Hampshire, Newport, 16th Century

Ligger Book

Isle of Wight Record Office and Archive: NBC/45/2

f 17


Item the Satersday after Maye daie. the custome is & hathe ben tyme owt of mynde yat ye bailives for ye tyme beinge sholde yerely appoynte a Lorde to ride with a mynstrell & a vice abowght the towne a pretie companie of yowthe folowinge themm. which staing at euery burges dore warneth euery of them to attend vpon ye said Bailives att ye wood oveis of Parckhurst the next morninge to fetche some maye. & to ‸⸢obbye⸣ ye olde custome & vsadge of ye towne. vpon payne of euery one making defaulte & not then there present before the Sonne risinge to leese a greene ‸⸢goose⸣ & a gallon of wyne. The maner whereof in forme foloweth. When ye sayd bailives with their companie comburgesses be come to ye wood oveis yen commeth forthe ye keapers of fforest meetinge & salutinge them & offeringe smawle greene bowes to euery of them. signifienge thereby yat ye said bailives and comburges hathe free commen of pasture for all maner their livinge thinges in all ye landes of Parkhurst vnto ye said wood oveis for euer accordinge to their Charter. After ye bowes so deliuered to ye burgesses presentlie (accordinge to auncient custome) ye commen people of ye towne entereth into parckhurst woodes with their hatchettes Sarpes & other edge tooles cuttinge greene bowes to refresh ye Streetes placinge themm at their dores to geve a commodios & pleasant vmbrage to ye howses & comfort to ye people passinge bie. And assone as ye said commen people ar spedde competentlie with greene bowes they retorne home in marchinge arraye. the commoners before the keapers folowinge them: next ye minstrell vice & morisse daunceres after ye Sergeantes with their maces. then the bailives & comburges cooples in their degree ye gonnes and chambers goinge off after a triumphant maner. vntill they come to ye towne marckett where they sheweth suche pastyme as ye leeke to make & after castinge them selffes in a ringe all departeth except only ye burgesses which with the keepers bringethe ye bailives home where of custome ye keapers breaketh their fast prepared for themm. eche of the bailives and burgesses with speede preparinge themm selffes to morninge prayer & from thence with ther wifes to ye elder bailives dynner. This vse of cuttynge greene bowes indureth for ye holie daye eves & mornynges only ye maye moneth & people of custome owght to goe but once a daye. but sere & broke woode ye said inhabitantes of ye towne hathe ben accustomed tyme owte of mynd to fetche home att ther backes with their pickardes from ye woodes aforsaid all the yere longe: savinge only ye foure moneth & also to haue by estimacion xxxti acres of firses & other fewell in ye said lanndes withowt ye said woodes all tymes of ye yere withowt excepton/

Item the custome ys & hathe ben owt of mynde after dynner ye said daie ye bailives wifes with their sisters ye comburges wifes orderlie in their degree by cooples to walke foorthe to Bugge berie for custome & pleasure onlye ye Lorde ye morisse daunceres ye vice & mynstrell plainge before themm with other pastyme for ye daye prepared. & so to retorne in leeke maner somwhat before eveninge prayer to ye elder bailives howse. Where they bancketeth & so repaireth to evening prayer & from thence to supper passinge the hole daie in good companie myrthe & honest pleasure/

  • Footnotes
    • Item: in display script
    • This: in display script
    • Item: in display script
    • Bugge berie: Buckbury, on the east side of Newport
  • Glossed Terms
    • bancketeth v pr 3 pl banquet
    • bowe n bough
    • commen n in phr commen of pasture the legal right to pasture livestock [OEDO common n.1 6]
    • fewell n fuel
    • leese v inf, pr lose
    • obbye v inf, pr obey
    • oues n pl eaves, the edge of a forest; oveis; oves
    • pickard vb n picking, used here to refer to wood that people have picked up(?)
  • Endnote

    This description of a seasonal festivity occurs in a section of the Ligger Book headed, 'This be the auncient vsages & olde customes of the borowgh of Newport within ye Isle of Wight Dewlie continued from ye tyme yemmemorie of man is not to the contrarie' (f 16), copied in 1567–9 by town bailiffs from various unidentified sources. Parkhurst Forest was a royal forest located to the north-west of Newport. Sir John Oglander gives a briefer description of this festivity in one of his notebooks (OG/AA/28, f 34v). For a fuller study of this festivity see Cowling, 'Wood Eaves,' pp 20–8.

  • Document Description

    Record title: Ligger Book
    Repository: Isle of Wight Record Office and Archive
    Shelfmark: NBC/45/2
    Repository location: Newport

    Newport's Ligger Book was created in 1567 by bailiffs William Porter and John Serle, who copied items of interest and significance to the town from other sources over a two-year period. Later bailiffs added to the book on occasion over the next two centuries, including corporation accounts for the years 1580 to 1596, following the usual Michaelmas to Michaelmas accounting year. The beginning of the book includes a list of town officials and the forms of their oaths, and starting at f 16 descriptions of 'auncient' customs and practices of the town.

    1567–1799; English; paper; ii + 201 + iii; 391mm x 277mm; ink foliation; damaged and repaired; modern brown hardcover with gold edging, title on spine: 'Newport Old Leigger. Sundry Proceedings Between 1460 and 1717.' Signed by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in 1965 on second flyleaf.

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