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Home > Books > An Essay on Archery > Chapter XI: On the Englifh Long-Bow.
Chapter XI
On the Englifh Long-Bow.
Part 5 of 12

During the reigns of Charles II. and James II. the amufement was continued, and the former fometimes attended at exhibitions of fhooting. The Artillery Company, or Finfbury Archers, have furvived even to the prefent time, but except in that fociety, the Bow, till within thefe ten years, was very little known inthe kingdom. At prefent, indeed Archery gains favour, and many companies are formed, for the practice of that amufement.153

The exact time in which the Bow became difufed in war by the Englifh army, perhaps, cannot be fixed. P. Daniel mentions, that Arrows were fhot by the Englifh at the Ifle of Rhé, in. 1627.154 Mr. Grofe informs us, that in 1643, the Earl of Effex iffued a precept "for ftirring up all well-affected people bybenevolence, towards the railing of a company of Archers for the fervice of the King (Charles I.) and the Parliament." And in a pamphlet, fays the fame author, which was printed anno 1664, giving an account of the fuccefs of the Marquis of Montrofe againft the Scots, bowmen are repeatedly mentioned. One Neade, in the reign of Charles I. obtained a commiffion under the Great Seal, wherein, he and his fon, were empowered to teach the combined management of the pike and Bow. a book entitled "The double armed man" fhewing the proper exercife and attitudes, was written and publifhed by William Neade, about the year 1625. It contains nothing of confequence relating to Archery, but we may judge that that art was not laid afide at this period.155

Having related what hiftory affords with refpect to our ancient Archery, I fhall now take a view of the ftatutes which have been formed for the regulation and encouragement of this art. Mr. Barrington has already traverfed this path, and it is neceffary for me to fay, that his Effay has greatly facilitated the compofition of this part of my fubject.

Very foon after the Conqueft, we find Archery to have been much cultivated, and large numbers of Archers brought into the field. Even as early as the beginning of the twelfth century, a law was inftituted with refpect to the practice of Archery, which freed from the charge of murder, any one who in practifing with Arrows or Darts, fhould kill a perfon ftanding near.156 This I believe is the firft regulation to be found in our annals, and it appears to have been overlooked by Mr. Barrington, and Mr. Grofe.

Till the time of Edward III. no law feems to have paffed with refpect to Archery. This prince, however, found it neceffary to enjoin the practice of the Bow, by two mandates during his reign; and in the reign of Richard II. an act was made to compel all fervants to fhoot on Sundays and Holidays.

The 7. Henry IV. complain of the negligence of the arrow-fmiths, and ordains that the heads of Arrows fhall in future be well boiled and brazed, and hardened at the points with fteel; under the pain of the forfeiture of all fuch heads otherwife manufactured, and imprifonment to the makers: All Arrow heads to be marked with the maker's name.

Henry V. ordered the Sheriffs of feveral counties, to procure feathers from the wings of geefe picking fix from each goofe.

In the time of Edward IV. an act paffed, ordaining every Englifhman to have a Bow of his own height, and during the fame reign, Butts were ordered to be put up in every townfhip, for the inhabitants to fhoot at, on feaft days, and if any neglected, the penalty of one halfpenny was incurred.

The I. Richard III. ii. complains that by the feditious confederacy of Lombards ufing divers ports of this realm, the Bowftaves were raifed to an outrageous price, that is to fay, to eight pounds an hundred, were they were wont to be fold at forty fhillings. This act therefore, provides that ten Bowftaves fhall be imported with every butt of Malmfey or Tyre wines, brought by the merchants trading from Venice, into this land, under a penalty of thirteen fhillings and four-pence, for every butt of the faid wines, in cafe of neglect.

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