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the Nutlei of Domesday. Upon this word which we find, also, in the


The New Forest : its History and its Scenery.

Stockleys, all from the Old-English leag ; in the various tons, as
Wootton, "Winkton, Everton, Burton, and Hinton ; in Gore and
Goreley, the muddy places ; in Culverley, the dove lea ; in the
Roydons and Rowdouns, the rough places ; in Rhinefield, the
brook field ; and in Brockis Hill, the badger's hill.

Take only the very names of the fields and we shall meet the
same element, as in the Wareham field, the fishing place field ;
Conygers and Coneygar,* the King's ground, to be met in
every village ; in the linches, as Goreley Linch, that is, Goreley
Headland, or literally, the dirty-field headland; in Hangerley,
the corner meadow; Hayes, the enclosure, with all its com-
pounds, as Westhayes, Powelhayes, Crithayes, and Felthayes ;
in such terms as "SVithy Eyot, that is, Withy Island ; and the
different Rodfords " hrySeranford " the cattleford, the Old-
English equivalent to the Norman Bovreford.

"We meet, too, in daily life, such words as hayward for the
North-Country "pinder;" barton, literally the barley place, in-
stead of the Keltic "crooyard;" the same Old-English element
in the names of the flowers, as bishop-wort (bisceop-icyrt), one of
the mints, from which the peasant makes his " hum- water ;"
cassock (from cassuc), any kind of binding weed, and cammock
(from cammec), any of the St. John's worts, or ragworts ; clivers
(from clife, a bur), the heriff; and wythwind, by which name
the convolvulus is still known, the Old-English " wi^-winde."

north of Hampshire, in the shape of Nately Scures and Upper Nately
(Xataleie in Domesday) as the equivalent of Xatan Leah, the old name of
the Upper portion of the New Forest, see Dr. Guest, as before quoted, p. 31 .
* A Keltic derivation has, I am aware, been proposed for this word. It
is to be met with under various forms in all parts of the Forest. The Forest
termination den (denu) must, however, be put down to this source. See
Transactions of the Philological Society, 1855, p. 283.

Verbal Characteristics of the West-Saxons.

These words, however, belong more especially to the next
chapter. To descend from generals to particulars, let us notice
some of the verbal characteristics by which a "West-Saxon popu-
lation may be distinguished. As a rule it may be laid down
that the West- Saxons give a soft, and the Anglians and North-
men a hard sound to all their words. Thus in the New Forest
we find the West- Saxons saying burrow for barrow; haish for
harsh ; pleu for plough ; heth for heath, instead of the "hawth "
of the Eastern rapes of Sussex ; mash for marsh ; Gerge for
George ; slue for sloe, and again, for slough, the " slow " of the
north ; bin for been, and also being ; justle for jostle, as in
Nahum, ch. ii. v. 4 ; athert for athwart ; wool for hole ; ballat
for ballad, or, as it is pronounced in the more northern counties,
ballard ; ell for eel ; clot and clit for clod ; stiffle for stifle ; ruff
for roof, and so on. Thus, too, we meet here not with Deepdene,
but Dibden, spelt in Boazio's map of 1591, Debden. No
Chawton, but only Chewton occurs, no Farnham, but only
Fernham and Fernhill.

The West- Saxons, too, have a peculiar drawl. So in the
New Forest we may hear them saying pearts for parts ; stwoane
for stone ; twereable for terrible ; measter (master], instead of
the Anglian " muster;" and yees instead of the Sussex "yus."
As others have also remarked, the West Saxon substitutes a
for o. So here we get lard for lord ; nat for not ; amang for
among ; knap for knop ; shart for short ; starm for storm ; and
Narmanton for Normanton. Not only this, but the West- Saxon
in the New Forest substitutes a for e, as in agg for egg, and lag
for leg. He not only retains the hard g, but gives a k when
he can, as in kiver for cover, and aker for acorn, the " aitchorn "
of the Anglian districts. Let us notice, too, that he always
changes the / into a v, as vern for fern, vire for fire, ewets


Tlie New Forest : its Ifistori/ and its Scenery.

for effets, voarn for foam, as written by Chaucer, val] for fall,
and fitches for vetches, as we find it in Ezekiel, ch. iv. v. 9.

To go further into these distinctions is here impossible. As
are the people so is the language. By an analysis of the
published glossaries of Dorsetshire, Wiltshire, and Sussex, I find
that the New Forest possesses above two-thirds of the two
former, differing here and there only in pronunciation, whilst of
the latter it scarcely possesses one-tenth, proving plainly that the
people are "West-Saxons rather than South, descendants of
Cerdic more than of Ella.*

Turning from these minor characteristics, and looking at
the people themselves as they once were, and as they now stand,
much might be added as to the unequal race which the West-
Saxon has run with the Anglian and the Northman, and its
effect on his character. The most casual observer even, in going
over so small a space as the New Forest, must have noticed how
Nature has favoured the Northern and Midland counties in their
sources of wealth and industry. The great home-trade of
the Middle Ages has entirely deserted the South. Once, too,
all our men-of-war sailed from what are now small ports on
the south coast. Our fleets were manned by crews from the
Isle of Wight, and Lymington, and Lyrne, and the neighbouring
harbours. The seamanship of the West-Country was England's

* See what Mr. Cooper says with regard to the affinity of the we-tern
dialect of Sussex, as distinguished from the eastern, to that of Hampshire, in
the preface (p. i.) to his Glossary of Proi-iiicialisms in the County of
Sussex. For instance, such Romance words as appleterre, gratten, ampcrv.
honker, common in Sussex, are not to be heard in the Forest ; whilst many
of the West-Country words, as they are called, used daily in the Forest, as
charm (a noise see next chapter, p 191), moot, stool, vinney, twiddle
(to chirp), are, if Mr. Cooper's Glossary is correct, quite unknown in


Smuggling in the last Century.

right *arm.* But now the ironfields of Staffordshire have
put out the furnaces. The coal mines ,of Durham have de-
stroyed the charcoal trade, and taken away the seamanship.
The brine-pits of Cheshire have dried up the salterns which
covered the south-western shores. Of course, this loss of
material prosperity has told on the intelligence and morals of
the district.

In the New Forest itself, till within the last thirty years,
smuggling was a recognized calling. Lawlessness was the rule
during the last century. Warner says that he had then seen
twenty or thirty waggons laden with kegs, guarded by two
or three hundred horsemen, each bearing two or three "tubs,"
coming over Hengistbury Head, making their way, in the open
day, past Christchurch to the Forest. At Lymington, a troop
of bandits took possession of the well-known Ambrose Cave, on
the borders of the Forest, and carried on, not only smuggling,
but wholesale burglary. The whole country was plundered.
The soldiers were at last called out, the men tracked, and
the cave entered. Booty to an enormous extent was found.
The captain turned King's evidence, and confessed that he had

* It is surprising, in looking over the musters of ships in the reigns of
Edward II. and Edward III., to see how few Northern ports are mentioned.
The importance, too, of the South-coast ports, which were sometimes sum-
moned by themselves, arose not only from the reasons in the text, but from
being close to the country with which we were in a state of chronic warfare.
See, too, the State Papers, vol.i., p. 812, 813, where the levies of the fleets
in 1545, against D'Annebault, with the names of e<ich vessel and its poit,
are given ; as also p. 827, where the neighbouring coast of Dorset is
described as deserted, in consequence of the sailors flocking to the King's
service. I think that I have somewhere seen that our sailors were once
rated as English, Irish, Scotch, and the "West Country," the latter
standing the highest.

Z 109

Tin" Ncir 1'uri'nf. : v/,s History and its Scenery.

murdered upwards of thirty people, whose bodies had been
thrown down a well, where they were found.*

Such was the state of the New Forest in the last century.
But as recently as thirty or forty years ago every labourer was
either a poacher or a smuggler, very often a combination of the
two. Boats were built from the Forest timber in many a barn ;
and to this day various fields far inland are still called " the dock-
yard mead." Crews of Foresters, armed with " swingels," such
as the West- Saxons of Somerset fought with in the battle of
Sedgemoor, defied the coastguard. The principal " runs " were
made at Beckton and Chewton Bunnies, and the Gangway.
Often as many as a hundred " tubs," each containing four
gallons, and worth two or three guineas, or even more, would
be run in a night. Each man would carry two or three of
these kegs, one slung in front and two behind ; or if the cliff
was very steep, a chain of men was formed, and the tubs passed
from hand to hand.

All this has been done within the memory of people not so
very old. Men were killed at Milton. Old Becton Bunny
House was burnt to the ground. A keg was carelessly broached,
and the spirit caught fire from the spark of a pipe. Every
person was in fact engaged in smuggling: some for profit,
many merely from a love of adventure. Everywhere was under-
stood the smuggler's local proverb, " Keystone under the hearth,
keystone under the horse's belly."|

* From an old chap-book, The Hampshire Murderers, with illustra-
tions, without date or publisher's name, but probably written about 1776.

f That is to say, the smuggled spirits were concealed either below the
fireplace or in the stable, just beneath where the horse stood. The expres-
sion of "Hampshire and Wiltshire moon-rakers" had its origin in the
Wiltshire peasants fishing up the contraband goods at night, brought
through the Forest, and hid in the various ponds.

Present Condition of the Foresters.

Now nothing either in smuggling or poaching is to any
extent attempted. In the one case the crime is unprofitable, in
the other the temptation is withdrawn. Labour, too, is more
plentiful, and the Government works of draining and planting in
the Forest employ most of the Foresters.

Many a man, however, can still tell how he has baited a
hook, tied to a bough, with apples to snare the deer ; how he
has pared the faun's hoof to keep the doe in one place, till he
wanted to kill her. But now the deer are all gone, except a few,
only seen now and then, wandering about in the wildest and
loneliest parts. As to restocking the Forest, we can only say,
with good Bishop Hoadley, respecting Waltham Chace, "the
deer have already done enough mischief."

Tte Kin s Ga:rn Brock.


The Xcir /'V'.iv.s/ : /V.s ///.s-/on/ and it A S



Acderwood Corner.

INTIMATELY bound up with the race are of course the folk-lore
of a district, and what we are now pleased to call provincialisms,
but which are more properly nationalisms, showing us the real
texture of our language ; and in every way preferable to the

The Value of Provincialisms.

Latin and Greek hybridisms, which are daily coined to suit the
exigencies of commerce or science.

Provincialisms are, in fact, when properly looked at, not so
much portions of the original foundations of a language, as
the very quarry out of which it is hewn. And as if to com-
pensate for much of the harm she has done, America has
wrought one great good in preserving many a pregnant Old-
English word, which we have been foolish enough to disown.*
Provincialisms should be far more studied than they are ; for
they will help us to settle many a difficult point, where was
the boundary of the Anglian and the Frisian ; how far on the
national character was the influence of the Dane felt ? how
much, and in what way, did the Norman affect the daily business
of life ?

Still more important is a country's folk-lore, as showing the
higher mental faculties of the race, in those legends and snatches
of song, and fragments of popular poetry, which speak the
popular feeling, and which not only contain its past history, but
foreshadow the future literature of a country ; in those proverbs,
too, which tell the life and employment of a nation ; and those
superstitions which give us such an insight into its moral

Throughout the West of England still linger some few

* See Dictionary of Americanisms, by J. R. Bartlett, who does not,
however, we think, refer nearly often enough to the mother-country for
the sources of many of the phrases and words which he gives. Even the
Old-English inflexions, as he remarks, are in some parts of the States still
used, showing what vitality, even when transplanted, there is in our
language. Boucher, too, notices in the excellent introduction to his
Glossary of Archaic and Provincial Words, p. ix., that the whine
and the drawl of the first Puritan emigrants may still in places he


The New Forest : its History and its Scenery,

stray waifs and legends of the past. In the New Forest Sir
Bevis of Southampton is no mythical personage, and the peasant
will tell how the Knight used to take his afternoon's walk,
across the Solent, from Leap to the Island.

Here in the Forest still dwell fairies. The mischievous
sprite, Laurence, still holds men by his spell and makes them
idle. If a peasant is lazy, it is proverbially said, " Laurence has
got upon him," or, " He has got a touch of Laurence." He
is still regarded with awe, and barrows are called after him.
Here, too, in tae Forest still lives Shakspeare's Puck, a veritable
being, who causes the Forest colts to stray, carrying out word
for word Shakspeare's description,

" I am that merry wanderer of the night,
When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile,
Neighing in likeness of a filly foal."

(Midsummer Night's Dream, Act ii., Sc. 1.)

This tricksy fairy, so the Forest peasant to this hour firmly
believes, inhabits the bogs, and draws people into them, making
merry, and laughing at their misfortunes, fulfilling his own

" Up and down, up and down,
I will lead them up and down ;
I am feared in field and town,
Goblin, lead them up and down."

(Midsummer Nighfs Dream, Act iv., Sc. 2.)

Only those who are eldest born are exempt from his spell. The
proverb of "as ragged as a colt Pixey " is everywhere to be
heard, and at which Drayton seems to hint in his Court of

"This Puck seems but a dreaming dolt.
Still walking like a ragged colt."

He does not, however, in the Forest, so much skim the milk, or


Legends and Poetry.

play pranks with the chairs, but, as might be expected from the
nature of the country, misleads people on the moors, turning
himself into all sorts of shapes, as Shakspeare, Spenser, and
Jonson, have sung. There is scarcely a village or hamlet in
the Forest district which has not its " Pixey Field," and "Pixey
Mead," or its " Picksmoor," and " Cold Pixey," and " Puck
Piece." At Prior's Acre we find Puck's Hill, and not far from
it lies the great wood of Puckpits ; whilst a large barrow on
Beaulieu Common is known as the Pixey's Cave.*

Then, too, on the south-west borders of the Forest remains
the legend, its inner meaning now perhaps forgotten, that the
Priory Church of Christchurch was originally to have been built
on the lonely St. Catherine's Hill, instead of in the valley where
the people lived and needed religion. The stones, however,
which were taken up the hill in the day were brought down
in the night by unseen hands. The beams, too, which were
found too short on the heights, were more than long enough
in the town. The legend further runs, beautiful in its right
interpretation, that when the building was going on, there was
always one more workman namely, Christ than came on the

So, too, the poetry of the district has its own characteristics,
which it shares with that of the neighbouring western counties.
The homeliness of the songs in the West of England strangely

* All over the world lives a similar fairy, the same in form, but different
in name. His life has been well illustrated in Dr. Bell's Shakspeare' s Puck
and his Folk-lore. In England he is known by many names " the white
\\itch," "the horse-hag," and "Fairy Hob;" and hence, too, we here get
Hob's Hill and Hob's Hole. For accounts of him in different parts see espe-
cially Allies' Folk-lore of Worcestershire, ch. xii. p. 409, and Illustrations oj
the Fairy Mythology of A Midsummer Night's Dream, by J. O. Halliwell.
Published by the Shakspeare Society.


The New Forest : its History ami it*

contrasts with the wild spirit of those of the North, founded
as the latter so often are on the border forays and raids of
former times. None which I have collected are direct enough
in their bearing on the New Forest to warrant quotation, and I
must content myself with this general expression. *

To pass on to other matters, let us notice some of the
superstitions of the New Forest. No one is now so super-
stitious, because no one is so ignorant as the West- Saxon. One
of the commonest remedies for consumption in the Forest is
the " lungs of oak," a lichen (sticta pulmonaria) which grows
rather plentifully on the oak trees; and it is no unfrequent
occurrence for a poor person to ask at a chemist's shop for
a "pennyworth of lungs of oak." So, too, for weak eyes,
" brighten," another lichen, is recommended. I do not know,
however, that we must find so much fault in this matter, as
the lichens were not very long ago favourite prescriptions with
even medical men.

Again, another remedy for various diseases used to be the
scrapings from Sir John Chydioke's alabaster figure, in the
Priory Church of Christchurch, which has, in consequence, been
sadly injured. A specific, however, for consumption is still to
kill a jay and place it in the embers till calcined, when it is

* The most popular songs which I have noticed in the Forest and on its
borders are the famous satire, " When Joan's ale was new," which differs
in many important points from Mr. Bell's printed version : ;i King Arthur
had three sons :" " There was an old miller of Devonshire," which also
differs from Mr. Bell's copy ; and

' There were three men came from the north.
To fight the victory ;"

made famous by Burns' additions and improvements ; but which, from
various expressions, seems to have been, first of all, a West-Country song,
sung at different wakes and fairs, part of the unwritten poetry of the nation.


then drunk at stated times in water. Hares' brains are recom-
mended for infants prematurely born. Children suffering from
fits are, or rather were, passed through cloven ash-trees. Bread
baked on Good Friday will not only keep seven years, but
is a remedy for certain complaints. The seventh son of a
seventh son can perform cures. In fact, a pharmacopoeia of
such superstitions might be compiled.

The New Forest peasant puts absolute faith in all traditions,
believing as firmly in St. Swithin as his forefathers did when
the saint was Bishop of Winchester ; turns his money, if he
has any, when he sees the new moon ; fancies that a burn is
a charm against leaving the house ; that witches cannot cross
over a brook ; that the death's-head moth was only first seen
after the execution of Charles I. ; that the man in the moon
was sent there for stealing wood from the Forest a superstition,
by the way, mentioned in a slightly different form by Reginald
Pecock, Bishop of Chichester, in the fifteenth century.* And
the " stolen bush," referred to by Caliban in the Tempest (Act ii.,
sc. 2), and Bottom in the Midsummer Night's Dream (Act vi.
sc. 1), is still here called the "nitch," or bundle of faggots. f

Not only this, but the barrows on the plains are named after
the fairies, and the peasant imagines, like the treasure-seekers of
the Middle-Ages, that they contain untold wealth, and that the
Forest wells are full of gold.J

I do not mean, however, to say that these beliefs are openly

* The Repression of Over-much Blaming the Chwch, edited by Churchill
Babington, vol. i., part, ii., ch. iii., p. 155.

f Dr. Bell takes quite a different view of these passages in his Shak-
speare's Puck and his Folk-lore. Introduction to vol. ii. p. 6. The simple
explanation, however, seems to me the best.

\ See ch. xviii. p. 197.

A A 177

A / ri-xt : its History and it* S

avowed, or will even be acknowledged by the first labourer who
may be seen. The English peasant is at all times excessively
chary no one perhaps more so of expressing his full mind ;
and a long time is required before a stranger can, if ever, gain
his confidence. But I do say that these superstitions are all,
with more or less credit, held in different parts of the Forest,
although even many who believe them the firmest would shrink,
from fear of ridicule, to confess the fact. Education has done
something to remove them ; but they have too firm a hold to be
easily uprooted. They may not be openly expressed, but they
are, for all that, to my certain knowledge, still latent.

Old customs and ceremonies still linger. Mummers still
perform at Christmas. Old women " go gooding," as in other
parts of England, on St. Thomas's Day. Boys and girls " go
shroving " on Ash Wednesday ; that is, begging for meat and
drink at the farm-houses, singing this rude snatch :

" I come a shroving, a shroving,
For a piece of pancake,
For a piece of truffle-cheese *
Of your own making."

When, if nothing is given, they throw stones and shards at
the door.f

* The best cheese, the same as " rammeL," as opposed to " ommary, '
which see in Appendix I.

f In the Abstract of Forest Claims made in 1670 some old customs
are preserve!, amongst them payments of ' Hocktide money/' "moneth
money," " wrather money " (rother, hryfcer, cattle-money), " turfdele
money," and " smoke money," which last we shall meet in the church-
wardens' books of the district. The following is taken from the Bishop
of Winchester's payments : " Rents at the feast of St. Michael. 3s. 8d.
For turfdeale money, 3*. Orf. Three quarters and 4 bushels of barley at
the feast of All Saints. Three bushels of oats, and 30 eggs, at the Turifi-
cation of the Virgin Mary." (p. .57.)


Love-rhymes and Proverbs.

Plenty, too, of old love superstitions remain about ash
boughs with an even number of leaves, and " four-leaved" clover,
concerning which runs a Forest rhyme :

" Even ash and four-leaved clover,
You are sure your love to see
Before the day is over."

Then, too, we must not forget the Forest proverbs. " Wood
Fidley rain," " Hampshire and Wiltshire moonrakers," and
" Keystone under the hearth," have already been noticed. But
there are others such as "As yellow as a kite's claw," ;< An iron
windfall," for anything unfairly taken, " All in a copse," that is,
indistinct, " A good bark-year makes a good wheat-year," and
" Like a swarm of bees all in a charm," explained further on,
which show the nature of the country. Again, "A poor dry
thing, let it go," a sort of poacher's euphemism, like, " The
grapes are sour," is said of the Forest hares when the dogs
cannot catch them, and so applied to things which are coveted
but out of reach. " As bad as Jeffreys" preserves, as through-
out the West of England, the memory of one who, instead of
being the judge, should have been the hangman. Again, too,
" Eat your own side, speckle-back," is a common Forest expres-
sion, and is used in reference to greedy people. It is said
to have taken its origin from a girl who shared her breakfast with
a snake, and thus reproved her favourite when he took too much.
Again, " To rattle like a boar in a holme bush," is a thorough
proverb of the Forest district, where a "holme " bush means an
old holly. Passing, however, from particulars to generals, let
me add for the last, " There is but one good mother-in-law, and
she is dead." I have never heard it elsewhere in England, but
doubtless it is common enough. It exactly corresponds with the
German saying, " There is no good mother-in-law but she that

A A 2 179

The New Forest : its History and its Scenery.

wears a green gown," that is, who lies in the churchyard. The
shrewdness and humour of a people are never better seen than
in their proverbs.

Further, there are plenty of local sayings, such as " The

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Online LibraryJohn Richard de Capel WiseThe New Forest: its history and its scenery → online text (page 13 of 27)