This was held at irregular intervals by itinerant justices appointed by the King to administer the laws of the Forest.
The records for two of Sherwood Forests Eyre Courts survive in full. These are for 1287 and 1334.
There were two jurisdictions for the justices in Eyre for the country- one for south of the River Trent known as 'this side Trent' and one for the north known as 'Yon side Trent'.
The Forest Eyre for Sherwood Forest was therefore administered by 'the Kings Justices in Eyre Yon side Trent'.
In 1334 The Pleas of the Forest of Sherwood were heard by Ralph De Neville, Richard of Aldborough, and Peter of Middleton, at Nottingham on 'the Monday next after the Feast of St George in the Eighth Year of the reign of King Edward, the Third after the Conquest'.
The court opened with the usual ceremony:
Edwardus dei gracia rex angl' dominus Hibern' et dux Aquit' (Edward by the grace of God King of England, Lord of Ireland, and Duke of Aquitane)... archiepiscopis, episcopis, abbatibus, prioribus, comitibus, baronibus, militibus, forestariis, viridariis, agistatoribus, regardatoribus et omnibus aliis de comitatu Nottingham salutem (archbishops, bishops, abbots, priors, earls, barons, knights, foresters, verderers, agisters, regarders and all others of the county of Nottingham, greetings)...
(for information on verderers agisters etc see Forest Law page)
Following this royal and court protocol the Justices of Eyre are presented, and confirmation is made that the following is an exact record of the occurrences of the court.
The first trial before the court is of Hugh of Wotehale, William Hyend , Wilcock and Stephen Fleming of Nottingham who took a Hart in the Forest.
This is recorded in the Forest Law Outlaws entry on this blog.
The next entry recalls an inquiry made in 1288 by Edward I under his then Chief Forester William de Vescy.
This inquiry was into the previous rights of the then deceased Robert D'Everingham when he was formerly Keeper of Sherwood Forest.
Robert D'Everingham was stripped of his rights and position of keeper of the forest and imprisoned in Nottingham Castle at the 1287 Forest Eyre following indiscretions in the Forest.
He was dead within a year - so probably died in custody.
His family had been keepers of the forest back through marriage for hundreds of years.
The Eyre lists all his rights as keeper of the forest including the right to hunt cat and squirrel in the forest (these will be discussed soon in an entry on the Keepers of Sherwood Forest- see Forest Law page for the structure of the Forest Administration)
This inquiry was to see what rights he had had that could now be bestowed by the king on the next keeper of the Forest- no long a hereditary right.
Besides these two entries regarding outlaws and crimes of hunting, the Forest Eyre is from then on a list of all the misdemeanours in Sherwood Forest since the last Eyre. The people listed below had all committed 'trespass against the vert' at a value greater than 6d.
Values lower than this were the responsibility of the smaller 'attachment courts' (see Forest Law page)
The following pleas were heard before the court:
Ralph son of Reynold of Edwinstowe for 1 oak 10d. His ‘plegii’ (pledges) were Richard of Normanton and Richard Godard of Thoresby. ‘Pro transgressione in misericordia nunc in itinere’ (for the trespass, he is now at the mercy of the Eyre).
Ricarco filio Ricardi de Hibern’ (Richard son of Richard of Ireland) of Mansfield for ‘una querca’ (1 oak) at 12d.
Reynold the son of Geoffrey of Thoresby ‘una stobe’ (1 stub) at 8d.
Nicholas Bateman of Boteby (Budby) ‘pro una blestrone’ (1 sapling) at 6d.
Radulfo Molendinario (Ralph the miller) of Sutton (in Ashfield) ‘pro trescentum lattarum’ (for 300 laths (thin strips of wood - presumably for walling)) a 12d
Iohanne super moram de Warsepe (John of the moor of Warsop) ‘pro una carectata maeremie’ (a Cartload of Timber) at 6d.