Declaration of Sports (1633)

For works with similar titles, see Declaration of Sports.
King Charles the First's Declaration to His Subjects Concerning Lawful Sports to be Used on Sundays  (1633) 
by Charles I of England




Lawful Sports




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Second Issue of 100 Copies.

London, February, 1862



Declaration to

His Subjects,


lawfull Sports to

bee vsed.

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Imprinted at London by

Robert Barker, Printer to the Kings
most Excellent Maiestie: And by
the Assignes of Iohn Bill.


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¶ By the King.

OVr Deare Father of blessed Memory, in his returne from Scotland, comming through Lancashire, found that his Subjects were debarred from Lawful Recreations vpon Sundayes after Euening Prayers ended, and vpon Holy dayes: And Hee prudently considered, that if these times were taken from them, the meaner sort who labour hard all the weeke, should haue no Recreations at all to refresh their spirits. And after His returne, Hee farther saw that His loyall Subiects 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 louing Subiects concerning lawfull Sports to be vsed at such times, which was printed and published by His royall Commandement in the yeere 1618. In the Tenor which hereafter followeth.

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¶ By the King.

WHereas vpon Our returne the last yere out of Scotland, We did publish Our Pleasure touching the recreations of Our people in those parts vnder Our hand: For some causes Vs thereunto moouing, Wee haue thought good to command these Our Directions then giuen in Lancashire with a few words thereunto added, and most appliable to these parts of Our Realmes, to bee published to all Our Subiects.

Whereas Wee did iustly in Our Progresse through Lancashire, rebuke some Puritanes and precise people, and tooke order that the like vnlawfull carriage should not bee vsed by any of them hereafter, in the prohibiting and vnlawfull punishing of Our good people for vsing their lawfull Recreations, and honest exercises vpon Sundayes and other Holy dayes, after the afternoon Sermon or Seruice: Wee now finde that two sorts of people wherewith that Countrey is much infected, (Wee meane Papists and Puritanes) haue maliciously traduced and calumniated those Our iust and honourable proceedings. And, therefore, lest Our reputation might vpon the one side (though innocently) haue some aspersion layd vpon it, and that vpon the other part Our good people in that Countrey be misled by the mistaking and misinterpretation of Our meaning: We have, therefore, thought good hereby to cleare and make Our pleasure to be 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 in England, and thus hath still continued since to Our great regrett, with little amendmet, saue that now of late, in Our last riding through Our said County, Wee find both by the report of the Iudges, and of the Bishop of that diocesse, that there is some amendment now daily beginning, which is no small contentment to Vs.

The report of this growing amendment amongst them, made Vs the more sorry, when with Our owne Eares We heard the generall complaint of Our people, that they were barred from all lawfull Recreation, & exercise vpon the Sundayes afternoone, after the ending of all Diuine Seruice, which cannot but produce two euils: The one, the hindering of the conuersion 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 peraduenture vpon the point of turning; The other inconuenience is, that this prohibition barreth the common and meaner sort of people from vsing such exercises as may make their bodies more able for Warre, when Wee or Our Successours shall haue occasion to vse them. And in place thereof sets vp filthy tiplings and drunkennesse, & breeds a number of idle and discontented speeches in their Alehouses. For when shall the common people haue leave to exercise, if not vpon the Sundayes & holydaies, seeing they must apply their labour, & win their liuing in all working daies?

Our expresse pleasure therefore is, that the Lawes of Our Kingdome, and Canons of Our Church be aswell obserued in that Countie, as in all other places of this Our Kingdome. And on the other part, that no lawfull Recreation shall bee barred to Our good People, which shall not tend to the breach of Our aforesayd 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 bee carefull and diligent, both to instruct the ignorant, and conuince and reforme them that are mis-led in Religion, presenting them that will not conforme themselves, but obstinately stand out to Our Iudges and Iustices: Whom We likewise command to put the Law in due execution against them.

Our pleasure likewise is, That the Bishop of that Diocesse take the like straight order with all the Puritanes and Precisians within the same, either constraining them to conforme themselues, or to leaue 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 aduersaries of Our Church. And as for Our good peoples lawfull Recreation, Our Pleasure like is, That after the end of Diuine Seruice, Our good people be not disturbed, letted, or discouraged from any lawfull recreation, Such as dauncing, either men or women, archery for men, leaping, vaulting, or any other such harmlesse Recreation, nor from hauing of May-Games, Whitson Ales, and Morris-dances, and the setting vp of May-poles & other sports therewith vsed, so as the same be had in due & conuenient time, without impediment or neglect of Diuine Seruice: And that women shall haue leaue to carry rushes to the Churches for the decoring of it, according to their old custome. But withall We doe here account still as prohibited all vnlawfull games to bee vsed vpon 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 known recusants, either men or women, as will abstain from comming to Church or Diuine Seruice, being therefore vnworthy of any lawfull recreation after the said Seruice, that will not first come to the Church and serue God: Prohibiting in like sort the said Recreations to any that, though conforme in Religion, are not present in the Church at the Seruice 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 punish all such as in abuse of this Our liberty, will vse these exercises before the ends of all Diuine Seruice for that day. And We likewise straightly command, that euery person shall resort to his owne Parish Church to heare Diuine Seruice, and each Parish by it selfe to vse the said Recreation after Diuine Seruice. Prohibiting likewise any Offensiue weapons to bee carried or vsed in the said times of Recreations. And Our pleasure is, That this Our Declaration shall bee published by order from the Bishop of the Diocesse, through all the Parish Churches, and that both Our Iudges of Our Circuit, and Our Iustices of Our Peace be informed thereof.

Giuen at our Mannour of Greenwich the foure and twentieth day of May, in the sixteenth yeere of our Raigne of England, France, and Ireland, and of Scotland the one and fiftieth.

Now out of a like pious Care for the seruice 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 vnder pretence of taking away abuses, there hath been 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 Iustices of the peace in their seuerall Diuisions shall looke to it, both that all disorders there, may be preuented or punished, and that all neighbourhood and freedome, with manlike and lawfull Exercises bee vsed. And Wee farther Command Our Jusices of Assize in their seuerall Circuits, to see that no man doe trouble or molest any of Our loyall and duetifull people, in or for their lawfull Recreations, having first done their duetie to God, and continuing in obedience to Vs and Our Lawes. And of this Wee command all our Iudges, Iustices 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 publications of this Our Command bee made by order from the Bishops through all the Parish Churches of their seuverall Diocesse respectively.
Giuen at Our Palace of Westminster the eighteenth day of October, in the ninth yeere of Our Reigne.

God saue the King.





This work was published before January 1, 1927, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.