1) A combination of ‘fore’ and ‘anent’, meaning opposite to, against or facing.

In 1537, the town brook of Eccleshill was described as running fore anent Calverley lane end, by the hedge side. This is very close to the form of the word listed in Wright, where ‘forenent’ is said to have been in general dialect use in Scotland and Ireland but restricted in England to the northern counties. Early spelling developments involved the introduction of a letter ‘s’ which created the combination ‘nst’ and was responsible for several almost eccentric spellings. Many of these references are in Yorkshire wills of the Tudor period, identifying particular parts of the churchyard: for example in 1505 one Leeds testator asked to be buried negh to the diall or els fornenst the Palmcrosse whereas in 1557 Edmund Parker of Rothwell preferred a site foranempste the saide churche porche. A similar but more picturesque usage occurs in a document of 1481, in which Sir Henry Percy was described as the lieutenant of th’est marches of England affornemptes the Scots.

spellings fornenst
dates 1481 1505 1537 1557

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