The eighteenth-century English game laws have long been synonymous with petty tyranny. By imposing a property qualification on sportsmen, they effectively denied all but country gentlemen the right to take game or even to possess a gun. Those who challenged the gentry's monopoly were fined or imprisoned, usually after only a summary hearing by the local justice of the peace. In the early nineteenth century, it was claimed that one out of every four inmates in England's prisons was an offender against the game laws. Bitterly denounced at the time, they have continued to be condemned by historians as arbitrary, savage and unjust. This book is the first full scholarly examination of the English game laws. Based on material drawn from over two dozen archives - including judicial records, estate correspondence and personal diaries - it attempts to explain what the laws actually were, why they were passed, how they were enforced and why they were eventually repealed. The picture which emerges from this investigation challenges the conventional wisdom about the game laws in a number of important respects.
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(228mm x 152mm x 15mm)
Cambridge University Press
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
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