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An Ordinance of the Lords and Commons assembled in Parliament for the better observation of the Lords Day.


An Ordinance of the Lords and Commons assembled in Parliament for the better observation of the Lords Day.

James Dodson

 Die Sabbathi, 6. April. 1644.

Forasmuch as the Lords-day, notwithstanding several good Laws heretofore made, hath been not only greatly profaned, but divers ungodly Books have been published by the Prelatical Faction, against the morality of that day, and to countenance the profanation of the same, to the manifest endangering of souls, prejudice of the true Religion, great dishonour of Almighty God, and provocation of his just wrath and indignation against this Land.

The Lords and Commons for remedy thereof, do Order and Ordain, And be it Ordered and Ordained, That all the Laws enacted, and in force, concerning the observation of the Lords day, be carefully put in execution; and that all and singular person and persons whatsoever, shall on every Lords-day, apply themselves to the sanctification of the same, by exercising themselves thereon, in the duties of Piety and true Religion, publicly and privately: And that no person or persons whatsoever, shall publicly cry, shew forth or expose to sale any Wares, Merchandises, Fruit, Herbs, Goods or Chattels whatsoever, upon the Lords-day, or any part thereof; upon pain, That every person so offending, shall forfeit the same Goods so cried, shewed forth, or put to sale: And that no person or persons whatsoever, shall, without reasonable cause for the same, travel, carry burdens, or do any worldly labours, or work, whatsoever upon that day, or any part thereof; upon pain, That every one traveling contrary to the meaning of this Ordinance, shall forfeit for every offence, ten shillings of lawful money; and that every person carrying any burden, or doing any worldly labour or work, contrary to the meaning hereof, shall forfeit five shillings of like money for every such offence.

And be it further Ordained, That no person or persons shall hereafter upon the Lords-day, use, exercise, keep, maintain, or be present at any Wrestlings, Shooting, Bowling, Ringing of Bells for Pleasure or Pastime, Masque, Wake, otherwise called Feasts, Church-Ale, Dancing, Games, Sport, or Pastime whatsoever; upon pain, That every person so offending, being above the age of fourteen years, shall lose, and forfeit five shillings for every such offence.

And be it further Ordained, That all and singular person and persons, that have the care, government, tuition or education of any child or children, under or within the age of fourteen years, shall forfeit and loose twelve pence for every of the said offences that shall be committed by any such child and children.

And because the profanation of the Lords-day hath been heretofore greatly occasioned by May-Poles (a Heathenish vanity, generally abused to superstition and wickedness.) The Lords and Commons do further Order and Ordain, That all and singular May-Poles, that are, or shall be erected, shall be taken down, and removed y the Constables, Borsholders, Tything-men, petty Constables, and Church Wardens of the Parishes and places where the same be; And that no May-pole shall be hereafter set up, erected, or suffered to be within this Kingdom of England, or Dominion of Wales.

And it is further Ordained, That if any of the said Officers shall neglect to do their office in the premises, within one week after notice of this Ordinance, every of them, for such neglect, shall forfeit five shillings of lawful moneys; and so from week to week, weekly five shillings more afterwards, till the said May-Pole shall be taken down and removed.

And that if any Justice of the Peace of the County, or the chief Officer or Officers, or any Justice of the Peace, of, or within any City, Burrough or Town Corporate, where the said offences shall be committed upon his or their view, or confession of the party or proof of any one, or more witnesses by Oath (which the said Justice, chief Officer or Officers is by this Ordinance authorized to minister) shall find any person offending in the premises, the said Justice, or chief Officer or Officers, shall give warrant under his or their hand and seal to the Constables or Church-wardens of the Parish or Parishes where such offence shall be committed, to seize the said Goods, cried, shewed forth or put to sale as aforesaid; and to levy the said other forfeitures or penalties by way of distress, and sale of the Goods of every such offender, rendering to the said Offenders, the over-plus of the money raised thereby; and in default of such distress, or in case of insufficiency, or inability of the offender to pay the said forfeitures or penalties, That the party offending be set publicly in the Stocks by the space of three hours: And all and singular, the forfeitures or penalties aforesaid, shall be employed and converted to the use of the poor of the Parish, where the said offences shall be committed saving only that it shall and may be lawful, to, and for, any such Justice, Mayor, or Head-Officer or Officers, out of the said forfeitures, or penalties, to reward any person or persons that shall inform of any offence against this Ordinance, according to their discretions, so as such reward exceed not the third part of the forfeiture or penalties.

And it is further Ordained by the said Lords and Commons, That the Kings Declaration concerning observing of Wakes, and use of exercise and recreation upon the Lords-day; the Book entitled, The Kings Majesties Declaration to his Subjects concerning lawful sports to be used, and all other Books and Pamphlets that have been or shall be Written, Printed, or Published, against the morality of the fourth Commandment, or of the Lords-day, or to countenance the profanation thereof, be called in, seized, suppressed, and publicly burnt by the Justices of Peace, or some, or one of them, or by the chief Officer or Officers aforesaid, in their several limits, or by their warrant or command,

Provided, and be it Declared, That nothing in this Ordinance shall extend to the prohibiting of dressing of meat in private families, or the dressing and sale of victuals in a moderate way in Inns or Victualling-houses, for the use of such as cannot otherwise be provided for; or to the crying or selling Milk before nine of the clock in the Morning or after four of the clock in the afternoon, from the tenth of September, till the tenth of March: or before eight of the clock in the morning, or after five of the clock in the afternoon, from the tenth of March, till the tenth of September.

And whereas there is great breach of the Sabbath, by Rogues, Vagabonds, and Beggars, It is further Ordained, That the Lord Mayor of the City of London, and all Justices of Peace, Constables, Church-wardens, and other Officers, and Ministers whatsoever, shall from time to time, cause all Laws against Rogues and Vagabonds, and Beggars to be put in due execution; and take order that all Rogues, Vagabonds and Beggars do on every Sabbath-day, repair to some Church or Chapel, and remain there soberly and orderly, during the time of Divine-Worship.

And that all and singular person and persons, that shall do any thing in the execution of this Ordinance, shall be protected and saved harmless by the power and authority of Parliament.

And be it further Ordained, That this Ordinance be Printed and published, and read in all Parish Churches and Chapels, before the Sermon in the Morning, on some Lords-day, before the first of May next, on the South-side of Trent; and before the first of June next, on the North side of Trent.