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                References to Robert Hood1 in the Wakefield Court Rolls2


Warrene Counter seal. In the Wakefield Court Rolls 1297-1309 an Adam Hod, a Robert Hod and a Richard, John, Adam and Robert Hodde appear many times. The Hodde names appear to centre around Sowerby and Wakefield. In Sowerby Township it is said by Crabtree writing in the late 1800's that by tradition 'Robin Hood' resided here at some time at Callis House.  [History of Halifax, p. 412.] Also within the township Crabtree refers to a Bowood whilst at nearby Crag, a public house called the "Robin Hood' was established in the late 1800's adjacent to a 'Robin Hood House'. This inn has been reopened recently by supporters of the establishment. Although not evidence for the historical identity of the folk hero, these place-names indicate a strong association with the historical identity who probably frequented these parts.

1. The Wakefield Court Rolls for 1316 [pdf, p. 140.] show a Robert Hoode and others to have been fined 3d. for not attending earl Warrene's muster for what appears to be the Scottish campaign of 1314 and the abortive battle of Bannockburn. In the same year a John Hood, Robert de la Green and John Midgley appear:

1316 -
'John de Blakhoumore, taken at the suit of Roger Walgar of Almanbury [Almondbury], for breaking into his house at Almanbury, and stealing
goods and chattels, value 10s., which goods were found in his possession
and are brought into court, is asked what defence he can make
for the said burglary and theft ; he pleads not guilty. An inquisition
taken by the oath of Thomas de Seyuile [Savile]*, John de Leptone, Richard
de Birstall, Robert de Heyrode, William del Okes, Richard de
Crosseland, Adam Sprigonel, John Patrikes, John Hood, John de
Megeley (Midgley), Robert de la Grene of Osset, and Robert de Saltonstall,
finds him guilty. He is ordered to be hanged. He has no goods.' [WCR., 1313-1316, p. 136.] * Probably son and heir of Baldwin de Savile.

Tom Holland and Dominic Sandbrook in their curious 'The Rest is History' state that the Wakefield Court Rolls for 1316 mention a 'Robin Hood'.12 However, this must be secondary information as the rolls for that year only mention 'Robert Hode'(at Sowerby), 'Robert Hodde' (at Sowerby), 'Robert Hood' (at Alverthorpe) also 'Robert Hood' of Newton (at Sowerby) and 'Robert Hood /Hade' (at Wakefield). A case of error upon error which is not unusual in a cursory treatment of the issues, often leading us down fanciful paths into that well of obscurity. In fact I find that, despite the temptation to ascribe one of these men to the ballad hero none of them refers to our man.

The rolls for 1316 also make mention of fines for those in John de Warenne's manor of Wakefield who did not attend the Scottish muster. We know that Thomas earl of Lancaster, who held the adjacent honour of Pontefract at this time, and others, failed to attend the muster of 1314, culminating in the battle of Bannockburn, following which a 'Robert Hoode' was fined 3d along with others but again there is no evidence that this was our man either.

The following court records appear some nine years after the Battle of Boroughbridge [1322].
The Yorkshire historian, Joseph Hunter supposed that after this battle, Robert Hood of  Wakefield had been branded a "contrariant".  Hunter then supposed that Robert had taken to banditry in Barnsdale Forest and later as the ballad, "A Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode"suggests, been pardoned by "The King".
This king, Hunter suggested from state records was Edward II. However this could well have been Edward III who seized power from Queen Isabella and Mortimer at Nottingham Castle in October 1330, although he had been king de jure since 1327.

If these court records refer to the same person as Hunter refers to, then this is "Robyn Hode" in his retirement years, prior to his death, which Hunter calculated to have occurred in 1347 at Kirklees Priory at the age of 77.

The following records refer to that Robert Hood of Newton3 near Wakefield:

2. 18th October 1331 at Thornes [Exactly one year after the Nottingham coup]:-
Robert Hood of Newton in a plea of unjustly taking and detaining a horse: to attach4 Robert Hood of Newton to answer John le Couper and to Thomas de Chatburn in pleas of tresspass.

3. 25th October 1331 Tourn at Wakefield Friday before the Feast of SS Simon & Jude, 5 Edward III :- Robert Hode and many others did not come to the tourn Robert fined 2d5.

4. 8th November 1331 at Wakefield:-
Robert Hood for dry wood. [Appears with William Theaker's daughter, John de Langley's handmaid, Beatrice Bul and Henry de Tropinel 2d each]

5. 8th November 1331 at Stanley:-
Order is given to attach Simon servant of Thomas de Roller to answer Geoffrey de Birkinshagh and Alice his wife in a plea of tresspass; to distrain6 John le Couper and Thomas de Chatburn to answer Robert Hood of Newton in a plea of unjustly taking and detaining a horse; and Robert Hood to answer John le Couper in a plea of tresspass; and to attach Robert Hood to answer Thomas de Chatburne in a plea of tresspass

6. 29th November 1331 at Alverthorpe:-
An inquisition7 is to come to the next court between John Couper plaintiff and Robert Hood to determine if the aforesaid Robert trampled and depastured with cattle John's corn and rye in the field of Newton or not.

7. 15th December 1331 at Alverthorpe:-
 Robert Hood of Newton plaintiff and John Couper compromise in a plea of unjust taking and detention of a horse, Robert is amerced8 3d.
Serjeant:- Thomas de Chatteburn defendant essoins9 for the second time by Robert de Mora10 against Robert Hoode of Newton in a plea of taking and detaining a horse; pledge,
William de Lockwode11: and because Robert offers himself, therefore etc.
John Couper plaintiff and Robert Hood of Newton compromise by licence of the court in a plea of tresspass; Robert is amerced 3d.

8. 10th January 1332 at Alverthorpe:-
Robert Hood of Newton plaintiff offers himself against Thomas de Schatteburn in a plea of tresspass; because he does not state his case in the words of the court he is to take nothing by his suit and is amerced 3d for false claim.

9. 8th January 1333 at Stanley:-
 An inquisition finds that Robert Hode (6d) and John Tyting (3d) executors of the testament of Matilda Tyting impleaded Thomas Hydebyer in court Christian therefore amerced 9d.

10. 4th June 1333 at Stanley:-
Bailiff :- William Broun defendant (in mercy, distrained) [essoins] for the first time by John Gairgrave against Robert de Mora (who offers himself) in a plea of tresspass; pledge, William de Lockwode.
William Orfevre plaintiff offers himself against Richard de Colley (in mercy distrained) in a plea of debt. And because Richard does not come he is amerced 2d, and order is given to distrain . Walter Gunne sues William de Ouchethorpe in a plea respecting an agreement. And because William summoned, does not come , he is amerced 2d. And order is given that he be distrained. William Templer sues Robert Hode in a plea of tresspass. He says that Robert's cattle trampled his corn to his damage 40d. Robert says he is not guilty; therefore inquisition.

Note: There is also a Peter Hode mentioned in the court of Ossett  on 13th November 1332 for drawing the blood of William Capon and Thomas Fogald, with the help of William Wighe 12d each.

Footnote:
However seductive the surname Hood and its variants may be within the manor of Wakefield, none of these persons model as the character who is represented as' Robyn Hode' in the Geste or imitative ballads. This is again another doubly refracted  diversion of which there are many.

See: Robin of Wakefield
        The Elland Feud
        The Nottingham Coup

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Notes:
  1. Also 'Hode' or 'Hoode' in W.C.R.
  2. During the time of John 8th earl de Warrene's tenure as lord of the manor of Wakefield.
  3.  'Nottingham' could be a balladic corruption of  'Newton'.
  4. Attach :- To arrest or as usual in W.C.R, to secure means of sureties for future attendance in court
  5. 2d was two pence or "tuppence".
  6. Distrain :- To seize a person's goods and sometimes their lands to compel them to pay their due rent or perform services or to appear in court.
  7. Inquisition :- An enquiry or investigation.
  8. Amerced :- penalised financially. Sometimes an offence could be forgiven.
  9. Essoigns :- An excuse for non-appearance  in court at the appointed time.
10. Described elsewhere as an attorney.
11. The Lockwoods  had been supporters of Thomas of  Lancaster in 1322. This correlates with Joseph Hunter's concept that Robert Hood was a follower of Thomas and later branded a "contrariant" who was later pardoned.

12. Holland, Tom and Sandbrook, Dominic. The Rest is History, (2023), p. 173.

Sources: 

The Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield  vol II, 1297-1309. Ed. Baildon William Paley, Y.A.S. 1906.
The Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield  October 1331to September 1333, Ed. Walker, S. S., Y.A.S. 1983.
Watson, John. Memoirs of the Ancient Earls of Warren and Surrey, 1782.


© Copyright Tim Midgley 2001, revised 4th March 2024.

Robin Hood search for the Truth | Robin Hood Places | Hood surname statistics | Robin Hood of Wakefield | Robert Hood of Newton | The Pinder of Wakefield Marian | Friars | Loxley and 'Huntington' | Myriads of Robin Hoods | Ballads of Robin Hood | Kirklees | The Armytages of Kirklees | Little John | Roger De Doncaster | The Penurious Knyght | Our Comly King  | Shire Reeve | Priory of Kirklees | Wakefield Rolls | Saylis of the Geste- a new site | Robert III Butler of Skelbrooke | Barnsdale and the Geste | De Lacis of PontefractAlice De Laci and John of GauntBarnsdale Gallery | A suspected compiler of the Geste | Images of Robyn Hode