Robin Hood Outlaw Legend of Loxley
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Robin Hood Nottingham

Professor Holt who is the former Master of Fitzwilliam College and Professor of Medieval History at the University of Cambridge has much to say about Nottingham's claim to Robin Hood which was first propagated by Mr. William Stukeley [1687-1765] then taken up and used by Mr. Lees and later by his nephew Mr Robert Henshaw. The extract below is taken from Professor Holt's book, “Robin Hood” published by Thames and Hudson, 1996. The book is copyright and I thank the publisher’s for their permission to quote from it. G.K.

 

"In 1746 for Dr William Stukeley, Lincolnshire antiquary, doctor and parson, fellow of both the Royal Society and the Society of Antiquaries, to provide the fictitious earl with a spurious pedigree. For this he first misused and confused the information provided in William Dugdale's Baronage of 1675 - itself by no means full or accurate, although a great and fundamental work for its date - and then, of his own, added families and individuals which were entirely fictitious. He concocted a marriage between Gilbert de Gant and Rohaise, daughter of Richard fitz Gilbert, both great lords of the Norman settlement, which only occurred between their descendants, of the same name, two generations later. Among the children of this misplaced, misdated marriage he added a daughter, Maud, who was entirely fictitious.

He then married the fictitious Maud to a fictitious husband, Ralph fitz Ooth, after which not surprisingly, it was easy to discover a fictitious family of fitz Ooth with Robert fitz Ooth 'commonly called Robin Hood, pretended earl of Huntington' in the third generation.

Stukeley could not even get the spurious date of Robin's death correct; he converted 1247 into 1274. He also made the fitz Ooths lords ofKime in Lincolnshire. This too was fictitious; the pedigree of the lords ofKime is well established and leaves no room for such intrusion. 'Fitz Ooth' itself seems redolent of antiquity. It is a strange name, otherwise unknown. It may be that Stukeley had picked up some distant and distorted echoes of William fitz Othuer or fitz Otuel, who lived in the middle of the twelfth century and had claims to the lands of his maternal grandfather, Eudo Dapifer, who was the real husband of Rohaisc, daughter of Richard fitz Gilbert. But this family had nothing to do with Kime or the earldom of Huntingdon, least of all with Robin Hood. As a wiser and more cautious antiquary, Thomas Hearne, commented in another context, Stukeley was 'very fanciful'. His gimcrack contraption would scarcely deserve attention were it not still wheeled out from time to time as a vehicle for bogus expositions of the legend. The pedigree is false and the more general claim to nobility fictitious. In the early ballads Robin was a yeoman, nothing more, nothing less.

3a The recent attempt by MrJ. Lees {The Quest for Robin Hood, Nottingham 1987) to alter the accepted geography of the tales by placing Barnsdale in Sherwood is quite unacceptable. It involves an elementary misreading of the Gest: the knight was travelling south through Barnsdale, not north, as he insists, for he was intending to voyage to the Holy Land; it is only later, after leaving Robin in Barnsdale, that he visits St Mary's, York, in order to repay his debt.

It is also based on a tendentious and uncritical evaluation of the place-name evidence. 'Brunnisdale' in Basford, Notts., cannot be equated with Barnsdale. 'Brunnis' is most probably 'brun', i.e. brown; 'Barn' comes from the personal name 'Beorn'. Moreover, the evidence linking Wentbridge, Saylcs, Barnsdale and Watling Street is quite clear and certain.

The main facts concerning the use of Watling Street as a name for the Great North Road in the Barnsdale area, which Mr Lees questions, arc incontrovertibly presented in The Place Names of the West Riding of Yorkshire, vii, p. 145.

Since Mr J. Lees {The Quest/or Robin Hood, Nottingham 1987), has tried to revive Stukeley's pedigree in a revised form it may be useful to summarize a few of the salient errors. First, the critical figure for both Stukeley and Mr Lees is William 'FitzOoth', who (Stukeley) or whose heir (Lees) was transferred to the custody of Robert de Vere, earl of Oxford, in 1214. In reality the William son ofOtho, whose heir or heirs were placed in the custody of Aubrey de Vere, earl of Oxford, in 1205 and transferred to Robert de Vere, earl of Oxford, in 1214, had nothing to do with the family ofKyme, or with the earls of Huntingdon, still less with Robin Hood. He is well known as an official of the Mint, holding his office in charge of the manufacture of

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