Robert Barker, Printer to the Kings
most Excellent Maiestie: And by
the Assignes of Iohn Bill.
Our Deare Father of blessed memorie, in his returne from Scotland, comming through Lancashire, found that his Subjects were debarred from lawfull Recreations upon Sundayes after Evening Prayers ended, and upon Holy dayes: And He prudently considered, that if these times were taken from them, the meaner sort who labour hard all the weeke, should have no Recreations at all to refresh their spirits. And after His returne, Hee farther saw that His loyall Subjects in all other parts of His Kingdome did suffer in the same kinde, though perhaps not in the same degree: And did therefore in His Princely wisedome, publish a Declaration to all his loving Subjects concerning lawfull Sports to be used at such times, which was printed and published by His royall Commandement in the yeere 1618. In the Tenor which hereafter followeth.
¶ By the King.
Whereas upon our returne the last yere out of Scotland, We did publish Our Pleasure touching the recreations of Our people in those parts under Our hand: For some causes Us thereunto mooving, Wee have thought good to command these Our Directions then given in Lancashire with a few words thereunto added, and most appliable to these parts of Our Realmes, to be published to all Our Subjects.
Whereas Wee did justly in Our Progresses through Lancashire, rebuke some Puritanes and precise people, and tooke order that the like unlawfull carriage should not bee used by any of them hereafter, in the prohibiting and unlawfull pubishing of Our good people for using their lawfull Recreations, and honest exercises upon Sundayes and other Holy dayes, after the afternoon Sermon or Service: Wee now finde that two sorts of people wherewith that Countrey is much infected, (Wee meane Papists and Puritanes) have maliciously traduced and calumniated those Our just and honourable proceedings. And therefore lest Our reputation might upon the one side (though innocently) have some aspersion laid upon it, and that upon the other part Our good people in that Countrey be miss led by the mistaking and misinterpretation of Our meaning: We have theerfore thought good hereby to cleare and make Our pleasure to bee manifested to all Our good People in those parts.
It is true that at Our first entry to this Crowne, and Kingdome, Wee were informed, and that too truely, that our County of Lancashire abounded more in Popish Recusants then any County of England, and thus hath still continued since to Our great regreet, with little amendment, save that now of late, in Our last riding through Our said County, Wee find both by the report of that Diocesse, that there is some amendment now dayly beginning, which is no small contentment to Us.
The report of this growing amendment amongst them, made Us the more sorry, when with Our owne Eares We heard the generall complaint of our people, that they were barred from all lawful Recreation, & exercise upon the Sundayes after-noone, after the ending of all Divine Service, which cannot but produce two evils: The one, the hindering of the conversion of many, whom their Priests will take occasion hereby to vexe, perswading them that no honest mirth or recreation is lawfull or tolerable in our religion, which cannot but breed a great discontentment in Our peoples hearts, especially of such as are peradventure upon the point of turning; The other inconvenience is, that this prohibition barreth the common and meaner sort of people from using such exercises as may make their bodies more able for Warre, when Wee or Our Successours shall have occasion to use them. And in place thereof sets up filthy tiplings and drunkennes, and breeds a number of idle and discontented speeches in their Alehouses. For when shall the common people have leave to exercise, if not upon the Sundayes & holy daies, seeing they must apply their labour, & win their living in all working dayes?
Our expresse pleasure therefor is, that the Lawes of Our Kingdom, & Canons of our Church be as well observed in that Countie, as in all other places of this Our Kingdome. And on the other part, that no lawfull Recreation shall be barred to our good People, which shall not tend to the breach of Our aforesaid Lawes, and Canons of our Church: which to expresse more particularly, Our pleasure is, That the Bishop, and all other inferiour Churchmen, and Churchwardens, shall for their parts be carefull and diligent, both to instruct the ignorant, and convince and reforme them that are miss-led in Religion, presenting them that wil not conforme themselves, but obstinately stand out to Our Judges and Justices: Whom We likewise command to put the Law in due execution against them.
Our pleasure likewise is, That the Bishop of the Diocesse take the like straight ordeer with all the Puritans and Precisians within the same, either constraining them to conforme themselves, or to leave the County according to the Lawes of Our Kingdome, and Canons of Our Church, and so to strike equally on both hands, against the contemners of Our Authority, and adversaries of our Church And as for Our good peoples lawfull Recreation, Our pleasure likewise is, That after the end of Divine Service, Our good people be not disturbed, letted, or discouraged from any lawfull recreation, Such as dancing, either men or women, Archery for men, leaping, vaulting, or any other such harmlesse recreation, nor from having of May-Ganmes, Whitson Ales, and Morris-dances, and the setting up of May-poles & other sports therewith used, so as the same be had in due & convenient time, without impediment or neglect of Divine Service. And that women shall have leave to carry rushes to the Church for the decoring of it, according to their old custome. But withall We doe here account still as prohibited all unlawfull games to bee used upon Sundayes onely, as Beare and Bullbaitings, Interludes, and at all times in the meaner sort of people by Law prohibited, Bowling.
And likewise We barre from this benefite and liberty, all such knowen recusants, either men or women, as wil abstaine from comming to Church or divine Service, being therfore unworthy of any lawful recreation after the said Service, that will not first come to the Church, and serve God; Prohibiting in like sort the said recreations to any that, though conforme in religion, are not present in the Church at the Service of GOD, before their going to the said Recreations. Our pleasure likewise is, That they to whom it belongeth in Office, shall present and sharpely pubish all such as in abuse of this Our liberty, will use these exercises before the ends of all Divine Services for that day. And Wee likewise straightly command, That every person shall resort to his owne Parish Church to heare Divine Service, and each Parish by it selfe to use the said recreation after Divine Service. Prohibiting likewise any Offensive weapons to bee carried or used in the said times of recreations. And Our pleasure is, That this Our Declaration shall be published by order from the Bishop of the Diocesse, through all the Parish Churches, and that both Our Judges of Our Circuit, and Our Justices of Our Peace be informed thereof.
Given at Our Mannour of Greenwich the foure and twentieth day of May, in the sixteenth yeere of Our Reigne of England, France and Ireland, and of Scotland the one and fiftieth.
Now out of a like Pious Care for the Service of God, and for suppressing of any humors that oppose trueth, and for the Ease, Comfort & Recreation of Our well deserving People, Wee doe ratifie and publish this Our blessed Fathers Declaration: The rather because of late in some Counties of our Kingdome, Wee finde that under pretence of taking away abuses, there hath beene a generall forbidding, not onely of ordinary meetings, but of the Feasts of the Dedication of the Churches, commonly called Wakes. Now Our expresse will and pleasure is, that these Feasts with others shall bee observed, and that Our Justices of the Peace in their severall Divisions shall looke to it, both that all disorders there, may be prevented or pubished, and that all neighbourhood and freedome, with manlike and lawful Exercises bee used. And Wee farther Command Our Justices of Assize in their severall Circuits, to see that no man doe trouble or molest any of Our loyall and dutifull people, in or for their lawfull recreations, having first done their duetie to God, and continuing in obedience to Us and Our Lawes. And of this Wee command all Our Judges, Justices of the Peace, as well within Liberties as without, Maiors, Bayliffes, Constables, and other Officers, to take notice of, and to see observed, as they tender Our displeasure. And Wee farther will, that publication of this Our Command bee made by order from the Bishops through all the Parish Churches of their severall Diocesse respectively.
Given at Our Palace of Westminster the eighteenth day of October, in the ninth yeere of Our Reigne.
God save the King.
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