Chapter VIII.

Stuart Kings. 1603—1714.

1603.—June 9th.—This date is on a minute by secretary Coke of the King's pleasure to make the grant in reversion, to Roger, Earl of Rutland, of the office of Keeper of the Parks of Bestwood and Clipstone, for life.

James I., who reigned from 1603 to 1625, "passed" Clipstone to the feofees of Gilbert seventh Earl of Shrewsbury, a resident local nobleman. The latter's grandfather, Francis the fifth Earl, had obtained of Henry VIII. the inheritance of the site of Worksop Priory. George son of Francis, and sixth Earl, married (being her fourth husband) Elizabeth, commonly known as "Bess" of Hardwick, who, by Sir William Cavendish, her second husband, who died in 1557, had issue three sons and three daughters. Mary, the youngest of these daughters, on the occasion of her mother's marriage to the Earl, was also wedded to his son and heir Gilbert—afterwards seventh Earl as mentioned above. Earl George died in 1590—his widow surviving him seventeen years—and left Gilbert as his son and successor. The latter was constituted by James I., in the first year of his reign, Guardian and Chief Justice of all forests north of Trent, and on 13th March, 1607, Constable of Newark and Forester of Sherwood Forest for life. He signed the proclamation of James, as King, and shortly afterwards entertained him at Worksop in munificent style, in April, 1603. As we have seen in part, however, the trouble he took upon himself in connection with royalty was most substantially rewarded. He died 8th May, 1616, leaving no issue.

Elizabeth Hardwick, as has been mentioned, had three sons by Sir William Cavendish, of whom the youngest, Charles, bought, or was settled in by his mother, the estates of Welbeck and Bolsover, in the former of which I suppose Clipstone was comprised.

It will be convenient here to complete an account of the descent of the estates down to the present time. Though it would have been more consistent, in a chronicle of this kind, to have recorded the accession of each new owner and successor under the corresponding date, yet, as certain of the earlier dates are not at present to hand, I may be pardoned for completing a brief account in this place.

Sir Charles Cavendish, of Welbeck, died in 1617. Of his three sons, William, born in 1592, was the second, but as the first died in infancy he succeeded to the estates, afterwards becoming Baron Ogle, Viscount Mansfield, and Duke of Newcastle. He is best remembered by his "Life," written by his wife; he died in 1676. His son Henry succeeded him, and died without male issue in 1691, settling all his real estate on his third daughter, Margaret, and her heirs. She married John Holles, Earl of Clare, who was created Duke of Newcastle in 1694, dying in 1711. They left an only daughter, Lady Henrietta Cavendish Holles, who inherited the estates and married Edward Harley Earl of Oxford, founder of the celebrated Harleian Library. The only issue of this union was another heiress, Margaret Cavendish Harley. This lady carried the estates to the Dukes of Portland by marrying, in 1734, William second Duke, whose father, the first Duke, died in Jamaica, in 1726.

Duke William died in 1762, and was succeeded by his son William Henry Cavendish, who died in 1809. He was succeeded by his son, another William Henry, fourth Duke, who died in 1854. His son and successor, William John Cavendish Scott Bentinck, was born in 1800, and died unmarried in December, 1879. He was succeeded by his cousin, William John Arthur Charles James (son of Arthur, brother of the fourth Duke), sixth Duke and present peer, who was born in 1857.

1609.—In a survey of Sherwood Forest, taken this year, it is described as divided into three parts or districts—north, south, and middle, Clipstone being in the north. Among the measurements in this survey we find Clipstone Park given as 1583 acres, 1 rood, 35 poles. The area of the different parts of the Clipstone quarter of Birkland follow.

1630, December 26th, Whitehall—Grant to the Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery of the Stewardships of Devizes, county Wilts; Dinas, county Brecon., and Brecknock, &c., and the office of Bailiff of Burly in the New Forest, and the Walk called Inneslow Lodge and Clipstone Shrogges in the Forest of Sherwood. All these affices had been held by the Earl's deceased brother, the Earl of Pembroke.

1640, June 16th.—Petition of William Earl of Newcastle to the King. Petitioner is seized in fee of several woods in the manors and parishes of Clipstone, Mansfield Woodhouse, Sutton-in-Ashfield, and Kirkby, in or near your Forest of Sherwood. That the tenants, pretending to have Common of Estovers in those woods by colour of assignments from your Foresters and officers there, which they obtain without difficulty at the courts of the Forest, cut and carry off a great part of them; but petitioner, the undoubted owner, makes no benefit, being restrained by Forest Laws from cutting the woods by such ordinary course of assignment, whence he is unable to profit by his own inheritance. He prays for Letters Patent granting him and his heirs power to cut and take away the said woods at will, though they be within your Forest.

The petition was referred to the Earl Marshall, Justice in Eyre of the forests beyond Trent, who was to certify his opinion of petitioner's desire.

It is more probable that all the inhabitants above-mentioned had a vested right and upheld it, rather than obtained it as easily as the Earl stated. It may appear strange to us that he was not allowed to cut down his own woods. These, however, as part of the Forest, had formerly belonged to the Crown, and when such lands were granted to individuals the King retained the "vert and venison," or trees and deer, so that no detriment might result to the Forest as a hunting-ground—the trees being necessary for the protection of the deer. Common of Estovers was originally the tenants' right to take wood necessary for the use of his farm or house off his lord's estate. According to the use for which it was granted this was known as house-bote, cart-bote, hay or hedge-bote, &c.

1655.—From the following we learn something of the treatment of the Duke of Newcastle's property while he was a fugitive on the Continent, during the Commonwealth—from which period may be dated the commencement of the decay of Sherwood.

The four Verderers and Ranger of Sherwood Forest to John Earl of Clare, Lord Warden of the Forest:—The Forest is ruined, especially Clipstone Woods, where the inhabitants have Right of Estovers, by Mr. Clark, on pretence of a grant from the Committee for the sale of traitors' estates. He has felled one thousand trees, and daily fells more, having sold three hundred to Phillips of Bawely, for ship timber. He fells in the heart of the Forest, where the deer have their greatest relief. There is much good ship timber in the Forest. Robert Baskerville, late Woodward General, has died; another should be appointed, or the woods will suffer much. Blidworth Attachment, 16th April, 1655.

Mr. Clark above-mentioned had obtained leave to sell, for his own use, twenty-eight thousand trees in Sherwood Forest. It was recorded, under date 22nd April, that "he sets on all the workmen that he can get at very high wages, and before the bark will peel, contrary to the statute, and sells at very low rates, like Solomon's harlot that would have the living child divided. He sweeps clean, leaving no standards according to law, which will bare of timber a forest that stands near two navigable rivers, the Trent and Idle."

1672.—This year was published "The life of the Thrice Noble, High and Puissant Prince, William Cavendishe, Duke, Marquess, and Earl of Newcastle," &c., by Margaret, his second wife. We learn from the work that the Duke received nothing from his estates for eighteen years, viz., from the commencement of the Civil War, 11th June, 1642, till his return from banishment, after the Restoration, 28th May, 1660. Being at the fatal battle of Hessom Moor and foreseeing, after the defeat of the Royal party, that the war was practically lost, with £90 in his possession—the whole of his ready money—he set sail for Hamburg, arriving on the 8th July, 1644, after a voyage of four days. While he was in exile his lands, as we have seen, were seized by Parliament. On his return some lands, he found, could not be recovered longer than for the term of his own life, some not at all, others to the value of £730 yearly were voluntarily restored. His claim to Clipstone to which, as will be seen, he was so deeply attached, never seems to have been disputed. He sold some of his lands to buy back or restore others, though some could not be sold, being entailed. The following local passage, from this work, arouses faint visions of the probable glories of Clipstone Park in the days of the Plantagenets:— Of eight Parks, which my Lord had before the Wars, there was but one left that was not quite destroyed, viz., Welbeck-Park of about four miles compass; for my Lord's Brother Sir Charles Cavendish, who brought out the life of my Lord in that Lordship, saved most part of it from being cut down; and in Blore-Park (Staffordshire) there were some few Deer left: The rest of the Parks were totally defaced and destroyed, both Wood, Pales and Deer; amongst which was also Clipston-Park of seven miles compass, wherein my Lord had taken much delight formerly, it being rich of Wood, and containing the greatest and tallest Timber-trees of all the Woods he had; in so much that onely the Pale-row was valued at £2,000. It was water'd by a pleasant River that runs through it, full of fish and Otters; was well stock'd with Deer, full of Hares, and had great store of Part-riges, Poots, Pheasants, &c., besides all sorts of Water-fowl; so that this Park afforded all manner of sports, for Hunting, Hawking, Coursing, Fishing, &c., for which my Lord esteemed it very much: And although his Patience and Wisdom is such, that I never perceived him sad or discontented for his own Losses and Misfortunes, yet when he beheld the ruines of that Park, I observed him troubled, though he did little express it, onely saying he had been in hopes it would not have been so much defaced as he found it, there being not one Timber-tree in it left for shelter. However he patiently bore what could not be helped, and gave present order for the cutting down of some Wood that was left him in a place near adjoining, to repale it, and gat from several Friends Deer to stock it.

Poot, mentioned among the birds of the Park, means the blackcock or the red grouse, probably the former, though it has also been stated that it signifies a young bird of any kind.

Later on, by way of helping us to form some idea of the loss his Lordship sustained on account of the War, the Duchess gives a list of his lands and their yearly value (which he lost for eighteen years) compiled partly from the value given by his own 'Surveighers' in a survey taken in the year 1641 of some of the lands, the rest being quoted at the rental at which they were let at the time of writing,—after the War. Among those in Nottinghamshire occurs the Manor of Clipstone and Edwinstowe £334 9s. 8d. It is a pity Clipstone is not quoted separately. A few pages later, giving us an account of the loss sustained by timber cut down, the first and most important item is set down by the Duchess as Clipstone Park and Woods cut down to the value of £20,000. This is double the amount of the largest of the other items, and much more than double the amount of the whole of his Grace's woods in any other county.

1677.—Thoroton, in his great work published this year, says:—There is scarcely any ruines left of the Kings' old house, except a piece of a thick Stone Wall, and the Park is also cleared of all the Gallant Oaks wherewith it was well furnished before the late Rebellion. He adds that there are Customary Tenants in Clipstone, though not quite in ancient demesne. The phrase is probably the equivalent of Copyholders.