Robin Hood Loxley
Yorkshire place names dominate the rhymes of Robin Hood whose birthplace of Loxley in Hallamshire, Sheffield is near the site of Little John’s grave in Hathersage. Loxley is midway between Sherwood and Barnsdale and here we read, "In ancient times this area (Sheffield/Loxley) was part of the Barnsdale Forest that, together with Sherwood Forest, made up the forest of the Robin Hood legends.”
Joseph Hunter who was the assistant keeper of the Public Record Office in London wrote,“These open chases afforded fine opportunities for such marauders as Robin-Hood; who doubtless himself in proper person made some of his first essays in “chasing the fallow deer” in Fulwood and Riveling, lying so near to Loxley, which beyond all competition has the "fairest pretensions" (Archaic: A claim free of all obstacles) to be the birth-place of that noted outlaw; not sparing perchance the abbot’s herds.
The "Sloane Manuscript says Robin Hood was born in Locksley, Yorkshire which some say was in Nottinghamshire (there was a boundary dispute on Hallam Moors between Hathersage and Loxley) in the days of Henry II about the year 1160 but lived till the latter end of Richard I.’ He was ‘so riotous that he lost or sold his patrimony (inheritance) and for debt became an outlaw. Then joining to him many stout fellows of like disposition amongst one called Little John who was principal or next to him, they hunted about Barnsdale Forest." (See notes.)
Roger Dodsworth wrote, “Robert Locksley, born in the Bradfield Parish of Hallamshire (Loxley) wounded his stepfather to death at plough, fled into the woods and was relieved by his mother till he was discovered. Then he came to Clifton upon Calder, and became acquainted with Little John, that kept the kine. Which said John is buried at Hathersage in Derbyshire where he hath a fair tombstone with an inscription. Mr Long saith that Fabyan saith, Little John was Earl Huntley’s son. After, he joined with Much the Miller's’s son." (Bodleian Library MS. Dodsw. 160, fol. 64r) Earl Huntly and his son have been identified and according to information received Earl Huntly’s son i.e. Little John was Robin Hood’s cousin.
Seventeen years after Dodsworth, in September 1637, John Harrison in his survey of the Manor of Sheffield confirmed Dodsworth’s notes by saying: “William Green who was one of my Lord’s keepers did hold in regard of his office these parcels of land following: - No.352. Imprimis (to start with) Great Haggis Croft (pasture) near Robin Hood’s Bower and is environed with Loxley Firth and contains 1 acre, 2 Roods, and 27 square perches. Item, Little Haggas croft wherein is ye foundation of a house or cottage where Robin Hood was born; this piece is compassed about with Loxley Firth” and contains two Roods and 13 square perches." (Translation of these measurements are: - 1 acre = 4 roods = 4840 square yards. 1 rood = 40 square perches. 1 square perch = 30 square yards. Firth = a wooded area.)
As if that isn't enough, the writer and historian Sir Walter Scott set Ivanhoe featuring Robin Hood (Robin of Locksley) and his merry men in South Yorkshire about which he says, “In that pleasant district of merry England which is watered by the river Don, there extended in ancient times a large forest (Wharncliffe Park) covering the greater part of the beautiful hills and valleys which lie between Sheffield and the pleasant town of Doncaster . . . . . and here also flourished in ancient times those bands of gallant outlaws whose deeds have been rendered so popular in English song.”
(Nineteen miles over the hill from Loxley is Robin Hood's Grave in the Calder Valley.)
1. There is another Loxley in Warwichshire and in 1864AD J.R. Planche wrote a paper called "A Ramble with Robin Hood" He based his paper on William Stukeley's fictitious attempt to make Robin Hood a descendant of the FitzOoths while at the same time claiming Robin Hood was Robert FitzOdo, lord of Loxley manor in the late 1100's. A hundred years later Jim Lees of Nottingham did the same and claimed Robert Fitzooth for Nottingham as J.R. Planche had done for Warwickshire. Then realising Robert FitzOdo could not have been Robin Hood, Nottingham changed their candidate to Robert-de-Kyme. Although Nottingham has a claim to the sheriff both men ignored Nottingham's sheriff who had no jurisdiction in Warwickshire while conveniently forgetting Robin Hood's area of activity was in York, Doncaster, and Barnsdale all of which are in Yorkshire.
2. Yeomen farmers seem to be on a level, or perhaps higher in status than "Gentleman Farmers." They owned between 40 and 120 acres of freehold land having an annual value between 40 and 80 shillings. They were entitled to serve on juries and vote for knights of the shire etc. and some Yeomen had more wealth than the minor gentry and often employed servants or labourers. The Assize of Arms c.1252 instructs that wealthy yeomen were required to possess and be trained with sword, dagger and the longbow or war bow. The term Yeoman Farmer was later used to distinguish them from gentlemen who did not labour with their hands. The Sloane manuscript speaks of Robin Hood’s inheritance (patrimony) which he lost. This suggests he was from a wealthy family and the earls of Huntingdon have been suggested. John Selden in “Titles of Honour” discussing the title "gentleman” speaks of "our English use of it" as "convertible with nobilis." In other words, a member on the nobility could be spoken of as a ‘gentleman’ and if a yeoman had more wealth than a gentleman, then seemingly that would put a wealthy yeoman among the nobility? Also worth noting, is the fact that the suffix -hood and -head are derived from the O.E. ‘hed’ meaning position or dignity and were originally a substantive meaning rank or status. Anthony Munday has been accused of ‘gentrifying’ Robin Hood but perhaps he was telling it like it was? So, if Robin Hood was a yeoman he would have been wealthy, he would have owned land, he would have had servants, and he would have been on a level with the gentry who were among the nobility? All this would have been lost when he was outlawed.
3. Sir Hans Sloane was a leading figure in the international scientific community in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. He succeeded Sir Isaac Newton as the President of the Royal Society and his collections formed the foundations of the British Museum and the British Library. Roger Dodsworth (1585-1654) English antiquary, worked with antiquarian and librarian to King Henry VIII Sir William Dugdale.