Deforestration

During the mid eighteenth century so many illegal enclosures were being made in the Forest of Essex, it resulted in fences being torn down by the forest officials, and people appearing in court. In 1817 the Commission of Woods applied for an Act of Parliament to enclose part of the forest for the Crown, to do away with commoners right in the forest, and deforest the whole Forest.
This caused much uproar and passed by the House of Commons, but due to a time limit it was withdrawn from the House of Lords in 1818. Following another court case in 1848, a notice was issued asking all persons who had or claimed encroachments to notify the Office of Woods giving particulars and offering a fair price to buy the rights of the Crown.
See the William Earl of Jersey Document which gives named Verderers and a Keeper of the walks, licence to fell, cut down, stubb and carry away that growing or being in a grove called Newlands Grove.
On the advice of the Commissioners an Act was passed in 1851 for the Disafforestation of Hainault Forest and this was duly passed and eventually 3031 acres of Kings Wood was cleared of timber.

kingswood 1851lo.pdf

Plan of The King’s Forest or King’s Wood in the Forest of Hainault in the parishes of Barking and Dagenham, in the County of Essex.
The result of a survey conducted in 1851 by Thomas Thurston of Ashford, Kent. This 1851 plan shows that 280 acres had already been cleared of Hornbeam and timber and 780 acres cleared of timber only. New North Road, Forest Road and Hainault Road are shown but not named on the original map. (See 1930 map below for comparison)
Based upon MR1/86 National Archives (David Martin)
Lord Portman’s Act 1 Aug 1849
As mentioned in Victoria County History of Essex Volume 2 page 621 et al.
“To authorise Her Majesty to issue a commission to inquire into and report upon Rights or Claims over the New Forest in the County of Southampton (sic) and Waltham Forest in the County of Essex.”
This act was to ascertain the actual rights of the Crown and to define boundaries.


Earlier the Commissioner of Woods and Forests had sold the Manor of West Ham with the associated wastes and the Crown Rights of Forest in 1805.
In 1821 the Lord of the manor of Highams Hills bought the Crown Forest Right in his wastes.
The wastes of Hainault Forest contained about 4,000 acres in 1851, composed of 2,842 acres known as King’s Wood and 1,104 acres falling within the manors of Chigwell, West Hatch, Barringtons, Lambourn and Battles Hill.

Battles Hall (Bateayles), in Stapleford Abbots,} Bill for the Allotment of the Commonable Lands within the late Forest of Hainault in the County of Essex. 1858.
I           Appointment of a Commissioner.
II          Commissioner to be paid not more than £300, Surveyor not exceeding £200.
III         Commissioner to ascertain the persons (including Her Majesty) entitled to such common of estovers or fuel assignments. Commissioner to set out such part of the 969 acres 3 roods 17 perches unallotted.

[In English law, estovers is wood that a tenant is allowed to take, for life or a period of years, from the land he holds]
IV         Commissioner can sell any part of the unallotted lands to defray expenses.
V          Commissioner to make a plan of the forest.
Rights of Intercommonage to cease.

Commissioner “shall by his Award set out a specific portion of the said commonable lands to each parish, district or place in which the inhabitants have rights in common.”
VI         Dissatisfied persons can go to Court of Common Place for appeal.
VII        unintelligible.
VIII       Commissioner may set out roads.
X         Award of a portion containing 20 acres at the unallotted King’s Wood “as and for Globe Land to the annexed to the Ecclesiastical District Chapelry of Barkingside …….. for the use and benefit of the incumbent ……. of such Chapelry.” is an allotment to the Curate of Barkingside.
X          Time limit of 3 years.

Report from Mr. Charles Gore, one of HM Commissioners of Woods and Forests to the Treasury, dated 5 July 1858, as to the extent of the Forest of Hainault and the expenditure upon the Crown Allotment.

The Disafforestation Commissioners ascertained the boundaries of the whole Forest of Hainault, which they found, as appears by a map and book of reference made by their direction, and now deposited in the office of Land Revenue Records…. to contain 17,458 acres 1 rood 26 perches. They also ascertained the boundaries of that portion……… called King’s Forest …. contains 3,031 acres 3 roods 28 perches.

Her Majesty was allotted 1,873 acres 0 roods, 21 perches in compensation of Part VI of the Act {Forested and Soil Rights}. The wooded area cleared was 3,031 acres.

Section VII titled “ No allotment or consent in respect of the soil to be made or given to the enclosure of the King’s Forest or King’s Wood.” (Very difficult to understand but it seems to say:)

  • It will not be necessary to obtain consent for the soil right owners when allotting commonable land (to parishes, districts or places).
  • Once an allotment has been made to a parish it “shall be allotted to and amongst the persons entitled to rights of common….. without making any allotment to the Lord or other person claiming any interest in the soil”.
  • “and after the execution of the award by this act directed to be made, neither the Queen’s Majesty nor any other person shall be entitled to exercise any other right than a right of common of pasture in, upon, or over the portion of the said lands containing 969 acres 3 roods 7 perches, which may not have been sold or allotted to the owner of fuel assignments under the provisions of this act, unless and until the said portion or any part thereof shall have been enclosed under the provisions of any General Act related to the enclosure of land.”

Abstract from Report by Mr. Charles Gore, dated 4 August 1860
His report included a petition from George Shillibeer, and others, commoners of the parishes of Chigwell, Lambourn and Stapleford Abbots within the boundaries of the late Forest of Hainault.

They complained that the Crown had taken the best bit of the forest and cleared it for farmland and left 969 acres of unenclosed pasturage for the other commoners.

“Also the Act of 1858 was so worded as to lead the Commissioner to consider he has the right to allot not only the 969 acres left of the King’s Wood to the commoners, but also the entire manorial wastes of the parishes of Chigwell, Lambourn and Stapleford Abbots, forming no part of the King’s Wood, amounting to 1,705 acres, by which a gross and deliberate fraud has been practiced upon all the freeholders ….. of these 3 parishes.

Gores’ report states that the Commissioners regarded the whole of the Forest (King’s Wood plus the Northern waste lands) as being one big common.

The problem is that the 1851 and 1859 Acts did not take into proper consideration the complex common rights of the various commoners and parishes.

Charles Gore and Thomas F Kennedy were  Commissioners of Wood and Forests

Land Measure    1 Acre  =  4.840 sq yards 1 rood = ¼ acre = 1,210 sq  yards
1 perch =  30¼ sq yards 1 acre = 0.4047 hectares
1 Hectare = 10,000 m2 = 11.959.899 yards 2 = 2.471 acres

(transcribed by Jeff Harvey from copy in LB Redbridge Information and Heritage Service)

plain1930.pdf

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