Ligger Book

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

ff [53v–4] (31 August)


Whearas there hath been great spoiles Committed in the kinges Maiesties woods fforest of Parkhurst by the poore people of this towne. Who (notwithstanding the right Honourable Earle of Southampton hath often written and some of them have been punished therefore) doe yet continue in the same disorder/ In so much that his honour is so highlie displeased with the towne therefore that if the same abuse be not speedilie reformed/ the towne is likelie to be much preiudiced therby in their Chartre & liberties ffor preventing whereof, and for that the fetching of wood out of the forrest vnder pretence of Custome is founde rather to encreace the nomber of idle poore in the towne, then to relieue the poore (they too much relyeng vppon the benefytt thereof, and so breeding vpp their children in ffelenes that they be vnfitt for anie seruice/ whoe otherwise might be educated in some honest vocacion to gett their livinges, It is nowe at a Court of Common Counsell holden in the Guildhall of this Burrough this last daie of August Anno Domini 1621 Ordered and decreed by Mr Maior & his whole Companie nowe assembled That the custome or priuiledge of the Maiors going to the wood oves, and the fetching of boughes & wood out of the forrest shalbe vtterlie left off yealded vppe and abolished/ And that none of the | Inhabitantes of this Burroughe shall from hencefoorth neither in the moneth of Maye, nor at anie other time fetch, or suffer their children or servauntes to fetch anie boughes or wood in the saide forrest vnder anie cullor or pretence whatsoeuer without speciall leave of his Maiesties woodwardes and keepers vppon ‸⸢paine⸣ to be punished by open whipping according to his Maiesties Lawes/

This order was agreed on and made by vs whose names are heerevnder written and hath been published by open proclamacion in the towne wittnes our handes heervnto sett the daie and yeare aforesaid/


  • Footnotes
    • Whearas: written in display script
    • (they … livinges: closing parenthesis missing or possibly lost in binding at right edge of folio
    • the: written on new line at the bottom right corner of the folio, as if intended as a catchword
  • Glossed Terms
    • felenes n feleness, greatness of number or quantity [OEDO fele adv (and n.) and adj.2]
    • oues n pl eaves, the edge of a forest; oveis; oves
  • Endnote

    The 'great spoiles' with which this ordinance deals were supposedly committed because of the seasonal festivity described earlier in the Newport Ligger Book (f 17); the festivity involved the young people of the town choosing a lord and going into Parkhurst Forest to collect greenery, attended by a minstrel, a vice, and morris dancers. 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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