Some apology or explanation would seem to be due from me to those who will peruse the present Work, why I, who am no native of the Forest of Rossendale, should have presumed to write its History.
I am aware that there are those residing in Rossendale who, by their antiquarian and genealogical acquirements and their longer acquaintance with the locality, are more fitted for the duty, and have access, probably, to more copious sources of information than those of which I can boast; but I have not been able to learn that such have ever contemplated the undertaking, though their researches, if given to the public, would be of enduring interest. Their backwardness in this respect may, therefore, be accepted as one reason why I have taken it in hand.
Again, the longer such a work is delayed the more difficult it is of accomplishment, and the less trustworthy many of the sources of information become; and how desirable it is (applying the remark to any district) that the fragments of Fact and Legendary Lore which exist on our right hand and on our left, should be gathered up and strung together, however indifferently, before they become utterly dispersed and lost.
And how many there are amongst us who, possessing but vague notions of the past History of the Forest, would rejoice in a better acquaintance therewith - would delight to be told the story of its earlier existence - to learn more than they at present know of "the rude forefathers" who thinly tenanted its bleak hill-sides, or wandered centuries ago in its wooded doughs; where, instead of the noise of manufacturing Industry, the rush of the Red Deer through the leafy covert alone broke the prevailing stillness.