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Great Britain Parliament
Early Prohibitions Against Bear-Baiting, Bull-Baiting, Cock-Fighting, Fishing, Fowling, Hawking, Horse-Racing, Hunting
Although these acts, bills, charters, letters, orders, ordinances, statutes, and the like, did not either seek to, or prohibit bear-baiting, bull-baiting, cock-fighting, fishing, fowling, hawking, horse-racing or hunting because of cruelty toward animals, they did discourage or suppress these cruelties, even if only for a limited time…and at times led to permanent acts of parliament banning these pastimes. Arguments both for and against amendments to the acts, as well as newer legislation prohibiting these and other cruelties, often reference these early ordinances and acts.
[1267-1270] "For the peace, tranquility, and advantage of the University," King Henry the Third, granted a Charter to Cambridge in 1267. Letters patent in 1269 were issued by the King "to compel all disturbers of the peace of the University to desist from their malpractices and also to repress whatever should be hurtful to the scholars," and as well as in 1270, forbidding tournaments, tiltings, justings, or other warlike gamesin Cambridge" (Cooper, Annals of Cambridge I, "Henry the Third," 50).
That these, as well as future Acts, Charters, Letters, Orders, Ordinances, Statutes, and the like against unlawful games and disturbing the peace were used as a means to prohibit bull and bear-baiting is confirmed in a 1581 letter from Dr. Andrew Perne, regarding "endeavous to put a stop to a bearbaiting at Chesterton," which justified "prohibiting the exercise of any sutch unlawfull games," with "the charters of the universitie, her Majesties Statues…and confirmed by acte of Parliament" (Cooper, Annals of Cambridge, II, "Elizabeth,"383).
A Grant to the University of Cambridge of a charter [March 04] 1605…"amending some defect therein," to include "bear and bull-baiting," (Calendar of State Papers Domestic, James I: Volume 13 March-April, 1605) as well as petitions and letters that followed equated bear and bull baiting as unlawful games prohibited.
[1363-Jun] Writ to the Sheriffs to make proclamation encouraging the practice of archery by way of a pastime in place of football, cock-fighting, &c. Witness the King at Westminster, 1 June, 37 Edward III. [A.D. 1363]. (Calendar of Letters-Books of the City of London: June 1363
[1546-Apr-13] Proclamation for Suppression of the Stews—Finally, to eschew resort to the place there shall after Easter next be no bear baiting in that row or in any place on that side London Bridge. (Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII: April 1546)
 Statutes of Merchant Taylors' School, 1561.…Nor lett them use no cock-fighting, tennys-play, nor riding about of victoring, nor disputing abroad, which is but foolish babling, and losse of tyme. (Memorials of the Guild of Merchant Taylors, "Memorial CXXII: School at Laurence Pountney Hill and Charterhouse, 1561 and 1874"
 A letter from Dr. Andrew Perne, regarding "an account of the resistance offered endeavous to put a stop to a bearbaiting at Chesterton," justified the "prohibiting the exercise of any sutch unlawfull games," with "the charters of the universite …her Majesties Statutes…priviie counsel…and confirmed by acte of Parliament" confirming that although these ancient charters, statues, priviie counsel and acts of parliament did not specifically reference "bull and bear baiting" until a grant issued in 1605 ad mended these words to the ancient charters, they were used to prohibit these unlawful games. (Cooper, Annals of Cambridge, II, "Elizabeth," 383).
[1583-May-03] Letter from the Lord Mayor to Sir Francis Walsingham, Knight…For the stay of the plague, the Court of Aldermen had published certain orders, which they intended to execute with diligence. Among other great inconveniences were the assemblies of people to plays, bear-baiting, fencers, and profane spectacles at the Theatre and Curtain and other like places, to which great multitudes of the worst sort of people resorted. (Analytical Index to the Series of Records Known as the Remembrancia: 1579-1664, "Plague")
[1583-Jul-03] Letter from the Lord Mayor to the Lords of the Council…to carry out the laws and orders for the benefit of the youths of the City; and also asserting the cause of the decay to be principally through the holding of such spectacles as bear-baiting, unchaste interludes and bargains of incontinence, thereby withdrawing the people from the service of God,…for remedy of these abuses within the City, every care would be taken; also recommending the Council to request the justices of the counties to put in execution like orders for the prevention of the abuses practised therein. (Analytical Index to the Series of Records Known as the Remembrancia: 1579-1664, "Plague")
 Alehouses are innumerable, and the law for suppressing and keeping them in order is unexecuted, whereby toleration of drunkenness, unlawful games, and other great abuses follow. Although their Lordships have often written to the justices for redress, small or no reformation has followed, and cockfights and other unlawful games are tolerated on Sundays and holidays, during divine service, at which justices of the peace and some Ecclesiastical Commissioners are often present. The recusants have spies about the Commissioners, to give intelligence when anything is intended against them, and some of the bailiffs attending upon the Commissioners are entertained for that purpose, so that the recusants may shift out of the way, and avoid being apprehended; some example ought to be made of the bailiffs, as a terror to others; as also of some of the Commissioners and justices, who have grants of the goods and lands of the recusants, so that the recusants may not forfeit them, in case they are touched for any illegal cause. (Calendar of State Papers Domestic: Elizabeth, Volume 240: Undated 1591
 Petition from the Vicechancellor and Heads to the Privy Council …What perill of sicknes…in this contagious time, the Lord knoweth: But this is specially to be feared, that as that towne hath at other times heretofore cheifeilie endevored, and yet daylie procedeth by thiere Bearbaytings and Bullbaytings and such like vaine games, to hinder the quiet of the Universitie and drawe our Studends from their bookes;…that no only the plaiers themselves weare flatly inhibited…but also the partie in whose house the Enterludes weare palied…and so to correct. (Cooper, Annals of Cambridge, II, "Elizabeth" 516)
 An abridgement of statues and orders regulating conduct of students issued by the new Vicechancellor, Dr. Roger Goade as A Breefe of Dertain Statutes & Orders of this University… 10. That no Scholer of any condition or degree do use or resort to Bull-bayting, Bear-baytings, Common bowling places, Nine-hoals, or such like unlawful games. (Cooper, Annals of Cambridge, II, "Elizabeth," 539)
 Sir Cary Reynolds, in support for A Bill for More Diligent Resort to Churches on Sundayes cites BearBaiting at the House of Paris Garden 1583, referring to the pastime as a "Brutish Exercise". (Historical Collections…Parliaments of Q. Elizabeth, Proceedings in the Commons, 1601: December 1st - 5th)
[1604-Jul-23] Letter from James by the grace of God king of England Scotland France and Ireland defender of the faith, &c. To our chancelor and vice-chancellor of our university of Cambridge…For the better maintenance safety and quietness of that our said university and all and every the students there, and to remove take away and prevent all occasions that may tend either to the infecting of their bodies or minds, or to the withdrawing or alienating the younger sourt from the course of their studies there intended, we do by these presents authorise will and command you our said…restraine inhibit and forbid as well all and all manner of unprofitable or idle games plays or exercises to be used or made within our said university and town, especially bull-baiting, bear-baiting, common plays, publick shews, interludes, comedies and tragedies in the English tongue…whereby the younger sort are or may be drawn or provoked to vain expence loss of time or corruption of manners." (Cooper, Annals of Cambridge, III, "James I," 6)
[1605-Mar-04] Grant to the University of Cambridge of a charterconfirming their ancient charters, liberties, &c., amending some defects therein…prohibiting tournaments, interludes, plays, bear or bull-baiting, &c. (Calendar of State Papers Domestic, James I:Volume 13 - March-April, 1605 ) In 1270, King [Henry the Third], at the request of the masters and scholars of the University, granted letter patent, forbidding tournaments, tiltings, justings, or other warlike games in Cambridge, or within five miles thereof.
[1617/1618] James I, King's Majesties Declaration to His Subjects, Concering Lawful Sports to Be Used. [Declaration to Lancashire in 1617, to all subjects in 1618] And as for Our good peoples lawfull Recreation, Our pleasure likewise is, That afterthe end of Divine Service, Our good people be not disturbed, letted, or discouraged from any lawfull Recreation; Such as dauncing, either men or women, Archerie for men, leaping, vaulting, or any other such harmlesse Recreation, nor from having of May-Games, Whitson Ales, and Morris-dances, ant the setting up of May-poles and other sports therewith used, so as the same be had in due and convenient time, without impediment or neglect of divine Service: And that women shall have leave to carry rushes to the Church for the decorating of it, according to their old custome. But withall We doe here acompt still as prohibited all unlawfull games to bee used upon Sundayes onely, as Beare and Bull-baitings, Interludes, and at all times in the meaner sort of People by Law prohibited, Bowling.
[1625-Jul-09] Bear-Baiting…Sir Ben. Rudyard to signify to the Lords of the Council, that the desire of this House is, their Lordships will be pleased to give a general Order, to restrain Bear-baiting, Bull-baiting, generally, and Bowling Alleys near London, and other like Meetings, dangerous in this contagious Time. (House of Commons Journal Volume 1 - 09 July 1625)
 [1 Charles I, c. 1] An Act for Punishing of Divers Abuses Committed on the Lord's Day, called Sunday…There shall be no Meetings, Assemblies or Concourse of People out of their own Parishes on the Lord's Day, within the Realm of England or any the Dominions thereof, for any Sports and Pastimes whatsoever; nor any Bear-baiting, Bull-baiting, Interludes, Common Plays or other unlawful Exercises and Pastimes…
 [3 Charles. I. c. 1] An Act for the Further Reformation of Sundry Abuses committed on the Lord's Day, Commonly called Sunday Forasmuch as the Lord's Day commonly called Sunday, is much broken and profaned by Carriers, Wagoners, Carters, Wain-men, Butchers and Drovers of Cattle, to the great Dishonour of God, and Reproach of Religion:'…That no Carrier with any Horse or Horses, nor Waggon-men with any Waggon or Waggons, nor Carmen with any Cart or Carts, nor Wain-man with any Wain or Wains, nor Drovers with any Cattle, shall...travel upon the said Day:…Or if any Butcher…kill or fell any Victual upon the said Day…
[1630-Apr-14] Order of the Lords of the Council, directing the Lord Mayor and the Justices of the Peace of Middlesex and Surrey, on account of the danger of spreading the sickness, to prohibit and suppress all meetings and stage plays, bear-baitings, tumbling, ropedancing, shows, &c., in houses, and all other meetings whatsoever for pastime, and all assemblies of the inhabitants of several counties at the common halls of London, pretended for continuance of acquaintance, and all extraordinary assemblies of people at taverns or elsewhere. (Analytical Index to the Series of Records Known as the Remembrancia: 1579-1664, "Plauge")
[1630-Apr-23] Orders of the Lords of the Council for the suppression of all assemblies at prizes by fencers, cock-fights, bull-baitings, and in close bowling-alleys not mentioned, but intended, by the order of the 14th instant, to be suppressed. (Analytical Index to the Series of Records Known as the Remembrancia: 1579-1664, "Plauge")
[1633-Oct-18] Charles I, The King's Majesty's Declaration to His Subjects Concerning Lawful Sports to Be Used, 1633 [Reissue of declaration of King James in 1617/1618; Also published as The Book of Sports] And for Our good peoples lawful Recreation, Our pleasure likewise is, That after the end of Divine Service, Our good people be not disturbed, letted or discouraged from any lawful recreation, Such as dancing, either men or women; Archery for men, leaping, vaulting, or any other such harmless Recreation, nor from having of May-games, Whitson-Ales, and Morris-dances; and the setting of May-poles & other sports therewith used: so as the same be had in due & convenient time, without impediment or neglect of Divine Service: And that women shall have leave to carry rushed to the Church for the decorating of it, according to their old custome. But withal We do here account still as prohibited all unlawful games to be used upon Sundayes onely, as Beare and Bullbaitings, Interludes, and at all times in the meaner sort of people by Law prohibited, Bowling.
 Suppressing Bear-baiting Ordered, That the Masters of the Beare Garden, and all other Persons who have Interest there, be injoined and required by this House, That for the future they do not permit to be used the Game of Bear-baiting in these Time of great Distractions, till this House do give further Order herein. (House of Commons Journal Volume 2: 12 December 1642)
[1643-Nov] Suppressing Bear-baiting…Ordered, That the Sub Committee, that sits in Southwark, be required forthwith to suppress the Game of Bear-baiting; and that they do permit there, hereafter, no Concourse of People to the Bear Garden; and that they apprehend such loose and suspicious Persons as come thither. (House of Commons Journal Volume 3: 30 November 1643)
[1645-Sep/Oct]Ordinance Concerning Church Government, and to exclude Ignorant and Scandalous Persons from the Sacrament…The several and respective Elderships shall have Power to suspend from the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper all scandalous Persons hereafter mentioned…any Person that shall, upon the Lord's-day, use any Dancing, playing at Dice or Cards, or any other Game, Masking, Wake, Shooting, Bowling, playing at Foot-ball or Stool-ball, Wrestling; or that shall make or resort unto any Plays, Interludes, Fencing, Bull-baiting, or Bearbaiting; or that shall use Hawking, Hunting, or Coursing, Fishing, or Fowling; (House of Lords Journal Volume 7 - 29 September 1645, House of Commons Journal Volume 4 - 15 October 1645, House of Lords Journal Volume 7: 20 October 1645)
[1648-Aug] An Ordinance for The Form of Church Government to be used in the Church of England and Ireland, agreed upon by the Lords and Commons assembled in Parliament, after Advice, had with the Assembly of Divines 1. That the several and respective Elderships shall have power to suspend from the Sacrament of the Lords Supper, all scandalous persons hereafter mentioned,…Any person that shall upon the Lords Day use any Dancing, playing at Dice, or Cards, or any other Game, Masquing, Wakes, Shooting, Bowling, Playing, playing at Foot-ball, Stool-ball, Wrestling, or that shall make or resort into any Plays, Interludes, Fencing, Bull-baiting, or Bear-baiting, or that shall use Hawking, Hunting or Coursing, Fishing or Fowling. (Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660)
1649-Apr-03] Derby House. Council of State to the Sheriffs of Counties.…It will be a sufficient motive to all that love liberty and peace, to put forth their utmost endeavours to preserve the peace of the nation [to supress]…at horse races, fairs, &c., under pretence of recreations, where [divers] designs are laid, and their mischief prepared for…(Calendar of State Papers Domestic: Interregnum: April 1649)
[1650-Feb-13] The form of the letter written last year to the several sheriffs, to prohibit horse races, to be brought to Council to-morrow. (Calendar of State Papers Domestic: Interregnum: February 1-15; 1650)
[1651-Jan-13] A report to be drawn up to Parliament against horse races, hunting, and hawking matches, and foot ball playing. (Calendar of State Papers Domestic: Interregnum: January 1651)
[1651-Mar-10] Militia Commissioners throughout the nation to take care that all public meetings for horse races, cock-fighting, &c., be prevented.…March 11. Whitehall. Council of State to the Militia Commissioners for the several Counties…enemies of this commonwealth…hold many dangerous meetings and conferences in many places, for contriving and disposing their plots, under colour and pretence of cock fighting, horse racing, hunting, and other meetings for recreation; which, if there be not care had to prevent or disperse, may much conduce to the ripening of their counsels, and give a beginning to the breaking out of insurrections and rebellions.…March 27.…we hear a horse race is appointed near Dover. To prevent inconvenience thereby, we desire you to draw forth a troop of militia horse to be at the time and place of meeting, and either prevent their coming together or disperse them. (Calendar of State Papers Domestic: Interregnum: March 1651)
[1653-May] The bear baiting, bull baiting, and playing for prizes by fencers hitherto practised in Southwark and other places, which have caused great evils and abominations, to be suppressed from this time. Cols. Cooper and Pride, Mr. Hyland, and Major Allen to carry out this order. (Calendar of State Papers Domestic Interregnum, 1652-3, Volume 36: May 1653
[1654-Mar-31] An Ordinance for Prohibiting Cock-Matches Evils by Cock-matches; Whereas the Publique Meetings and Assemblies of People together in divers parts of this Nation, under pretence of Matches for Cock-Fighting, are by experience found to tend many times to the disturbance of the Publique Peace, and are commonly accompanied with Gaming, Drinking, Swearing, Quarreling, and other dissolute Practices, to the Dishonor of God, and do often produce the ruine of Persons and their Families; For prevention thereof, Be it Ordained by His Highness the Lord Protector, by and with the Advice and Consent of His Council, That from henceforth there shall be no Publique or Set-meetings or Assemblies of any persons within England or Wales, upon Matches made for Cock-Fighting; and that every such Meeting and Assembly of People for the end and purposes aforesaid, is hereby Declared to be an Unlawful Assembly, (Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660: March 1654 )
[1654-Jul-04] An Ordinance Prohibiting Horse-Races for Six Months "Whereas it hath pleased the Lord to discover and bring to light divers Mischievous Plots and Designs which have been lately contrived by the Enemies of the peace and welfare of this Commonwealth, who are ready to lay hold of all opportunities for instilling such their purposes into ye minds of others who are peaceably affected, and to take advantage of publique meetings, and concorse of people at Horse-races, and other sports, to carry on such their pernicious designs, to the Disturbance of the Publique Peace, and indangering new troubles". (Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660: July 1654) [Jul-03, Ordinance brougt it. July-04, Ordinance passed; Jul-06, Lords Commissioners to issue writs for proclaming the ordinance. (Calendar of State Papers Domestic: Interregnum, Volume 73:July 1654)]
 By Magisterial Ordinance…Cock-throwing, dog-fighting and bull-baiting…were forbidden. (Latimer, Annals of Bristol, "17th Century," 254)
[1655-Feb-24] His Highness' proclamation prohibiting horse races for six months read, amended, and passed. Feb. 24. Whitehall. Proclamation by the Protector that whereas, notwithstanding the testimony given by Providence in the timely discovery of the plots of the disaffected, care needs still to be taken to prevent any disturbance of the peace, his Highness,--considering the great concourse of people to horse races, several of which are appointed in divers parts, and the use thereof made to raise troubles,--hereby forbids all horse races in England and Wales for six months. All mayors, sheriffs, &c., to do their utmost to prevent such meetings, and all army officers and soldiers lying near to assist them.'(Calendar of State Papers Domestic: Interregnum, Volume 94: February 1655)
[1654-Mar-05] Dover Castle.—Thomas Wilson to the Mayors Bailiffs and Jurats of the Cinque Ports. I have received a Proclamation of his Highness the Lord Protector prohibiting horse races which I pray and require you to cause to be proclaimed. (The Manuscripts of Rye and Herebord Corporations, The corporation of Rye: 1651-62)
1655] The annual order of the justices was issued in Feburary, prohibiting cock-throwing and dog-tossing on Shrove Tuesday. (Annals of Bristol, 17th Century, 260)
 Instructions by Maj.-Gen. Desborow.…You are to observe the behaviour of all the disaffected, and what meetings they hold, and to suppress such as are dangerous; also to suppress all horse-races, cock-fighting, bear-baiting, stage-plays, or other unlawful assemblies, by seizing the persons met on such occasions. ('Volume 123: January 1656', Calendar of State Papers Domestic: Interregnum, Volume 123: January 1656)
[1657-Jun-26] Act for punishing of such Persons as live at High Rate and have no visible Estate, Profession or Calling answerable thereunto…If any person or persons, (by playing at Cards, Dice, Tables, Tennis, Bowles or Shovel-board, Cock-fighting, or by Horse-races, or any Game or Games, or by bearing any part in the Adventure, or by betting on the sides or hands of such as do or shall play as aforesaid) shall forfeit double (Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum: June 1657; Calendar of State Papers Domestic: Interregnum, Volume 155: June 1657
[1657-Jun-26] An Act for the Better Observation of the Lords Day… Every person winning money &c. (by playing at Cards, Dice, Tables, Tennis, Bowles or Shovel-board, Cock-fighting, or by Horse-races, or any Game or Games, or by bearing any part in the Adventure, or by betting on the sides or hands of such as do or shall play as aforesaid) shall forfeit double. (Acts and Ordinance of the Interregnum, June 1657)
[1658-Apr-09] Council. Days Proceedings. To advise a proclamation prohibiting all horse races for the next 8 months ensuing. (From: 'Volume 180: April 1658', Calendar of State Papers Domestic: Interregnum: April 1658)
[1659-Jul-13] [Proclamation] Prohibiting Horse-races, &c.…The Council conceive it necessary, that a Proclamation be issued, prohibiting all Horse-races, Cock-matches, Bullbaitings, Hurlings, and other Meetings of like Nature, as being a Means to colour the Designs of such as endeavour or intend the Disturbance of the publick Peace:…Resolved, That a Proclamation be issued, prohibiting all Horse-races, Cock-matches, Bull-baitings, Out-hurlings, publick Wrestlings, and other Meetings, of like Nature, until the First Day of October next, 1659. (House of Commons Journal: 13 July 1659; Calendar of State Papers Domestic: Interregnum: July 1659)
 [16 Charles II, c. 7 - Gaming] An Act Against Deceitful, Disorderly, and Excessive Gaming…Cock-fighings, Horse-races, Dog-matches, or Foot-races, or other Pastimes, Game or Games whatsoever…win, obtain or acquire…any Sum or Sums of Money, or other Thing or Things whatsoever.
 An Act Against Deceitfull Disorderly and Excessive Gameing… Whereas all lawfull Games and Exercises [playing at or with Cards Dice Tables Tennis Bowles Kitles Shovelboard, or in or by Cockefightings Horse-races Dog-matches Foot-races or other Pastimes Game or Games] should not be otherwise used than as innocent and moderate Recreations…and are dayly found to the maintaining and encourageing of sundry idle loose and disorderly persons in their dishonest lewd and dissolute course of life,…debauching of many of the younger sort…to the losse of their pretious time and the ruine of their Estates and Fortunes and withdrawing them from noble and laudable Imployments and Exercises (Statutes of the Realm: Charles II, 1664)
[1702-Mar-23] Bill for Prohibiting Horse Races on Saturday Mar-19, Proposed by a Member the great ill-conveniency for encouraging of vice by too frequent horse-racing on Saturdays…Read the first time and committed for amendment; Mar-20, Read the fist and second times and sent up...Read and agreed to and sent down (Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and the West Indies: March 1702)
[1719-1760] Although mainly on the grounds of 'disorderly conduct,' and the like, prohibitions against throwing at cocks were established starting with the town of Norwich in 1719 and Portsmouth in 1720. By the end of the 1760's Newbury, Sheffield, Wakefield, Doncaster, Reading Northampton , Bristol, and London as well as Colchester by many townships, [Note: Due to the inaccessibility of these particular records, that of the Court of Mayorality of Norwich and many of the other towns records, I will direct you to Emma Griffin in England's Revelry my source at this time for this information.]
[c485-1450] Medieval Law
[1450-1660] Renaissance Law
Early Prohibitions Against Bear-Baiting, Bull-Baiting, Cock-Fighting, Fishing, Fowling, Hawking, Horse-Racing, Hunting
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