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Statutes of the Realm Relating to Archery

(Extracted from the collection published by Parliament in the reign of King George III)

1100-35    Law of Henry I, whereby an archer at practice who accidentally kills a man is not to be held for murder or manslaughter. The first official encouragement of archery, and to be found in Archaionomia, Laws of Henry I, Cambridge, 1644.

1252        Henry III’s Assize of Arms. All males between 15 and 6o years of age shall keep arms including bows. See Stubbs’s Select Charters, 1884.

1284        Statute of Winchester or Winton. Edward I confirms the provisions of the Assize of Arms.

1388       All servants and labourers are to have bows, and to practise with them on Sundays and holidays (Richard II).

1405      Regulations for the making of serviceable arrowheads (Henry IV).

1416      Aspen wood to be used for arrows only, and not for pattens or clogs (Henry V.)

1464-5  Aspen that is not fit for arrows may be used for pattens (Edward IV).

1472     Merchants are to bring into England 4 bowstaves with every ton of goods imported (Edward IV).

1482-3  The price of yew bows is controlled at a maximum of 3s. 4d.

1483-4   Merchants are to import 10 good bowstaves with every butt of wine (Richard III).

1487      Price of yew bows again set at 3s. 3s 4d. (Henry VII)

1503     To encourage the import of good bowstaves, Customs Duty will not be levied on staves longer than 6 feet (Henry VII).

1503     The use of crossbows forbidden to all except Lords and well-to-do freeholders (Henry VII).

1511-12 To encourage the diminishing exercise of archery, every man up to 6o years old, and every man child, shall have and use long-bows; and bowyers shall be compelled to reside in. such localities as may most require their services (Henry. VIII)

1511-12 The Statute of Hen. VII is to be enforced (Henry VIII)

1514-15 More legislation against crossbows (Henry VIII).

1523     The acts against crossbows partially relaxed ( Henry VIII).

1533-4 -And now enforced again (Henry VIII).

1541-2 -And again (Henry VIII)

1541-2  The provisions of  Henry VIII are confirmed, and rules for regular shooting practice laid down. Houses for ‘unlawful games’ played to the detriment of archery, are prohibited (Henry VIII).

1557-8 Orders for the keeping of bows and arrows by all the population (Philip and Mary).

1566    Imported yew bows to be sold for not more than 6s. 8d. Bows of  English yew for 2s. (Elizabeth I.).

1571    The Statute of Edward. IV is re-afirmed.

1623-4 Repeal of the arms provisions of the Statute of Winchester (James I).

1660    The duty on bowstaves to be £4 for 120 (Charles II).

1662     An Act for ordering the Forces in the several Counties of the Kingdom. The prescribed weapons are swords, pistols, muskets, and pikes. The bow is not mentioned, and as a military weapon is now dead (Charles II).

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