CHAP. XIX. OF PARKES AND WARRENS.IN euerie shire of England there is great plentie of parkes, whereof some here and there, to wit, welnere to the number of two hundred for hir daily prouision of that flesh apperteine to the prince, the rest to such of the nobilitie and gentlemen as haue their lands and patrimonies lieng in or néere vnto the same. I would gladlie haue set downe the iust number of these inclosures to be found in euerie countie: but sith I cannot so doo, it shall suffice to saie, that in Kent and Essex onelie are to the number of an hundred, and twentie in the bishoprike of Durham, wherein great plentie of fallow deere is cherished and kept. As for warrens of conies, I iudge them almost innumerable, and dailie like to increase, by reason that the blacke skins of those beasts are thought to counteruaile the prices of their naked carcases,, and this is the onelie cause whie the graie are lesse estéemed. Néere vnto London their quickest merchandize is of the yong rabbets, wherfore the older conies are brought from further off, where there is no such speedie vtterance of rabbets and sucklings in their season, nor so great losse by their skins, sith they are suffered to growe vp to their full greatnesse with their owners. Our parkes are generallie inclosed with strong pale made of oke, of which kind of wood there is great store cherished in the woodland countries from, time to time in ech of them, onelie for the maintenance of the said defense, and safe-keeping of the fallow déere from ranging about the countrie. Howbeit in times past diuerse haue been fensed in with stone walles (especiallie in the times of the Romans, who first brought fallow déere into this land, as some coniecture) albeit those inclosures were ouerthrowne againe by the Saxons & Danes, as Cauisham, Towner, and Woodstocke, beside other in the west countrie, and one also at Bolton. Among other things also to be seene in that towne, there is one of the fairest clockes in Europe. Where no wood is, they are also inclosed with piles of slate; and therto it is doubted of manie whether our bucke or doe are to be reckoned in wild or tame beasts or not. Plinie deemeth them to be wild, Martial is also of the same opinion, where he saith, "Imbelles damæ quid nisi præda sumus?" And so in time past the like controuersie was about bées, which the lawiers call "Feras," tit. de acquirendo rerum dominio, & lib. 2. instit. But Plinie attempting to decide the quarell calleth them "Medias inter feras & placidas aues." But whither am I so suddenlie digressed? In returning therefore vnto our parks, I find also the circuit of these inclosures in like manner conteine often times a walke of foure or fiue miles, and sometimes more or lesse. Wherby it is to be séene what store of ground is emploied vpon that vaine commoditie, which bringeth no manner of gaine or profit to the owner, sith they commonlie giue awaie their flesh, neuer taking penie for the same, except the ordinarie fée and parts of the déere giuen vnto the kéeper by a custome, who beside three shillings foure pence, or fiue shillings in monie, hath the skin head, vmbles, chine, and shoulders: whereby he that hath the warrant for an whole bucke, hath in the end little more than halfe, which in my iudgement is scarselie equal dealing; for venison in England is neither bought nor sold, as in other countries, but mainteined onelie for the pleasure of the owner and his friends. Albeit I heard of late of one ancient ladie, which maketh a great gaine by selling yeerelie hir husbands venison to the cookes (as another of no lesse name will not sticke to ride to the market to sée hir butter sold) but not performed without infinite scoffes and mockes, euen of the poorest pezzants of the countrie, who thinke them as odious matters in ladies and women of such countenance to sell their venison and their butter, as for an earle to feele his oxen, sheepe, and lambs, whether they be readie for the butcher or not, or to sell his wooll vnto the clothier, or to kéepe a tanhouse, or deale with such like affaires as belong not to men of honor, but rather to farmers, or grasiers; for which such, if there be anie may well be noted (and not vniustlie) to degenerate from true nobilitie, and betake themselues to husbandrie. And euen the same enormitie tooke place sometime among the Romans, and entred so farre as into the verie senate, of whome some one had two or three ships going vpon the sea, pretending prouision for their houses; but in truth following the trades of merchandize, till a law was made which did inhabit and restraine them. Liuie also telleth of another law which passed likewise against the senators by Claudius the tribune, and helpe onelie of C. Flaminius, that no senator, or he that had beene father to anie senator should possesse anie ship or vossell aboue the capacitie of thrée hundred amphoras, which was supposed sufficient for the cariage and recariage of such necessities as should apperteine vnto his house: sith further trading with merchandizes and commodities dooth declare but a base and couetous mind, not altogither void of enuie, that anie man should liue but he; or that if anie gaine were to be had, he onelie would haue it himselfe: which is a wonderfull dealing, and must néeds proue in Tillage and mankind diminished by parkes. time the confusion of that countrie wherein such enormities are exercised. Where in times past, manie large and wealthie occupiers were dwelling within the compasse of some one parke, and thereby great plentie of corne and cattell séene, and to be had among them, beside a more copious procreation of humane issue, whereby the realme was alwaies better furnished with able men to serue the prince in his affaires: now there is almost nothing kept but a sort of wild and sauage beasts, cherished for pleasure and delight; and yet some owners still desirous to inlarge those grounds, as either for the bréed and feeding of cattell, doo not let dailie to take in more, not sparing the verie commons whervpon manie towneships now and then doo liue, affirming that we haue alreadie too great store of people in England; and that youth by marrieng too soone doo nothing profit the countrie, but fill it full of beggars, to the hurt and vtter vndooing (they saie) of the common wealth. The decaie of the people is the destruction of a kingdome. Certes if it be not one curse of the Lord, to haue our countrie conuerted in such sort from the furniture of mankind, into the walks and shrowds of wild beasts, I know not what is anie. How manie families also these great and small games (for so most keepers call them) haue eaten vp and are likelie hereafter to deuoure, some men may coniecture, but manie more lament, sith there is no hope of restraint to be looked for in this behalfe, because the corruption is so generall. But if a man may presentlie giue a ghesse at the vniuersalitie of this euill by contemplation of the circumstance, he shall saie at the last, that the twentith part of the realme is imploied vpon déere and conies alreadie, which séemeth verie much if it be not dulie considered of. King Henrie the eight, one of the noblest princes that euer reigned in this land, lamented oft that he was constreined to hire forren aid, for want of competent store of souldiors here at home, perceiuing (as it is indeed) that such supplies are oftentimes more hurtfull than profitable vnto those that interteine them, as may chéeflie be seene in Valens the emperor, our Vortiger, and no small number of others. He would oft maruell in priuate talke, how that when seauen or eight princes ruled here at once, one of them could lead thirtie or fortie thousand men to the field against another, or two of them 100000 against the third, and those taken out onelie of their owne dominions. But as he found the want, so he saw not the cause of this decaie, which grew beside this occasion now mentioned, also by laieng house to house, and land to land, whereby manie mens occupiengs were conuerted into one, and the bréed of people not a little thereby diminished. The auarice of landlords by increasing of rents and fines also did so wearie the people, that they were readie to rebell with him that would arise, supposing a short end in the warres to be better than a long and miserable life in peace. Priuileges and faculties also are another great cause of the ruine of a common wealth, and diminution of mankind: for whereas law and nature dooth permit all men to liue in their best maner, and whatsoeuer trade they be exercised in, there commeth some priuilege or other in the waié, which cutteth them off from this or that trade, wherby they must néeds shift soile, and séeke vnto other countries. By these also the greatest commodities are brought into the hands of few, who imbase, corrupt, and yet raise the prices of things at their owne pleasures. Example of this last I can giue also in bookes, which (after the first impression of anie one booke) are for the most part verie negligentlie handled: whereas if another might print it so well as the first, then would men striue which of them should doo it best; and so it falleth out in all other trades. It is an easie matter to prooue that England was neuer lesse furnished with people than at this present; for if the old records of euerie manour be sought, and search made to find what tenements are fallen, either downe, or into the lords hands, or brought and vnited togither by other men: it will soone appéere, that in some one manour seuentéen, eightéene, or twentie houses are shrunke. I know what I saie by mine owne experience: notwithstanding that some one cotage be here and there erected of late, which is to little purpose. Of cities and townes either vtterlie decaied, or more than a quarter or halfe diminished, though some one be a little increased here and there; of townes pulled downe for sheepe-walks, and no more but the lordships now standing in them, beside those that William Rufus pulled downe in his time; I could saie somewhat: but then I should swarue yet further from my purpose, wherevnto I now returne. Wée had no parkes left in England at the comming of the Normans, who added this calamitie also to the seruitude of our nation, making men of the best sort furthermore to become kéepers of their game, whilest they liued in the meane time vpon the spoile of their reuenues, and dailie ouerthrew townes, villages, and an infinit sort of families, for the maintenance of their venerie. Neither was anie parke supposed in these times to be statelie enough, that conteined not at the least eight or ten hidelands, that is, so manie hundred acres or families (or as they haue béene alwaies called in some places of the realme carrucats or cartwares) of which one was sufficient in old time to mainteine an honest yeoman. King Iohn trauelling on a time northwards, to wit 1209 to warre vpon the king of Scots, because he had married his daughter to the earle of Bullen without his consent: in his returne ouerthrew a great number of parkes and warrens, of which some belonged to his barons, but the greatest part to the abbats and prelats of the cleargie. For hearing (as he trauelled) by complaint of the countrie, how these inclosures were the chéefe decaie of men, and of tillage in the land, he sware with an oth that he would not suffer wild beasts to féed vpon the fat of his soile, and sée the people perish for want of abilitie to procure and buie them food that should defend the realme. Howbeit, this act of his was so ill taken by the religious and their adherents, that they inuerted his intent herein to another end; affirming most slanderouslie how he did it rather of purpose to spoile the corne and grasse of the commons and catholikes that held against him of both estates, and by so doing to impouerish and bring the north part of the realme to destruction, because they refused to go with him into Scotland. If the said prince were aliue in these daies, wherein Andrew Boord saith there are more parks in England than in all Europe (ouer which he trauelled in his owne person) and saw how much ground they consume, I thinke he would either double his othes, or laie the most of them open that tillage might be better looked vnto. But this I hope shall not néed in time, for the owners of a great sort of them begin now to smell out, that such parcels might be emploied to their more gaine, and therefore some of them doo grow to be disparked. Next of all we haue the franke chase, which taketh something both of parke and forrest, and is giuen either by the kings grant or prescription. Certes it differeth not much from a parke; nay, it is in maner the selfe same thing that a parke is, sauing that a parke is inuironed with pale, wall, or such like: the chase alwaie open and nothing at all inclosed as we see in Enuéeld & Maluerne chases. And as it is the cause of the seisure of the franchise of a parke not to kéepe the same inclosed, so it is the like in a chase if at anie time it be imparked. It is trespasse, and against the law also, for anie man to haue or make a chase, parke, or frée warren without good warrantie of the king by his charter or perfect title of prescription: for it is not lawfull for anie subiect either to carnilate, that is, build stone houses, imbattell, haue the querke of the sea, or kéepe the assise of bread, ale, or wine, or set vp furels, tumbrell, thew, or pillorie, or inclose anie ground to the aforesaid purposes within his owne soile, without his warrant and grant. The beasts of the chase were commonlie the bucke, the roe, the fox, and the marterne. But those of venerie in old time were the hart, the hare, the bore and the woolfe; but as this held not in the time of Canutus, so in stéed of the woolfe the beare is now crept in, which is a beast cōmonlie hunted in the east countries, and fed vpon as excellent venison, although with vs I know not anie that féed thereon or care for it at all. Certes it should seeme, that forrests and franke chases haue alwaies béene had, and religiouslie preserued in this Iland for the solace of the prince, and recreation of his nobilitie: howbeit I read not that euer they were inclosed more than at this present, or otherwise fensed than by vsuall notes of limitation, whereby their bounds were remembred from time to time, for the better preseruation of such venerie and vert of all sorts as were nourished in the same. Neither are anie of the ancient laws prescribed for their maintenance, before the daies of Canutus, now to be had; sith time hath so dealt with them that they are perished and lost. Canutus therefore seeing the dailie spoile that was made almost in all places of his game, did at the last make sundrie sanctions and decrées, whereby from thenceforth the red and fallow déere were better looked to throughout his whole dominions. We haue in these daies diuerse forrests in England and Wales, of which, some belong to the king, and some to his subiects, as Waltham forrest, Windlesor, Pickering, Fecknam, Delamore, Gillingham, Kingswood, Wencedale, Clun, Rath, Bredon, Weire, Charlie, Leircester, Lée, Rokingham, Selwood, New forrest, Wichwood, Hatfeeld, Sauernake, Westbirie, Blacamore Peke, Deane, Penrise, & manie other now cleane out of my remembrance: and which although they are far greater in circuit than manie parkes and warrens, yet are they in this our time lesse deuourers of the people than these latter, sith beside much tillage, & manie townes are found in each of them, wheras in parks and warrens we haue nothing else than either the keepers & wareners lodge, or at least the manor place of the chéef lord & owner of the soile. I find also by good record, that all Essex hath in time past wholie béene forrest ground, except one cantred or hundred; but how long it is since it lost the said denomination in good sooth I doo not read. This neuerthelesse remaineth yet in memorie, that the towne of Walden in Essex standing in the limits of the aforesaid countie doth take hir name thereof. For in the Celtike toong, wherewith the Saxon or Scithian spéech dooth not a little participate, huge woods and forrests were called Walds, and likewise their Druides were named Walie or Waldie, bicause they frequented the woods, and there made sacrifice among the okes and thickets. So that if my coniecture in this behalfe be thing at all, the aforesaid towne taketh denomination of Wald and end, as if I should say, The end of the wooddie soile; for being once out of that parish, the champaine is at hand. Or it may be that it is so called of Wald and dene: for I haue read it written in old euidences Waldæne, with a diphthong. And to saie truth, Dene is the old Saxon word for a vale or lowe bottome, as Dune or Don is for an hill or hillie soile. Certes if it be so, then Walden taketh hir name of the woodie vale, in which it sometime stood. But the first deriuation liketh me better, and the highest part of the towne is called also Chipping Walden, of the Saxon word gipping, which Gipping, of going vp to anie place. signifieth Leaning or hanging, and may verie well be applied therevnto, sith the whole towne hangeth as it were vpon the sides of two hils, wherof the lesser runneth quite through the middest of the same. I might here for further confirmation of these things bring in mention of the Wald of Kent: but this may suffice for the vse of the word Wald, which now differeth much from Wold. For as that signifieth a woodie soile, so this betokeneth a soile without wood, or plaine champaine countrie, without anie store of trées, as may be seene in Cotswold, Porkewold, &c. Beside this I could saie more of our forrests, and the aforesaid inclosures also, & therein to prooue by the booke of forrest law, that the whole countie of Lancaster hath likewise beene forrest heretofore. Also how William the Bastard made a law, that whosoeuer did take anie wild beast within the kings forrest should lose an eare; as Henrin the first did punish them either by life or lim: which ordinance was confirmed by Henrie the second and his péeres at Woodstocke, wherevpon great trouble insued vnder king Iohn and Henrie the third, as appeareth by the chronicles: but it shall suffice to haue said so much as is set downe alreadie. Howbeit, that I may restore one antiquitie to light, which hath hitherto lien as it were raked vp in the embers of obliuion, I will giue out those laws that Canutus made for his forrest: whereby manie things shall be disclosed concerning the same (wherof peraduenture some lawiers haue no knowledge) and diuerse other notes gathered touching the ancient estate of the realme not to be found in other. But before I deale with the great charter (which as you may perceiue, is in manie places vnperfect by reason of corruption, and want also of congruitie, crept in by length of time, not by me to be restored) I will note another breefe law, which he made in the first yeare of his reigne at Winchester, afterward inserted into these his later constitutions, canon 32, & beginneth thus in his owne Saxon tong; "Ic will that elc one," &c: I will and grant that ech one shall be worthie of such venerie as he by hunting can take either in the plaines or in the woods, within his owne fée or dominion; but ech man shall abstaine from my venerie in euerie place, where I will that my beasts shall haue firme peace and quietnesse, vpon paine to forfet so much as a man may forfet. Hitherto the statute made by the aforesaid Canutus, which was afterward confirmed by king Edward surnamed the Confessor; & ratified by the Bastard in the fourth yeare of his reigne. Now followeth the great charter it selfe in such rude order and Latine as I find it word for word, and which I would gladlie haue turned into English, if it might haue sounded to anie benefit of the vnskilfull and vnlearned.
And these are the constitutions of Canutus concerning the forrest, verie barbarouslie translated by those that tooke the same in hand. Howbeit as I find it so I set it downe, without anie alteration of my copie in anie iot or tittle.