Every parish was liable at Common Law for the repair of the highways within it, and for this purpose Surveyors of Highways were annually appointed, whose duty it was to keep the highways in repair by compulsory labour.

If a parish failed to appoint a Surveyor of highways, the inhabitants were presented at Quarter Sessions. There were many such presentments.

All the inhabitants of a parish were liable to the compulsory labour and had either to work themselves or supply substitutes.

The Surveyor appointed the days when the people were to come to work on the roads. If he failed to do this he was indicted for neglect of duty.

On 17th July, 1640, the Surveyors of Misterton were indicted for not giving notice to the inhabitants of the Parish of six days appointed for repair of highways.

If the people did not attend on the days appointed, presentments were made against them.

The days appointed were sometimes called "Boon Days," and in 1607 and 1608 there were several presentments for "refusing to make "Boondays contrary to Statute." One of the defendants was "Jacob Whitbye of South Scarle, clerk."

Sometimes they were referred to in the presentments as "the common days."

Every person occupying plough land and every person keeping a draught or plough, had to send to the place appointed by the Surveyor of Highways a wain or cart, furnished after the custom with oxen or horses and with two men with necessary tools.

In the records the work is generally referred to as the "common work" and there were many presentments "for not performing common work," "for neglecting to come to the common work," and "for refusing to mend the common ways."

On the 11th July, 1631, a warrant was issued to levy "12 pence a peece" of the goods of divers persons in Lenton and Woollerton by distraint, being presented "for not doing their common works ergo repairing highways there."

There were presentations against husbandmen and others also "for not sending their draught to ye common work."

On 6th October, 1658, a fine of 10/- was imposed for this offence to be paid "to ye overseers of ye highways of Halam."

On 7th April, 1688, an order was made that "all persons, owners and occupiers that have any land within the hamlet of Little Gringley whether arrable, pasture or meadow, contribute to the amending of all ye highways belonging to ye hamlet with sufficient draught and two labourers."

From the following entries it would appear that rates could be levied for the repair of the highways:

(In 1679). Memo that it is mutually agreed yt ye Inhabitants of Woollerton shall make an equal tax according to a pound rate for ye repaire of ye highways.

In 1675, the Inhabitants of Kimberley were ordered to repair their ways by ancient custome according to ye full valuation of their Estates.

In 1675, it was ordered that the highways of the North and South Townes of Marnham be well and sufficiently repaired and mended at the equal charge of both the sayd townes.

On 10th July, 1693, the Overseers of highways of Mansfield "havg done their six days comon work towards ye Repaire of their sd ways accdg to ye forme of ye Statute," were empowered to levy 3d. in the £for the further effectual repairing of the highways.

On 13th August, 1686, Thos. Magson was indicted for disturbing the repair of the highway.

There were differences between parishes and parts of parishes in regard to the repairs of highways:

On 6th October, 1634, two of the Justices (Sir Thomas Hutchinson, and John Wood, Esqre.) were appointed to hear and determine a difference between the Inhabitants of Gedling and the Inhabitants of Stoke Bardolph in connection with the doing of the common work of repairing certain highways between the two towns.

On 6th April, 1627, the Court was informed that the town of Worksop is greatly burdened with the repairing of the highways both in Worksop Frith and Ratcliffe Frith, the whole being one parish, and yet Ratcliffe was neither willing to join in any Assessment made by Worksop Frith nor would otherwise assist them with their carts to repair the same. The Surveyors of the Highways for this year were ordered to repair the ways in Ratcliffe Frith and annually hereafter cause them to themselves perform 6 days work about the repairing of their own ways, and if more should be necessary than 6 days that then the town of Worksop upon notice and forewarning shall assist them to repair the same.

On 17th July, 1629, the Inhabitants of Ratcliffe Fryth and Kylton within the parish of Worksop complained that they are few and not capable of repairing Ratcliffe Lane ("being wet and fowle and a mile in length") without aid of the friths and towns of Worksop and Radford, and by the Statute all the inhabitants and parishoners of each parish ought to join in the repairing of all the highways within the Parish. The Court made an Order accordingly.


There were Indictments and presentments for obstructing the highways in various ways. One man was charged with "digging a well in the highway"; another with making and continuing a pond in ye highway; another with erecting a barne upon a footway; another with "fixing a poste in ye King's way leading from Retford to Gainsborough called Saundby Marsh"; and another with "making a trench in the Broadway leading from Normanton to Nottingham."

In 1656 complaint was made "that ye comon footeway leading from Newarke to Stockwith is plowed upp in ye Lordship of Sturton and South Leaverton"; and in 1691 there was an indictment "for plowing the way from Lambley to Southwell." "Plowing the highway" was not an uncommon offence in the latter part of the seventeenth century.

There was also a presentment "for burning the highway."


On 2nd May, 1690, Christopher ffootit of Laxton was indicted for diverting a footpath between Little Bulwood and Egmanton Field.

On 20th April, 1658, a petition of Wm. Willoughby, Lord of ye Manor of Warksopp and of diveis freeholders and inhabitants of ye said towne, was presented showing "that ye comon highway leading from ye Church towne of Worksopp aforesaid towards Gleadthorpe Grange lying crooked and upon low and boggy ground may with much conveniency both to the Inhabitants and all others that have occasion to travill that way be made more direct faire and easy by turneing the same on ye North side of the hedge there being higher and firmer ground and without prejudice to other persons." An Order was made.

On 8th October, 1658, Mr. John Lane, on behalf of Sir George Saville Barronett, moved concerning altering the roadway leading by Rufford betwixt Ollerton and Nottingham "it being alleadged that the sd Roadway would be more convenient to goe from Ollerton by the Broad Oake to Robyn Dam and soe to Inkersall being higher upon the fforest and a straighter nearer and a better way." An Order was made to view "ye olde way and ye other way."


There is no reference in the Records to the legal stopping up of any highway; but there are instances of illegal stopping up.

On 10th January, 1658-1659, Elizabeth Armstrong widdow was presented for "stopping a footpath" at Wysall.

On 13th April, 1681, John Walker of Epperstone, gentleman, was indicted for "destroying the highway leading from Epperstone to Southwell and Rosett Wood."

On 7th January, 1683-1684, Henry Williamote of Ruddington was indicted for "demolishing the highways."

On 8th October, 1613, John Butcher of Warksop, gentleman, was indicted for stopping up a certain highway lying in the fields of Worksop aforesaid in a certain place there called Stonebridge field leading from certain townships near adjacent to the aforesaid being a market town, by which the lieges of the lord the King were altogether stopped from the aforesaid way to the great and comon nuisance impediment and obstruction of the whole County there passing by.

John Butcher was ordered to make a sufficient way for crossing the Close and one easy for travellers with their horses laden and unladen and cattle to ride lead and drive and go by without any obstruction whatever.

On 8th July, 1616, Richard Trueman of Carlton near Gedling, was indicted for stopping up and shutting off (with a certain staked gate across it) a certain lane lying in Carlton between the lands of the said Richard Trueman in the field called the Hill which "from the time of which there is no memory of men to the contrary" had been a common way.
    Ordered that the Inhabitants of Carlton shall have free and common passage and liberty to go ride and drive their cattle and carts on the aforesaid lane as of right they ought to have and of old had without any obstruction &c. from the said Richard Trueman.


On 7th October, 1635, Richard Richards of Caunton, husbandman, was indicted for obstructing the usual way leading to the Church.

On 24th April, 1639, two men in the employ of Samuel Sheppard, of North Collingham, were indicted for obstructing a footway leading to the Parish Church of North Collingham from the houses of William Pocklington, gentleman, and other Inhabitants of North Collingham. Evidence was given that the way had been the usual way to the Church for sixty years and more and that to the contrary the memory of man did not exist. The stopped-up footpath was ordered to be re-opened or an easy passage made by a stile or a gate for the parishoners there to pass that way.

In 1603, the Jurors of the Wapentake of Newark presented that the Inhabitants of the township of Balderton ought to have, and have been accustomed to have a footway from their dwelling houses as far as the Parish Church of Balderton in and by a close then in the tenure of Oliver Bellamy, at all times when they cannot pass in the common way with their shoes, by reason of mud and mire. In 1604, Oliver Bellamy of Newark, ironmonger, was indicted for obstructing a footway.


The Inhabitants of the following parishes and places were indicted for not repairing Fords or Waths:

Spawdeforth and South Clifton. Spawdforth Wathe.
Scofton. "A certain fford."
Caunton. Caunton foard.
Hawkesworth and Sibthorpe. Symon foard.


The following Ferries are referred to in the Records:

Laneham Ferry.

On 20th April, 1610, John Salmon of Laneham, laborer, was fined 6d. for absenting himself from the ford of Laneham ferry.


On 16th July, 1616, a husbandman of Gunthorpe was indicted for not carrying across John Cullen with the ferry boat.


On 16th January, 1617-1618, Edward Howley of Littleborough, yeoman, was indicted for neglecting to attend the ferry boat. On 20th April, 1628, and on 16th July, 1628, Thomas Brooks of Littlebrough was indicted for neglecting the ferry.


On 15th July, 1618, Sir William Cope of Marnham was indicted for defective ferry boat at Marnham ferry.


On 14th January, 1624-1625, a yeoman of Dunham was indicted for extortion, being ferryman of the ford of Dunham.

On 14th January, 1652-1653, Nicholas Johnson of Dunham, ferryman, was indicted for not repairing the stavinge and landinge there.

On 7th October, 1653, William Daniell of Dunham, gentleman, was indicted "for want of a ferry boat."


On 15th July, 1629, a laborer of Newark was indicted for certain threatening words uttered against the ferryman at Haselford. At the same Sessions nine watermen of Gainsborough were indicted for breaking the ferry boat at Haselford.


On 15th January, 1622-1623, a waterman of Newark was indicted for breaking the ferry boat.


On the 5th October, 1691, John Shelton of Stoakbardolph was indicted for refusing to take boat across.


On the 16th January, 1694-1695, ffrancis Milnes of Rollestone was indicted for neglecting to take away travellers in boat.

There are several entries in the Records showing that ferrymen had trouble with the boatmen navigating the river Trent. One such entry is as follows:

On 4th October, 1615, a warrant was issued against three watermen of Gayns-borough "because they being navigators on the river of Trent separated and severed the ferry ropes of the ferryman situate in the river Trent, as proved by his petition."