Minns, John. 62. Living close to Mr. Nesbitt's entrance gate. Born 20 October 1817. Baptised at Maresfield. Born at Oldlands which my Father Benjamin (dead) managed as bailiff for Mr. Holford (dead) the owner. When I was a boy Oldlands was the same property as Mr. Nesbitt now has, except that Mr. Nesbitt has added on about 20 acres in Maresfield which he purchased from Lady Shelley. When old Mr. Holford died the property passed to his nephew who let the farm to my Father. He farmed it for a number of years till his death and I then farmed it for 7 or 8 years till Mr. Holford sold the property about 10 years ago to Mr. Patmore who took the farm off my hands. After about 6 months Mr. Patmore sold it to Mr. Nesbitt. I worked on Oldlands from the time I left school till it was sold to Mr. Patmore and I also worked for Mr. Nesbitt for the first 8 years after he bought it. I went to a day school, coming home every day; Saturday was always a whole holiday. From the time I was a small boy down to the time I left working for Mr. Nesbitt, that is about 2 years ago, we always had litter from the Forest for consumption on Oldlands. I do not think we missed a year.
I recollect as a child going out on a Saturday for a ride in the wagons which went to fetch the litter off the Forest. I know Mr. Patmore had litter during the short time he farmed and Mr. Nesbitt has had as much as 20 loads in a year. I stacked it all. During my Father's time we occasionally had turf off the Forest for fuel in the house. I recollect, when I was about 15, going out on the Forest to help fetch it in. I had some turf while I farmed Oldland. Tom Ridley cut it for me but we never had any large quantities because we had plenty of wood on the property. Mr. Nesbitt's bailiff John Inn had it 3 or 4 years. William Hobbs cut it. A subsequent bailiff, John Whitewood, also had some.
Neither Mr. Holford, my Father nor I ever turned out though we had the right to do so. The old Mill (part of the property) had a right to turn out 2 horses, so old Mr. Robert Edwards the late Reeve used to tell me. My Father when bailiff for Mr. Holford had heath from the Forest for re-thatching cattle lodges. You cannot get any good heath for thatching off the Forest now because it grows so coarse from being butted by the cattle.
I know Lampool Farm now occupied by Mr. James Turner. I remember Gasson (dead) was the tenant when I went to and fro to school and I used to see them unloading litter from the Forest. I can distinguish Forest litter from any other. What I call litter is anything that falls to the scythe. John Combridge (dead) succeeded Gasson. We were friends. He had litter also and turf for fuel, I used to see him with it. I have not had the opportunity of noticing what Combridge's successors have done.
I know Cophall. When I was a boy John Page (dead) owned and occupied it. He used to have a great deal of litter. I have known him have as many as 30 loads a year. I have seen it brought in and have seen it stacked. He had turf for fuel. He also carried a great deal of turf for anyone who wanted it. He used to work day and night carrying. He was succeeded by his son Thomas Page (dead). He had a good deal of litter but perhaps not so much as his father. I used to go there at times in his and his Father's time to take cows to the bull. After Thomas Page's death Tutor rented the place and used to have litter. Pilbeam succeeded Tutor about 2 years ago and I saw him carry a load of litter past my house about a year ago.
All the Pages turned out on the Forest. I know the Old Workhouse. When I was a boy it was used as the Poorhouse for the parish of Maresfield. After it was discontinued as a workhouse (I cannot recollect the precise date), it was bought by Edward Page (dead). He had litter, I saw it. His son Edward succeeded him and his sons succeeded him and have had litter up to the present time. They all turned out cows and bullocks and sometimes a horse.