1662, Reginald Forster requests permission to enclose deforested land in Southampton

Transcription from ‘Petitions in the State Papers: 1660s’, in Petitions in the State Papers, 1600-1699, ed. Brodie Waddell, British History Online, Reginald Forster. SP 29/49 f. 48 (1662).

To the Kings most excellent majestie

The peticion of Reginald Forster.

Humbly sheweth. That your petitioner hath of late obteined a lease for yeares from the reverend father in God Bryan Lord Bishop of Winton of Hambleton Chase in the county of South=hampton a ground heretofore very plentifully wooded the timber at all tymes his lordshipps owne to dispose and make profett of: but soe it is may it please your majestie that in these late and worst of tymes the woods have all beene utterly distroyed soe that the bare soyle now yeildeth the bishop no profett at all.

That the premisses soe leased as aforesaid doe adjoyne upon the Forrest of East=Beare in the said county which itselfe alsoe by the like distroyer of late is made uselesse dissolate and a poore thing.

Your petitioner humbly desireth not in the least to the prejudice to your sacred majestie but to the great satisfaccion of his lordshipp aforesaid and advantage to the kingdomes for soe much, an augmentacion to the present incumbent, and for the future forever an emolument to the church, that your majestie wilbe graciously pleased to grant your petitioner leave to enclose at his owne charge the premisses soe leased as aforsaid or what parte thereof he shalbe able and adjudged most necessary his takeing in and encloseing.

And your petitioner shall pray etc

[paratext:] At the court at Whitehall 9th January 1665 His majestie haveing beene moved in this peticion his pleasure is it be referred to Master Attorney and Soliciter Generall or one of them and that they or eyther of them doe certifie his majestie their opinion what they conceive his majestie may doe on the petitioners behalfe and then his majestie will signifie further his royall pleasure.

G Holles

Report by David Moffatt

Reginald Forster had obtained a lease of land in Hamilton Chase near Southampton from the Bishop of Winchester which had been profitable but due to deforestation the land was no longer productive. In this petition, he sought permission to enclose the land at his own cost. The King referred it to the Attorney and Solicitor General.

Seven years after this, in the Journal of the House of Commons for 1669, it is recorded that ‘A Petition of Sir Reynold Foster Baronet’ was read, and that it was ordered ‘That Leave be given to bring in a Bill on the Behalf of Sir Reynold Foster, for Deafforesting of Hamilton Chase’.[1]

The Forest of Bere, mentioned in this petition, is a forest in Hampshire, North of Fareham. There were two forests: Bere Ashley between the rivers Test and Itchen, and Bere Porchester between the rivers Meon and Bedhampton.[2]

Bishop Brian Duppa

‘Bryan Lord Bishop of Wilton’, in the petition, was Brian Duppa. He was born on 10 March 1589 and died on 26 March 1662 and was buried in Westminster Abbey. Duppa was educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford. He was a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford in 1612. He was chaplain to the Royal Family from 1634 and advisor to Charles I. He also tutored the King’s two sons.[3] At the start of the Civil War he retired to Richmond as Bishop of Salisbury and lived quietly. He remained in office during the conflict. After the Restoration he was made Bishop of Winchester but died two years later.


[1] ‘House of Commons Journal Volume 9: 19 November 1669’, in Journal of the House of Commons: Volume 9, 1667-1687 (London, 1802), p. 109. British History Online, http://www.british-history.ac.uk/commons-jrnl/vol9/p109

[2] ‘Forest of Bere’: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forest_of_Bere

[3] ‘Brian Duppa’: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Duppa

This report is part of a series on ‘Petitioners in the reign of Charles II, 1660-1685’, created through a U3A Shared Learning Project on ‘Investigating the Lives of Seventeenth-Century Petitioners’.