Sunday, 6 November 2011

Forest Law Outlaws

The Sherwood Forest Eyre courts have records surviving from 1287 and 1334.

These record fines and punishments relating to crimes committed against the forest law. 
A number of incidents are recorded showing how people were outlawed as a direct result of forest law. 

In 1267 John De lascelles, the steward of Sherwood, caught 2 men with bows and arrows in the forest and took them to Blidworth.

(Probably intending to take them to Nottingham Castle in the morning).
In the night 20 men armed with swords and bows and arrows burst in released the men, and beat up Johns servants who were acting as guards.
They then went to the stewards house, where they broke the windows and shouted insults at him. 
In the following inquests many of the men involved could not be found… (Turner 1901)
Then an excerpt from the Eyre of 1334 states:

It is presented and proved… that Hugh of Wotehale of Woodborough, William Hynde, Wilcock, formerly the servant of the parson of Clifton and Stephen Flemming of Nottingham on the Thursday…
…were in the wood of Arnold, in the place that is called Throwys, with bows and arrows… they shot a Hart so that it died… And its flesh was found putrid and devoured by vermin… and the arrow was found in the said Hart…
…the aforesaid Hugh came before the justices and is sent to prison
…the aforesaid Stephen is dead; therefore nothing of him…
…And the aforesaid William and Wilcock are not found… were exacted in the county and did not appear; therefore they are outlawed... (Turner 1901)


  1. Excellent post. I've always thought that, to understand Robin Hood, one has to get out there on the ground and approach the legend not from the fanciful perspectives of Kings and Crusades, but rather how a well organised Gang operates, profiting from and defending their "patch".

  2. Absolutely- the original Robin Hood was no angel in the ballads! - no offence meant!

    Gangs were merciless- Eustace Folville was a nasty piece of work... interesting to me is the number of Clergy men that were operating in gangs especially in the fourteenth century

    ..see outlaws page:

    The age was extremely violent- and being outlawed meant being removed from the normal protections of society- life in outlaw gangs would have required watching each others backs!

  3. Very interesting article, after having portrayed Robin Hood in Nottingham for years, it's nice to see that the history of the times is readily available throught sites like this.

  4. Thank you Tony, very kind of you. Plenty more to come!