There are records at the Hertfordshire Record Office e dating back to 1719 that link the Dines (Dynes) name to game keeping. The very early ones are Dynes alias Hancock(e) which seem to suggest illegitimacy or that they acquired a stepfather and began using his surname. The earliest mention in the list of game keeping certificates collected in the Hertford Quarter Sessions printed volumes is an Edward Dynes, alias Hancocke who worked at the Hertingfordbury manor for James Selby, Sergeant at Arms. It seems probable that there is some connection with the Dines family I researched, several generations of whom served in Kings Walden and surrounding areas as far as Knebworth, Pirton, and Southill in Bedfordshire.
Gamekeepers had the power to arrest a man on the spot and to search his cottage without a warrant. Until the 1850s there was no rural police force and gamekeepers were front line of defence against poachers.
By the time John Dines (c1726-1810) was working for William Hale game keeping played an important part in estate management. In the 17th and 18th Centuries game (which included hare, partridge, pheasant, red grouse, bustard, widgeon, wild duck and wild goose) belonged to the Crown. The right to hunt, was from 1671 to 1831, was strictly reserved to those with freehold property worth at least £100 per annum or leasehold property worth at least £150.00 p.a. The landholder could deputise another individual to hunt on his land but a game certificate was needed to shoot game. What is more a game licence was needed to buy the killed game whether it was for your own use or to sell on. Not to have a licence would be breaking the law.
This latter was probably at the heart of one case involving Joseph Dynes (Dines) in 1834. An entry in the Recognizance Book Volume 2 refers to Joseph, John Dines and John Cotton, with Joseph being game keeper to ____Hale Esq. Joseph Ansell, a gardener of St Albans, said that he was walking along a common footpath through Parsley Wood near to Ruddick Hall with a little terrier at his heels. He was arrested by Joseph, accused of poaching, and he was searched by John Dines and John Cotton during which a shilling and a pocket handkerchief went missing.
He was taken to the house of Mr Brand at Kimpton Hoo. Mr Brand was a magistrate who kept them waiting until 11 o’ clock at night because Mr Brand was playing cards and could not be interrupted. Joseph Dynes told Mr Brand that he had found Ansell in the wood where several snares had been set the night before, that he had a dog with him and that he was suspected of being a poacher. Although Joseph Dynes had not found any snares on Ansell he had heard him say “chew” to the dog. Then Ansell’s tale descends into farce. He said that Mr Brand had offered to excuse him the penalty “if he would catch a hare and sell it to any unqualified person at St Albans for there were many persons from that place continuously destroying his game”. Ansell said that he was told he could go and catch a hare anywhere but from Brand’s manors because, using oaths, Mr Brand said that he had steel traps and spring guns set all over. Brand then added that if he were not a magistrate he would give Ansell a hare for that purpose, after which Ansell was released and told to attend again in a fortnight when, if he had failed to do it he would be fined 10 shillings. Ansell asked where he was supposed to find that kind of money to which he was told he could go and rob the highway for all Mr Brand cared.
Ansell was not intimidated and told Brand that he had sureties and he would appear at Quarter Sessions to appeal his conviction at which, with many “horrid oaths”, Mr Brand said if he had known that he would have already sent him to gaol. At the Quarter Sessions Volume One of the Presentment Book, page 455, reports that Joseph Dines, John Dines and John Cotton were all accused of assaulting Joseph Ansell, found guilty and fined 13s 4d each.
But being a game keeper could be a very dangerous occupation as the next posting will show