{dfp-include} Gardiner: Constitutional Documents of the Puritan Revolution

37. Act for the limitation of Forests.

[August 7, 1641. 17 Car. I. cap. 16. Statutes of the Realm, v. 119. See Hist. of Engl. ix. 415.]

An Act for the certainty of forests, and of the meers,[1] meets,[2]limits and bounds of the forests.

I. Whereas by Act of Parliament made in the first year of the reign of the late King Edward the Third, [3] it is ordained that the old perambulation of the forest in the time of King Edward the First should be thenceforth holden in like form as it was then ridden and bounded, and in such places where it was not bounden, the King would that it should be bounden by good men and lawful: and whereas for many ages past certain meets, meers, limits and bounds of the forests, have been commonly known and observed in the several Counties, wherein the said forests lie: and whereas of late divers presentments have been made and some judgments given whereby the meets, meers, limits and bounds of some of the said forests have been variously extended or pretended to extend beyond some of the meets, meers, limits and bounds so commonly known and formerly observed, to the great grievance and vexation of many persons having lands adjoining to the said meets, meers, limits and bounds so commonly known and formerly observed: and whereas of late time some endeavours or pretences have been to set on foot forests in some parts of this realm and the dominion of Wales, where in truth none have been or ought to be, or at least have not been used of long time: for remedy thereof, may it please your Most Excellent Majesty that it be declared and enacted by authority of Parliament; and be it declared and enacted by the King's Most Excellent Majesty and the Lords and Commons in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, that from henceforth the meets, meers, limits and bounds of all and every the forests respectively, shall be to all intents and purposes taken, adjudged and deemed to extend no further respectively than the meets, meers, limits and bounds which in the several Counties respectively wherein the said forests do lie were commonly known, reputed, used or taken to be the meets, meers, limits and bounds of the said forests respectively in the twentieth year of the reign of our late Sovereign Lord King James, and not beyond in any wise any perambulation, or perambulations, presentments, extents, surveys, judgments, records, decrees, or other matter or thing whatsoever to the contrary notwithstanding: and that all and every the presentments since the said twentieth year made, and all and every other presentment and presentments, and all and every judgment and award upon or by reason or pretext of any such present or presentments, and all and every perambulation, and perambulations, surveys, extents, and other act and acts at any time heretofore had or made, by which the meets, meers, limits or bounds of the said forest, or any of them, are or are pretended to be further extended than as aforesaid; and also all and every presentment of any other person or persons at any Justice seat, Swainemote, or Court of Attachments, for or by reason or by colour of any act or acts whatsoever done or committed in any place without or beyond the said meets, meers, limits or bounds respectively, so commonly known, reputed, used, or taken as aforesaid, and all and every fine and fines, and amercement and amercements, upon by reason or colour of any such presentment or presentments, shall from henceforth be adjudged, deemed, and taken to be utterly void and of no force or effect; any law, statute, record or pretence whatsoever to the contrary notwithstanding. II. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that no place or places within this realm of England or dominion of Wales, where no such Justice seat, Swainemote, or Court of Attachment have been held or kept, or where no Verderers have been chosen, or regard made within the space of sixty years next before the first year of His Majesty's reign that now is, shall be at any time hereafter judged, deemed, or taken to be forest, or within the bounds or meets of the forest; but the same shall be from henceforth for ever hereafter disafforested, and freed, and exempted from the forest laws; any Justice seat, Swainemote, or Court of Attachment held or kept within or for any such place or places at any time or times since the beginning of His Majesty's said reign, or any presentment, enquiry, act, or thing heretofore made, or hereafter to be made or done to the contrary notwithstanding.

III. Provided also, and be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that for the better putting into certainty all and every the meets, meers, bounds and limits of all and every the forests as aforesaid, the Lord Chancellor or Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England for the time being shall, by virtue of this Act, upon request of any of the Peers of this kingdom, or of the Knights and Burgesses of the Parliament or any of them, grant several commissions under the Great Seal of England to Commissioners to be nominated respectively by the said Peers, Knights and Burgesses, or any of them, to enquire of and find out by inquests of good and lawful men upon oath, and by the oaths of witnesses to be produced at the said inquests, and by all other lawful means, all and every the meers, meets, bounds and limits of the forests respectively, which were commonly known to be their meers, meets, bounds and limits respectively in the said twentieth year of the reign of our late Sovereign Lord King James; and to return the inquests so taken into the Court of Chancery, and that all and every the Sheriffs and Bailiffs of and in every County wherein any such inquests shall be so to be taken; and all and every the Verderers, Foresters, Rangers, and other officers of the forest respectively, where any such officers be, shall be assistant and attendant to the executions of the said commissions, according as by virtue of the said commissions respectively they shall be commanded; and where no such officers are or where such officers be, if they or any of them shall refuse or neglect such assistance and attendance as aforesaid, then the said Commissioners shall and may proceed without them in the execution of the said commissions.

IV. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that the forests whereof the meets, meers, limits and bounds shall be so returned and certified by virtue of any the said commissions as aforesaid, from thenceforth shall not extend, nor be extended, nor be deemed, adjudged, or taken to extend any further in any wise than the meets, meers, limits and bounds that shall be so returned and certified; and that all the places and territories that shall be without the meets, meers, limits and bounds so returned and certified, shall be and are hereby declared to be from thenceforth free to all intents and purposes as if the same had never been forest, or so reputed; any Act or Acts, matter or thing whatsoever to the contrary thereof notwithstanding.

V. Provided, and be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that all and every the grounds, territories or places which have been or are disafforested or mentioned to be disafforested in or by any Letters Patents, Charters, or otherwise since the said twentieth year of the reign of our said late Sovereign Lord King James, shall be excluded and left out of the meets, meers, limits and bounds of the forests which are to be enquired of, returned and certified by virtue of the said commissions, or any of them respectively, and shall be, and hereby are declared and enacted to Le utterly disafforested, free, and exempt to all intents and purposes as if the same had never been at all forest, or so reputed; any thing in this present Act contained, or any other Act, matter or thing whatsoever to the contrary in any wise notwithstanding.

VI. Provided nevertheless and be it enacted that the tenants, owners, and occupiers, and every of them, of lands and tenements, which shall be excluded and left out of the meets, meers, limits or bounds of the forests to be returned and certified by virtue of any the said commissions, shall or may use and enjoy such common and other profits and easements within the forests as anciently or accustomarily they have used and enjoyed; anything in this present Act contained, or any Act or Ordinance made in the three-and-thirtietli year of King Edward the First, or any custom or law of the forest, or any other matter or thing to the contrary thereof notwithstanding.

[1] Borders.

[2] Measurements.

[3] 1 E. III. at. 2. c. 1.


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