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Archery in Manchester
in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries.
Part 3 of 4

Nevertheless, the introduction of firearms was necessarily fatal to the use of the bow and arrow in the English army. Charles I., whose misfortune was to look backward and not forward, encouraged archery, and at the outbreak of the Civil War it was proposed to form a regiment of bowmen for the king's service. [1] And there are references to the use of the bow at the sieges of Devizes and Lyme in 1642, but this cannot have been very important. At the battle of Tippiemuir in 1644 the archers in Montrose's army were commanded by Lord Kilpont. This seems to be the last regular military use of the bow in Great Britain.[2]

These facts will enable us to understand the bearing of the data now to be mentioned as to the practice of archery in Manchester in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The Court Leet, in April, 1560, ordered that—

The inhabiters within the towne of Mamchestre shall make or cause to be made two peyre of Butts, that ys to saye the inhabytants vpon the south side of the churche to make one peyre of butts in the marketstead Lane, And thenhabitants of the northe side of the churche one other peyre of butts vpo Colyhurste afore the feast of Sainct John Bapte, nexte comynge, Subpena to either of them that make defaute vis viiid.

Whether these butts were ready by the 24th of June may perhaps be doubted. In addition to this local penalty the Act of 1541 imposed a fine of twenty shillings for every three months in which they were not provided. The inhabitants were expected to employ themselves in archery practice on holidays and at other convenient seasons. From the age of seven to seventeen each man-child was expected to have a bow and two arrows, and every man from seventeen upwards was to have a bow and four arrows, the penalty being six shillings and eight-pence. Fathers were expected to provide them for their children and masters for their servants. [3]

There was an order made for the erection of butts in the Court Leet of April 14th, 1569. In 1576 the entry shows the butts had been placed in Alport Lane and that the rails had been thrown down by cattle. This damage was ordered to be made good, and that the order was executed is noted by the added words, "fact, est." The orders as to the butts were renewed in 1581 and 1583. In 1592 the constables are ordered to make a pair of butts. In 1628 the matter is evidently one of pressing gravity:—

The jury, upon due consideration of the eminent danger wherin this Kingdom remaneth by a suspected war, & being desirous to show themselves willing members to train up youth in the exercise of artillery, do order that the Constable of this town of Manchester shall, before the first day of June next following, cause to be made a large pair of Butts in Alport Lane, that young and old may with free access practise the use of bows and arrows.