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John of Gaunt issued his letters patent compelling them to do the usual suits and services on the feast of the Assumption. This last mentioned document is still extant in an inspeximus of King Henry the Sixth, relative to the customs of Tutbury; it bears date the 22nd of August, in the fourth year of King Richard the Second, is entitled "CARTA DE ROY DE MINSTRALX," and runs thus:-"Henry, by the grace of God, King of England and France, and Lord of Ireland, to all whom these presents shall come, greeting. We have inspected the letters patent of John, late King of Castile and Leon, and Duke of Lancaster, our great grandfather, in these words-John by the Grace of God King of Castile and Leon, Duke of Lancaster, to all who shall see or hear these our letters, greeting. Know we have ordained, constituted, and assigned our well-beloved King of the Minstrels in our honour of Tutbury, who is, or for the time shall be, to apprehend and arrest all the Minstrels in our said honour and franchise that refuse to do the service and minstrelsy, appertaining to them from old times at Tutbury aforesaid yearly, on the Assumption of our Lady; giving and granting to the said king of the minstrels for the time being, full power and command to execute reasonable judgment, and to constrain them to do their services and minstrelsies in manner as belongs to them, and as it hath been used there and of ancient times accustomed. In witness whereof we have caused these our letters patent to be made, given under our privy seal at our castle of Tutbury, the 22nd day of August, in the fourth year of the reign of our most gracious king, Richard the Second'-And we, at the request of our beloved in Christ Thomas Gedney, Prior of Tutbury, have by these presents caused the aforesaid letters to be exemplified, in witness whereof we have caused these our letters to be made patent. Given under the seal of our
Duchy of Lancaster, at our palace of Westminster, this 22nd day of February, in the twenty-first year of our reign."*
In the process of time either the King of the Minstrels, like other monarchs, grew too despotic, or his subjects too rebellious, for it was found requisite to establish a court to hear and determine controversies, over which the steward of the honour presided. This was held on the
*CARTA DE ROY DE MINSTRALX. (Ex registro de Tutbury penes Henricum Ayard militem. Nunc penes Coll. Armor.) Henricus, sextus, Dei gratia rex Angliæ, et Franciæ, et dominus Hiberniæ, ad quos præsentes literæ pervenerint, salutem. Inspeximus literas patentes Johannis nuper regis Castellæ et Legionis, ducis Lancastriæ, proavi nostri, factas in hæc verba. Johan, par la grace de Dieu roy de Castile et de Leon, duke de Lancastre, a touts ceux qui cestes nos letres vorront ou orront saluz. Saches nous avoir ordenoz constitut et assignez nostre bien ame le roy des ministraulx deins nostre honour de Tutebury quore est, ou qui pur le temps serra, pur prendre et arrester touts les ministralx deins meisme nostre honour et franchise queux refusont de faire lour services et ministralcie as eux appurtenants a faire de ancient temps a Tuttebury suisdit annualment les jours del Assumption de Nostre Dame. Donants et grantant au dit roy de ministralx pur le temps esteant plein poiar et mandement de les faire resonablement justifier et constrener de faire lour services et ministralscies en maner come appeint et come illonque ad este use et de ancient temps accustome. En testimoignance de quel chose nous avons fait faire cestes noz letres patens, don souz nostre privie seal a nostre castell de Tuttebury le xxII. jour de August le an de regne nostre tresdulces le roy Richard Second quart.' Nos autem literas prædictas ad requisitionem dilecti nobis in Christo Thomæ Gedney prioris de Tuttebury duximus exemplificandas per præsentes. In cujus rei testimonium has literas nostras fieri fecimus patentes. Datum sub sigillo nostri ducatus Lancastr. apud palatium nostrum de Westmonast. XXII. die Februar. anno regni nostri vicesimo primo."-Dugdale's MONASTICON ANGLICANUM, vol. iii. p. 397, folio, Lond. 1821. I should observe that the word "sextus" is not in any copy of Dugdale that I have seen, but as it certainly seems essential I have ventured to give it on the authority of Blount's FRAGMENTA AntiQUITATIS, p. 167.
morrow of the Assumption, or August 16, to which day the feast also was transferred, though wherefore, or at what precise time, it is now impossible to ascertain. The earliest account we have of this ceremony is in the "Coucher Book of the Honour of Tutburye," (cap. de Libertatibus,) from which the following extract has been given by the indefatigable Blount.*
"The prior of Tutburye shall have yerely onet oure Ladye day the Assumption a bukke delivered him of seyssone by the woodmaster and kepers of Nedewoode; and the woodmaster and kepers of Needwoode shale every yere mete at a loddge in Needwoode, called Birkeley lodgye, by one of the cloke att afternone, one Seynt Laurence day,§ at which day and place a woodmote|| shall be
* Fragmenta Antiquitatis, p. 168. 8vo. ed. and 529 of 4to. +i. e.-on..
§ That is on the tenth of August, so that there seem to have been some few changes as to the time of holding this festival.
The WOODMOTE COURT was a court of the forest "held for the foresters to bring in their attachments concerning any hurt or injury done in viridi et venatione"-or as it is usually called vert and venison
-" in the forest; and for the verders to receive and enroll the same; and this court being held by the charter of the forest, ad videndum attachiamenta, 'tis therefore called the court of attachments," (Manwood's Forest Laws, p. 23.) But it would seem from the passage in our text that the judicature of these courts was not restricted to vert and venison only, and perhaps we shall not greatly err in supposing that it extended to most matters connected with the forest, notwithstanding that Manwood expressly says (Idem) "this court is not to meddle with any thing but such which concerns an injury or hurt done, or to be done, to the vert or venison." He adds too that it is only a court of inquest, the offender can not be convicted here; he can be attached by his goods only, and not in person, except he was actually taken in the commission of the offence, or, as it was styled in the case of killing deer, red-handed.
At first these courts were held at no fixed times, their less or greater frequency being regulated by the will of the chief officers of the forest.
kept, and everye keper makinge deffalte shall loose xii d. to the kynge; and there the woodmaster and kepers shall chose of the kepers yerely, as itt cometh to there turne, to be stewards for to prepare the dyner, at Tutbury Castell, one our Ladye dey the Assumption, for the woodmaster and kepers and officers within the chase; and there they shall appoint in lykewise where the bukke shall be kylled for the prior ageynst the saide Ladye dey; and also where the bukke shall be kylde for the keper's dyner against the same day; and on the saide Feaste of Assumption the woodmaster,* or his lyvetenant, and the kepers and their To remedy this inconvenience it was enacted in the Charta Forestæ, that they should be held once in every forty days, and hence by some they have been called the Forty Days' Courts. The attachment being made, it was then presented to the next Swanimote, a court which was held three times a year-namely: fifteen days before the feast of Saint Michael-fifteen days before the feast of Saint John the Baptist-and about the feast of Saint Martin, or November 11th. These days, however, were not arbitrarily fixed upon without a definite object, but were chosen in reference to the seasons for pasturing sheep and cattle in the royal forests, for preserving the wild beasts in their time of fawning, and for feeding swine on the mast from the trees. The first and last of these are called, in the language of the law, agistments, which literally meant a driving out of animals to feed," and which therefore applied with great propriety, to the grazing of sheep or cattle, and to the consumption of acorns and beech-nuts by the swine.
* The woodmaster, I should imagine, is the officer of the forest, more usually known under the name of woodward, whose business it was to apprehend all offenders against the forest-laws, and to look after the woods and vert there. He was bound to appear at every Court of Attachment, or Woodmote, for the purpose of presenting such offences as might be done within his charge, at which time he must present his hatchet, the emblem of his office, to the Lord Chief Justice in Eyre. This woodward, however must not be confounded with the foresters, though to a certain extent their duties would seem to have been in common, for he might be appointed by any owner of woods in the forest, provided only it was in a part of it where the office had previously existed; the making of a woodward, where there
deputies, shall be at Tutburye, and every man one horsebake, and soo ryde in order two and two together from the Yate, called the Lydeat, goinge into the commen felde unto the highe crosse in the towne; and the keper in whose office the Seynt Mary bukke was killed shall beire the bukk's heede garnished about with a rye* of pease; and the bukk's heede must be cabaged† with the whole face and yeerst beinge one, the sengill of the bukke with two peces of fatte one either side of the sengill must be fastened upon the broo-ankelers of the same heede; and every keper must have a grene boghe** in his hand; and every keper that is absent that day beinge nodert+sikke nor in the king's service shall lose xiid; and soo the kepers shall ridde two and two together tyll they come to the said crosse in the towne; and all the mins trells shall goe afore them one foote, two and two together; and the woodmaster, or in his absence hys lyvetenant, shall ride hindermost after all the kepers; and at the said crosse in the town the foremost keper shall blowe had not been such an office before, was finable. If moreover he neglected to appear in court at the time appointed, the wood of the person, for whom he acted, was seized; and, if not replevied within a year, it became forfeited to the king. Upon the replevy, the owner was fined for not having had a woodward.
Rye of pease. Neither Blount nor Beck with have taken the slightest notice of this phrase, either because they deemed it too simple, or found it too difficult for explanation. It means a garnish of pease; RYE, or, as Grose writes it, REYE, is a Devonshire term for dressing or garnishing any thing; and in fact is but another mode of writing ray, or array, i. e. dress.
+ CABAGED, i. e. cabossed, cut off close behind the ears. YEERS, i. e. cars.
§ ONE. i. e. on-the whole face and ears being entire.