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Jurisdiction: English Law

Statute of Northampton, 1328, 2 Edw. 3, c. 3 (Eng.)

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C. 3. ITEM, It is enacted, That no Man great nor small, of what Condition soever he be, except the King's Servants in his presence, and his Ministers in executing of the King's Precepts, or of their Office, and such as be in their Company assisting them, ...

C. 3. ITEM, It is enacted, That no Man great nor small, of what Condition soever he be, except the King’s Servants in his presence, and his Ministers in executing of the King’s Precepts, or of their Office, and such as be in their Company assisting them, and also [upon a Cry made for Arms to keep the Peace, and the same in such places where such Acts happen,] be so hardy to come before the King’s Justices, or other of the King’s Ministers doing their office, with force and arms, nor bring no force in affray of the peace, nor to go nor ride armed by night not by day, in Fairs, Markets, nor in the presence of the Justices or other Ministers, nor in no part elsewhere, upon pain to forfeit their Armour to the King, and their Bodies to Prison at the King’s pleasure. And that the King’s Justices in their presence, Sheriffs, and other Ministers in their Bailiwicks, Lords of Franchises, and their Bailiffs in the same, and Mayors and Bailiffs of Cities and Borough-Holders, Constables, and Wardens of the Peace within their Wards, shall have Power to execute this Act. And that Justices assigned, at their coming down into the Country, shall have Power to enquire how such Officers and Lords have exercised their offices in this Case, and to punish them whom they find that have not done that which pertained to their Office.

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9 Geo. 1, c. 22 (1723), An act for the more effectual punishing wicked and evil-disposed persons going armed in disguise, and doing injuries and violences to the persons and properties of his Majesty’s subjects, and for the more speedy bringing the offenders to justice.

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I. WHEREAS several ill-designing and disorderly persons have of late associated themselves under the name of Blacks, and entered into confederacies to support and assist one another in stealing and destroying of deer, robbing of warrens and fish-ponds,...

I. WHEREAS several ill-designing and disorderly persons have of late associated themselves under the name of Blacks, and entered into confederacies to support and assist one another in stealing and destroying of deer, robbing of warrens and fish-ponds, cutting down plantations of trees, and other illegal practices, and have, in great numbers, armed with swords, fire-arms, and other offensive weapons, several of them with their faces blacked, or in disguised habits, unlawfully hunted in forests belonging to his Majesty, and in the parks of divers of his Majesty’s subjects, and destroyed, killed and carried away the deer, robbed warrens, rivers and fish-ponds, and cut down plantations of trees; and have likewise solicited several of his Majesty’s subjects, with promises of money, or other rewards, to join with them, and have sent letters in fictitious names, to several persons, demanding venison and money, and threatning some great violence, if such their unlawful demands should be refused, or if they should be interupted in, or prosecuted for such their wicked practises, and have actually done great damage to several persons, who have either refused to comply with such demands, or have endeavoured to bring them to justice, to the great terror of his Majesty’s peaceable subjects: For the preventing which wicked and unlawful practices, be it enacted by the King’s most excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the lords spiritual and temporal and commons, in parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same. That if any person or persons, from and after the first day of June in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and twenty-three, being armed with swords, fire-arms, or other offensive weapons, and having his or their faces blacked, or being otherwise disguised, shall appear in any forest, chase, park, paddock, or grounds inclosed with any wall, pale, or other fence, wherein any deer have been or shall be usually kept, or in any warren or place where hares or conies have been or shall be usually kept, or in any high road, open heath, common or down, or shall unlawfully and wilfully hunt, wound, kill, destroy, or steal any red or fallow deer, or unlawfully rob any warren or place where conies or hares are usually kept, or shall unlawfully steal or take away any fish out of any river or pond; or if any person or persons, from and after the said first day of June shall unlawfully and wilfully hunt, wound, kill, destroy or steal any red or fallow deer, fed or kept in any places in any of his Majesty’s forests or chases, which are or shall be inclosed with pales, rails, or other fences, or in any park, paddock, or grounds inclosed, where deer have been or shall be usually kept; or shall unlawfully and maliciously break down the head or mound of any fish-pond, whereby the fish shall be lost or destroyed; or shall unlawfully and maliciously kill, maim or wound any cattle, or cut down or otherwise destroy any trees planted in any avenue, or growing in any garden, orchard or plantation, for ornament, shelter or profit; or shall set fire to any house, barn or out-house, or to any hovel, cock, mow, or stack of corn, straw, hay or wood; or shall wilfully and maliciously shoot at any person in any dwelling-house, or other place; or shall knowingly send any letter, without any name, subscribed thereto, or signed with a fictitious name, demanding money, venison, or other valuable thing; or shall forcibly rescue any person being lawfully in custody of any officer or other person, for any of the offences before mentioned; or if any person or persons shall, by gift or promise of money, or other reward, procure any of his Majesty’s subjects to join him or them in any such unlawful act; every person so offending, being thereof lawfully convicted, shall be adjudged guilty of felony, and shall suffer death as in cases of felony, without benefit of clergy.

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1689, 1 W. & M. st. 2, c. 2.

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That the subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defence suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law

An Act for the better secureing the Government by disarming Papists and reputed Papists, 1 W. & M. ch. 15 (1689).

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For the better secureing of the Government against Papists and reputed Papists bee it enacted by the King and Queens most excellent Majestyes by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spirituall and Temporall and Commons in this present Parlyamen...

For the better secureing of the Government against Papists and reputed Papists bee it enacted by the King and Queens most excellent Majestyes by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spirituall and Temporall and Commons in this present Parlyament assembled and by authoritie of the same That it shall and may be lawfull for any two or more Justices of the Peace who shall know or suspect any person to be a Papist or shall be informed that any person is or is suspected to be a Papist to tender and they are hereby authorized and required forthwith to tender to such person soe knowne or suspected to be a Papist the Declaration sett downe and expressed in an Act of Parlyament made in the thirtyeth yeare of the Raigne of the late King Charles the Second Intituled An Act for the more effectuall Preserveing the Kings Person and Government by disabling Papists from sitting in either House of Parlyament to be by him made repeated and subscribed And if such person soe required shall refuse to make repeate and subscribe the said Declaration or shall not make repeate and subscribe the said Declaration or shall refuse or forbeare to appeare before the said Justices for the makeing repeating and subscribeing the said Declaration upon notice to him given or left at his usuall place of abode by any person authorized in that behalfe by Warrant under the Hands and Seales of the said two Justices such person from thenceforth shall be taken to be and is hereby declared to be lyable and subject to all and every the Penalties Forfeitures and Disabilities hereafter in this Act mentioned . . . III And for the better secureing their Majestyes Persons and Government Bee it further enacted and declared That noe Papist or reputed Papist soe refuseing or makeing default as aforesaid shall or may have or keepe in his House or elsewhere or in the Possession of any other person to his use or at his disposition any Arms Weapons Gunpowder or Ammunition (other then such necessary Weapons as shall be allowed to him by Order of the Justices of the Peace at their Generall Quarter Sessions for the defence of his House or person)

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22 Car. 2, c.25, § 3 (1671)

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No person who had not lands of the yearly value of 100 pounds other than the son and heir of an esquire or other person of higher degree, should be allowed to own a gun.

Militia Act of 1662, 13 & 14 Car. 2, c. 3, § 13 (1662)

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XIII. and for the better securing the Peace of the Kingdom be it further enacted and ordained and the respective Lieutenants or any two or more of their deputies are hereby enabled and authorized from time to time by Warrant under their Hands and Seals...

XIII. and for the better securing the Peace of the Kingdom be it further enacted and ordained and the respective Lieutenants or any two or more of their deputies are hereby enabled and authorized from time to time by Warrant under their Hands and Seals to employ such Person or Persons as they shall think fit (of which a Commissioned Officer and the Constable or his Deputy or the Tythingman or in the absence of the Constable and his Deputy and Tythingman some other Person bearing Office within the Parish where the Search shall be shall be to to search for and seize all arms in the custody or possession of any person or persons whom the said Lieutenant or any two or more of their deputies shall judge dangerous to the Peace of the Kingdom and to secure such arms for for the service aforesaid and thereof from time to time to give accounts of the said respective Lieutenants and in their absence as aforesaid or otherwise by their directions to their deputies or any two or more of them. [Provided that no such search be made in any house or houses between Sun setting and Sun rising other than in Cities and their suburbs and towns, Corporate market towns and houses within the bills of Mortality where it shall and may be lawful to search in the night time by Warrant as aforesaid if the warrant shall so direct and in case of resistance to enter by force and that no dwelling house of any peer of this Realm be searched by virtue of this Act but by immediate warrant from his Majesty under his sign manual or in the presence of the Lieutenant or one of the Deputy Lieutenants of the same Country or Riding and that in all places and houses whatsoever where search is to be made as aforesaid it shall and may be lawful in case of resistance to enter by force and that the arms so seized may be restored to the owners again if the said Lieutenants or in their absence as aforesaid their deputies or any two or more of them shall so think fit.

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33 Hen. 8, c. 6, § 1, An Act Concernin Crossbows and Handguns (1541).

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Where in the Parliament holden at Westminster the fifteenth day of January in the twenty-fifth year of the King’s most gracious reign, and there continued and kept until the thirtieth day of March then next ensuing, among diverse and sundry whole...

Where in the Parliament holden at Westminster the fifteenth day of January in the twenty-fifth year of the King’s most gracious reign, and there continued and kept until the thirtieth day of March then next ensuing, among diverse and sundry wholesome and laudable acts, statutes, and ordinances one statute and ordinance was made and ordained for the avoiding and eschewing of shooting in crossbows and handguns; since the making of which act diverse malicious and evil disposed persons not only presume willfully and obstinately the violation and breach of the said Act, but also of their malicious and evil disposed minds and purposes have willfully and shamefully committed perpetrated and done diverse detestable and shameful murders, robberies, felonies, riot and rout with crossbows little short handguns and little hagbut, to the great peril and continual fear and danger of the Kings most loving subjects, and also diverse keepers of forests, chases and parks as well of our aid Sovereign Lord as other his Nobles and Commons and diverse Gentlemen, Yeomen and serving men now of late have laid apart the good and laudable exercise of the long bow, which always heretofore hath been the surest safeguard and continual defense of this Realm of England, and an inestimable dread and terror to the enemies of the same, and now of late the said evil disposed persons have used and yet do daily use to ride and go in the King’s highways and elsewhere having with them crossbows and little handguns, ready furnished with Quarrel (gunpowder, fire and touche to the great peril and fear of the King’s most loving subjects : For reformation whereof be it enacted, ordained and established by the King our Sovereign Lord the Lords spiritual and temporal and the Commons in the Present Parliament assembled and by the authority of the same, in manner and form following that is to say; that no person or persons of what estate or degree he or they be, except he or they in their own right or in the right of his or their wife to his or their own uses or any other to the use of such person or persons, have lands, tenements, fees, annuities or office to the yearly value of one hundred pounds, from or after the last day of June next coming shall shoot any crossbow, handgun, hagbutt or demy hake, or use or keep in his or their houses or elsewhere any Crossbow, handgun, hagbutt or demy hake, otherwise or in any manner then is hereafter in the present Act declared, upon pain to forfeit for every time that he or they so offending contrary to this act Ten Pounds. And further be it enacted by authority aforesaid that no person or persons, of what estate or degree soever he or they be, from or after the said last day of Une shall shoot in, carry, keep, use, or have in his house or elsewhere any handgun other than such as shall be in stock and gun of the length of one whole yard, or any hagbutt or demy hake being not of the length of three quarters of a yard, ten pounds sterling and that it shall be lawful to every person and persons who have lands, tenements, fees, annuities or office to the yearly value of one hundred pounds as is aforesaid, to seize and teake every such crossbow and also every handgun being in stock and gun shorter in length than one whole yard and every hagbut and demyhake being shorter in length than three quarters of a yard, or any of them; from the keeping or possession of every such offender contrary to the form of this act, and the same crossbow or crossbows to keep and retain for his or their own use and also the same handguns, hagbut and demy hake so seized and taken within twenty days next after the same seizure of taking to break and destroy upon pain of fourteen shillings for every gun so seized and not broken and destroyed, and th same so broked and destroyed to keep and retain to his own or their own use. And be it further enacted by authority aforesaid, that no person or persons, other than such as have land, tenement, fees annuities or office, to the yearly value of one hundred pounds as aforesaid, from or after the said last day of June shall carry or have, in his or their Journey, going or riding in the King’s highway or elsewhere, any crossbow bent or gun charged or furnished with powder, fire or touche for the same, except it be in time and service of war, upon pain to forfeit for every such offense ten pounds; the present act or any thing therein contained to the contrary notwithstanding. And be it further enacted by authority aforesaid, that no person or persons form the last day of June shall in anyways shoot in or with any handgun demyhake or hagbutt at any thing at large, within any city, borough, or market town or within one quarter of a mile of any city, borough or market town, except it be at a butt or bank of earth in place convenient, or for the defense of his person or house, upon pain to forfeit for every such shot ten pounds; the present act or anything therein contained to the contrary notwithstanding.

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26 Hen. 8, c. 6, § 3 (1534)

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And also be it enacted by authority aforesaid, that no person or persons dwelling or residing within Wales or the Lordship marches of the same, of what estate degree or condition so ever he or they be of, coming, resorting or repairing unto any Session...

And also be it enacted by authority aforesaid, that no person or persons dwelling or residing within Wales or the Lordship marches of the same, of what estate degree or condition so ever he or they be of, coming, resorting or repairing unto any Sessions or Court to be holden within Wales or any Lordship marches of the same, shall bring or bear or cause to be brought or borne, to the same sessions or court or to any place within the distance of two miles from the same Sessions or Court, nor to any town, church, fair, market, or other congregation, except it be upon a hue or outcry made of any felony robbery done or perpetrated, nor in the highways in affray of the King’s peace or the King’s liege people, any bill, longbow, crossbow, handgun, sword, staff, dagger, halberd, morespike, spear, or any other manner of weapon, privy coat of armor defense; upon pain of forfeiture of the same weapon, privy coat or armor, and to suffer imprisonment and make fine and ransom to the King’s Highness by the discretion of the King’s Commissioners of his Marches for the time being; except it be by the command, license or assent of the said Justices, Steward or other Officer of the Commissioners or counsel of the Marches for the time being.

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4 Hen 4, c. 29

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It is ordained and established, that from henceforth no Man be armed nor bear defensible armor to Merchant Towns Churches nor Congregations in the same, nor in the Highways, in affray of the Peace or the King's Liege people, upon pain of imprisonment, ...

It is ordained and established, that from henceforth no Man be armed nor bear defensible armor to Merchant Towns Churches nor Congregations in the same, nor in the Highways, in affray of the Peace or the King’s Liege people, upon pain of imprisonment, and to make Fine and Ransom at the King’s Will; except those which be lawful Liege People to our Sovereign Lord the King.

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20 Ric. 2, 93, ch. 1 (1396)

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First, whereas in a Statute made the Seventh Year of the Reign of the King that now is, it is ordained and assented, That no Man shall ride armed within the Realm, against the form of the Statute of Northampton thereupon made, nor with Launcegays withi...

First, whereas in a Statute made the Seventh Year of the Reign of the King that now is, it is ordained and assented, That no Man shall ride armed within the Realm, against the form of the Statute of Northampton thereupon made, nor with Launcegays within the same Realm, and that the said Launcegays shall by utterly put out within the said Realm, as a Thing prohibited by the King, upon Pain of Forfeiture of the same Launcegays, Armours, or any other Harness, in the Hands and Possession of them that bear them, form henceforth within the same Realm against the same Statutes and Ordinances without the King’s special License. Our Lord the King, considering the great clamour made to him in this present Parliament, because that the said Statute is not holden, hath ordained and established in the said Parliament, That the said Statutes shall be fully holden and kept, and duly executed; and that the said Launcegayes shall be clear put out upon the Pain contained in the said Statute of Northampton, and also to make Fine and Ransom to the King. And moreover, that no Lord, Knight nor other, little nor great, shall go nor ride by Night nor by Day armed, nor bear [Sallet] nor Skull of Iron, nor [of] other Armour, upon the pain aforesaid; save and except the King’s Officers and Ministers in doing their Office. And Moreover, the King will and hath ordained, that the statute made the First Year of his Reign, of Liveries of Hats, shall be holden and kept upon the pain contined in the same Statute, and upon Pain to be imprisoned, and make Fine and Ransom of the King.

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