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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 6 of 12

The 3. Henry VIII. 3. orders all men under the age of forty, to have Bows and Arrows, and to ufe fhooting, fome certain perfons only excepted.

The 33d. Henry VIII. 9. is a ftatute principally referring to Archery. It opens with a complaint on account of the decay of this art. It ordains that all men under fixty (except fpiritual men,157 Juftices, &c.) fhall ufe fhooting with the Long-bow, and fhall have a Bow and Arrows ready continually in their houfe. And that every perfon having a man-child, or men-children in his houfe, fhall provide a Bow and two fhafts for every fuch man-child being feven years old and upwards, till of the age of thirteen, in order to promote fhooting. And if the young men be fervants, the expence of the articles fhall be abated in their wages. When of the age of feventeen years, the young men are to provide a Bow and four Arrows for themfelves, and ufe fhooting; and if a matter or father permit his fervants or children, being feventeen years of age, to lack a Bow and Arrows for the fpace of a month, the faid mafter or father fhall forfeit fix and eight-pence for every offence. Alfo every fervant upwards of feventeen and under fixty years of age, fhall pay fix and eight-pence if he be without a Bow and four Arrows for one month.

It is alfo enacted, that no perfon under the age of twenty-four, fhall fhoot at a ftanding mark, except it be a rover, where he may change his ground every fhot, under a penalty of four-pence each fhot. And no other perfon above twenty-four, fhall fhoot at any mark of eleven fcore yards, or under, with any prick fhaft, or flight Arrow, under pain of fix fhillings and eight-pence every fhot.

No perfon under feventeen fhall ufe a Yew Bow, under a penalty of fix fhillings and eight-pence, unlefs he have lands of the value of ten pounds yearly, or have moveables of the value of forty marks.

The inhabitants of every city, town and place, are ordered by this act to erect Butts, and ufe fhooting on holidays, and at every other convenient time.

On account of the greater price and excellence of Yew, it is enacted by this law, that Bowyers fhall make four Bows of ordinary wood, as Elm, Afh, Wych, Hazil,&c. for every one of Yew; and on neglect they fhall incur a penalty of three fhillings and four-pence for every fuch Bow deficient.

All artificers of Bows, Arrows,&c. are by this ftatute obliged, on the command of the King, Lord Chancellor,&c. to go from London to inhabit any town deftitute of fuch artificers, where they may be ordered, on the penalty of forty fhillings a-day during their abode, after receiving proper notice.

Aliens are prohibited from fhooting without the King's licence; and may not tranfport Bows into foreign countries.

Henry VIII. befides making laws in favour of Archery, in the twenty-ninth year of his reign, inftituted a fociety for the practice of fhooting, under a charter, in the name of the Fraternity of St. George. This King was alfo very fond of the amufement, and fometimes attended to fee the Archers. It is faid, that one day having fixed a meeting of them at Windfor, a perfon of the name of Barlow far outfhot the reft; which pleafed the King fo much, that he told Barlow he fhould be called the Duke of Shoreditch, being an inhabitant of that place. This dignity was long preferved by the Captain of the London Archers, who ufed to fummon the officers of his feveral divifions, by the titles of Marquiffes of Barlow, Clerkenwell, Iflington, Hoxton, —Earl of Pancrafs,&c.

The king granted alfo to this fraternity a privilege, that if any of the members fhooting at a known and accuftomed Butt, having firft pronounced the word fast, (or ftand faft) fhould happen to kill any perfon paffing between the fhooter and the Butt, he fhould not fuffer, or be imprifoned.158

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