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The English famous for their Skill in Archery--The Use of the Bow known to the Saxons and the Danes--Form of the Saxon Bow, &c.--Norman Archery--The Ladies fond of Archery--Observations relative to the Cross-Bow--Its Form, and the Manner in which it was used--Bows ordered to be kept--The Decay of Archery, and why--Ordinances in its Favour--The Fraternity of St George established--Henry VIII. an Archer--The Price of Bows--Equipment for Archery--Directions for its Practice--The Marks to shoot at--The Length of the Bow and Arrows--Extraordinary Performances of the Archers--The modern Archers inferior to the ancient in long Shooting--The Duke of Shoreditch, why so called--Grand Procession of the London Archers--Archery a royal Sport--A good Archer, why called Arthur--Archery at Buxton--Elizabethan Archers--Archery in the Civil War--Sir William Wood--The Artillery Company--The Toxophilites.

SKILL OF THE ENGLISH IN ARCHERY.--Among the arts that have been carried to a high degree of perfection in this kingdom, there is no one more conspicuous than that of Archery. Our ancestors used the bow for a double purpose: in time of war, it was a dreadful instrument of destruction; and in peace it became an object of amusement. It will be needless to insist upon the skill of the English archers, or to dilate upon their wonderful performances in the field of battle. The victories they obtained over their enemies are many and glorious; they are their best eulogiums, and stand upon record in the histories 'of this country for the perusal, and for the admiration of posterity. I shall therefore consider this subject in a general point of view, and confine myself, in the main, to such parts of it as relate to amusement only.

* Though the use of the bow for the projection of darts or arrows shows some advance on the rudest forms of savage life, there can be no doubt that it was in common use throughout the British Isles for many centuries before the advent of the Romans. Vast numbers of flint arrow heads have been found throughout England, particularly on the wolds of Yorkshire and the moors of Derbyshire. 1

THE BOW KNOWN TO THE ANGLO-SAXONS AND DANES.--The Anglo-Saxons, and the Danes, were certainly well acquainted with the use of the bow; a knowledge they derived at an early period from their progenitors. The Scandinavian scalds, speaking in praise of the heroes of their country, frequently add to the rest of their acquirements a superiority of skill in handling of the bow. 2 Offrid, son of Edwin, king of Northumberland, was killed by an arrow in a battle which was fought near Hatfield, Yorkshire, about the year 633. Polydore

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[paragraph continues] Virgil says that a great number of archers were placed in the right wing of King Alfred's army. Edmund, king of the East Angles, was shot to death with arrows by the Danes.

FORM OF THE SAXON Bow.--Representations of the bow occur frequently in the Saxon manuscripts; and from one of them in the Cotton Library, written about the tenth century, 1 I have selected two archers, who are figured on the fifth plate. The one accompanied by his dog, is in search of the wild deer; the other has no companion, but is depicted in the act of shooting at a bird; and from the adornment of his girdle, appears to have been no bad marksman. The first represents Esau going to seek venison for his father, and the second, Ishmael, after his expulsion from the house of Abraham, and residing in the desert.

This plate also contains a Saxon bow and arrow on a larger scale, taken from the same manuscript. The bow is curiously ornamented, having the head and tail of a serpent carved at the ends; and was, probably, such a one as was used by the nobility. In all these bows we may observe one thing remarkable, that is, the string not being made fast to the extremities, but permitted to play at some distance from them. How far this might be more or less advantageous than the present method, I shall not presume to determine.

* NORMAN ARCHERY.--Contrary to the assertions of Speed and certain later historians, the bow was in well-established use in England at the period of the Norman Conquest, though apparently at that time used by them but little in warfare. There is only one English archer represented on the historic Bayeux embroidery, whilst the credit of William's victory was mainly due to the archers of Louviers and Evreux. 2 Of the Conqueror it was recorded, as of Ulysses, that no man could bend his bow. The Normans speedily popularised the general use of a weapon, with which they were such adepts, throughout England, both for the chase and amusement, as well as for military purposes. Under Henry II. the use of the bow contributed materially to the conquest of Ireland. Fitzstephen, who baliste, in that reign, states that the London skaters moved faster than telum wrote which seems to prove that the cross-bow was also in common use at that period.

In the ages of chivalry the usage of the bow was considered as an essential part of the education of a young man who wished to make a figure in life. The heroes of romance are therefore usually praised for their skill in archery; and Chaucer, with propriety, says of sir Thopas, "He was a good archere."

ARCHERY PRACTISED BY LADIES.--The ladies were also fond of this amusement, and by a previous representation on the second plate, from an original drawing in a manuscript of the fourteenth century, we see it practised by one who has shot at a deer, and wounded it with great adroitness; and in another previous engraving (plate five) the hunting equipments of the female archers about the middle of the fifteenth century are represented.


Archery and Slinging
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Archery and Slinging


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It was usual, when the ladies exercised the bow, for the beasts to be confined by large inclosures, surrounded by the hunters, and driven in succession from the covers to the stands, where the fair sportswomen were placed; so that they might readily shoot at them, without the trouble and fatigue of rousing and pursuing them. 1 It is said of Margaret, the daughter of Henry VII., that when she was on her way towards Scotland, a hunting party was made for her amusement in Alnwick Park, where she killed a buck with an arrow. 2 It is not specified whether the long-bow or the cross-bow was used by the princess upon this occasion; we are certain that the ladies occasionally shot with both, for when queen Elizabeth visited lord Montecute at Cowdrey, in Sussex, on the Monday, August 17, 1591, "Her highness tooke horse, and rode into the park, at eight o'clock in the morning, where was a delicate bowre prepared, under the which were her highness musicians placed; and a cross-bow, by a nymph, with a sweet song, was delivered into her hands, to shoote at the deere; about some thirty in number were put into a paddock, of which number she killed three or four, and the Countess of Kildare one." 3

THE CROSS-Bow.--The arbalist, or cross-bow, which was much shorter than the long-bow, fastened upon a stock, and discharged by the means of a catch or trigger, which probably gave rise to the lock on the modern musket. Bayle, explaining the difference between testimony and argument, uses this simile, "Testimony is like the shot of a long-bow, which owes its efficacy to the force of the shooter; argument is like the shot of a cross-bow, equally forcible, whether discharged by a dwarf or a giant."

I cannot pretend to determine at what period the cross-bow was first brought into this country, but I believe not long before the commencement of the thirteenth century; at least, I have never met with any representation of such an engine prior to that period. On the continent its appearance might be somewhat earlier. Our historians assure us that Richard I. was wounded by an arrow from a bow of this kind, while he was reconnoitring the walls of the castle of Chalezun; which wound was the occasion of his death. William Brito seems to attribute the introduction of the cross-bow to this monarch, who, he says, first showed it to the French. 4

In the twenty-third year of the reign of Edward I. the Earl of Warwick had in his army a number of soldiers called ballistari, and this word is translated cross-bow men by our chronological writers, but certainly it may with equal propriety be rendered slingers, or casters of stones, who frequently formed a part of the Anglo-Norman armies. 5

In 1341 an order was issued by Edward III. to the sheriffs of most of the English counties to supply five hundred white bows and five hundred bundles of arrows, ready for the war against France. In the two following years like

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orders were repeated, save that the sheriff of Gloucestershire was instructed to provide five hundred painted bows as well as five hundred white or unpainted, the latter being sixpence cheaper than the former. The painting of these long-bows was intended either to make them smarter for military use, or to increase their duration. 1

From this period we hear but little concerning the cross-bows, as military weapons, until the battle of Cressy in 1346; at which time they were used by a large body of Genoese soldiers, who were particularly expert in the management of these weapons, and assisted the French upon that memorable occasion; but their efforts were ineffectual when opposed to the archery of the English. Previous to the commencement of the battle there fell a sharp shower of rain, which wetted the strings of the cross-bows; and, we are told, in great measure prevented the archers from doing their usual execution; 2 but the strings of the long-bows used by the Englishmen do not appear to have been damaged in the least by the rain; this might arise from their being made with different materials; or more probably, from their being kept with the bows, in the bow-cases, during the continuance of the shower; for every man had a case of canvass, or of some such material, to draw over his bow when he had done using of it. 3

In the succeeding annals the cross-bow is continually spoken of as a weapon of war. In 1347, the year after the celebrated victory was obtained at Cressy, Charles, earl of Blois, at the siege of le Roche de Rien, had no less than two thousand cross-bowmen in his army. The cross-bow was used by the English soldiery chiefly at sieges of fortified places, and on shipboard, in battles upon the sea. But the great fame acquired by our countrymen in archery, was derived from their practice with the long-bow: and to this instrument they gave the preference.

FORM AND USE OF THE CROSS-BOW.--The reader may see the manner in which the cross-bow was formerly used for fowling purposes upon the sixth plate. The representation given at the bottom is taken from a manuscript of the fourteenth century in the Royal Library. 4

In the centre is an illustration, from a painting on another manuscript in the Royal Library, much more modern. 5 We find here exhibited a school for practice; and the manner in which the archers shot at the butts, or dead marks, a pastime frequently alluded to by the authors of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

At the end of the reign of Henry VII. the cross-bow was forbidden by law to be used by any man, except by the King's license, unless he was a lord or had two hundred marks in land. To still further favour the use of the long-bow it was at the same time provided that no custom should be paid on good bow-staves


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brought into the realm. 1 In 1514 a much more severe statute was passed, whereby any one keeping a cross-bow in his house, unless he had land to the yearly value of three hundred marks, was to forfeit; and the great penalty of £10 to was imposed for every time a cross-bow was used for shooting. 2 This Act was renewed and further strengthened in 1533. 3 This severe fine might probably produce a temporary reformation; which certainly was not of long continuance, for cross-bows were commonly used again in the succeeding reigns. Hentzner tells us, that in the year 1598, he saw in the armory of the Tower of London, cross-bows, and bows and arrows: of which, says he, to this day, the English make great use in their exercises. Stow speaks of a large close, called the Tazell, let in his time to the cross-bow makers, wherein, he says, they used to shoot for games at the popinjay, which, Maitland tells us, was an artificial parrot. 4

Bows AND ARROWS ORDERED TO BE KEPT.--To return to the long-bow: As far back as the thirteenth century, every person not having a greater annual revenue in land than one hundred pence, was obliged to have in his possession a bow and arrows, with other arms offensive and defensive; and all such as had no possessions, but could afford to purchase arms, were commanded to have a bow with sharp arrows, if they dwelt without the royal forests, and a bow with round-headed arrows, if they resided within the forests. The words of the statute are, "arcs e setes hors de forestes, e dedenz forestes arcs e pilets." 5 The word pilet I believe is derived from the Latin, pila, a ball; and I suppose these arrows were used to prevent the owners from killing the king's deer. The round-headed arrows were also called bolts, and also used with the cross-bow; hence the old adage, "A fool's bolt is soon shot," where the retort of an ignorant man is compared to the blunted arrow of an unskilful archer, shot off hastily, and without any aim. The proverb is thus versified by John Heywood,

A fooles bolte is soone shot, and fleeth oftymes fer
But the fooles bolte, and the marke, cum few times ner. 6

It was also ordained by the forementioned statute that proper officers should be appointed to see that these weapons were kept in good order, and ready for immediate service.

DECAY OF ARCHERY.--Notwithstanding the manifest advantages accruing to the nation from the practice of archery, it seems to have been much neglected even at a time when the glory of the English archers was in its zenith, I mean in the reign of Edward III.; which occasioned that monarch to send a letter of complaint upon this subject to the sheriffs of London, declaring that the skill in shooting with arrows was almost totally laid aside, for the pursuit of various useless and unlawful games. He therefore commanded them to prevent such idle practices within the city and liberties of London; and to see that the leisure

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time upon holidays was spent in recreations with bows and arrows. In the thirty-ninth year of this reign, A.D. 1349, the penalty incurred by the offenders was imprisonment at the king's pleasure; the words of the letter are, "arcubus et sagittis vel pilettis aut boltis," with bow and arrows, or piles or bolts. The same command was repeated in the twelfth year of the reign of Richard II.; but probably its good effects were merely temporary. And in the fifth year of Edward IV. an ordinance was made, commanding every Englishman and Irish-man dwelling in England, to have a long-bow of his own height; the act directs, that butts should be made in every township, at which the inhabitants were to shoot at up and down, upon all feast days, under the penalty of one halfpenny for every time they omitted to perform this exercise. This in the poetical legends is called "shooting about."

* Suitable wood for bows became so scarce in England, owing mainly to the long continued wars with France, that in 1436 Nicholas Hisham, merchant of York, had license to sail to Prussia with four ships in quest of wood for bows and spears. In 1472 it was enacted that all merchant strangers sending goods to England in any vessel or ship of Venice, or of any other city, town, or country whence bow-staves have been imported, were to send four bow-staves for every ton of merchandise thus imported. 1

In the sixteenth century we meet with frequent complaints respecting the disuse of the long-bow, and especially in the vicinity of London. Stow informs us, "that before his time it had been customary at Bartholomew tide, for the lord mayor, with the sheriffs and aldermen, to go into the fields at Finsbury, where the citizens were assembled, and shoot at the standard, with broad and flight arrows, for games." This exercise was continued for several days; but at the period in which our author lived it was practised only one afternoon, three or four days after the festival of Saint Bartholomew. 2

The same writer attributes the decay of archery among the Londoners to the enclosures made near the metropolis, by which means the citizens were deprived of room sufficient or proper for the purpose; and his observations appear to have been justly founded, for a few years posterior to his death, a commission was granted by James I., in 1612, to many persons of quality; in which were recited and established the good statutes, ordinances, and proclamations, that had been previously made at different times in favour of archery. This commission extended to the prevention of enclosures in the grounds formerly used for the practice of the bow.

The commissioners were also impowered to survey the lands adjoining to the city of London, its suburbs, and within two miles circuit; and to reduce them to the same state and order for the use of the archers, as they stood at the beginning of the reign of Henry VIII.; and where they found any encroachments, to cause the banks to be thrown down, the ditches filled up, and the open

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spaces to be made level. Charles I. confirmed this commission, or granted another to the same purpose.

ORDINANCES IN FAVOUR OF ARCHERY.--CROSS-BOWS, &c.--In the reign of Henry VIII. three several acts were made for promoting the practice of shooting with the long-bow; one, as we have already seen, prohibited the use of cross-bows and hand-guns: another was occasioned by a complaint from the bowyers, the fletchers, or arrow-makers, the stringers, and the arrow-head-makers, stating that many unlawful games were practised in the open fields, to the detriment of the public morals, and great decay of archery. Those games were therefore strictly prohibited by parliament; and a third act followed, which obliged every man, being the king's subject, to exercise himself in shooting with the long-bow; and also to keep a bow with arrows continually in his house. From this obligation were excepted such as were sixty years old, or by lameness or by any other reasonable impediment claimed an exemption; and also all ecclesiastics, the justices of the two benches, or of the assizes, and the barons of the exchequer. Fathers and guardians were also commanded to teach the male children the use of the long-bow, and to have at all times bows provided for them as soon as they arrived at the age of seven years; and masters were ordered to find bows for their apprentices, and to compel them to learn to shoot with them upon holidays, and at every other convenient time. By virtue of the same act, every man who kept a cross-bow in his house was liable to a penalty of ten pounds.

Soon afterwards, that is, in the twenty-ninth year of the same king's reign, the use of cross-bows under certain restrictions was permitted, a patent being then granted by him to sir Christopher Morris, master of his ordinance, Anthony Knevyt and Peter Mewtas, gentlemen of his privy chamber, for them to be overseers of the science of artillery, by which was meant long-bows, cross-bows, and hand-guns. Others were appointed to be masters and rulers of the same science, with power to them and their successors, to establish a perpetual corporation, called the Fraternity of Saint George, and to admit such persons as they found to be eligible. The members of this society were also permitted, for pastime sake, to practise shooting at all sorts of marks and butts, and at the game of the popinjay, and other games, as at fowls and the like, in the city and suburbs of London, as well as in any other convenient places. There is the following remarkable proviso in this charter; "In case any person should be wounded, or slain in these sports, with an arrow shot by one or other of the archers, he that shot the arrow was not to be sued or molested, if he had, immediately before the discharge of the weapon, cried out, 'fast,' the signal usually given upon such occasions." 1

* HENRY VIII. AN ARCHER.--Henry VIII. not only took the greatest interest in promoting archery, but was himself a remarkable expert in the use of

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the bow. His prowess before Francis at the Field of the Cloth of Gold has often been recorded, when if we are to give credit to the loyal chroniclers, "he repeatedly shot into the centre of the white, though the marks were erected at the extraordinary distance of twelve score yards apart." Cavendish, the historian of Cardinal Wolsey, when he bore the news of Wolsey's death to the king at Hampton Court, in 1530, "found him shooting at the rounds in the park, on the backside of the garden. And perceiving him occupied in shooting, thought it not my duty to trouble him. . . . 'I will,' quoth he, 'make an end of my game, and then I will talk with you,' and so departed to his mark, whereat the game was ended. Then the king delivered his bow unto the yeoman of his bows, and went his way inward to the palace, when I followed."

* The privy purse expenses of Henry VIII. prove his great attachment to archery when in the prime of life. The following occur in the years 1530-1:--

"To Scawesby, for bows, arrows, shafts, broad-heads, bracer, and shooting-glove for Lady Anne

23s. 4d.

Four bows for Lady Anne

13s. 4d.

To Pynnery for his well shooting

7s. 6d.

To Byrde, yeoman of the King's bows, for making the rounds at Totehill

17s. 4d.

To George Coton, for 6 shots lost by the King to him at Totehill, at

6s. 8d. the shot.

To George Gifford, for money won of the King at Totehil at shooting

12s. 6d.

To George Coton, that he won of the King at the roundes on April 30th


To the three Cotons, for three sets which the King lost to them in Greenwich Park £20, and for one upshot won of the King

6s. 8d.

To Thomas Harte, for making a pair of new butts, rounds, and pricks

51s. 2d.

To Guilliam for pelletts for the stone bow

5s. 4d.

To my lord of Rocheford, won from the King at the pricks and by betting


To Antony Kingston, for 8 shots of 3 angels a shot which he won of Thos. Cary shooting on the King's side


To William Browne, won by him and others of the King and his match at the pricks and by bets in Eltham Park

£132 15 0.

To Browne the merchant, for money won of the King at shooting

£22, 10s.

To Henry Byrde, for making pricks at Antyll and Grafton

6s. 8d." 1

* Latimer enforced his royal patron's keenness for archery from the pulpit, when preaching before the king, and received £5 from the privy purse for his pains.

"The art of shooting hath been in times past much esteemed in this realme; it is a gift of God, that he hath gyven us to excell all other nations withal--It hath been Goddes instrumente whereby he hath gyven victories agayneste our enemyes. But now we have taken up horynge in townes insteade of shutynge

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in the fyldes. A wondrous thynge that so excellente a gyft of God shoulde be so lyttle esteemed. I desire you, my lordes, even as you love honoure, and glorye of God, and intende to remove his indignacion, let there be sente furth some proclimacion--some sharpe proclimacion, to the justices of peace, for they do not theyr dutye--Justices now be no justices, there be manye good actes made for thys matter already. Charge them upon their allegiance, that this singular benefit of God may be practised; and that it be not turned into bollying, and glossying, and boring, within the townes; for they be negligente in executyng there lawes of shootynge. In my tyme, my poore father was as diligent to teach me to shoote, as to learne any other thynge, and so I thynke other menne dyd thyr children. He taught me howe to drawe, how to laye my bodye in my Bowe, and not to draw wyth strength of armes, as other nacions do, but wyth strength of bodye. I had my bowes bought me according to my age and strength; as I increased in them, so my bowes were made bigger; for men shall never shute well excepte they be brought up in it. It is a goodly arte, a holesome kind of exercise, and much commended in phisike. Marcilius Sicinus, in hys boke de triplica vita (it is a greate while sins I red him nowe) but I remember he commendeth thys kynde of exercise, an sayth, that it wrestleth agaynst many kyndes of diseases. In the reverence of God, let it be continued. Let a proclimacion go furth, charging the justices of peace, that they see such actes and statutes kept, as were made for thys purpose."

* In the great inventory of arms and armour at Westminster, the Tower, and Greenwich, taken in 1547, the long-bows at the Tower numbered 3060, with "13,050 sheife of livery arrowes"; at Westminster were "twoo Longe Bowes of Ewghe to shote stones"; and at Greenwich eighty four long bows of various kinds. There were also at the Tower eight boxes containing eighty gross of bow-strings. 1

PRICES ORDAINED FOR Bows.--In the reign of Edward IV. an ordinance was established, which compelled the bowyers of London to sell the best bow-staves at three shillings and fourpence each; which was confirmed in the third year of Henry VII., and in the thirty-third year of his son Henry VIII.; but these acts were repealed in the third year of queen Mary, and the following prices were settled by the parliament: for a bow made of the best foreign yew, six shillings and eightpence; for an inferior sort, three shillings and fourpence; and for one made of English yew, two shillings. 2

* Sir Thomas Elyot's delightful book "The Governour," first issued in 1531, contains the earliest printed account of English archery; chapter xxvii. is devoted to the praise of the long-bow. It was not, however, until 1545 that a whole treatise was published on this subject.

* In that year Ascham's treatise, entitled "Toxophilus, the Schole of Shootinge, conteyned in two bookes," was first published. It was "newlye perused"

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and reprinted in 1571; and again in 1589 and in 1591. There have been numerous later reprints.

EQUIPMENT FOR ARCHERY.--Ascham informs us, that it was necessary for the archer to have a bracer, or close sleeve, to lace upon the left arm; it was also proper for this bracer to be made with materials sufficiently rigid to prevent any folds which might impede the bow-string when loosed from the hand; to this was to be added a shooting-glove, for the protection of the fingers. The bow, he tells us, ought to be made with well-seasoned wood, and formed with great exactness, tapering from the middle towards each end. Bows were sometimes made of Brazil, of elm, of ash, and of several other woods; but eugh, or yew, had the sanction, from general experience, of superiority. Respecting the bow-string, the author was not decided which to prefer; those made with good hemp, according to the common usage of the time in which he lived, or those manufactured with flax, or silk; he therefore thinks the choice ought to be left to the string-maker. There are, he tells us, three essential parts in the composition of the arrow, that is to say, the stele or wand, the feathers, and the head. The stele was not always made with the same species of wood, but varied as occasion required, to suit the different manners of shooting practised by the archers; he commends sound ash for military arrows, and preferred it to asp, which in his day was generally used for the arrows belonging to the army; but for pastime, he thought that none were better than those made of oak, hard-beam, or birch; but after all, says he, in this point I hold it best to trust to the recommendation of an honest fletcher. The feathers from the wing of a goose, and especially of a grey-goose, he thought were preferable to any others for the pluming of an arrow. Thus in the popular ballad of Chevy Chace, an English archer aimed his arrow at sir Hugh Mountgomerye, with such skill, that it hit him on the breast, and the poet elegantly says,

The grey-goose-winge that was thereon
In his hearts blood was wett.

[paragraph continues] The more ancient ballad upon this subject, given in the first volume of the Reliques of Ancient Poetry, reads, the "swane-feathers."

There was, it seems, but little difference between the two wings of one bird; but, according to the opinion of the best arrow-makers, the second feather was best in some cases and the pinion in others. It was necessary for an archer to have several arrows of one flight (I presume Ascham means of one shape, length, and weight), plumed with feathers from different wings, to suit the diversity of the winds. We are not from these directions to conclude, that the goose alone afforded the plumage for the arrows; the feathers of many other birds were used for the same purpose, and are mentioned in the metrical romances of the middle ages. An old ballad of Robin Hood says, that he and his followers had an hundred bows furnished with strings, and an hundred sheafs of goose arrows, with bright burnished heads; every arrow was an ell long,

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adorned with peacocks' feathers, and bound at the notching with white silk. 1

With them they had an hundred bowes,
The stringes were well ydight;
An hundred shefe of arrows good
With hedes burnish’d full bryght;
And every arrowe an ell longe,
With peacocke well ydight,
And nocked they were with white silk,
It was a semely syght.

And Chaucer, in his description of the "squyers yeoman," says,

And he was clad in cote and hode of grene,
A shefe of pecocke arrowes bryght and shene;
Under his belt he bare ful thriftely
Well coude he dresse his tackle yomanly;
His arrowes drouped not with fethers lowe,
And in hande he bare a myghty bowe. 2

The adornment of these arrows with peacocks' feathers is not to be considered as a mere poetical flourish, for we have sufficient testimony, that such plumage was actually used. 3

But, returning to our author, he informs us, that the English arrows had forked heads and broad-heads, yet he thought, that round pointed heads resembling a bodkin were the best. The notch, or small hollow part at the bottom of the arrow, made for the reception of the bow-string, was varied as occasion required, or at the will of the archer, being sometimes deep and narrow, and sometimes broad and not deep.

DIRECTIONS FOR ARCHERY.--Having thus furnished the archer with his necessary accoutrements, Ascham proceeds to instruct him how they ought to be managed; but first of all he recommends a graceful attitude. He should stand, says another writer, fairly, and upright with his body, his left foot at a convenient distance before his right; holding the bow by the middle, with his left arm stretched out, and with the three first fingers and the thumb of the right hand upon the lower part of the arrow affixed to the string of the bow. 4 In the second place, a proper attention was to be paid to the nocking, that is, the application of the notch at the bottom of the arrow to the bow-string; we are told that the notch of the arrow should rest between the fore-finger and the middle finger of the right hand. 5 Thirdly, our attention is directed to the proper manner of drawing the bow-string: in ancient times, says Ascham, the right hand was brought to the right pap; but at present it is elevated to the right ear, and the latter method he prefers to the former. The shaft of the arrow below the feathers, ought to be rested upon the knuckle of the fore-finger

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of the left hand; the arrow was to be drawn to the head, and not held too long in that situation, but neatly and smartly discharged, without any hanging upon the string. Among the requisites necessary to constitute a good archer, are a clear sight, steadily directed to the mark; and proper judgment, to determine the distance of the ground; he ought also to know how to take the advantage of a side wind, and to be well acquainted with what compass his arrows would require in their flight: courage is also an indispensable requisite, for whoever, says our author, shoots with the least trepidation, he is sure to shoot badly. One great fault in particular he complains of, which young archers generally fall into, and that is, the direction of the eye to the end of the arrow, rather than to the mark; to obviate this evil habit he advises such, as were so accustomed, to shoot in the dark, by night, at lights set up at a proper distance for that purpose. He then concludes with observing, that "bad tutorage" was rarely amended in grown-up persons; and therefore he held it essentially necessary, that great attention should be paid to the teaching an archer properly, while he was young; "for children," says he, "if sufficient pains are taken with them at the onset, may much more easily be taught to shoot well, than men," because the latter have frequently more trouble to unlearn their bad habits, than was primitively requisite to learn them good ones. 1

MARKS FOR SHOOTING.--The marks usually shot at by the archers for pastime, were, "butts, prickes, and roavers." The butt, we are told, was a level mark, and required a strong arrow, with a very broad feather; the pricke was a "mark of compass," but certain in its distance; and to this mark strong swift arrows, of one flight, with a middling sized feather, were best suited; the roaver was a mark of uncertain length; it was therefore proper for the archer to have various kinds of arrows, of different weights, to be used according to the different changements made in the distance of the ground.

The Cornish men are spoken of as good archers, and shot their arrows to a great length; they are also, says Carew, "well skilled in near shooting, and in well aimed shooting;--the butts made them perfect in the one, and the roaving in the other, for the prickes, the first corrupters of archery, through too much preciseness, were formerly scarcely known, and little practised." 2 Other marks are occasionally mentioned, as the standard, the target, hazel wands, rose garlands, and the popinjay, which, we are told, was an artificial parrot. I have not met with such a mark in any manuscript delineation; but, in the presentment on plate six, the reader will find a cock substituted for the parrot, and the archer has discharged his arrow very skilfully. I am by no means certain, whether the draughtsman designed to represent an artificial, or a living cock: the manner of its being placed on the post, may favour the first idea; but the mouth being open, and the elevation of the head, as if in the last gasp of life, will justify the latter. It is taken from a MS. written early in the fourteenth century, preserved in the Royal Library. 3

p. 51

LENGTH OF Bows AND ARROWS.--The length of the bow is not clearly ascertained; those used by the soldiery appear, in the manuscript drawings, to have been as tall, at least, as the bearers; agreeable to an ordinance made in the fifth year of Edward IV. commanding every man to have a bow his own height; and they might, upon the average, be something short of six feet long. The arrows used by the English archers at the memorable battle of Agincourt, were a full yard in length. Carew, in his survey of Cornwall, says, "The Cornish archers for long shooting, used arrows a cloth yard long." The old and more modern ballads of Chevy Chace speak of the arrow as being the length of a cloth yard, but some of these poetical legends extend it an ell.

Hall mentions a company of archers, who met king Henry VIII. at Shooter's Hill, on a May-day morning, where they discharged their bows in his presence, and the arrows made a loud whistling in their flight, "by crafte of the heade." 1 The strangeness of the noise, we are informed, surprised his Majesty, though at the same time he was much pleased with the contrivance. A modern author, the Hon. Daines Barrington, assures us, this sound was occasioned by holes being made in the arrow heads, and that such weapons were used upon military occasions, and especially as signals; 2 but not, I presume, before the time mentioned by the historian; for had not those arrows been newly introduced, there is no reason why the king, who was well acquainted with every branch of archery, should have been surprised at the sound they made, or pleased at the sight of them.

FEATS IN ARCHERY.--If the metrical romances and ballads of the former ages may be depended upon, the strength of our English archers in drawing of the bow, and their skill in directing the arrow to its mark, were justly the objects of admiration.

The reader, I trust, will pardon the insertion of the following extracts from two old poetical legends, which convey, at least, some idea of the practice of archery in times anterior to our own; the first is a ballad in eight fyttes or parts, entitled, "A mery Geste of Robyn Hode." 3 According to the story, the king 4 thought proper to pay Robin Hood a visit, disguised in the habit of an abbot: and the outlaw, by way of entertaining his guest, proposed a shooting match. Two wands were then set up, but at so great a distance from each other, that,

By fyfty space our kyng sayde
The markes were to longe.--
On every syde a rose garlande,
The shot under the lyne.
Whoso faileth of the rose garland, said Robyn,
His takyll he shal tyne; 5

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And yelde it to his maister,
Be it never so fine.--
Twyse Robyn shot about,
And ever he cleved the wande.--

[paragraph continues] And so did Gilbert, Little John, and Scathelocke, his companions; but,

At the last shot, that Robyn shot,
For all his frendes fore,
Yet he fayled of the garland,
Three fyngers and more--

of course his "takill" was forfeited, which he presented to the king, saying,

Syr abbot, I deliver thee myne arowe.

The second poem is also of the ballad kind, and apparently as old as the former, 1 wherein Adam Bell, Clym of the Cloughe, and William Cloudesle, are introduced to shoot before the king. The butts, or dead marks set up by the king's archers, were censured by Cloudesle, saying,

I hold hym never no good archer,
That shoteth at buttes so wide--

and having procured two "hasell roddes," he set them up at the distance of twenty score paces from each other; his first attempt in shooting at them, contrary to the expectation of the king, was successful, for it is said,

Cloudesle with a bearyng arowe
Clave the wand in two.

[paragraph continues] The king, being much surprised at the performance, told him he was the best archer he ever saw. Cloudesle then proposed to show him a more extraordinary proof of his skill, and tied his eldest son, a child only seven years old, to a stake, and placed an apple upon his head. When he bound his son he charged him not to move, and turned his face from him, that he might not be intimidated by seeing the arrow directed towards him: six score paces were measured from the stake, and Cloudesle went to the end of the measurement; he first entreated the spectators to be silent,

And then drew out a fayre brode arrowe;
  Hys bow was great and longe,
He set that arrowe in his Bowe
  That was both styffe and stronge.

Then Cloudesle cleft the apple in two,
  As many a man myght se,
Over Gods forbode, sayde the kynge,
  That thou sholde shote at me.

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SUPERIORITY OF ANCIENT BOWMEN.--If we were to judge of the merits of the ancient bowmen from the practice of archery as it is exercised in the present day, these poetical eulogiums would appear to be entirely fictitious. There are no such distances now assigned for the marks as are mentioned before, nor such precision, even at short lengths, in the direction of the arrows. By an act established An. 33 Hen. VIII., no person who had reached the age of twenty-four years, might shoot at any mark at less than two hundred and twenty yards distance. 1 I believe few, if any, of the modern archers, in shooting at a mark, exceed the distance of eighty or a hundred yards, or, in long shooting, reach four hundred yards. I have seen the gentlemen who practise archery in the vicinity of London, repeatedly shoot from end to end, and not touch the target with an arrow; and for the space of several hours, without lodging one in the circle of gold, about six inches diameter in the centre of the target: this, indeed, is so seldom done, that one is led to think, when it happens, it is rather the effect of chance than of skill: which proves what Ascham has asserted, that an archer should be well taught early in life, and confirm the good teaching by continual practice afterwards. We may also recollect, that archery is now followed for amusement only, and is to be commended as a manly and gentleman-like exercise.

I remember about four or five years back, 2 at a meeting of the society of archers, in their ground near Bedford Square, the Turkish ambassador paid them a visit; and complained that the enclosure was by no means sufficiently extensive for a long shot: he therefore went into the adjacent fields to show his dexterity; where I saw him shoot several arrows more than double the length of the archery ground, and his longest shot fell upwards of four hundred and eighty yards from his standing. The bow he used was much shorter than those belonging to the English archers; and his arrows were of the bolt kind, with round heads made of wood. This distance rather exceeds the length our rhymist has given to the wands set up by Cloudesle and his companions, but then we are to recollect they shot with vast precision to that distance, which the ambassador did not, he had no mark, and his arrows fell exceedingly wide of each other. 3

Carew, speaking of the Cornish archers three centuries back, says, "For long shooting, their shaft was a cloth yard in length, and their prickes twenty-four score paces, equal to four hundred and eighty yards; and for strength, they would pierce any ordinary armour"; he then adds, "and one Robert Arundell, whom I well knew, could shoot twelve score paces with his right hand, with his left, and from behind his head." 4

* Very few archers, with strong bows and light arrows, can now cover more than three hundred yards. To attain this rare„e a bow of at least sixty-two pounds must not only be used but mastered, 5

p. 54

THE DUKE OF SHOREDITCH.--Henry VIII., having appointed a great match of archery at Windsor, a citizen of London, named Barlow, an inhabitant of Shoreditch, joined the archers, and surpassed them all in skill; the king was so much pleased with his performance, that he jocosely gave him the title of "Duke of Shoreditch"; and this title the captain of the London archers retained for a considerable time afterwards. In 1583, in the reign of Elizabeth, a grand shooting match was held in London, and the captain of the archers assuming his title of Duke of Shoreditch, summoned a suit of nominal nobility, under the titles of marquis of Barlo, of Clerkenwell, of Islington, of Hoxton, of Shacklewell, and earl of Pancrass, etc., and these meeting together at the appointed time, with their different companies, proceeded in a pompous march from Merchant Taylors Hall, consisting of three thousand archers, sumptuously apparelled; every man had a long-bow, and four arrows. With the marquis of Barlo and the marquis of Clerkenwell were "Hunters who wound their horns." 1 Nine hundred and forty-two of the archers had chains of gold about their necks. This splendid company was guarded by four thousand whifflers and billmen, besides pages and footmen. They passed through Broad-street, the residence of their captain, and thence into Moorfields, by Finsbury, and so on to Smithfield, where, having performed several evolutions, they shot at a target for honour. 2

ROYAL SPORT--A GOOD ARCHER WHY CALLED ARTHUR.--Kings and princes have been celebrated for their skill in archery, and among those of our own country may be placed king Henry VII., who in his youth was partial to this exercise, and therefore it is said of him in an old poem, written in praise of the princess Elizabeth, afterwards queen to Henry VII. 3

See where he shoteth at the butts,
And with hym are lordes three;
He weareth a gowne of velvette blacke,
And it is coted above the knee.

[paragraph continues] He also amused himself with the bow after he had obtained the crown, as we find from an account of his expenditures, 4 where the following memorandums occur: "Lost to my lord Morging at buttes, six shillings and eightpence:" and again, "Paid to sir Edward Boroughe thirteen shillings and fourpence, which the kynge lost at buttes with his cross-bowe." Both the sons of king Henry followed his example, and were excellent archers; and especially the eldest, prince Arthur, who used frequently to visit the society of London bowmen at Mile-end, where they usually met, and practised with them. From his expertness in handling of the bow, every good shooter was called by his name. The captain also of the fraternity was honoured with the title of Prince Arthur, and

p. 55

the other archers were styled his knights. 1 The title of Prince Arthur seems to have been superseded by the creation of the "Duke of Shoreditch."

After the death of prince Arthur, his brother Henry continued to honour the meeting at Mile-end with his presence. His exceeding fondness for archery has already been described. Hall says that at the time of his accession Henry VIII. "shotte as strong and as greate a lengthe as any of his garde."

* ARCHERY AT BUXTON.--In Elizabeth's reign archery was warmly recommended as a healthy pastime. Of all the exercises that Dr Jones, the Buxton physician in Elizabethan days, recommended to his patients, archery was the favourite. "Shootinge at Garden Buttes too them whome it agreeth and pleaseth, in place of Noblest exercyse standeth, and that rather wythe Longe bowe, than with Tyller, Stone bowe, or Cross bowe. Albeeit, to them that otherwyse cannot, by reason of greefe, feeblenesse, or lacke of use, they may bee allowed. This practise of all other the manlyest leaveth no part of the body unexercised, the breaste, backe, reynes, wast, and armes, withdrawing the thyghes and legges with running or going." 2

* ELIZABETHAN ARCHERS.--The county musters of the first year of Elizabeth prove that the country at large was then exceedingly well furnished with duly equipped archers. The return for Derbyshire, made on March 9th, 1559, shows that that comparatively small county put into the field, as "able footemen," 292 archers as against 918 billmen. 3 During this reign, however, archery was slowly but surely made to give way to musketry. From the muster certificate of Derbyshire, in November 1587, it appears that out of 400 foot pressed for immediate service, 160 were "for shot," 160 were billmen, and 80 archers; whilst out of 1300 able men selected for further service, only 200 were "for bowes." 4 It therefore follows that the proportion of archers had been reduced in thirty years from a third to a fifth.

* In some counties the change in these thirty years was greater than in Derbyshire. In 1587-8, out of 1170 men under training in Lancashire, 700 bore light muskets and but 80 bows; whilst in Cheshire, out of a total of 2189, there were only 80 archers. 5 Within a few years after the Armada, the old national weapon of the long-bow became nearly extinct. Nevertheless it lingered longer in England than on the continent; a foreigner visiting the Tower in 1598, expressed his surprise at finding bows in the arsenals. In the more remote counties, an archer's equipment lingered on, as the armour of the parish soldier occasionally supplied for the musters, not only to the end of Elizabeth's reign, but even into that of the first two Stuarts.

* ARCHERY IN THE CIVIL WAR.--It has usually been said that the last instance of the serious use of bows in Great Britain, and that to a very partial extent, was in the guerilla warfare carried on against Cromwell in remote parts of the Scottish Highlands. The Derbyshire records, however, supply an

p. 56

[paragraph continues] English instance; one James Wintone was "wounded in ye righte hande by an arowe," in a skirmish at Hathersage in 1647, as alleged in his claim for a pension. This was clearly a bow used by the Royalists, for Wintone appealed to the Parliamentarians for a pension. It is scarcely reasonable to suppose that this wounding by an arrow in the Peak district was a solitary instance of the use of the bow; probably many of the country gentlemen's houses were defended with these weapons. 1

* REVIVAL AT THE RESTORATION.--No sooner was the Restoration of the monarchy accomplished than a determined effort was made, particularly in London, to restore England's fame in archery.

* On March 21st, 1661, four hundred archers made "a splendid and glorious show" in Hyde Park, with Sir Gilbert Talbot as their colonel, and Sir Edward Hungerford their lieutenant-colonel. "Several of the Archers Shot near Twenty score yards within the compass of a Hat with their Crossbows; and many of them, to the amazement of the Spectators hit the mark; there were likewise three Showers of Whistling Arrows. So great was the delight, and so pleasing the Exercise, that three Regiments of Foot laid down their Arms to come and see it." In 1675, three hundred and fifty richly-habited archers marched through the city to compliment Sir Robert Vyner, the Lord Mayor, who entertained them at dinner. In the following year upwards of a thousand archers were reviewed by the king at Tuttlefields. The archers marched from London to Hampton Court in July 1681, when the king watched them shooting for £30 worth of plate at eight score yards. A manuscript postscript to the copy of the Bowman's Glory in the British Museum names a march through the city of a thousand archers on April 21st, 1682, to Tuttlefields, where the king again watched their manœuvres, including the "Three Showers of Whistling Arrows." 2

* A dull poem, published in 1676, makes the following appeal in favour of the revival of archery as a pastime:--

"Forsake your lov’d Olympian games awhile,
With which the tedious minutes you beguile,
Wave quoits and nine-pins, those bear-garden sports,
And follow shooting, often used at courts." 3

* SIR WILLIAM WOOD.--"Sir" William Wood, the famous archer, and author of The Bowman's Glory, who died in 1691, at the age of 82, had the following epitaph erected to his memory on the south side of the church of St James, Clerkenwell; his title was a jocular suffix, like that of the Duke of Shoreditch:--

"Sir William Wood lies very near this stone
In’s time of archery excelled by none;
Few were his equalls, and this noble art
Hath suffer’d now in the most tender part. p. 57
Long did he live the honour of the bow,
And his long life to that alone did owe;
But how can art secure, or what can save
Extreme old age from an appointed grave?
Surviving archers much his loss lament,
And in respect bestow’d this monument,
Where whistling arrows did his worth proclaim,
And eternize his memory and name." 1

* Wood was buried with archers' honours, three flights of whistling arrow: being discharged over his grave.

* In 1696, Elizabeth Shakerley, a widow lady, left by her will thirty-five pounds to be distributed in prizes to the Artillery Company.

* The Artillery Company originally confined to archers, as founded by Henry VIII. and patronised by successive monarchs, were wont to practise ir. Finsbury Fields, and hence were commonly known as the Finsbury Archers, There are a variety of printed tracts and manuscripts extant relative to the archers' marks in these fields, which were used by them for upwards of two centuries. The earliest of these was printed and sold at the sign of the Swan in Grub Street, by T. Sergeant, in 1594. The full title is:--"Ayme for Finsburie Archers, or an alphabeticall table of the names of every marke within the same fields, with their true (or due) distances, both by the map and dimensuration of the line, published for the ease of the skillfull and behoofe of the younge beginners in the famed exercise of Archerie." 2

* No point of archery, from a military or sporting point of view, was more important than keeping the length. On this account roving or ranging across the fields, and shooting at marks of varying and unascertained distances was much preferred, in old-time archery, to pricking or shooting at a given mark from a fixed and known distance. With one of the last editions of the Finsbury Archers, issued in 1738, a plan was given of these fields with all the marks entered by name. 3 These marks were originally 164 in number, and they varied in length from 73 yards to 265 yards. When Mr Barrington contributed his paper on Archery to the Society of Antiquaries in 1783, the fields from Peerless-pool to the Rosemary-branch and for a considerable distance northward were studded with roving marks. At that period, however, there were only twenty-one of the original marks standing, but the Artillery Company still claimed access to them and tried to insist on their maintenance and repair.

* In 1782, the Artillery Company marched, on Accession Day, to Baumer Fields, where they found the gate of a large field, wherein stood one of their stone marks, locked and chained and guarded by four men. The Company however forced the gate and marched across. In 1786 they marched to Fins-bury Fields "to view their several stone marks" and removed several obstructions. In the same year, on August 17th, the Company on its march came to a

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piece of ground lately enclosed with a brick wall by the proprietors of a white-lead mill, "between the marks of Bob Peak and the Levant." The work of demolition began, but the Company was induced to desist on one of the partners of the mill assuring the commanding officer of the battalion of their ignorance of the Company's rights in these fields and their willingness to enter into any reasonable terms of accommodation." One of the archer's division was then ordered to shoot an arrow over the said inclosure, as an assertion of the Company's right; which having been done, the battalion proceeded on its march to several of the other marks." 1 But bricks and mortar eventually gained the day along the whole line, and all the Finsbury marks have disappeared for more than a century.

* THE TOXOPHILITES.--In 1780 Sir Aston Lever and Mr Waring founded a society called the Toxophilites, who met regularly at Leicester House and shot at butts erected in the gardens. From that date onwards, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, shooting at targets with the long bow has been an accepted pastime for ladies and gentlemen. A special impetus was given to archery associations in 1844.


39:1 Evans' Ancient Stone Implements of Great Britain, chap. xvi.

39:2 Olaii Worm. Lit. Run. p. 129. Barthol. p. 420. Pontoppman's Hist. Norway, p. 248.

40:1 Cott. MSS., Claud. B. iv.

40:2 Freeman's Norman Conquest, iii. ch. 15.

41:1 See book i. ch. i.

41:2 Leland's Collect. vol. iv. p. 278.

41:3 Nichols's Progresses, vol. ii.

41:4 Camden's Remains.

41:5 See Manners and Customs of the English, vol. i.

42:1 Archæologia, vii. 48.

42:2 Serres, and also most of our own historians. Froissart praises the skill of the Genoese cross-bowmen upon another occasion, saying, "They shot so surely, that lightly they myst not of their level." Vol. iv. chap. 38. fol. 47. English translation [by Lord Berners], and in several other places.

42:3 Ascham's Toxophilus.

42:4 2 B. vii.

42:5 19 C. viii, dated 1496.

43:1 Stat. 19 Hen. VII. caps. 2 and 4.

43:2 Stat. 6 Hen. VIII. cap. 13.

43:3 Stat. 25 Hen. VIII. cap. 17.

43:4 History of London, book ii. p. 482.

43:5 The Statute of Winchester, 13 Edw. I. cap. vi.

43:6 Heywood's Epigrams and Proverbs, 1566. No. 23.

44:1 Archæologia, li. 232.

44:2 Stow's Survey of London, by Strype, vol. ii. p. 257. Stow died A.D. 1605.

45:1 Stow's Survey, by Strype, vol. i. p. 250.

46:1 Add. MSS. 20, 030.

47:1 Archæologia, li. 231-2, 264.

47:2 Maitland's London, book v.

49:1 Geste of Robyn Hode. Garrick's Collect. K. vol. x.

49:2 Prologue to Canterbury Tales.

49:3 Lib. Compotis Garderobe, 4 Ed. II. page 53, is this entry, Pro duodecim flecchiis cum pennis de pavone emptis pro rege, de 12 den.; that is, For twelve arrows plumed with peacocks' feathers, bought for the king, twelve pence. MS. Cott. Lib. Nero, C. viii.

49:4 Country Contentments, 1615, chap. viii. p. 107.

49:5 Ibid.

50:1 Country Contentments.

50:2 Survey of Cornwall, by Richard Carew, 1602, B. i. p. 73.

50:3 2 B. vii.

51:1 An. 7 Hen. VIII. fol. 56.

51:2 Archæologia, vol. vii. p. 58.

51:3 Black letter, without date. Imprinted at London upon the Three Crane Wharf; by William Copland. Garrick's Collect. Old Plays, K. vol. x.

51:4 King Edward IV., I presume, is meant by the poet, for in one of the lines we read "Edward our comely kynge." Anachronisms of this kind were common enough in the old ballads.

51:5 That is, he shall lose it, or rather, it shall be forfeited.

52:1 Black letter, without date, and printed also by Copland in Lothbury. Its title is, The Names of the Three Archers; the whole ballad, with some small variations, is in the Reliques of Ancient Poetry, vol. i. p. 154, etc. This copy is bound up in the same volume of the Garrick Collection of Old Plays with the Geste of Robyn Hode.

53:1 Archæologia, vol. i. p. 58.

53:2 [Mr. Strutt wrote this in 1800.]

53:3 * This incident occurred in 1795, in the presence of several gentlemen of the Toxophilite Society. The archer was not the Turkish Ambassador, but his secretary, Mahmoud Effendi, a man of great muscular strength. He used a Turkish bow, which owed its length of cast to the elasticity of the horn of which it was composed.

53:4 Survey of Cornwall, 1602.

53:5 Theory and Practice of Archery (1887), 137-8.

54:1 Stow's Survey, by Strype, vol. i. p. 250.

54:2 Strype's London, vol. i. p. 250.

54:3 MS. Harl. 3653, fol. 96.

54:4 * An. 7 et 9 Hen. VII. MS. in the Remembrancer's Office. See also Appendix to Henry's Hist. Brit. vol. vi.

55:1 Archæologia, vol. vii.

55:2 The Benefit of the Auncient Bathes of Buckstones, 1572.

55:3 Cox's Three Centuries of Derbyshire Annals, i. 130-145.

55:4 Ibid. ii. 151.

55:5 Scott's British Army, ii. 96.

56:1 Cox's Derbyshire Annals, i. 160.

56:2 The Bowman's Glory, or Archery Revived, by William Wood, Marshal to the Regiment of Archers, 1682.

56:3 Archerye Revived, by Robert Shotterel and Thomas D’Urfey.

57:1 Archæologia, vii. 50.

57:2 For the bibliography of Archery, see Notes and Queries, Ser. v. vols. 9 and 10.

57:3 Reproduced in the Gentleman's Magazine for 1832, p. 209.

58:1 Highmore's Hist. of the Artillery Company, pp. 366, 396, 399.

Next: Chapter II