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Blackstone's Statutes Series

A statutes miscellany

With thanks to Robert G. Lee, editor of Blackstone’s Statutes on Public Law and Human Rights for compiling this material.

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"Bows and arrows [must] be bought for children under 17 and above 7 years, by him that has such a child in his house, and the Master may stop it against his wages, and after that age he has to provide them himself"

Taken from the Statute of Henry VIII of 1515 which re-enacted the Archery Law of 1363 (which demanded practice with a longbow on Sundays - Sundays so that it could be enforced by the Church). This forbade, on pain of death, all sport that took up time better spent on war training.

"The night shall be considered and is hereby declared to commence at the expiration of the first hour after sunset, and to conclude at the beginning of the last hour before sunrise"

Poaching was only an offence at night time under the Night Poaching Act of 1828 so it became necessary to define night under section 12.

"Every free-man shall have the eyries of hawks, sparrowhawks, falcons, eagles and herons in his own woods, and he shall likewise have the honey found in his woods."

This is taken from clause 13 of the Forest Charter of 1217, which itself stems from the Magna Carta 1215 which is still in the public law statute's book.

"Whatever archbishop, bishop, earl or baron shall be passing through our forest, it shall be lawful for them to take one or two deer under the view of the forester, if he shall be present; but if not, he shall cause a horn to be blown, lest it should seem like theft."

This is taken from clause 11 of the Forest Charter of 1217, which itself stems from the Magna Carta 1215 which is still in the public law statute's book.

"Every Person who flies any kite, or who makes or uses any slide upon ice or snow…
Every Person who beats or shakes any carpet, rug, or mat (except door mats, beaten or shaken before the hour of eight in the morning)"

Legislation has been in force for years to try and curb anti-social behaviour in the streets. Commit any of these offences and you could find yourself in trouble under section 28 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847, still in force today.

"Those who carry wood, bark, or coal, upon their backs to sell, although they get their livelihood by it, shall not for the future pay cheminage."

This is taken from clause 14 of the Forest Charter of 1217, which itself stems from the Magna Carta 1215 which is still in the public law statute's book. (Cheminage being a toll for transporting things through a forest - from the Norman French 'chemin' meaning way).

"And if the swine of any free-man shall remain one night in our forest, he shall not on that account lose anything of his for it."

This is taken from clause 9 the Forest Charter of 1217, which itself stems from the Magna Carta 1215 which is still in the public law statute's book. It concerns the right of pannage - the right to allow pigs to forage in woodland.

"That if, from and after the passing of this Act, any Woman in that Part of Great Britain called Scotland, shall conceal her being with Child during the whole Period of her Pregnancy... the Mother being lawfully convicted thereof, Avail be imprisoned for a Period not exceeding Two Years"

Concealing pregnancy was a common offence in the 19th Century as with the Concealment of Birth (Scotland) Act 1809. This was actually a child protection measure and only an offence if the child died.