royal command, it was discovered that the forests contained 1367 red deer, 987 of these being "rascalds", or ill-conditioned. A few years before, the district had been ravaged by fire, and a contemporary writer describes the conflagration as one such as was "never knowne in menes memory; beinge four mille longe and a mille and a halfe over all at once". Later the gentleman tells how "ridinge on his way through the forest homeward, he saw a greate herde of faire red deere, and amonst them 2 extreordanory greet stages, the which he never saw the like".
Much of the forest oak was used for the royal navy, but more was allowed to decay. Folk of good birth but fallen fortunes frequently begged a grant of these trees from the Crown. In 1677 Thoroton writes that so many claims were granted that there would soon not be wood enough left to cover the bilberries! As time went on, the cleared portions, being of no further use for kingly sport, were sold to various noblemen. In 1683, 1270 acres were bought by the D