Robin Hood cannot be classified, but must appear in any book that gives biographical notices of the men in Nottinghamshire who have been distinguished, for he is by far the most popular and widely known of all the characters that the county has had. Who is there in the civilized world that has not heard of Robin Hood? Once upon a time Sherwood Forest occupied nearly half the county, and where would Sherwood Forest be without Robin Hood? In the olden time when churches were not held so sacred as moderns regard them, the Robin Hood plays equalled the Miracle plays in popularity if not in usefulness. Who has been the subject of more ballads than he and Little John, and Maid Marion, and Friar Tuck, and the rest of the coterie? Who has made the people laugh and say, "Begone, dull care," at the tale of his exploits when he robbed the rich to give to the poor, while he baffled the Sheriff of Nottingham, beguiled, entertained, and captivated him. And although the Forest has been greatly curtailed, and the deer have bounded away, and the green sward has become corn fields, and houses with gardens and fruit trees and flowers have superseded the grand old oaks, and the beauteous silver birches, yet many a village has its Robin Hood hills, or valleys, or caves, or its signboard telling of inevitable mortality and yet of survival, for

"Robin Hood is dead and gone,
So stop and drink with Little John."

When in the middle of the last century the men of Nottingham regarded their country as in danger and rallied to the rescue, first assembling on the Castle grounds, no name commended itself to them so much as that of Robin Hood, and in the Great War, plotted and planned by the accursed Kaiser, who rallied more manfully, and fought more bravely, and fell more terribly, than the brave Robin Hoods and the Battalions of Sherwood Foresters?

With regard to the personality of Robin Hood, let us face the facts. We have no record of the birth, or death, or house of residence, of Robin Hood. We know nothing of his ancestry, or descendants. We do not know his real name, or when he lived, although we surmise it was in the latter part of the twelfth century. No record exists of any man who met him, of any event that occurred, of any place that he visited. No castle, or fort, or house, or church yard, has ruins, or registers, to enable us to test his life or death. How then are we to explain the position? There was a man of energy and attractive personality, it may be the victim of a great public wrong, who attracted attention and drew round him followers, who had a character and obtained a reputation; and the snowball grew, and gradually by accretion assumed large dimensions, and the mystery and loneliness of the forest magnified events that occurred, and affairs of gallantry were reported, and rich, and vain, and it may be tyrannical ecclesiastics were envied and disliked, and helpless women and poor peasants told of deliverance, and so a halo was created and sustained, and delighted audiences assembled to see the representations, and told their children the stories which successive generations retailed in the days when there were no schools or books for the common people.

And now comes the materialist, and the iconoclast who wants to trample on the beautiful and the poetical, and to reduce all the scenery to the level of the railway luggage train, which we resent and against which we protest.

In estimating the existence, life and work of Robin Hood we must divest ourselves of all our present surroundings and remember that centuries ago there were no registers of births, deaths or marriages; no police to report and prevent crime; no newspapers or printed books; no poor law collections, or election notices. There were deeds of conveyance of property, and Post Mortem Inquisitions to ascertain what was due to the King, but Robin Hood was an outlaw, and therefore deprived of all rights to property, or protection, or residence, or shelter, or food, or even the right to live. Whoever assisted an outlaw rendered himself liable to be deemed a confederate and punished accordingly. His life was therefore in his own hands, and every member of the community had to be guarded against, and the more so when a price was set upon a man's head, and a reward given for production, dead or alive. There was no place to which he might flee and be safe, nor could he leave the country, except by stealth.

Now look at what Robin Hood is reported to have done. There are no historical documents, but there is an abundance of ballads, and the poets exercised poetic license, and exaggerated, as poets not uncommonly do, but bearing this in mind, look at what Robin is said to have done. Evidently the deeds reported are such as would on recital make the people laugh. A favourite case is where he fooled the Sheriff of Nottingham, or a parish constable whose business it was to take the outlaw into custody, but who found the tables turned and the Officer had become the prisoner. A proud bishop or a fat abbot with an abundance of gold in his 'portmantle,' instead of victimizing another is made a victim himself, and it must be borne in mind that these men were not only lords over God's heritage, but frequently had the reputation of being luxurious, or exacting, and often were foreigners, not speaking the language of the common people, or having local ties of affinity.

In the ballads, the King's deer is constantly leaping up, and although the law regards the capture of such an animal by ordinary people as a very serious offence, involving the penalty of even death itself, so that a buck is regarded as of more value than a man, yet it is clear that the people are pleased when it can be done without detection or the capture of the offender, and Robin Hood does it, and the Officers and Courts are powerless, for he cannot be caught. Here it must be borne in mind that the common people were sore against authority, for they, or their ancestors, had been deprived of their lands by force, and the owners had become tenants, and some had been made serfs, and in such case liable to be sold with the land; and further that justice was largely administered by foreigners, and proceedings in the courts of law conducted in a foreign language, and therefore to the common people a dumb show.

Amidst all this comes a man as one of themselves, clever with bow and skilful in a hand to hand fight, with all the advantages of heredity and training, always active and cheerful, always defending or helping the poor, with whom women are perfectly safe against violation; a man who attracts followers and holds their affection, so that they are ready to die in his defence, and as with David the Bible outlaw, men in distress, or in debt, and bitter of soul, gather to him and he becomes their captain, and they are a wall of fire by night and by day to the common people—here we have all the elements for a popular hero, handed down from generation to generation, whose charm to lovers of the romantic will never die.

Note.—"Robynhode Close" is mentioned by the Chamberlain of Nottingham in his accounts of 1499-1500, Vol. III, page 67, and "Robynhode Well," page 76.


PAULINUS (d. 644) is usually regarded as the first Archbishop of York, and was consecrated by Augustine in 625. He baptized Edwin, King of Northumberland, in 627, and had some connection with Nottinghamshire in both the aspects of Church and State, but to what extent is uncertain. The early historians of Southwell have assumed that he founded the Church there, as well as those at York and Lincoln, but later historians agree that this assumption is not sustained. He journeyed from York into the neighbouring district of Lindsey, and preached in the old Roman hill-town of Lincoln, and doing so he would have to travel through Nottinghamshire, and he baptized his converts to the new faith in the river Trent; possibly this would be near to Littleborough, where was a paved ford; or at Torksey, where is a castle. Nottinghamshire would then be largely wood and forest, but we will piously hope that a few villagers or stragglers would be benefited by the ministrations of Paulinus and his asisistants. He died in 644, and was buried at Rochester.

EADBURH, daughter of Aldwulf, King of East Anglia, died about 714 (?). At one of the first meetings of the Thoroton Society, the late Mr. W. Stevenson read a paper showing that whereas the historians of Southwell Minster had claimed Paulinus as the founder of the church there, for which there was no historical foundation, they had entirely forgotten a veritable Saint who was buried there. Apparently in the closing years of the seventh century the monastery of Repton was a flourishing school, and centre of Christianity, the Abbess of which was Elfrida, who ruled over the twofold community of men and women, and when she died she was succeeded by Eadburh, the royal lady named and, probably years afterwards, she sent to St. Guthlac, who went from Repton and founded the religious establishment of Croyland in the Fens, "a leaden coffin, and a winding sheet, and besought him, by the holy name of the celestial King, that after his departure hence they should place his body therein," which he accepted, and said, "for love of the Maid of Christ the gift which she sent me I will put to the purpose for which I have kept it."

A "pilgrims guide" to the shrines or burial places of the saints of England, supposed to have been written about the year 1000, referring to our county says, "There resteth Saint Eadburh, in the minister at Southwell, near the water called the Trent." The discovery of these records is due to Mr. W. H. Stevenson, formerly of Nottingham (T.T.S. 1897, p. 43).

Query:—Is it possible that St. Eadburh founded an institution at Southwell, and died there, and it perished in troublous times ?

GAMELBERE was an old man before the Norman Conquest, who dwelt or remained and held land in Cuckney of the King, under an obligation to military service, for he was bound to shoe the king's palfrey, or saddle horse, upon four feet, with the king's nails (or shoeing materials) as oft as the king should be at his Mannor of Mansfield, and if he put in all the nails the king should give him a saddle horse of the value of four marks (£2 13s. 4d.); or he was to have the King's Saddle horse, giving the King five marks of silver, as he was also if he lamed the horse, pricked him, or shod him strait, etc. And if an army should be in Wales, he was to do service according to the quantity of two carucates (? 240 acres) of land, and likewise for homage, that is, when he acknowledged the King as his sovereign, and promised faithful service. Gamelbere died without an heir, and so the land became forfeited to the King. (Henry I. 1100-1135).

The point of interest in this case is that it shows that at the Conquest all the old owners were not dispossessed, and we had better assume that Gamelbere lived a good life, and that the shoeing was well done. [Dukery Records].

THE FOUNDERS OF THE MONASTERIES, or Religious Houses in Nottinghamshire, and their Architects, Dean Hole—adopting the sentiments expressed by Lord Macaulay—says, deserve commendation for establishing institutions which they designed to perpetuate religion, charity, quietness, the cultivation of arts of beauty, and other beneficial purposes in the midst of unfavourable surroundings of violence and ignorance and squalid poverty. These were noble aspirations, and they cannot be charged with the evils that arose in the generations after their decease. So here follow notices of several of such men.

WILLIAM de PEVEREL, (d. 1113) First Governor of Nottingham Castle, which had been a stockaded fortress, but would, about 1068, on the coming of the Conqueror, be built in Norman style,—"a style that was unknown before." William Peverel is said to have been an illegitimate son of the Conqueror, but this is discredited and it is believed that there is no proof thereof. In 1103-8 he founded Lenton Priory in honour of the Holy Trinity, and for love of the divine worship, and the common remedy for souls; and he gave very large donations of towns, mills, woods, tithes, churches, lands, villeins, etc. We must therefore give him credit for thankfulness to God, and the desire to promote the welfare of the people. This appreciation must apply to other founders and benefactors of monasteries.

"William de Peveril died in peace, an old man, and full of days, as appears from the register of the monastery of Northampton, in the thirteenth year of Henry II., A.D. 1113, leaving a grandson William Peveril as his successor in all his estates and honours: before his death he built and endowed a monastery at Northampton, and another at Lenton, A.D. 1104, about nine years before his death."

Assuming that William de Peverel built Nottingham Castle, by order of the Conqueror, is it not likely that he diverted the Leen from flowing into the Trent opposite to Wilford Church, and cut a new channel by the foot of the Castle on to the Beck riverlet, and so into the Trent near the Bridge? The view might be that occasionally there would be in the Castle a large garrison requiring an abundant supply of water.

WILLIAM de LOVETOT founded the priory of Worksop about 1103, but the charter is dated about 1130, and his wife Emma, and his sons Richard and Nigel joined in granting to God and the Holy Church and to the Canons of St. Cuthbert many lands, churches and tithes. All this was thirty years afterwards confirmed by Bichard with various additional gifts, and he and his son William laid the deed on the altar of the Priory Church, and William's wife, Celicia, added to the gift. William further, on the day of his father's funeral, gave tithes of all the rents he then had or ever should have. It is very pleasing to see the whole family joining in harmony in promoting what they felt to be their duty, and when one of them married into the Fumival family the purpose was still continued.

Gerald de Fumival joined the Crusaders, and died at or near Jerusalem in 1219, and Thomas, his eldest son, was also slain in Palestine in 1237, and his younger brother returning safe to England, at the request of his mother, went back to Palestine to fetch the body of Thomas, which was buried in Worksop Church.

NICHOLAS de CANTELUPE, or Cauntlow, of Beauvale Carthusian Priory, in 1343 founded a monastery in Greasley Park, and endowed it with lands and churches for the furtherance of divine worship, the good estate of the King, and of many persons named; and he gave the monastery that he had built in his park to God and the Holy Trinity, and the Carthusian order, with many hundreds of acres of land in Greasley and Selston, and the houses thereon, and the villeins who held the land in Villenage, etc.

It was a great day at Greasley on December 9th, 1343, when the Archbishop and three other Bishops, three Earls, three knights, and others assembled to inaugurate the institution. Many other gifts followed.

We will leap over the two hundred years of occupation, and in 1535 deal with three men who appeared before Thomas Cromwell, as Vicegerent of the King in all matters ecclesiastical.

ROBERT LAWRENCE, the Prior of Beauvale,

AUGUSTINE WEBSTER, Prior of Axholme, and

JOHN HOUGHTON, who had been Prior of Beauvale, and then promoted to the mother-house of the English province in London, were interrogated by Cromwell, and required to take the oath to the King as the Supreme Head of the Church, which they said they could not do, as they regarded the Pope as having been appointed by God as its head. There was the farce of a trial by a jury, who could not agree, but were threatened by Cromwell, and ultimately gave way. The victims were drawn to Tyburn, where pardon was offered on conditions which were refused. There was a preliminary hanging, and, while life was in them, they were disembowelled in each other's presence, their hearts cut out, and their bodies quartered. Many peers and courtiers were present while this judicial murder—this devilish butchery—was being enacted.

"But man, proud man,
Dressed in a little brief authority;
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
As make the angels weep."

Five years after what we have been describing, and notwithstanding all kinds of honour and powers had been bestowed upon him, Cromwell had to ascend that same scaffold at Tyburn, his cries for "mercy, mercy, mercy," being disregarded, for he had shown none to others, and he was beheaded.

HUGH TRAVERS was a villein on the estate of William de Staunton at Alverton, a small hamlet between Elton Station and Staunton. (A villein then meant a serf liable to be sold with the land, together with his chattels and sequels, i.e. wife and children). When in 1187 Saladin the Great conquered Jerusalem there was much excitement in Europe, and a third crusade was preached by the Pope and Bishops and Priests, and in 1189 Richard I. King of England and Duke of Normandy, having taken the vows of a crusader, proceeded to raise funds and an army. The movement reached Nottinghamshire, and William, the lord of Staunton and of four contributing hamlets, took the cross; that is, undertook to go with the crusade to deliver Jerusalem, but afterwards for some reason he sent Hugh Travers, first emancipating him and his brother John. The original deed of manumission (1190) is still preserved among the Staunton deeds, and a copy of it is given in "The Family of Staunton." An essay by G. W. Staunton and F. M. Stenton, M.A., a booklet of great value and interest, and the original manumission and the charter for endowment of the land given on Travers' return are said to be probably the earliest existing records of the kind since the Conquest.

Hugh Travers went near to Jerusalem, and returned safely, but of how he went and returned there is no record. Probably the gathering centre for Nottinghamshire would be Nottingham Castle, and thence there would be a general company marching to the sea, crossing to France, and there joining the French forces marching to Marseilles. Embarking in a fleet, they would be driven on to Cyprus, and ultimately land at Acre, and march on to Joppa, and the following year advance on towards Jerusalem, which they never reached; for a treaty having been made by Richard with Saladin, the King left his army personally to return as quickly as possible, and on the way back he was, in Austria, taken prisoner, and had to be ransomed at a cost of 200,000 marks sterling.

Meanwhile the army—what was left of them—after enduring untold hardships returned to England, and Hugh Travers returned to Staunton, and was heartily welcomed by William de Staunton, who records in the deeds of manumission that he set Travers free for two reasons, one for the safety of his own soul, and ''because he took the cross in my place;" and he was placed under the protection of the Church and the Rector of Staunton, which would be very helpful, and Eichard, the parson of the church at Staunton, granted him at the request of William as patron, two bovates of land in Alverton, (query, 30 or 36 acres) at an annual nominal consideration of 1 lb. of incense and 1 lb. of cummin, and Richard agreed to render yearly to William 1 lb. of cummin in respect of the said land, doing also the king's service in respect thereof.

Travers must have been a man of character, resource, and energy, for it is recorded "the Travers family flourished exceedingly in the course of the next two centuries, more than sixty documents relating to lands held by them in Alverton, Kilvington, Orston, and Flawborough being preserved among the Staunton manuscripts."

In Bailey's "Annals of Notts." (p. 199) evidently by a misprint, Travers is described as of Hoveringham, and William de Staunton is referred to as the father of the Judge Henry de Staunton. Now the Judge died about 1326-7, the crusade was in 1188. Bailey makes Travers have a pathetic yearning for liberty.

THOMAS de SIBTHORPE in the fourteenth century (?c. 1324) had an elder brother who was lord of the manor of Sibthorpe, and lived in the manor house at Hawksworth. Thomas had been some years in the King's service, had taken minor orders, and obtained various ecclesiastical appointments, including the rectory of Beckingham, but his chief benefactions were conferred on the church of Sibthorpe, from which his family derived its name. About 1320 he built a chapel on the north side of Sibthorpe Church, and endowed it with lands in many parishes near, for the maintenance of a priest and an assistant, who were to pray for many souls specified by name, including the members of his family, the lords of Bingham, Staunton, Cotham, Shelton, Flintham, Syerston, and other parishes, many friends, and especially William and Isabel Durant, who had done him many kindnesses in his sore need. There now came to be six chaplains, and a clerk who was also parish schoolmaster, who slept all night in the church and rang the bell for services, and there was also a singer appointed.

Later on he undertook the reconstruction of the whole church at his expense, and added four chapels. [A. Hamilton Thompson, T.S.T. 1912, p. 109].

Sibthorpe would thus apparently be a centre for priestly and scholastic service. The circular dovecote is now the surviving monument of departed usefulness. Newark gained what Sibthorpe lost.


Who were they?

While Archbishop Thomas has the credit of the Norman nave (about 1108-10) the Rector of Southwell, Archdeacon Conybeare, puts other parts as follows:—

WALTER de GRAY, Archbishop of York in 1234, built the Early English choir, with its cloistered columns and pointed windows as it is to-day.

JOHN ROMAINE, Archbishop of York, built the beautiful and renowned Chapter House, about 1295.

"And herewith let us express our thanks for that workman whose name is lost to us, but whose handiwork remains to this day—a faithful witness of the piety and wondrous skill of the master builder."

This is just. The archbishops may have the credit of purposing, outlining, promoting, directing, paying for, but not for the wondrous skill of successive men who during say a hundred years wrought on the grand building with its beautiful proportions of doorway and window, column and arch, and the wondrous cleverness of carved tracery. Who was he that had the most consumate skill in sculpture or carving what Mr. Leach calls "the crowning glory" of the entrance arch to the Chapter House, who wrought a work so perfect that in the wide world it is unsurpassed?

"A thing of beauty is a joy for ever;
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness." Keats.

He copied from Nature, for God is greater than the craftsman, but O how well he copied! He can be imitated. He cannot be excelled. And yet he did not leave his name. He worked for God, and God knew— that was enough.

Mr. Hamilton Thompson suggests from the community of style the men may have come from York. Some of them may possibly have been locally developed at Mansfield or Ancaster, or where the stone came from, for great care must have been shown in its selection, and right cutting, and weathering, and then each man worked not to an architect's detailed drawing plan but it may be to his own inspiration, and highest trained skill, and with infinite patience.

And when their work was finished at Southwell they worked at many churches in the county until the Black Death came in 1339, and work was stopped, for the workmen fell.

WALTER HILTON, or Hylton, was an Augustinian Canon, of Thurgarton Priory, who died on March 24th, 1395-6. He does not appear to have been Prior, which was a distinguished position, for Mr. Leach says, "The prior of Thurgarton was no doubt a greater person than any canon (of Southwell) taken separately, and he was the chief ecclesiastic of the County, as evinced by his being in 1291 the collector of the tithes given by the Pope to Edward I." (Visitation p. XXIX.)

Hilton was not fitted for the post of Prior, for Thurgarton then owned large landed estates, and collected the King's subsidies, which would occasion the transaction of much ordinary business. He was the author of a book which has now been reprinted entitled "The Scale of Perfection," newly edited from MS. sources, with an Introduction by Evelyn Underhill (London, Watkins) in which it is stated that no English Devotional work has had so wide and enduring an influence as "The Scale of Perfection. Circulated for over a century in numerous manuscripts, it was first printed in 1494, . . . and became thenceforth one of the favourite religious books of the laity." The book as now printed has in Book I. ninety-three short chapters, and in Book II. forty-six chapters. The object of the author appears to be to show how, like Jacob's dream, the spiritual life is a gradual ascent by effort and contemplation to the highest good. "The Imitation of Christ" has been attributed to Hilton, but its style differs much from his, and must be given to Thomas a Kempis (1380-1471) who was fifteen years of age when Hilton died. Wycliffe was a contemporary, who died eleven years before Hilton, and his followers are strongly condemned by Hilton, who was a convinced servant of "Holy Kirk." Saturated with his Bible, and overflowing with love to "our Lord Jhesu Christ," his contemplations raise the soul to the enjoyment of the highest good, in conformity to the will of God and bringing in all virtues.