it.

Marston and Coton were rated at three hides, held by one Roger, under Turchill de Warwick.

Wishaw, possessed by one Ordric, contained two hides, a church, and woods, three furlongs in length and one in breadth ; the whole valued in the Confessor’s days at 30s.

Middleton had four hides, the inheritance of one Palinus, in Edward’s days. There was a church, and a mill, valued at 20s. ; the whole valued at six pounds.

Drayton was a lordship of Algar earl of Mercia, in the reign of Edward the Confessor, and contained five hides.

Shenstone contained three hides, a mill, rented at sixty-six pence, a wood, three miles in length, and was held by one Godwin, a freeman, with a few working men.

Sutton was, in the reign of the Confessor, in possession of Edwine earl of Mercia. It is rated at eight hides; the woods extending two miles in length and one in breadth, and all is valued at four pounds.

Wigginshill contained three yard-land, with wood, two furlongs in length and breadth, possessed by the earl of Warwick, and from him held by one Benning, whose freehold it had been before the Conquest.

Besides the woods here specified as the property of the landowner, there were the outwoods, which were spread over the forest. It may be noticed that in all this region there were but two churches, one at Middleton and one at Wishaw. The heaths of the Chase extended over the ridge of Barr Beacon, and were in part separated from Cannock Chase (cynnic, or the king’s ?) by the enclosures of Aldréc (the old domain). Bogs intersected the undulations of the land, and, formed a chain of defence through the centre of the district, feeding the little stream Ebrook (Ea, water), which ran at the foot of Sutton. The dwellings here required by the higher and lower officers of the chase became a village. Any number of build- ings received the appellation ton (which had a relationship to the Celtic word din, a fortified hill, and dun, a Danish word for hill) , the houses were all built of wood. As Erdington belonged to the same chief lord, there would be a road of communication formed across the bog, possibly the irregular one which now intersects the pools called Holland. There were direct roads to Tamworth, Shenstone, Drayton, and Middleton, but as Lichfield and Birmingham were not as yet of sufficient importance to maintain particular communication the fine Ickneild Street road, which ran straight from Birmingham to the immediate neighbourhood of Lichfield, was deserted , for neither village nor house was raised on it between Perry Bridge and the village of Chesterfield.

The English people had to rue for many long years the national sins which brought on them a foreign yoke. No Englishman was allowed to occupy honours or office under the crown; every oppression was exercised, especially against the poor , and cruel tortures were iniiicted to compel money ransoms. So that towns were depopulated, the land was untilled, and famine was added to the other curses. The former lords of the land were reduced to poverty; and frequent insurrections made their condition more degraded. The new possessors of their property entrenched themselves in fortified mansions, and so numerous did castles become, that after Stephen had caused 700 to be dismantled, there were in the next reign 1,115 standing. The Normans, like the Saxons, were descended from the fierce adventurers of the North. About the year 900 they had forced the French king to cede to them a province and, settling in Normandy, they maintained a great reputation for military prowess. They brought with them their language, which mixed itself with that of the Saxons, and they introduced a higher appreciation of literature and the arts ; that of architecture was rapidly advanced after their occupation of England. They also riveted on this island the continental feudal system.

From the prodigious slaughter of the English nobility at the Battle of Hastings, and the fruitless insurrections of those who survived, the forfeitures of estates were so multiplied that William became master of almost all the lands of England. In the nineteenth year of his reign danger was apprehended from a Danish invasion, and amongst the measures of defence adopted was the making a general survey, in 20 William, of all the estates in the realm. William also called all his nobles to Sarum ; and there they submitted their lands to the yoke of military tenure, became the king’s vassals, and did homage to his person. [AD 1086.] Every man then became a tenant, obliged to defend his lord, and his lord’s rights and territories. It is thus considered a principle (though in reality a fiction) that the king is the proprietor of all the land, in the kingdom, and that no man can possess any part of it but what has been derived as a gift from him, to be held upon feudal services. Later kings found it expedient to remit the severer grievances of the system: but as there remained intolerable burthens, which successive Acts of Parliament failed to remove, James the First applied remedies, and at length the military tenures were destroyed at one blow by the statute, 12 Charles II.

On the settlement of the feudal tenures the whole kingdom was divided into 700 chief tenants, who held their fiefs, or fees (which signified wages), on condition of supplying the crown with a certain number of knights, who held allotments of land from the chief tenants. There were then 60, 215 knights’ fees. According to some authorities, four férlingata (furlongs) made a virgate or yard-land (measured land, ie., twenty four acres; four virgates made a hide; and five hides made a knight’s fee. A hide, or plough land, was enough to maintain one family and employ one plough, some say equivalent to 200 of our acres, but it varied considerably. The carucate, in the time of Edward II, was about 100 acres, as were also the hide and the soca. In Domesday Book the arable land is estimated in corucates; the pasture in hides; and the meadows in acres. A plough land, or hide, might contain houses, mills, woods, and pasture.

Soc (liberty), a lordship with liberty to hold a court. Its tenants were socccyers. Sachcm et Socham differ only in degree of power granted.
Manor, an ancient lordship, formerly called barony, consisting of demesnes and services, and of a court baron.
Royalties, rights of the king. Also rights granted by the king to the church, or lands granted by the king to the church.
Demesne, the lord`s chief manonplace, with the lands thereto belonging, occupied for the lord’s benefit. All parts of a manor, except what are in the hands of freeholders, are said to be in demesne, or domain.
Forinsecum manerium, that part of the manor outside the town, and not included in its liberties.
Court baron, inseparable incident to a manor, which every lord or baron of a manor hath in his own jurisdiction.
Court Leet - (lite, Sax.), a little court, in whose manor soever kept, is accounted the king’s court.
To wage law was, when a man gave security that he would make Law, ie., take a solemn oath that he was not guilty of the offence, or did not owe the debt with which he was charged.
To make law with the third hand, was to bring two other men to swear besides himself.
Right of assize, the certain established rents of the freeholders and ancient copyholders of a manor, which cannot be departed from or varied.
Talliage, toll, any tax; a sort of land tax on cities and burghs, in use before the reign of Richard Il.
Essoin, an excuse for not appearing to answer a summons of court.
Decenarium, a juryman of the court.
Bedell, a crier or messenger of the court leet.
Inafaugthefe, liberty of the lord of the manor to judge a thief, one of his tenants, within his fee, and taken within it.
Unfaugthef, liberty to the lord of the manor to punish a thief taken within his manor, whose felony had been committed out of it.
Weyf, stolen goods, unclaimed, belonging to the lord of the manor.
Tumbrell, ducking stool for scolds, brewers, and bakers.
Housebote, or estover, an allowance of timber out of the lord’s woods, for repair of tenements.
Haybote, allowance of wood for repair of fences, posts, &c, bote signifying recompence.
Paunage, hog’s food in woods.
The villan took his name from village ; he had some stock of his own, and paid rent to his lord, partly in money, partly in labour. His tenure was called villanage. The villans having been permitted to enjoy their holdings in a regular course of descent, the law enabled them to hold their lands by the custom of the manor, which, being copied into a court roll, their tenure was copy/told. They were called customary tenants.

Inferior to these were the borderers, or those who had built a cottage, or bord, by leave, on their lord’s land. They had a few acres, and supplied their lord with poultry and small things. Beneath these was the class of slaves. Thewe, a slave, was part of his master’s goods. Over this class some of the great lords had power of life and death, and of their property.
Land was under seven burdens, heriot, relief and escheat; wardship, scutage, marrage license, and homage.

On the demise of a royal or private vassal, a heriot was due to his superior lord. That of an earl was eight horses, four furnished for war and four unfurnished; four helmets and four mails; eight lances, eight shields, and four swords: that of a royal thane little more than half of the above: of a common thane it was a single horse furnished, and the arms of the deceased, or 100s. in lieu of both.

The relief was a fine discharged by the heir for the renewal of the grant of the estate. It was for an earl, 3OO mancuses of gold; and for an ordinary thane, about two pounds. The villan gave his best beast for a heriot and fine together. Wardship was the right of the superior lord to the estate during the minority of the heir, or until the marriage of the female heir. Scatage was a fine in lieu of a personal attendance on the liege lord in war. Homage was performed by the heir immediately on the restoration of his fee, when he knelt before his lord and, placing his hands between those of his superior, swore to be true to him, &c.
·

The service rendered by the cultivator, instead of fixed money rent, will be seen by the following example:

In the reign of Edward I, one Adam Underwood held of the Earl of Warwick one yard land, in Brailes, and paid yearly rent for the same, seven bushels of oats and a hen: being to work for the lord of the manor from Michaelmas day till Lammas, every other dayexcept Sunday, viz., at mowing, as long asthat time should last, for which he was to have as much grass as he could carry away on his scythe: and at the end of hay harvest, he and the rest of his fellow mowers to have the lord’s best mutton, except one, or 1s.4d. in money, with the best cheese, save one, or 6d. in money, and the cheese vat wherein the same cheese was made full of salt: as also that, from the said feast of Lammas till Michaelmas, he was to work two days in the week, and to come to the lord’s reap, which all his household, except his wife and his shepherd, and to mow down one land of corn [Our fields are now ploughed into lands] being quit of all other work for that day: that he should likewise carry two cart loads and a half of the lords hay, with seven cart loads of stones, for three days, and gather nuts for three days: and in case that the lord should keep his Christmas at this manor, he to find three of his horses meat for three nights: that he should plough thrice a year for the lord, viz., six selions, and to do the same tillage within twenty miles: and, moreover, to make three quarters of malt: giving for every hog above a year old one penny, and for every one under a halfpenny [Swine feed e.g. in the woods.]: and, lastly, that he and the rest of his tenants here should give twelve marks to the lord at Michaelmas yearly, by way of aid, and not marry his daughter nor make his son a priest without license from his lord.”

The latter was a usual restraint in villenage tenures, that the lord might not lose the service of one of his villans by his entering into holy orders.

Until the reign of Edward III, the denomination of money was not altered. A pound sterling was a pound troy, ie, about three pounds of our money (in 1860!). There were forty-eight shillings in the pound ; and five-pence in the shilling ; a mark, or mancus, was thirteen shillings and tour pence, as Bishop Fleetwood records.
   
FORESTS

A Forest is a territory of woods and pastures, known in its bounds, its chase, and warren, under the king’s protection, for his pleasure of hunting game and wild beasts. There must be bounds, as hill, river, highway, and in the eye of the law the boundaries go round like a wall, directly in a right line, the one from the other: and if any one kill a deer in the boundary road or river, he is an offender as if he killed within the forest. The Forest laws are peculiar, different from the common law of England.


Before the Charta de Foresta, in the time of King John, offences committed therein were punished at the pleasure of the king in the severest manner. The first property of a Forest is that only the king can possess it : but he may make a grant to any one to be a Justice in Eyre of the Forest. And only the king can appoint a justice in eyre. The eyre (from ire, to go) was the travelling justice seat, where pleas of the crown were heard And the second property of a Forest is its courts, justice seat or eyre, swain-mote, a court for the people of the Forest, and the court of attachment. The third property is its officers; the Justices of the Forest, the warden (or warder), who had the principal government of all things belonging to a royal forest, the verderers (or Foresters), agisters, regarders, keepers, bailiffs, beadles, &c. If the swaine court failed, the forest became no more than a chase. In it the freeholders within the forest appeared thrice a year to make inquests and juries.

No man could cut down timber in his own wood without inspection of the forester or the woodward. Fences were to be kept low for deer to spring over, and graze at pleasure. Common of pasture was allowed to all cattle but sheep, which bite too close. A chase is between a forest and a park, not endowed with so many liberties as a forest. It may be in the hands of a subject, and it is larger than a park, and not like a park enclosed. A man holding a freehold in a fee chase may cut his timber without view of any, which was not allowed in the Sutton Chase, where, owing to its having been a royal forest, the earls of Warwick had a right to restrain the cutting down of woods in the freeholds upon it. Warren (wahren, Sax., custody) is a place privileged by grant from the king for the keeping of beasts, or fowls, of the warren. Stable-stand was a place where the lord stood to shoot the driven deer.

To drive the wanlass (waulass or wimdass) was to drive the deer to a stand that the lord might shoot.
Buck stall was a toil to take deer, not to be kept by any person not having a park of his own, under penalties.

In the early Norman reigns no Englishman was allowed to hold a fee in capite, i.e., to become a chief tenant, and very few were permitted to hold knights’ fees. The earls Edwine and Morcar had vainly endeavoured to withstand William in Warwickshire and Northumbria. Edwine was treacherously slain. The Saxon earls of Warwick ceased to be represented. Turchill no longer retained the oflice and the honour of earldom, but, as he had not opposed the Conqueror, he was left in possession of his estates during his life. King William kept Sutton Forest in his own hands for a time, as appears by the survey, in the twentieth year of his reign. The first earl of Warwick of the Norman race was Henry de Novoburgo, taking his name from the castle of Neuburg, in Normandy, the place of his birth. He was the younger son of Thomas de Bellocampo, or Beauchamp, earl Mellent, and was made earl by the Conqueror, towards the end of his reign; and William Rufus conferred on him, after the death of Turchill, the whole of that English nobleman’s inheritance ; and the new earl even laid claim to what the monks of Abendon had, in Hill and Little Chesterton, by gift from Turchill; so that the abbot was glad to make a new agreement with him, and purchase his good will with a mark of gold, on which he confirmed the grant, in the presence of his barons, i.e, his great tenants. This earl was a special friend and supporter of Henry I, and died in the twenty-fifth year of his reign. [AD 1124.]

His son Roger espoused the cause of the empress Matilda, whose descent from the Saxon Kings and from the Norman line gave her the claim to the English throne. His only warlike exploit was the conquest of Gowerland in Wales. The English king having been unable to subdue the Welsh, offered all that should be won to those who had gained it, and this, as obtained by the sword, was, by permission, held under the absolute rule of the victor. Henry I exchanged the lordship of Sutton, with earl Roger, for manors in Rutlandshire, by a written deed, 26 Henry I :

" To have and to hold the said manor of Sutton to the said Earl Roger and his heirs, with all the liberty and royalty, without suits at the hundred court, without payment of scutage, or any foreign service, with a free chase between the Tame and the Bourne, which divide the liberty of the said manor from others: And the said Roger and his heirs may have one park and one hay fenced: And they may have a free court at their own pleasure, in all free customs, with view of frankpledge: Also they may have an outwood [boscum forinsecum.] common to the freeholders, without a fence keeper: Also they may have in demesne two carncates of land, and one water-mill, with suits—[i. e., the customs belonging to it.] : Also they may have eighteen fallow deer."

The latter clause intimates that fallow deer were scarce, perhaps having been but recently imported. It does not here appear that any yearly rent was reserved to the king and his successors: therefore it might be under some other agreement; for in the sheriff’s accounts of 23, 24:, 25 Henry II there is the statement of 39s. per annum to the king from the farm of Sutton , in 26 Henry II, 17s. 10d. de perquisitus  in 30 Henry II, 39s. from the farm ; in 31 Henry II, 52s. from the farm. In the two last some arrears may be accounted for, as 39s. was the standing rent or farm. The mill was at the foot of the town ; where one stood until the close of the last century, and gave the name to Mill Street. Tenants were obliged to grind all their corn at the lord’s mill, and pay heavy exactions on it. It is probable that the manor house was built at an early Norman period ; courts might then be held in it, and the pompous train of a king or noble could there be entertained. The little hill offered a suitable position, strengthened by the prolonged morass which was formed at the foot of the manor place into two large pools. Between them a raised causeway, still to be seen, dividing the meadows, led to the park , and at the end of the lower pool, an embankment, walled up with stone, still called the darn, and only partially destroyed when the new road was made in 1826, formed a communication with the town. After which the manor house appears to have been the focus of the early roads. The bounds of the chase extended to the Tame and Bourne, and so, consequently, out of the bounds of this county as they now stand, and beyond the limits of the lordship; for that which bore afterwards the name of chase was then a forest.

And this appears by a special inquisition taken in 3 Edward II, where the jury say, upon oath, that they had heard their ancestors affirm the same. The ancient kings of England, before they limited themselves by Carta de Foresta, in 9 Henry III, might, and did, make forests where they pleased. And by the same inquisition, the following bounds of the chase were stated :

" Sez sount lez boundes trovez de la Chace de Sottone en Colfelde, et se commencez a la teste de Bourne; dekes a Boltestile; et dekes tank a la Tindithoc; et dekes tank a Mosewall; et dekes tank a le Holebrok ; et dekes tank a le Thame; et dekes tank a Wolford brugge; et dekes tank a Schrafford brugge ; et dekes tank a Wyford; et dekes tank a la teste de Bourne’

We must look for the " teste de Bourne" at Bourne pool, under the Beacon; and over the ridge for the three obscure points—Boltestile (a stile into an inclosure), Tindithoc (tyne, brushwood, hoc, hook? or, perhaps, hoch, a hill), and Mosewall (an embankment against a bog ?), which lead to the Holbrook, on the west side of the Beacon: and following this stream we find Holford, or Perry Barr bridge at the holm, or island or meadow, formed by the river. Sehrafford became Salford bridge. It is not improbable that Wyford was Wigford, or a ford near the junction of the Bourne with the Tame at Drayton ; wig, or wick, signifying the bend of the river. That the earls of Warwick held this extent of chase, with all privileges anciently belonging to it, will appear from further testimonies.

After receiving the grant of the manor of Sutton the earl gave three yardland, lying in Hill, to the Priory of Canwell. He died 18 Stephen [AD 1153] in which year Henry, the son of Matilda, came into England to assert his claim to the throne , and Gundred, his widowed countess, turned the soldiers of Stephen out of Warwick castle, that the rightful heir to the crown might be welcomed. In a bull of pope Alexander  [AD 1162] mention is made of " three hides of land in Sutton (Warwickshire), which the countess Gundred, with the consent of her son, William earl of Warwick, gave to the Priory of Trentham". No other notice of this gift appears, however, in any record.  William, the son of Roger, succeeded his father. Of him were held 105 knights’ fees. He died in Palestine, 30 Henry II. [.AD 1184.] Waleran, his brother, was his heir to the earldom and estates, and had prolonged trouble in defending his possessions from an impostor, who assumed to be the elder brother returned from Palestine. About the beginning of king John’s reign, the lord Basset, of Drayton, a great baron in these parts, made a park at Drayton Basset, which, being within the precincts of this chase, and questioned by earl Waleran, lord Basset was obliged, rather than pull down his palings, to come to an agreement with the earl, in 3 John [A.D. 1201-2] as follows :

" This is the final agreement between Waleran, Earl of Warwick, plaintiff, and Ralph Basset, holder of one inclosure in Draiton, which the said earl says was raised to injure his forest of Colmesfeld: whereupon a plea of convention was summoned between them before the justices of our lord the king, at Coventry, namely, Master William de Kilkenny, and the lords Henry de Barton and Nicholas de Trye, to wit, that the aforesaid earl has granted, and in behalf of himself and his heirs, cried quits to the aforesaid Ralph and his heirs, for the aforesaid fence, and the whole park of Draiton enclosed in that fence: And for this grant and peaceful dismissal, and crying quits, the aforesaid Ralph, for himself and his heirs, has granted to the same earl and his heirs, two good bucks, in any year, from the aforesaid park, taken between the Assumption and the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, that is to say, of every buck the four limbs and head, with the hide and forket [The wide part of the chest.]; so that the aforesaid Ralph and his heirs, by themselves, or by their messengers, cause the bailiffs of the aforesaid earl, or his heirs, to have the two bucks aforesaid at the manor of the earl himself at Sutton, as is aforesaid, between the two feasts aforesaid; And it must be known that the aforesaid park of Draiton shall be so closed up, that the whole of it shall be entire towards the aforesaid earl’s forest of Colmesheld, and without a buck stall."

To this agreement were witnesses—Thomas de Erdington, then sheriff of Staffordshire, Geoffry Sauvage, Hugh fil. Willielml (of Hatton), Thomas de Arderne, Rob. fil. Willielml, Hen. fil. Sewalli (progenitor of the Shirleys), Hugh de Cuilli, Henr. de Ullenhale, Alexi de Mildecumbe, Jordan de Whitacre, and divers others. And that the succeeding earls of Warwick held it as their free chase, the several licenses that they granted to different persons in their own peculiar lands and woods, lying within the precincts of the chase, sufficiently shew. Earl Waleran died in 6 John [A.D. 1205] and his countess Alice gave a fine of £1,000 and ten palfreys, that she might continue a widow as long as she pleased, and have the custody of her own children, and enjoy her dowry.

Henry, the eldest son, succeeded. He was loyal to king John in turbulent times; and that prince visited his manor house on Sutton Chase, as is shewn by the date of a royal command issued from Sutton, April 7, 1208. The king had also an assured servant in the neighbouring lord of Erdington, who might assist in rendering the entertainment agreeable to the courtly guests.  We cannot forbear to quote here from a graceful little poem on Sutton Park, by an ardent admirer of its scenery, and an accomplished scholar, the late Charles Barker, Esq., B.C.L. :
 
" Before us winds the rural way
Across yon stream with alders gay,
Up yonder gorse-crowned hill:
Yet press not on with careless haste:
Nor without pensive thought be past
The former glories of the waste,
And charms that haunt it still.

See to the left how plays the breeze
On the steep mound and towering trees,
Wheuce oft the royal John,
With hound and horn and hunting spears,
Sallied to rouse these woodland lairs,
And in the chase forgot the cares
That only kings have known."

Waleran Earl of Warwick died December 1204
Earl Henry afterwards continued firm in his adherence to the succeeding king, Henry III, and was at the siege of Mount Sorel castle [AD 1216-17] and at the storming of the castle of Leicester, where the royal arms were victorious over the opposing barons. He also attended the king in the siege of Bitham, the castle of the earl of Albemarle, in Lincolnshire. Some of his soldiers were of course furnished by the hamlets on Sutton Chase. On the advance of the army into Wales he paid to the king £49. 12s. 5d., when the Sutton manor would have to find its share of the impost.

During his minority king John had given his inheritance of Gower, in Wales, to William de Breuse,
concerning which the succeeding earls had great suits. He died 13 Henry III [AD. 1228-9] and Philippa, his countess, paid 100 marks to the king, that she might remain a widow, or marry whom she pleased. Thomas, his only son, paid £100 for his relief, £40 of which was for his lands in Warwickshire. He died, without issue, 26 Henry III. [AD 1242.] Ela, the widow of Thomas, had the manor of Sutton, with other lands, for her dower, Her second husband, Philip Basset, of Oxfordshire, was one of the peers who, in 29 Henry III, laid before pope Innocent IV [AD 1245] letters from the English nobility and commons, representing the great oppressions under which this realm suffered by the court of Rome. He was taken prisoner, with king Henry III, at the Battle of Lewes, 49 Henry III; in which year he had a grant from William Manduit, earl of Warwick, of the manor of Sutton Coldfield, to hold during his life, in case he should survive his wife, which was confirmed in 54 Henry III. [AD 1269-70.] Ela was a benefactress to the University of Oxford , and, like all other proprietors of land, a large contributor to monasteries. In the agreement made 31 Henry III  ]AD 1246-7] between John de Plessets, who had married Margerie Mareschall (daughter of earl Henry, and heiress to the earldom of Warwick) , and William Manduit and Alice his wife (aunt, and  afterwards heir, of Margerie), it was accorded that the same John de Plessets, in case he survived his wife, should enjoy this manor and others during his life ; but the countess Ela was then living, and, in 32 Henry III, Philip Marmion, lord of Tamworth Castle, brought an assize against her for common of pasture within this lordship, perhaps on the borders of Middleton, where he had previously claimed free warren, but had been denied it on account of the superior claim to free chase by Ela, then holding Sutton, of which, in 36 Henry III, she had a special charter of free warren granted for life, in all her demesne lands here, as also in other manors of her dower. She died in 1300.

Charters had been first introduced, after the Norman fashion, by Edward the Confessor. The seal was also Norman, and in Henry the Second’s time the Chief Justice of England reproached a commoner for using a private seal, which, he said, pertained only to the king and nobility. Margerie, sister and heir of earl Thomas, was a widow, and becoming possessed of Warwick castle, king Henry III proposed to take it into his custody, unless she married as he should appoint. Accordingly, she united herself to John de Plessets, a noble in great favour with the king, in token of which he had presented him with a horse, worth thirty marks. Sutton and other manors were settled on him for life, and eventually he was styled earl of VVarwick. In 38 Henry III he was entrapped and imprisoned at Pontes, in France, and there suffered much in health and purse. On this the king issued letters patent requiring the earl’s tenants to make good his deficiencies, if they wished for the royal favour. Afterwards, he again attended the king in wars in Wales, and in the destructive civil strife in England. He died in February,1263, 47 Henry III. The countess Margerie was living in 34 Henry III ; the time of her death is uncertain. On the death of John Plessets, William Manduit succeeded to the earldom. He was son and heir of Alice, daughter of earl Waleran. He attended king Henry III, but while the barons in rebellion drew the king’s army towards Northampton, a force from Kenilworth surprised Warwick castle, and carried the earl and countess prisoners to Kenilworth; then beat down all of the castle but the towers; and compelled the earl to pay 1,900 marks for a ransom. He died without issue, January 8, 1267.

William de Beauchamp, son of Isabel, sister of the last earl, succeeded [1267] as next heir. He was descended from Walter de Bellocampo, time of Henry I. He bore the title of Warwick in his mother’s life time. With Henry III he had been in great favour for his services , and he was sent by Edward I to Wales, as commissioner, to adjust differences with Llewelyn, the reigning prince. He afterwards attended Edward in his victorious expedition into Wales and in 4 Edward I was made captain general, in Cheshire and Lancashire, to secure those counties against the Welsh. Whilst Edward was in France [1286] his lieutenant in England directed his special precept to this Earl of Warwick, and other powerful subjects, requiring most urgently that they should not ride with armed force in any part of the kingdom, to the terror of the king’s liege people, and disturbance of the peace , but that private wrongs should be referred to him for redress.

Henry III


Warwick Castle



Edward I

Crossbow Man


Hunting
In 23 Edward I 1295] he attacked, at night, a body of Welsh, defended between two woods, and with his choice company of crossbowmen and cavalry, he made a great slaughter. The next year he was sent to Scotland and afterwards, with lord Surrey, to recover the castle of Dunbar, where they were engaged with the whole Scotch army, and obtained a signal victory, The number of the enemy slain was computed to be 10,600. He was made one of the governors of Prince Edward, and afterwards [1298] was with that prince when the English army was almost destroyed, in attempting to cross the bridge at Stirling. In 13 Edward I, William de Beauchamp claimed by prescription a court leet at Sutton, with assize of bread and beer; free chase, infang thef, tumbrell, thewe, weyf, and gallows, and it being found that he and his ancestors had exercised all these liberties and privileges time out of mind, they were allowed. In 16 Edward I he restrained Thomas de Arden from exercising liberty in the Arden manors of Peddimore and Curdworth without his permission.

It was this earl who, in 17 Edward I, granted to Ralph de Limesi to make a park at Weford of his wood called Ash Hay ; and to Ralph, lord Basset, in 18 Edward I, to hunt in his woods at Draiton , in 21 Edward I, to William de Odingsells, to hunt in the woods and fielde of Weford, Thickbrome, and Hynts ; and to William Meignill and Robert de la Ward, in their lands and woods at Hynts, &c. And it is evident this chase was in high esteem with these great earls, who had here a very goodly manor house, with fair pools near it. In 17 Edward I the earl obtained a special patent from the king, that during his life, he might have free liberty to follow and pursue such of his deer as, being hunted within this chase, fled into the forest of Kank, and there to kill and bring them away, without any disturbance from the said king’s verderers, or other officers of the forest. Nay, the earl was so tender in preserving his game, that, though he had given liberty to the lord Basset to hunt in his own woods at Drayton, yet, that it might not appear that he excluded himself, he questioned lord Basset for his keeper’s undue boldness in those woods; so that, Basset coming to an agreement with him, it was concluded that from henceforth his forester for Drayton woods, for the time being, should make oath to the earl and has heirs for the faithful custody of the venison, and that attachments and presentments touching the same should be made in the earl’s court at Sutton; and that the ranger to the earl and his heirs should oversee the keepership of the deer in those woods at his own pleasure, and make attachments for the same; as also that the earl should have the one half of all amerciaments, and recompence for trespasses done to the deer in those woods, to be received by his bailiff of Sutton.
Which accord was made at Sutton on the 13th of September, in the presence of sir John Clinton the younger, knight, Thomas Prior, of Canwell, Anketel de L'isle, Robert de Sheldon, Henry de Mably, William de Lee, John Russell, and others.

In 21 Edward I, there being a complaint made to the king by this Earl Vllilliam that some misdemeanors had been committed by certain lewd persons, in killing deer within this chase, a special commission was directed to Roger, lord Strange, to find them out, and to punish them according to their demerits, Vile are curious to learn more particulars of these Robin Hoods.

In 25 Edward I [1296-7] John, lord of Little Barre, came to an accord with the earl for license to enclose his woods at Little Barre; as also to improve them by assarting ; and for cutting of under-wood there; they being within the bounds of this chase. For which liberty he covenanted for himself and his heirs to pay yearly, to the earl and his heirs, six barbed arrows, on the feast of St. Michael, at his manor of Sutton. This earl died in 1298.

His son and heir, Guy, succeeded him, and was, like his ancestors, a martial man. He fought under Edward I in Scotland, when the English archers again distinguished themselves, and obtained a great victory at Falkirk ; and he displayed so much gallantry that· the king rewarded him with almost all the lands of Geoifry de Mowbray in that kingdom, and with grants elsewhere. The next year he was in the king’s service beyond the sea, and was afterwards with the king at the siege of Caerlaverock. In 28 Edward I he obtained a charter for a weekly market at Sutton, upon the Tuesday, and a fair yearly, to begin on the eve of the Holy Trinity, and to continue for three days following.
Fairs.

The word "fair" is ancient British, signifying a market; in early times frequently kept on Sundays, until, in 27 Henry VI, a statute prohibited fairs and markets on that day. In Edward the First’s time prices were usually as follow:





Frank de Lucy, a, special lover of good horses, gave forty marks for a black horse. Twelve ounces of silver made one pound sterling.
As the church at Sutton was dedicated to the Holy Trinity, the fair, or wake, was held in honour of that day. An old MS. says of this kind of festival :

"The pepul came to the chirche with candelys brenning, and wold wake; and come with light toward night, to the chirche, in their devotions .... . . . And after they fell to songs, daunses, harping, piping, and also to glotony and sinne, and so turned the holinesse into cursydnes."

In 35 Edward I  [1307] the king having received information that the free chase here had been anciently a forest, in the time of the king’s ancestors, before it was given to the earls of Warwick, made Henry de Spigurnell and William de Mortimer, commissioners, to inquire whether it were so or not ; and in case it should be found accordingly, then to certify when it was so disforested, by whom, and for what reason , as also how it passed from the crown. And the sheriff of this county and Staffordshire had thereupon command to summon so many honest and lawful men to try the same, as in their discretion they should think fit, but their return has not been found. Shortly after this, in 3 Edward II [1309]—at a court leet and court baron held for this manor, the ancient customs were certified by the jury upon their oaths. The document is of interest, and has been used as authority for ancient customs and terms :

“The inquisition of twelve jurymen taken at this view, before Galfrid de Okenham, seneschal, by oath of Anselm de Clifton and others, jurymen, charged (to enquire) concerning the ancient customs of that lordship, as well with regard to freemen as bond-servants, what sort of customs they used to make and to have before the coronation of our lord king Henry (III), grandfather of the present king, from the days of Athelstan, some time king of England, by whom aforetime the ancient usages and customs of the lordship were made and settled.

“Who say upon their oath, that every freeman of Sutton was accustomed to hold his lands and tenements by virtue and effect of his original charter; and if there should be any plea about land between any freeman of that lordship, they used to be pleaded and concluded by writ of our lord the king, according to the law of England, before the justiciaries. And those men of bondage-tenure who held a whole yardland or more used to be oliicers of the king, or lord, during the lord’s pleasure, whoever might have been elected to that office.

"Also, those who held half a yardland, or a nook of land, or a cottage of bondage tenure, used to be bedell of the manor and decenary. And also all those who held in bondage tenure, used to be called customary tenants. And whenever the lord came to hunt, those customary tenants used to drive the wanlass to a stand in driving the wild beasts, according to the quantity of their tenure; as those who held a whole yardland, for two days, and so of others. And they used to have among them half of the fee of a woodward of the venison taken.

Also they used to be keepers of the Coldfield heath, whenever they were chosen by their neighbours at the court; and they used to buy and sell freely, both in and out of the lordship of Sutton, without challenge. And also they used to do suit at the court of Sutton from three weeks to three weeks, and to pay the rent of assize, with tallage, according to the quantity of customary tenants of this sort, at the four usual terms of the year, etc. And they used to have house·bote and hay-bote, by view of the foresters and woodwards, in the time of Lent, enough to repair their hedges and houses in bondage tenure.

"And at the death of customary tenants of this kind, the lord used to have, in the name ofthe heriot, the best animal, and no more ; neither goods nor chattels, neither in the life nor after the death of a customary tenant of this kind, unless for this reason, that the lord’s eldest son or daughter were going to be married. And the lord used to have, at his pleasure, of those who were dead, before the administration of the executors, the third part of all the goods of a customary tenant of this kind who was dead. And of customary tenants of this kind while living, the lord used to have in like manner the half of all his goods, saving oxen enough for ploughing, and heifers for milking, when his (the lord’s) eldest son or daughter was going to be married. And if any of these customary tenants alienated his bondage tenure to any one, they used to give up that tenure in court before the seneschal (ie the steward), and raise and pay a une at the lord’s pleasure.

"And also, if any of these customary tenants went out of the lordship, and would not abide there any longer, they used to come into court, and give up into the hands of the lord their tenure of bondage, with all their horses and colts, and cart bound with iron, with their hogs, their whole pieces of cloth, their wool not spun, and their best brass pot ; and go out and abide wherever he would, without challenge of the lord, and himself, with all his posterity, to be free for ever. And also all tenants, as well free as customary, used to have common pasturage with all their cattle, within the lordship of Sutton, in all the out-woods and other common places, at all times of the year ; and also in all separate places from the feast of St. Michael the Archangel to the feast of the Purification of the Blessed Mary, excepting the lord`s land and the lord’s park, and excepting also the gardens of the neighbours.

And none of these customary tenants used to grind his corn but at the lord’s water-mill, so long as the mill was in repair for grinding, unless they first paid (for) the whole of the corn to the lord‘s miller, upon pain of forfeiture of the whole of the corn; excepting the tenants of Muney, Winding, and Wiguta (‘?), who ground at the lord’s windmill at Maney.  And they also say, that they have heard their ancestors say, that at the time the manor of Sutton aforesaid was in the hands of the king of England all the chase was afforested, and that all the dogs within the forest used to be ringed and maimed on the left paw ; and that, after they came into the hands of the earl of Warwick, they had leave to have and to hold dogs of all kind whole and not fined.

And also all tenants, as well customary as free, used to have the dead wood all the woods, wherever it might be found, for firing. And also all freeholders used to be summoned to appear for three days before the court, and the customary tenants likewise. Andif there was a plea of debt or offence, or any plea between neighbours, and the defendants denied it, and waged law against the plaintiff, they used to make law with the third hand, and they used to essoin themselves of the common suit of court twice, and the third time appear and warrant the essoin  and likewise of the plea, as well of the plaintiff as the defendant, to be essoined twice of the plea, and twice of the law, and the third time to come, or have the judgment of the court. And the customary tenants used to be twice fined in court for houses found on bondage tenure ; and the third time, if it was not repaired, they used to incur a punishment at the lord’s pleasure. 

And the aforesaid customary tenants used to repair the bank round the mill-pool of the lord of Sutton with earthwork as often as was necessary, being warned with reasonable warning, and if they did not come they used to be fined at the court next ensuing ; and they used to be ined in like manner if they did not come to the wanlass, whenever the lord came to hunt. And all customary tenants, who held a whole yardland in bondage, used to work for the lord for two days in autumn and in like manner all other customary tenants according to the quanti ty of their tenure, at reasonable warning given by the overseer; for which they used to have one fat sheep and four pennyworth of white bread, and twelve casks of beer; and if they did not come then they used to be lined at the court next ensuing.

"And they say that all the aforesaid customs used to be kept, both from the time of king Athelstan and the time of king John, and before the coronation of king Henry Ill ; and the predecessors of the aforesaid jurymen. And they say that Waleran, formerly earl of Warwick, for himself and his heirs, granted that all the customs aforesaid, and all other ancient customs, should last for ever."

In the 5th Edward II [1311] Guy took part with the earl of Lancaster in the discontent occasioned by Piers Gaveston, and having taken him prisoner and fearing his escape, he surprised the guard to whom the barons had entrusted the captive at Doddington, carried him to Blacklow Hill, near Warwick, and there decapitated him. Gaveston had particularly offended the earl, and called him the Black Dog of Arderne, in allusion to his dark complexion. This act of summary justice produced an ill feeling between himself and the earl of Lancaster. He married the heiress of Toney, and died 9 Edward II [1315] in the forty-fourth year of his age.

After his death the manor of Sutton was valued at £24.Os.3d. per annum, and as his eldest son and heir, Thomas, was a minor, it was placed under the care of John de Someri. In l7 Edward II [1323-4] a notable robbery was committed on a certain road thwarting that part of the chase called “ Colfeild," then and afterwards known by the name of “ Rugeway." The party robbed being one Elias le Collier, and the sum of money taken from him £300, about nine 0’ clock in the morning ; whereupon he commenced his suit against the inhabitants of this hundred of Hemlingford, and those of the hundred of Offlow, in Staffordshire, according to the statute of Winchester, for not prosecuting the felons; in regard that the same way, as the record saith, divideth the counties of Warwick and Stafford, viz., leaving Sutton and Aston-juxta-Birmingham on the one side of it, of this county and Barre, Alrewich, with part of Shenstone, in the county of Stafford, on the other side, and had judgment to recover the money accordingly: whereupon, writs being directed to the sheriffs of both shires to levy the same sum, return was made that the people were so much indebted to the king, and impoverished by murrain of their cattle, dearth of corn, and other accidents, that they were not able to pay it. Nevertheless, it seems that the sheriff, pressing hard upon them by virtue of several writs to him directed, at the procurement of the party robbed, levied forty marks of it. Much ado there was about this money, the bishop of Coventry and Lichfield pleading, for himself and his tenants, immunity from such charges ; and the county still shifting the payment; so that at length they procured a supersede as from the king to stop any further proceedings therein. (If truth be known, the bishops cared little for their tenants only as a source of revenue - any fines would be to the loss of the Bishop's purse - mk)

The name of Ridgeway is now unknown in the line given in this record, Dugdale’s Map of the Hemlingford Hundred marks it as the road from Jordan’s grave, along the boundary of the county, until it crosses the Ickneild Street, after which it skirts the western palings of the park. A rough sketch, among the Corporation papers, made about 1801, by Mr. Riland, marks it from Jordan’s grave, southwards, towards Witton, through which it probably ran.

Dugdale’ s description of the Ickneild Street follows:

"Over part of this chase is another ancient way, called Ykenild Street (though not now much noted), being one of those four eminent ones made by the Romans, the tract whereof is yet to be seen in divers places within this county, especially here, and over a corner of Sutton Park: where, going over low grounds, it appeareth to be Erm and high, ridged up with gravel. This way coming from Tinemouth in Northumberland, through Yorkshire to Bolesover, and thence to Chesterfield through Scaresdale, comes over Morley Moor to Little Chester, near Derby, and so over Egginton Heath, crosseth the river Dove at Monk’s Bridge, then over Burton Moor: and passing Trent at Wichnor Bridge, stretcheth through Alderwas Hays; thence to Street Hay, and so to Wall (anciently Etoceturn) where it thwarts Watling Street : thence over Radley Moor, leaving Little Aston on the right hand, entereth this Lordship of Sutton, and so extendeth itself to Alcester in this county. Thence over Bitford Bridge (leaving Cambden in Gloucestershire a little on the left hand) to Stow in the Woulds (where it crosseth the Ford), and from Stow to Burford, and over Isis at Newbridge, directly to Wallingford; and so through Winchester to Southampton."

As a special favour king Edward III allowed the young earl to perform his homage, and have livery of his lands, before he was of age. [1329.] His virtues were eminent, and he was scarcely ever tree from some noble and high employment. He had the government of the Channel Isles; he attended the king into Scotland [1333] when king Edward Baliol did homage to Edward III, for the realm of Scotland and the adjacent isles ; he had the custody of the Marches of Scotland given to him, and in 17 Edward III [1343] marched thither, with a numerous force, under the earl of Lancaster , he was made marshal of England ; and in 20 Edward III [1346] attended the king in his French expedition. When they arrived at La Hague he landed at once, with only one esquire and six archers, to attack an opposing body of one hundred Normans, of which he slew sixty, and so enabled the English army to disembark umnolested. He was one of the principal commanders who, with the Black Prince, led the van in the memorable Battle of Cressey. Many strong arms from Sutton drew the bow that day, and helped to win for England lasting honour. In 21 Edward III he was at the Siege of Calais, with 3 bannerets, 61 knights, 106 esquires, and 154 archers on horseback. In consideration of these noble services the king gave him the sum of £1,366. 11s. Sd., and the next year assigned him 1,000 marks per annum during life, with the further agreement that he should attend on him with 100 men-at-arms.

In 26 Edward III he recovered the dominion of Gower, in Wales, from lord John Mowbray, to whose ancestor king John had wrongfully given it, during the minority of Henry earl of Warwick. In 27 Edward III [1353] |est there should be an insurrection, he was sent to protect Sir Richard de Willoughby and Sir W. Shareshull, justices itinerant, while they sat at Chester ; and in the same year he obtained another charter for a market at Sutton, on the Tuesday the market on that day formerly granted having, perhaps, fallen into disuse. By the renewed charter he also obtained that two fairs yearly might be held here, one on the eve of the Holy Trinity and two days after, the other on the eve and day of St. Martin.

In 29 Edward III he attended the Black Prince into France, and gained high renown for his valour at the Battle of Poitiers, when the king of France was taken prisoner. In the fight he took, with his own arm, the archbishop of Sens, for whose ransom he received £8,000. About 37 Edward III he travelled in foreign parts, and having spent three years in war against the Pagans of the north of Europe, he returned, bringing with him the son of the king of Lithuania, whom he christened in London, and was his sponsor. He was nominated one of the original Knights of the Order of the Garter, instituted by Edward the Third. In the forty-third year of his reign Edward sent an army to France [1369] which encamped near Calais , but although the French advanced, being seven times more in number than the English army, the English commanders delayed giving battle so long that the troops began to suffer severely, from want of provisions and from the plague. On learning this unhappy news, the earl of Warwick hastened with some picked men to Calais. The French no sooner heard of his arrival than they deemed it prudent to secure a rapid retreat, at midnight, on the 12th of September, unencumbered by their tents and provisions, which they abandoned to the English. This retrograde movement was attributed to the fears of the French king. When the earl landed he highly blamed the English commanders, saying, " I shall follow and fight before we have digested the bread we eat in England? And so he entered and wasted the Isle of Caens: but on his return towards Calais, he was seized with the prevailing pestilence and died.

It is said that he had seven sons and nine daughters. He left to his son Thomas the sword and coat of mail that had belonged to the renowned Guy earl of Warwick; and to Sutton church, as to all other churches on his lordships, the best beast that could be found on the manor, in lieu of tithes forgotten. Thomas, his second son, succeeded him, at the age of twenty-four. He engaged in the king’s wars in France, with 200 men at arms, 200 archers, a banneret, 4 knights, and 144 esquires, well equipped and well mounted. The chase here was a suitable wold for the rearing of horses, and many, from its noiseless fields, would march to the din of war, strong, hardy animals, that could stand the shock of spears, and plunge amongst the enemy, under horse armour and the ponderous weight of an iron-clad rider. At length the pride of England was bowed, the great king Edward, and his chivalrous son, the Black Prince, the beloved of history, were in their graves. Warwick was appointed governor to the young king, Richard II [1379]  and two years afterwards he had the commission to suppress the insurrection under Jack Straw, especially in Warwickshire. Afterwards, the mal-administration of the king and his favourites stirred up the haughty spirits of this earl and other nobles, who took up arms and compelled the king to summon a parliament. The next year the earl was dismissed from the king’s service, and, retiring to Warwick, built the strong tower on the north-east of the castle, at a cost of £395. 5s. 2d.: and also the body of St. l\/Iary’s church, at Warwick: but he lost, through the king’s displeasure, the territory of Gower, in Wales, which was restored to Mowbray. The king and his enemies determined on his ruin. They invited him to a feast, whence he was treacherously carried away prisoner, to undergo sentence of death; this, however, the king commuted to perpetual durance in the Isle of Man. His castle of Warwick, and many of his manors, were given to Thomas Holland, duke of Surrey ; and his son and heir, Richard, and the wife of his son, were imprisoned under the custody of Surrey. He was afterwards removed to the Tower of London, where he remained during Richard’ s reign. But the king was the chief sufferer for his perverse treatment of true friends, and advancing unworthy favourites: his deposition and murder followed, and Henry of Lancaster occupied his throne. [1399.]

Edward The Black Prince

Thomas de Beauchamp Earl of Warwick
The earl of Warwick was now restored to his full liberty and possessions : but the sorrow of the world does not conduce to longevity, and he died in his fifty-seventh year. [1401.] Richard, his son, succeeded him at the age of nineteen, and had the advantage of a biographer, in his contemporary, John Rous, whose family was Warwickshire, and probably the same as that which descended from John Rufus, time Henry III. This industrious antiquarian studied at Baliol College, Oxford, and was canon of Osney. He travelled throughout the kingdom to collect materials for history. But the later historian of Warwickshire, Dugdale, supposed that most of the labours of his diligent pen were lost, as he could only discover the rolls of the earls of Warwick, illustrated with curious drawings by the writer, and a chronicle of the kings of England. Rous carried on his literary work at Guy’s Cliff, and died there in 1491. Shakspere has given Sutton the honour of a notice, making Sir John Falstaf exclaim to Bardolph, before the terrible Battle of Shrewsbury, 1403:
" Get thee before to Coventry; fill me a bottle of sack; our soldiers shall march through ;
we’ll to Sutton Coldfield tonight." .
(This is a version that was not as written by Shakespeare who says  'sac' and 'Sutton Colfil' - mk)
As nothing more stirring is recorded of Sutton at this time, some account may be acceptable of the activity of her liege lord, and of his mode of expending the revenues of his manors, during a period of thirty-eight years. At the coronation of queen Jane [1404] second wife of Henry IV, the earl kept just, on the queen’ s part, against all comers ; in which deed of ancient  fashion and chivalry he acquitted himself most nobly. He afterwards signalized himself in the capture of the banner of Owen Glendower, then in rebellion, and also in the Battle of Shrewsbury, with the Percies, who had espoused the cause of the House of York.

He was made Knight of the Garter [1407] and in, 9 Henry IV obtained the king’s leave to absent himself on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, probably wishing to withdraw from the contention of the two royal houses, so destructive to the great families of England, as well as to their retainers. He was received with distinction by the king of France, and conducted with ceremony into Lombardy; there he was challenged by sir Pandolf Malacet to a feat of arms, at Verona, in the presence of sir Galeot of Mantua. They were first to just, then to fight with axes, and lastly with sharp daggers. On the day appointed a vast concourse of people was assembled, and sir Pandolf entered the lists with nine spears borne before him , the act of spears being ended, they fell to with axes, when sir Pandolf received a severe wound on his shoulder, and would have been slain but that sir Galeot cried, " Peace." Travelling forward, the earl received honours at Venice, and again at Jerusalem, where he performed his vows. There the sultan’ s lieutenant, sir Baltredam, entertained him nobly, as the descendant of the renowned Guy, whose story had been related in foreign tongues. We do not hear whether the pilgrim disclaimed any other title to Guy’s credit than that of the Norman seizure of his earldom and possessions. But the supposed inheritance produced, from the admirer of heroes, presents of jewels and rich garments for the earl’s attendants, with the avowal that, though servant to a Moslem, he was himself a Christian, without daring to acknowledge it in that land. On the next day the earl feasted the retainers of sir Baltredam, and gave them scarlet and other English cloth, which, being shewed to their master, he again went to the earl and declared he would wear his livery, and be marshal of his hall. This was acknowledged by the earl in an additional gift to sir Baltredam of a gown of black puke, furred; and Warwick, being skilled in foreign languages, had much conversation with him. From Jerusalem he travelled by Venice into Russia, and parts of Germany, shewing great valour in many tournaments.

When he returned to England [1410] he was retained to serve the prince of Wales for 250 marks per annum, with four esquires and six yeomen, to live at the prince’s expense; and when at Calais [1415] as captain, in 3 Henry V, his own retinue, during peace, was to consist of 30 men-at- arms, i.e., horsemen, including himself and 3 knights, 200 foot soldiers, and 200 archers ; for which he was to receive for himself, 6s. Sd. per day ; for his knights, 2s. each; for the rest of his horse, 1s; for every archer on horseback, and foot soldier, 8d; and for every archer on foot, 6d. per day as their wages. This city guard was to be much increased in case of war. At Calais, finding nothing to do, he caused three shields to be painted with devices of ladies and knights, and sent them as challenges to the court of the French king, where three French knights accepted them. The first was six Gerard Herbaumes, who called himself le chevalier Rouge, the second, a famous sir Hugh Launey, calling himself le chevalier Blanc ; and the third was sir Collard Fines. They met at the park hedge of Guines.

On the first day Warwick came into the field with his visor down, a plume on his helm, and his horse trapped with the arms of his ancestor, lord Toney; a noble presence his! When encountering le chevalier Rouge, he, at the third course, unhorsed the French knight, and then returned, with visor closed, unknown, to his pavilion, from whence he sent to the fallen chevalier the gallant compliment of a fine courser. The next day he again entered the field with his visor close, but he had added a chaplet of pearls and precious stones to his plumed helmet, and his horse was trapped with the ancestral arms of Hanslap (Le., Manduit). He then met the chevalier Blanc, smote off his visor thrice, broke his besagurs and other harness, and, with his own armour all safe, rode back victorious to his tent, as yet not known; and the princely knight again displayed his magnificence, by sending the worsted cavalier a handsome courser. But on the morrow, the last day of the justs, he advanced with his visor up, his chaplet rich with pearls and precious stones, his coat bearing the arms of Guy and Beauchamp, his trappers those of Hanslap and Toney Warwick confessed!

Then, poising his spear, he charged his opponent, and at every encounter threw sir Collard Fines back on the crupper. The French spectators cried that the earl was tied to his saddle a strange reproach to an Englishman!, to disprove it he sprang from his horse and up again quickly. Thus the justs being terminated, he sent to sir Collard Fines a good horse, feasted all the people, gave large presents to the three knights, and, highly applauded, rode back to Calais. When the Council of Constance began [1414] six bishops from England, with other learned men, were sent to assist; and to confer additional honour on the party, the earl ccompanied them, forming, with retainers, a body of 800  horsemen. This council judged that promises and oaths were zot to be kept with heretics; and they burned at the stake the two reformers, John Huss and Jerome of Prague, who had profited by the writings of our enlightened Wickliff`.

Scriptural knowledge was beginning to operate in England and Europe ; the pious lord Cobham and others had suffered in the cause ; but though the earl of Warwick is said to have aided in suppressing a popular tumult, he is not charged with persecuting the professors of reformed opinions. Whilst he was in Constance, amidst the distinguished men of Europe, and the rulers of the Church, he received a challenge from a noble duke to a just, in which display of skill in arms the earl slew the duke. This passage of chivalry was so generally approved that the empress took his livery, i.e., the bear, from the shoulder of one of his knights, and transferred it to her own person. When this act of royal favour was reported to Warwick, he presented the empress with his badge, set with pearls and precious stones, which she received with much graciousness. Afterwards the emperor Sigismund, in going to England on a visit, and returning, was royally entertained by the earl at Calais, and was induced to observe to Henry V, “ that no other sovereign had such a knight for wisdom, nurture, and manhood, and that if courtesy were lost, it might be found again in him." So that ever after, by the emperor’s authority, he was called the father of courtesy.

When Henry V was again carrying war into France [1417] this earl was in active service. He first entered Caen, beseiged Candebec, blocked up Rouen by land and river, won Mount St. Michel, and other strong towns, and was created earl of Albemarle. ln the following year Henry despatched him, with 1,000 men-at-arms, to negotiate a marriage with a daughter of the king of France ; but the dauphin sent two earls, with 5,000 men, to intercept him. He gave them battle, and both the French leaders fell, one of them slain in the fight by the earl himself, who, with an English host, had felt no hesitation in encountering five to one; 2,000 of the enemy were left on the field, or made prisoners. The treaty of marriage was soon concluded, by which, after the death of the reigning king of France, Henry of England was to ascend the throne of France. About this time {1419] he leased his manor house at Sutton, with the park and pools, to sir Ralph Bracebridge, of Kingsbury, for life, whom he retained to serve him, with 9 lances and 17 archers, for the strengthening of Calais. He was himself again engaged in war in France, and was continued in the command of Calais after the death Henry V, who, by will, made him a guardian of his infant son, Henry. On the death of the duke 0f Bedford [1422] he was constituted, by the English government, lieutenant-general of the whole realm of France, and duchy of Normandy, upon which he crossed to Calais, but met with a storm which caused  so much apprehension of loss, that he had himself, his countess, and their son, lashed together to the mainmast, that if they perished they might, by his coat of arms, be recognized and buried together. The state with which he made that voyage may be learned from the painter’s bill, for,

One cote for my lord’s body, bete with fine gold, pris . . 01 10 00 (£1.10s 0d) For a grete stremour for the ship, of 40 yerdis length, and 8 yerdis in brede, with a grete Bere and Gryfon holding a Ragged Staff, poudrid full of ragged staves; and for a grete crosse of St. George, for the lymmying and portraying .... O1 O6 O8 (£1 6s 8d)"

With a great number of other coats, pennons, etc. There was also with the earl a peculiar officer-at-arms, called Warwick herald, who had a grant from him of an annuity of 10 marks per annum. He reached Calais in safety, and continued in his high office four years; but the fashion of the world passes away, and the mighty earl of Warwick must descend to the grave.  His career terminated April 30, 17 Henry V1 [1439] after a long illness at the castle of Rouen, in his 59th year , and the time and the talents spent in acquiring the admiration of the world, will appear on his roll at the great day of account.

" His body, with grete deliberacon and ful worshipful conduit bi see and by lond, was broght to Warrewik’

The vast lands he possessed produced a revenue of 8,306 marks. Barley was then 4s. 2d. per quarter, oats 2s. 1d.; hens, 1d. each. The denomination of money had been raised by Henry V, who coined 30s. from a pound troy. The executors of the earl completed the building of the lady chapel in Vlfarwick church, in 21 years, at a cost of £2,481 ; the agreement with the workmen is extant :
 
" With Thomas Stevynes, coppersmith, to make forge work in the most finest wise, and of the finest latten, etc., to be gilded, etc.; and 14 images, embossed, of lords and ladyes in divers vestures; also he shall make 18 less images of angells, to stand in other housings. Also, by William Austen, the image of a man armed, of line latten, garnished with sword, dagger, and garter, with a helm and crest under his head, and at his feet a bear muzzled, and a griffin, to be laid on the tomb at  me peril of the said Austen. Bartlemy Lambespring, Dutchman, and goldsmith of London, doth covenant to gild and pullish 32 images, mourners and angells, and to make the visages and hands, and all other bares of the said images, in most quick and fair wise, etc. John Prudde, of Westminster, glazier, to glaze all the windows with glasse beyond the seas, and with no glasse of England, etc., of the finest: colours of blew, yellow, red, purpure, sanguine, and violet, etc.”

The earl’s youngest brother, William, was scarcely less distinguished. He carried 500 men to Spain, and afterwards accompanied the warlike and victorious bishop of Norwich in the Netherlands, and had many important offices and charges. In his will he directs that 10,000 masses should be sung for soul in all the haste that might be after his death, by the most honest priests that could be got ; and also that four good priests be found for the space of ten years singing for his soul. Henry succeeded the earl, his father, at the age of fourteen; and before he was nineteen offered the king his services to defend Aquitaine. His father had seen almost all the English acquisitions in France won by the conquering Henry V, and lost by the government of the younger Henry. The Maid of Orleans having been the restorer of French honour. This only heir, male, of the great earls of Warwick, was created premier earl of England, and duke of Warwick ; but he died at the age of twenty two [1445] and after the death of his infant daughter, which followed in the year 1449, his sister Anne became heir to the earldom  she was then wife of Richard Neville, son and heir of the earl of Salisbury, to him, therefore, the dignity and title of the earl of Warwick was confirmed, and to her heirs. This noble has been known as the Stout Earl, or the King-maker, as he was so prominent an actor in the sanguinary Civil Wars which followed between the Houses of York and Lancaster.

About the 30th Henry VI he took part with the duke of York, and, though quieted for a short time, he again encouraged the duke, and was the first to make the onset at the Battle of St Alban’s. [1454-5.] There, after much slaughter, king Henry VI was made prisoner. After some reverses, Warwick was induced to come to a conference with the king and duke in London, when he was escorted from Calais by 600 men in red coats, embroidered before and behind with the ragged staff. An amicable adjustment appeared to be effected : but the following year some new offence caused Warwick to hasten to Calais, and there maintain his command against the new officer despatched by the king. The means for this defence had been obtained by the capture at sea of some rich merchant vessels, after two days’ fighting, with the loss of about 100 men on his part, and 1,000 of the Genoese traders.

In the 38th Henry VI he conducted a trusty band from Calais to a Yorkist Meeting in Herefordshire, where, to encourage the country to join his standard, he proclaimed the death of Henry, and ordered mass for his soul ; but the gallant captain of his force, discovering the disloyal purpose, succeeded in in drawing off some of his men and making his way to the king, which so much disconcerted the rebels, that Warwick and his father hastened to Calais. Then it was that the king and parliament attainted him of high treason. Yet, soon after, he contrived to satisfy the government of his dutiful intentions, and was allowed to land in Kent. He and his party went forward to meet the king, who lay with his army at Northampton , they there put themselves in array against the royal standard [1460] and Warwick led the van: a bloody battle ensued, and the king was again in the hands of his enemies. The queen hastened to redeem his cause, and raised troops in Yorkshire. The Duke of York met them at Wakefield Green, and there fell by the sword which he had called from the scabbard. The queen marched towards London, where WVarwick was supporting the claim of young Edward, son of the late Duke of York. The two armies had another battle at St. Alban’ s, when the Yorkists were routed, and the king was recovered: but Warwick was soon in the field again with a more powerful array, which alarmed the  king and queen into a hasty retreat to the north. London opened its gates to the Yorkists, and their young chief was proclaimed king Edward IV [1461]. He immediately pursued the royal fugitives into Yorkshire. At Ferrybridge he met with some reverses, when Warwick, to rally the spirit of his men, stabbed his own horse in the presence of Edward, crying, “ Let him fly that will ; I will tarry with him that will tarry with me " The next day they gained the decisive victory of Towton, which cost the country upwards of 36,000 of her bravest men, and many gallant nobles. The execution of captive chiefs was the usual afterpiece of these tragic encounters, and, as it were in mockery of the cruelties, treacheries, and desolations, perpetrated by both parties, history has denominated them from the chosen emblems of the two houses the " Wars of the Roses?

Henry, thus deprived of the crown (unjustly acquired by his ancestor), fled with queen Margaret into Scotland. The new king rewarded the powerful earl with honours, and sent him to the French court [1463] to treat of a marriage with a foreign princess, in which he was successful: but in the meanwhile the impetuous Edward had become resolved on making the widow oif Sir John Grey his queen himself and his commission so incensed Warwick, that he resolved to overturn the throne which he had raised. He secured the interest of the king’s brother, the duke of Clarence, hy giving him his daughter Isabel in marriage [l468] and then took up arms. Edward listened to terms of peace, but nested negligently in his camp at Wolvey, in this county. There the earl surprised him in bed, and carried him off prisoner to Warwick Castle. From thence he transferred him to his manor of Middleham, in Yorkshire. Edward soon effected his escape, and made such active use of his liberty against the Lancastrian troops in Lincolnshire, that Warwick, with Clarence, hastily retreated to france[1470] and entered into negotiations with the deposed queen, Margaret, Warwick giving his other daughter, Ann, in marriage to her son, the prince of Wales. With assistance from her, Warwick landed in the west of England, proclaimed king Henry, and, marching to London, released that unfortunate prince from his nine years’ captivity. Edward had fled the kingdom; but in less than a year he returned, and his strength soon increasing, the Duke of Clarence made terms for himself, but the earl would not listen to an accommodation. His treasons, his treacheries, his dignity, his courage forbade it: he cast his fate on a battle [1471] that battle he hazarded at Barnet, and lost  there, on foot, in the hottest fray, Warwick fell fighting! And there fell the noble house whose titles and honours of four centuries growth he had unworthily borne in a political career purely selfish. His high talents had been lost to his country. His inordinate pride had in it nothing of patriotism, but was rather the spring of contentions which saturated the land with the best blood of England. His power had gained for him popularity, and at Calais every one wore his badge, no one esteeming himself gallant whose cap was not adorned with his ragged staff; and no door was frequented that was not distinguished by his white cross. His hospitality was so profuse that, at his house on Bankside, in London, six oxen were usually eaten at breakfast; and every tavern was full of his meat ; any man that had an acquaintance in his household might have as much sodden and roast as he could carry away on a long dagger.

For this expenditure of course the country rnanors were sufficiently muleted. He maintained an offier termed the " Warwick Herald," as granted to his predecessor. After his fall, the countess sank under overwhelming troubles and poverty. She, the representative of a line of earls,and allied to both royal houses by the marriages ofher ill-fated daughters she, countess, destitute and neglected, hid herself from the conflicts of parties, and the observation of enemies, in Beaulieu Abbey, Hants, and afterwards in the north of England. By act of parliament she was deprived of her vast inheritance, and it was divided, and settled on her two daughters, who were sacrificed at an early age to the ambition of the duke of Gloucester, and, it is believed, died by poison, whilst he possessed himself of the Warwick estates, and kept their mother under restraint.

Isabel, at the age of eighteen, had married George, duke of Clarence, and, after the death of her father, Clarence, in right of his wife, was created earl Warwick [1472] but she was poisoned in the year 1476, and the year following Clarence was murdered in the tower. [1477.] The earldom then belonged to their only son, Edward Plantagenet, just three years of age, but at the age of eight he was shut up for life, in prison; first, by the cruelty of his uncle Gloucester (Richard III), and afterwards by the inhuman policy of Henry VII, who brought him out to the scaffold in 1499, in order to rid himself of the last male Plantagenet who had a claim to the throne. His only sister, married to sir Richard Pool, knight, was the mother of cardinal Pole, and, in her own right, countess of Salisbury. In her sixty-eighth year, 1541, she was dragged to the block by the hair of her head.

To return to the manor of Sutton. It had been seized by Henry VI on the defection of the earl of Warwick from his cause, and demised to sir E. Mountfort, knight, one of the royal carvers, for the term of ten years. This sir Edmond had a contest of a very iniquitous character with his elder half brother, sir Baldwin Mountfort, for his patrimony of Coleshill, etc., and to assist him in this wrong, he had obtained, by bribery, the influence of the puissant duke of Buckingham, after whose death a curious document was laid before the public by the disinherited knight, from which are the following extracts:

' To all true Cristen pepull—Baldewyn Mountfort, Kt and Prest, sendeth greting, &c. all such relecs or other writings which y made to Humfrey, late Lord of Stafford, &c .... hit was done by compulcion of the said Duke, and for fere of my deth, and of my son Sir Simond’s. For in trouth the said Duke keped me in Coventre 14 deyes, and after had me to the Castel of Maxtoke, and there kept me; and my son Sir Symond was put in the Castell of Gloucester, and we coude never be delivered out, till we agreed to certain Articles written in a bill annexid to this my writinge, &c."49 Henry VI.

This was 10 Edward IV, or 1470.

At the time Henry gave away the manor to sir E. Mountford, he conferred the rangership of the Chase on John Holt, esq., of Aston, one of his household, to hold for the term of life. Parliament was compelled by Edward IV to settle the manor on the two daughters of the countess of Warwick; and, they being deceased, Henry VII, in the third year of his reign [1474]caused Parliament to annul the former act, and restore possession of all her inheritance to Ann, the widowed countess, but it appears not for her benefit, as he made her convey the whole to himself, and entail it on his issue male: and two years after the king assigned to her the manor of Sutton for her maintenance, out of the 118 lordships and other territories which should have been her dower.

I would like to thank the excellent people at http://www.paperfile.net/index.html for their FREE OCR Copy Programme which I used to scan this book. There were numerous errors but to be expected from an 1860 Victorian book!!

Sutton Coldfield Chase History Page 2

Historic-Newspapers.co.uk