The Dance Families of the Forest of Dean







Edward Dance 

Scowles Land Deeds






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Edward Dance's Family

Scowles Hamlet

Scowles School

The Anstis House at Coalway

















Scowles around 1900


Edward Dance was holding five plots of land with two buildings at the Scowles in 1844 when like many other Forest householders his land ownership was legalised in retrospect by the the Commissioners of Woods, Forests, and Land Revenues using their powers under the Dean Forest Encroachments Act of 1838. His payment in settlement to the Crown was 3 pounds, three shillings and nine pence. (3.19 today)

The Dean Forest Encroachments Act, 1 & 2 Wm. IV, c.12 (1831) set up the Commission. The Act of 1 & 2 Vict; c.42 (1837-1838) put into effect the commissioners' recommendations for dealing with the squatters and others who had established themselves on Crown lands in the Forest over a long period of years. Old encroachments dating from before 1787 (1511 acres) were accepted as freehold, subject to building restrictions; encroachments made between 1787 and 1812 (573 acres) were granted to their occupiers on Crown leases for 3 lives; and those made since 1812 (24 acres) were granted on shorter leases. Previously these encroachments were all theoretically illegal unless enclosed before the Dean Forest Act of 19 & 20 Chas. II, c.8 (1667-1668).

We have no idea of the year when Edward first marked out his boundaries. In the 1840s he was living at nearby Upper Redbrook. His parents were farmers just over the Herefordshire border at Welsh Newton, and his Scowles land may have originally been used for live-stock.


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A chain is 22 yards - the length of a cricket pitch.


This drawing from the original deeds shows his five parcels of land outlined in red. Plot 49 was sold to Mary Fortescue Brickdale's father in 1858 to build the Scowles School. Plot 51 was purchased in 1881 by Mary Fortescue Brickdale to build teacher accommodation.  Plots 41 & 45 was where Edward's original home stood, and the site on which his eldest son, stonemason John Edward Dance, later built the 'Red House'. Plot 20 is now owned by Dave Jones's family.

The plots varied in size. Four were over a quarter of an acre (1 rood). In the old style land-measurement used at that time and based on the yard, there were 40 perches (30 square yards) to one rood and four roods to an acre.

Plot 20  one rood and thirteen perches

Plot 41  one rood and one perch

Plot 45  fifteen perches

Plot 49  one rood and five perches

Plot 51  one rood and ten perches


Presents grant unto the said Edward Dance all those several pieces or parcels of land at a place called "The Scowles" within the Parish of Newland and Manor of Staunton in the County of Gloucester being ... Encroachments from the Wastes of the said Manor and numbered respectively 20, 41, 45, 49 and 51. .... Plan of the Encroachments within the said Manor at the said place called The Scowles now remaining in the Office of the said Commissioners and dated one thousand eight hundred and fifty two which said several pieces or parcels of Land including the sites of the Cottages or Buildings  now standing and being thereon or on some of the said pieces contain respectively one rood and thirteen perches, one rood and one perch, fifteen perches, one rood and five perches, and one rood and ten perches, and are now in the occupation of the said Edward Dance and are more particularly on the Plan drawn in the margin of these Presents and thereon colored red.




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From the back of the deeds - the 1858 conveyance of the Scowles school site.

Mary Brickdale's purchase in 1881



Here are the scanned images of the Deed in bits I am afraid. All Edwards signatures are just marked as a X the ones on the back are very faint. I do not have the other documents mentioned on the back of the Deed.

I have another Deed which is exactly the same (but another piece of land in the area) sold on the same day to another man. Both Deeds reference land which is now owned by my family so I guess that is why we have them.

The piece of land on Edwards Deed which is now ours is marked 20 on the plan.      David Jones


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A catalogue of family deeds compiled by Dave Jones


Also, on the same day in July 1854 that Edward Dance had his land ownership legalised, Mr Thomas Nicholson carried out the same transaction on his Scowles land-holdings. His four plots were 14, 15, 16, and 17. They were listed in 1854 as Cottage + premises + land, and from 1861 as Cottage + 2 acres.

In 1858 they were sold to Mr James Bullock, he sold the block to Mr Henry Rosser in 1861, who then mortgaged it to Mrs Charlotte Mayo in 1861 (finally assigned to her in 1865). It was conveyed to her son, Great Yarmouth surgeon Alfred Charles Mayo, in 1875 who leased it to quarryman Walter Benjamin Roberts for 3 years in 1921. At the completion of that lease in it was sold by Mr Mayo to another quarryman, Albert John Lane in 1924. After Albert's death the land was passed to his widow Charlotte Lane who sold it to Alfred Jones in 1939.

The Mayo family had a music shop in Coleford during the second half of the 19th century. Alfred Mayo's widow Charlotte (1816-1866) owned this land from 1861 till 1865 (she died in 1866) when it passed to her unmarried daughter Coleford music teacher Charlotte Augusta Mayo (1843). In 1875 it was conveyed to her brother Coleford born surgeon Alfred Charles Mayo (1845).

Shoemaker Henry Lane (born around 1795) was one of the earlier residents. His son James Lane a stone-cutter and quarryman was born at Scowles in 1839. Three of James's children attended Scowles School, Alice (bn 1872), Florence (bn 1875), and Mary (bn 1885). His son Albert John Lane (1870), purchased the land referred to above from Alfred Mayo in 1924.