Roving, or Rural Archery
Part 2 of 2
"The mast which late a first-rate galley bore" will be unnecessary. Some lofty elm in tile centre of a large grass field, or growing isolated in a park, will answer better. You need only employ the best climber of the village, and every parish boasts some hero of this description, to ascend as high as is practicable, dragging after him a straight pole about six yards in length. Let him take a hammer and nails in his pocket to secure it to some bough of proportionate thickness; the popinjay itself being of course previously attached to its extremity. A wooden bird, small flag, or ox bladder stuffed with wool, will serve for this purpose.
The ingenious archer who wishes to vary his shooting as much as possible, may carry up his mark by means of a common paper kite. The advantage of such a contrivance is, that it can be elevated or depressed at pleasure.
The popinjay game was practiced in London during the last century, by a party which met at Mr. Anderson's shooting ground, near Highgate.
The sport usually began by shooting at the Flemish blazon, or square target, the face of which is divided into fifty small squares, each marked as a blank or prize, the latter progressively increasing in value from one to twenty-six.
At the meeting in September, 1792, which consisted of parties of the Toxophilites, Robin Hood's Bowmen, and Woodmen of Arden, the shooting lasted three hours, when J. Palmer, Esq. of the Woodmen of Arden, won the medal for the central shot, and Dr. Howarth, a Toxophilite, that for the greatest number of prizes.
The figure of an eagle fixed on a perch 140 feet high, was also shot at for about an hour; and this sport afforded much entertainment from its novelty. At the expiration of that time, -Paecock, Esq., of Robin Hood's Bowmen, shot it off the perch, anti thereby won a gold medal.
After dining with his friends in the lodge, Mr. Anderson amused them with fireworks emblematical of the archery of the day.
Ayme for Finsburie Archers.
ROVING MARKS. From To Scores. Yards. Castle - - Gardstone - - - - 9 5 Absoly - - - - - 9 15 Gardstone - - Arnold - - - - - 10 0 Castle - - - - - 9 5 Bloody House Bridge Arnold - - - - - - 7 14 Turkswhale - - - 8 4 Arnold - - - Absoly - - - - - 9 1 Gardstone - - - - 10 0 Daysdeed - - - - 9 11 Turkswhale - - - 13 5 Absoly - - - Arnold - - - - 9 1 Gardstone - - - - 9 15 Arnold - - - - - 8 4 Absoly - - - - - 13 5 Turkswhale - - - Daysdeed - - - - 9 12 Lambeth - - - - - 3 13 Dial or Monument - 10 3 Lambeth - - - - - 8 14 Daysdeed - - - - Turkswhale - - - - 9 12 Absoly - - - - - 9 11 Turkswhale - - - - 3 13 Daysdeed - - - - - 8 14 Lambeth - - - - - Old Speering - - - 10 8 Dial or Monument - 6 10 Westminster Hall - 11 7 Blackwell Hall - - 10 16 Star or Dial - - - 9 19 Dial or Monument - - - Westminster Hall - 8 4 Lambeth - - - - - 6 10 Turkswhale - - - 10 3 Lambeth - - - - - 11 7 Westminster Hall - - Dial or Monument - 8 4 Star or Dial - - - 8 8 Whitehall - - - - 11 2 Pitfield - - - -- 7 17 Edward Gold - - - 12 2 Whitehall - - - - Scarlet Lion - - - 12 2 Star or Dial - - - 7 0 Westminster Hall - 11 2 Blackwell Hall - 6 9 Old Speering - - - Star or Dial - - - 9 16 Lambeth - - - - - 10 8 Whitehall - - - - 7 0 Star or Dial - - - Scarlet Lion - - - 9 14 Blackwell Hall- - 9 5 Old Speering - - - 9 16 Dial or Monument - 9 19 Westminster Hall - 8 8 Old Gawthan or Jehu 9 18 Scarlet Lion - - - 9 6 Blackwell Hall - - - Star or Dial - - - 9 5 Dial or Monument - 10 16 Old Speering - - - 6 9 Old Absoly - - - - 8 17 Old Gawthan or Jehu Edward Gold - - - 9 9 Scarlet Lion - - - 4 2 Blackwell Hall - - 9 18 Old Gawthan or Jehu 4 2 Old Absoly - - - 9 11 Edward Gold - - - 7 2 Scarlet Lion - - - Pitfield - - - - 11 3 Whitehall - - - - 12 2 Star or Dial - - - 9 14 Blackwell Hall - - 9 6 Old Gawthan or Jehu 9 9 Scarlet Lion - - - 7 2 Edward Gold - - - - Whitehall - - - - 12 2 Pitfield - - - - 6 11 Whitehall - - - - 7 17 Scarlet Lion - - - 11 3 Pitfield - - - - - Edward Gold - - - 6 11 Old Absoly - - - - 10 16 Bob Peek - - - - 11 3 Bob Peek - - - - 8 12 Old Absoly - - - - Pitfield - - - - - 10 16 Scarlet Lion - - - 9 11 Old Gawthan or Jehu 8 17 Bob Peek - - - - Old Absoly - - - - 8 12 Pitfield - - - - 11 3 Rosemary Branch - - Pitfield - - - - - 9 17 Levant - - - - - Welsh Hall - - - - 8 18 Welsh Hall - - - - Egg Pye - - - - - 10 10 First Butt - - - - 11 11 Butt - - - - - Butt - - - - - - - 6 18 Short Butts - - - - 2 9
"We know from history," says Mr. Kempe in the pamphlet already quoted, " how jealous the London youth were of sing the fields round the city of London open for the practice of archery; and that on one occasion of their being obstructed in the reign of Henry VIII., a tanner under that license for mad pranks in ancient days, a disard's or clown's coat, ran through the city, shouting ' Shovels and spades! Shovels and spades!' The cry was readily understood; and as the author of Nigel quotes,--
Uprose the 'prentices one and all,
Living in London, proper and tall.
They rushed forwards with resistless prowess, and in a few hours levelled all the dykes, hedges, and inclosures, which the spirit of exclusive appropriation had erected, to obstruct the manly votaries of the English long-bow.
This good old national cause was aided by James I. in a more legal way. He directed his letters patent in 1605, to the Lord Mayor, the Lord Chancellor and others, as commissioners' commanding them to cause the fields about the city, in which archery had been practiced from time immemorial, to be cleared of all obstructions to that exercise, for the space of two miles.
Another similar commission was issued by Charles I. in 1632; and the contest was doubtless continual, until at length, the great march of bricks and mortar was triumphant. Some of the last skirmishes which took place about fifty years ago, are thus described in Highmore's History of the Artillery Company, from the Records of that Society.
On the company's march to Baunes, on the accession in 1762, they found tile gate of a large field, in which stood one of their stone marks, named Ball's Pond, both locked and chained, and four men placed to prevent their entrance. The adjutant ordered it to be forced, after which they marched across, and opened another gate.
In 1784, a committee was appointed to ascertain the situation of the butts, &c., and to report thereon.
In October of the same year, the company marched Finsbury Fields, to view their several marks, beginning at the Pretend Mead, where the castle stone stood, and thence extending to Baune's Fields, and Islington Common, they removed several obstructions, &c.
In July, 1786, considerable encroachments having been made on the ancient marks belonging to the company, the court ordered notice to be given to all occupiers of lands in Baune's and Finsbury Fields, between Peerless Pool south, Baune's Pond north, Hoxton east, and Islington west, wherein any of their marks were placed, to remove all obstructions to the company's rights.
On the 12th of August following, the company on its march over Baune's Fields pulled down by the pioneers several parts of the fence of a piece of ground enclosed, about two years since, by Mr. Samuel Pitts for gardens and summer houses. Through these breaches, the company marched from the marks of Gardstone, to Arnold; and from Arnold to Absoly. Being come to a field lately enclosed with a brick wall by Messrs. Walker, Ward, and Co. the proprietors of a lead-mill between the marks of Bob Peake and the Levant, the company were induced to desist from pulling down or making a breach in the wall, by the representations and assurances of one of the partners, that at the time of forming this enclosure, he was ignorant of the company's right in those fields. He added, they were willing to enter into any reasonable terms of accommodation with the company for what they had done. One of the archer's division was then ordered to shoot an arrow on the wall, as an assertion of the company's right, after which the battalion proceeded on its march to several of the other marks.
Lastly, in 1791, when the long butts on Islington Common were destroyed, by digging gravel, a detachment marched to the spot, pursuant to a previous notice to the occupiers and commissioners of the roads, to remove every obstruction and to replace the mark: these objects were attained.
The distance from mark to mark in the "Aime for Finsbury archers," is very much varied, and thus as I have observed, excellent practice for archery at roving distance was afforded.. The greatest length seen in the plan for 1737 is thirteen score, five yards. In the dimensurations of 1628, the great length of nineteen score is laid down, the shortest distance is nine score.
The eminence called Shooter's Hill probably obtained that appellation from the archers constantly seen practicing at rovers there. John Haywood has a quaint epigram, tending to show this etymology to be correct.
OF AN ARCHER ROVING.
Q. What a shaft shoots he?
A. With a roving arrow.
Still he hits his mark, be it wide or narrow.
Q. Where shooteth this sharpshooter, Will ?
A. He shooteth most at rovers, on Shooter's Hill.