Vizetelly, Branston and Co.
Fleet Street, London
RCHERY was formerly one of the chief pastimes, and the greatest defence, of the people of England against their enemies. Many statutes were made for its encouragement; and even after the bow was superseded by other arms as a warlike weapon, the people were enjoined by parliament not only to keep bows and arrows, but also to practise shooting at the target: the City of London was compelled by the legislature to erect butts for this purpose. We have not met with any well-authenticated record of the first introduction of the longbow to this country; but there is sufficient evidence to be found in the works of the old historians, to shew that it was adopted as a weapon for forest and field in very early times. Richard the First was killed by an arrow, in the year 1199. In the reign of Edward the Third, precepts were issued to the sheriffs, commanding them severally to provide a certain number of bows and bundles of arrows for the then intended war against France ; and in the battle of Creasy, which was fought shortly after, the English had a body of two thousand archers, to whose exertions the victory has, by some writers, been mainly attributed. The same long also directed the sheriffs of shires to see that the people exercised themselves with bows and arrows, instead of such other unprofitable games as foot-ball, hand-ball, &c In the time of Edward the Fourth, every Englishman was compelled to keep a bow; and butts were ordered to be set up in every township, at which the people were directed to shoot, on feast-days, under a certain penalty. Sir Christopher Morris, Master of the Ordnance to Henry the Eighth, by command of the king, established a society of archers, for the express purpose of encouraging the use of the bow; and in Edward the Sixth's time, a sermon was preached before the king in favour of the sport, as an admirable exercise, by the famous Bishop Latimer.