Iron and Wood

The monopolies granted by Kings James 1 and his son Charles allowed London patentees to wreak havoc in the provinces. Complaints were made of the destruction of wood in the Forest of Dean, which became a grave concern to many in the region, not just due to loss of local trade.

In July 1634 merchants and shipowners made a formal complaint drawn up by the attorney general to Lord Holland, Chief Justice.

It was claimed that 1/2 the first had been destroyed in 20 years, causing the price of timber to soar from 16s to 25s per ton which made shipbuilding in Bristol and other towns unfeasible. Before this, ships of 100 – 200 tons were launched each year in Bristol. But only one of 190 tons had been built in previous 9 years. Shipwrights were out of work and merchants forced to buy Dutch built ships.

But as Spain was at war with Holland, these ships were at risk of seizure on arrival. Bristol’s main overseas trade was with Spain so the port was suffering and the kings customs falling.

If the Forest of Dean iron furnaces continued at the same rate they claimed all remaining woodland would be lost in 15 years.

Iron had soared in price during the recent war with Spain to £17 per ton and would be too expensive in any future war.

The petitioners proposed the woods be replanted and remaining woodland preserved. There is no record of the outcome.

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