Swainsmote Court Role of Finchampstead



There follows text extracted from the Swainsmote Court Role of Finchampstead Bailiwick held at Oakyngham on September 25th 1594. Translated by Lt-Col G. A. Kempthorne, D.S.O. for the Journal of the Berkshire Archaeological Society.

Firstly some definitions.
The definition of a Swainsmote is as follows:-
(Eng. Forest Law) A court held before the verderers of the forest as judges, by the steward of the court, thrice every year, the swains, or freeholders, within the forest composing the jury.

The definition of verderers is as follows:-
Verderers were originally part of the ancient judicial and administrative hierarchy of the vast areas of English forests and Royal Forests set aside by William the Conqueror for hunting. The title Verderer comes from the Norman word ‘vert’ meaning green and referring to woodland. These forests were divided into provinces each having a Chief Justice who travelled around on circuit dealing with the more serious offences. Verderers investigated and recorded minor offences and dealt with the day to day forest administration.

The definition of bailiwick is as follows:-
A bailiwick /ˈbeɪlɨwɪk/ is usually the area of jurisdiction of a bailiff, and once also applied to territories in which a privately appointed bailiff exercised the sheriff's functions under a royal or imperial writ. The word is now more generally used in a metaphorical sense, to indicate a sphere of authority, experience, activity, study, or interest.

The definition of Regarderers is as follows:-
Regarderers were officials responsible for monitoring woodlands and forest areas and reporting to the court of regard.

The definition of Villes is as follows:-
Ville is the modern French word of Latin origin now meaning "city" or "town", but the first meaning in the Middle Ages was "farm" and then "village".
Finchmstd Bailwicke in Windsor Forest in Co. Berks.
Swainsmote of Our Lady Elizabeth, by the Grace of God Queen of England, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, held at Okyngham within the said Bailiwicke Sep. 25th in the 37th Year of her Reign.

Capital Forester of
Charles Howard, Baron Effingham KG, Great Admiral of England, Capital Forester of the said bailiwicke by Thomas Lyndsey his deputy.

Richard Lovelace esq. and Richard Conyngsbye esq.

William Taylor (gent), John Ball, John Bannyster, William Wylkes, John Gooinge, William Martyn (gent), Thomas Eldridge (dead), Richard Thelwall, William Poulter, Thomas Symons, Nicolas Taylor, Edmund Heyford (to be removed) , Regarders of the said Bailiwicke, came and presented on oath that one of the Regarders, Thomas Eldridge had died since the last Swainsmote and that Edmund Heyford was infirm, And now Thomas Lane of Swallowfield, John Foulkes of the same, Francis Bulloc of Okyngham, and William Thelwall of Easthampstead, who by letters of the Queen to the Verderers should be substituted for them, being sworn with the old Regarders make declaration on oath.

Thomas Lynsey (gent), one of the Subforesters, represented by Edward Geffrey his servent, appears and make presement. Thomas Cheslake, represented by Lawrence Cheslake his son, do.

Easthampstead Park
Keepers of Parks And Walks.
Richard Conynsbye esq. Keeper of the Park.

Bear Wood.
Robert Knolles esq. Keeper of the Walk, represented by Thos. Symons his servant appears and makes presentment.

Keepers of Woods
Finchampstead Wood belonging to Francis Parkyns Esqr and Thomas Harrison gent.
Richard Mattewe, woodward for Francis Parkyns esqr appears and makes presentment. Nicholas Taylor, woodward for Thomas Harrison gent do.

Farley Moor belonging to Thomas Lane gent.
Thomas Lane appears.

Beare Wood belonging to the Queen.
Ralphe Cripse woodward there.

Name of Villes

Yeunden with the Hamlet of Okyngham.
Francis Ball, tithying man of Yeunden, with Richard Marlowe, Thos Mylles, Ralph Taylor and Edward Ball, sworn, and make presentment.

Sandhurst Hill
Wm. Coxe Tithying man, with John Woods, John Lorimer, and John Alexander present “all well”.

Finchampstead with the Hamlet of Barkham.
Wm. Bannyster, tithying man, with Edward Felder, Robert Feltham, and John Prettye present by bill.

Easthampstead Vill.
Francis Arewe, tithying man, John Chambrs, deputy, Andrew Cottrell and Mathew Monyer appear and present by letters.

Swallowfield with the Hamlet of Farley Hill.

Newlands within the Parish of Hurst
Marmaduke Newbury tithing man, with Thomas Bulloc, George Goodlander and John Finch sworn, and present by bill.

Jury for the Queen.
John Hellyar of Okyngham, William Holloway of Finchampstead, John Hinde, Richard Olyver and Humphrey Taylor of the same, John Prince of Swallowfield, Laurance Smyth of Okyngham, William Heath, Henry K……, and Thomas Seymour of the same, Richard Allnut of Barkham, Richard Symons of Aberfield, Thomas Thaackam of the same, William Wastell of Sandhurst and John Slithurst of the same.


Translated by Lt-Col G. A. Kempthorne, D.S.O. for the Journal of the Berkshire Archaeological Society.




“Swainsmote Court Role of Finchampstead,” Wokingham's Virtual Museum, accessed August 6, 2020, https://wokingham-tc.gov.uk/museum/document/WTH0570.



25th September 1594.