Unlawful Games Act 1541

Statutes made at Westminster, Anno 33 Hen VIII. and Anno Dom.1541. The Bill for the maintaining Artillery, and the Debarring of unlawful Games.

(33 Hen. 8) C A P. IX.

'MO S T humbly complaining, shew unto your Highness your daily Orators, the Bowyers, Fletchers, Stringers and Arrowhead-makers of this your Realm, that where for the Advancement and Maintenance of Archery, the better to be maintained and had within the same, and for the Avoiding of divers and many unlawful Games and Plays, occupied and practised within this Realm, to the great Hurt and Lett of Shooting and Archery, divers good and lawful Statutes have been devised, enacted and made, amongst which one was made in a Parliament holden atWestminster in the third Year of your most gracious Reign, and the same Act made perpetual in the Parliament there holden in the sixth Year of your said Reign; (2) the which good and laudable Actnotwithstanding, divers and many subtil inventative and crafty Persons, intending to defraud the same Estatute, sithens the Making thereof, have found, and daily find many and sundry new and crafty Games and Plays, as Logetting in the Fields, Slide-thrift, otherwise called Shove-groat, as well within the City ofLondon as elsewhere, in many other and divers Parts of this Realm, keeping Houses, Plays and Alleys for the Maintenance thereof; by Reason whereof Archery is fore decayed, and daily is like to be more and more minished, and divers Bowyers and Fletchers, for lack of Work, gone and inhabit themselves in Scotland , and other Places out of this Realm, there working and teaching their Science, to the Puissance of the same, to the great Comfort of Estrangers, and Detriment of this Realm.


'II. And where also your Grace's Subjects, Bowyers, Fletchers and other Artificers aforenamed, from Time to Time resort, repair and come out of all Places of this your Realm unto the City ofLondon for lack of living, and do inhabit nigh the same City, or in the Suburbs of the same City, and in the Streets and Lanes of the same City, being no Freemen of the same City, nor bearing neither Scot, Lot, nor other Charges within your said City, as other Citizens and Freemen of the same City do, and are bound to do, and by their Oaths are sworn to do, and which Citizens and Freemen of your said City, of the Mysteries and Crafts before rehearsed, which have been brought up as Apprentices from their Youth, dwelling within the Freedom of your said City of London , are always in readiness to furnish your Grace's Affairs, when they shall be commanded; (2) by Reason of the which Resort and Abode of such Foreigners and Strangers of the Mysteries and Crafts before rehearsed, in the Suburbs, Streets and Lanes of the same City, other Cities, Towns, Villages and Places within this Realm remain and be unfurnished of Artificers and Craftsmen before rehearsed, to the great Decay of the Archery of this Realm; (3) and for as much as it appeareth by the Preamble of the said Statute enacted the said third Year, which was established and made perpetual in the foresaid sixth Year of your most gracious Reign, that your Highness calling to your most noble and gracious Remembrance, that by the Feat and Exercise of the Subjects of this your Realm in shooting in Long-Bows, there hath continually grown and been within the same great Number and Multitude of good Archers, which hath not only defended this Realm, and the Subjects thereof, against the cruel Malice and Danger of their outward Enemies in Time heretofore past, but also with little Number and Puissance in Regard have done many notable Acts and Discomfitures of War against the Infidels, and other, and furthermore subdued and reduced divers and many Regions and Countries to their due Obeisance, to the great Honour, Fame and Surety of this Realm and Subjects, and to the terrible Dread and Fear of all strange Nations, any Thing to attempt or do to the Hurt or Damage of them, or any of them; (4) yet nevertheless Archery, and shooting in Long-Bows was little used, but daily did minish, decay and abate more and more, for that much Part of the Commonalty and poor People of this Realm, whereby of old Time the great Number and Substance of Archers hath grown and multiplied, were not of Power and Ability to buy them Long-Bows of Yew, to exercise shooting in the same, and to sustain the continual Charge thereof, (5) and also by Means and Occasions of customable Usage of Tennis-play, Bowls, Cloysh and other unlawful Games, prohibited by many good and beneficial Statutes by Authority of Parliament in that Behalf provided and made, great Impoverishment hath ensued, and many heinous Murders, Robberies and Felonies were committed and done, and also the Divine Service of God by such Misdoers on holy and Festival Days, not heard or solemnised, to the high Displeasure of Almighty God, as by the foresaid Preamble more plainly may appear:'

S-III Men under the Age of sixty Years shall have Bows and Arrows for shooting.

III Men under the Age of sixty Years shall have Bows and Arrows for shooting.

III. It may therefore be enacted by your Highness, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and the Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the Authority of the same, That every Man being the King's Subject, not lame, decrepit nor maimed, nor having any other lawful or reasonable Cause or Impediment, being within the Age of sixty Years (except Spiritual Men, Justices of one Bench and of the other, Justices of the Assise and Barons of the Exchequer) shall from the Feast ofPentecost next coming, use and exercise shooting in Long-Rows, and also have a Bow and Arrows ready continually in his House, to use himself, and do use himself in shooting; (2) and also the Fathers, Governors and Rulersof such as be of tender Age, do teach and bring them up in the Knowledge of the same shooting; (3) and that every Man having a Man-child or Men-children in his House, shall provided, ordain, and have in his House for every Man-child being of the Age of seven Years and above, till he shall come to the Ageof seventeen Years, a Bow and two Shafts to induce and learn them, and bring them up in shooting, and shall deliver all the same Bow and Arrows to the same young Men to use and occupy; (4) and if the same young Men be Servants, that then their Masters shall abate the Money that they shall pay for the same Bows and Arrows out of their Wages; (5) and after all such young Men shall come to the Age of seventeen Years, every of them shall provide and have a Bow and four Arrows continually for himself, at his proper Costs and Charges, or else of the Gift or Provision of his Friends, and use and occupy the same in shooting as is before rehearsed; (6) and if the Master suffer any of his Servants taking Wages, being in Houshold, and under the Age of seventeen Years; or the Father suffer any of his Sons being in his Houshold, and under the Age of seventeen Years, to lack a Bow and two Arrows, contrary to the Form of this Estatute, by the Space of one Month together; then the Master or Father in whom such Negligences shall be, shall for every such Default forfeitvi. s. viii. d. (7) and that every Servant, passing the Age of seventeen Years, and under the Age of sixty Years, and taking Wages, which can or is able to shoot, and shall lack a Bow and four Arrows by the Space of one Month together, for every such Default shall forfeit and lose vi. s. viii. d.

S-IV Who shall shoot at Rovers.

IV Who shall shoot at Rovers.

IV. Be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That no Man under the Age of twenty-four Years shall shoot at any standing Prick, except it be at a Rover, whereat he shall change at every Shoot his Mark, upon Pain for every Shoot doing the contrary,iv. d. (2) and that no Person above the said Age of twenty-four Years shall shoot at any Mark of eleven Score Yards or under, with any Prick-shaft or Flight, under the Painto forfeit for every Shoot...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT