Born in the village of Swannington, northwest Leicestershire sometime around 1260, Roger Godberd was a thirteenth-century outlaw whose life and career bore an uncanny resemblance to Robin Hood- even down to the area of his activity.
Godberd became an outlaw after serving with Simon de Montfort, the ill-fated Earl of Leicester, who led a revolt against his brother in law, Henry III. After De Montfort lost the Battle of Evesham in 1265, Godberd was outlawed for fighting against the king-as was Robin Hood according to the fifteenth-century writer Waler Bower.
So Godberd fled to Sherwood Forest where he lived for four years. His anti-establishment credentials and military experience made him a natural focal point for the displaced and he managed to build up a band of a hundred men around him.
Godberd was eventually captured in the grounds of Rufford Abbey and taken to Nottingham Castle with some of his gang. But like Robin Hood, he managed to escape- and was protected by Sir Richard Foliot, who hid the gang from the sheriff of Nottingham-until the King’s forces arrived.
Godberd was eventually permanently captured in 1275. For three years, he was held captive in three different prisons awaiting trial. Here the story varies. Some sources say that he was tried at the Tower of London but pardoned by Edward I on his return from the 8th crusade. Godberd then returned to his farm where he lived until his death. But other sources claim Godberd never reached trial, dying in Newgate prison in 1276.