Chapter VI.

The Houses of Lancaster and York. 1399—1485.

As illustrative of the circumstance that the glory of Clipstone as a royal residence was bound up with the House of Plantagenet, it is remarkable that the first Lancastrian monarch, in the first year of his reign and with the dawn of the fifteenth century, conveyed the Manor—though by no means finally—away from the Crown.

Henry IV. commenced to reign 30th September, 1399.

1400.—By agreement this year George [de] Dunbarre, Earl of March, or Earl of the Marches of Scotland, promised to transfer his homage to the King of England, who, in return, granted him the Castle of Somerton and the Manor of Clipstone, with appurtenances, for life.

The document was drawn up in quaint old English, commencing as follows

This Endenture Maad at the Toune of the Newe Castil opon Tyne, the xxv day of the Monyth of Juyl, the Zere, Frome the Incarnation of oure Lorde Jesu Crist, a Thousand and Four Hundreth,

Between the Noble and Mythty Prince Henry, by the Grace of God, Kyng of England and of France, Lorde of Ireland, on the ton syde, and his Cousin George de Dunbarre, Erie of the Marche of Scotland, on the tother syde, etc.

1401, June 28th—The grant by which the Manor passed to the Earl bears this date. By a writ dated 20th July the King allows him to enter and stay in England.

1409-10.—John Bever, about this year, held a toft and bovate in Clipstone, in Free Burgage, by the service of 12d. per annum, as parcel of £4 10s. per annum, the ferm of the Town of Clipstone.

Burgage was a tenure whereby lands or tenements in cities and towns were held of the King or other lord for a certain yearly rent. Blackstone says Tenure in Burgage is where the King or other person is lord of an ancient borough, in which the tenements are held by a rent certain. H. Cox writes 'the more ancient boroughs hold their land in Burgage.' The absence of further local information of this period, from which some more definite conclusion might be arrived at, is to be regretted, but it seems evident that the ferm of Clipstone was a fixed one, and contributed by the tenants in proportion to their holdings.

1414-15.—The only note we have of the reign of Henry V., whose years commence on the 21st March, is in the King's Letters Patent to the Abbot of Rufford, in which he confirms the possession of lands by the Abbey with their bounds, &c., and among other provisions then confirmed, 'the men of the Manors of Clipstone and Edwinstowe may take nothing in the wood of the said Abbot within the Forest of Sherwood.'

The reign of Henry VI. commenced the 1st September, 1422.

In a local guide book occurs the absurd statement that Henry VI., on the 20th March, 1422, granted a charter to Nottingham at Clipstone Palace. As we have seen, this King did not commence to reign until upwards of five months later, when only an infant of eight months. His father, the reigning monarch on the above date, was then at Rouen, France, but neither of them ever visited Clipstone.

1444.—The Manor was again in the hands of the Crown, for on the 16th July, 1444, Geoffry [de] Kniveton was made Keeper of the Castles at Nottingham and Rockingham, and of the Manor of Clipstone, and the Lodge of Bestwood in Sherwood, for life.

This was by no means the commencement of Kniveton's connection with the Forest: probably the above was but a formal confirmation of what he had long held. The Castle of Nottingham, with Sherwood Forest, &c., was granted on the 4th March, 1403, to Henry IV's Queen, Joan of Navarre, who held the same for many years after his death. She brought an action against a Nottingham man in 1431, for the ferm of the Chiminage of the Forest, which she had let to him. She then appeared by Geoffry Kneveton and Robert Clapham, her attornies. There are many actions entered by her in the Nottingham Court Rolls for agistment, hay, &c. Geoffry Kneveton —presumed to be the same man—was Mayor of Nottingham in 1446-7. The reason of the preposition 'de' being not regularly prefixed to the surname of this official is because the custom was dying out at the beginning of this century.

1445.—The following is an abstract of the translation of a grant, by Letters Patent, to Ealph Lord Cromwell, Knight, bearing date the 1st February:—

The King, for good and noble service many times rendered, grants to the said Ralph the office of Constable of Nottingham Castle, the office of Steward and Keeper of the Forest of Sherwood, and of the Parks of Bestwood and Clipstone, and of the Woods of Bilhagh, Birkland, Rumwood, Ouseland, and Fulwood; also the Mills of Nottingham, called the Castle Mills, and the Rivers of Trent and Leen and the free fishery in the same, and all our meadows under the Castle there, pertaining to the office. Also the same Ralph is to have all chattels waived and estrays arising within the said Forest and Woods, and all Chiminage in the said Forest, Parks, and Woods. Also all Fines, Issues, and Amerciaments of our Men and Tenants within the Forest arising, and forfeitures for the not lawing of their dogs, called Dogsilver, as well before our Justices of the Forest as before other Justices or Ministers. To hold all the above, of us and our heirs, by Fealty only for all Services.

Ralph Lord Cromwell died 4th January, 1455, leaving no issue.

It may here be added, also, that this does not represent the commencement of Cromwell's association with Sherwood. In 1440-1 he brought an action—doubtless in his official capacity—against a Nottingham butcher for breach of Bestwood Park, and there are numerous other actions by Cromwell, entered on the Nottingham Rolls, wherein he sues for herbage, &c.

1452.—This year the whole Township left the Crown, though the grant, again, was only for the life of the recipients. The King granted to Edmund Earl of Richmond and Jasper Earl of Pembroke, in fee, the Manors of Mansfield and Linby in Sherwood, and the Manor, Demesne, and Vill of Clipstone in Sherwood, also the demesnes of Harestan and Bolsover, Derbyshire.

These estates were settled on them when their titles w$re granted, which was on 23rd November, 1452. The former was created Earl of Richmond, with precedence before all other earls. He was brother, by his mother, to the King, Henry VI. He died on the morrow of All Souls' Day, 3rd November, 1456, when his share of the estates, of course, reverted to the other. Though the local association of this distinguired individual was not long, it will not be forgotten, for the son and heir which he left—Henry aged fifteen weeks—was afterwards King Henry VII.

Jasper, Earl of Pembroke, was his brother, and was afterwards, 27th October, 1485, promoted to the dignity of Duke of Bedford.

From the following, it may be gathered that some interest in the Manor was yet retained by the Crown.

1471-8.—It has been recorded that Lord Gervase Cilfton, Esquire of the Body to Edward IV—who died 12th May, 1491, and was buried at Clifton—was Sheriff of the counties of Notts, and Derby, in that monarch's 11th and 17th years, 1471-2 and 1477-8. Also that he was Eeceiver General of these counties, Steward of the King's Manors of Gedling, Shelford, Stoke Bardolph, &c., and Surveyor of the works and repairs in his Castle of Nottingham, and his Lodges of Barkwood (Bestwood ?) Park and Clipstone.

It may be added, as explanatory in part of the paucity of notes during the above period, that the principal of the published Rolls series end before the fifteenth century, while the State Papers do not commence until after that age.