Elizabethan Sumptuary Statutes Home

Concerning Horses

Enforcing Statutes of Apparel

[Westminster, 7 May 1562, 4 Elizabeth I]

MS copy for London; date of writ, Westminster, 8 May; writ to mayor and sheriffs of London; printed by r. Jugge and J. Cawood (London, 1562).  Proclaimed in London on 8 May. 8d. paid for bringing and 4. For proclaiming the proclamation of apparel.

Transcriber's Note: This addresses two peculiarly dissimilar issues: a reinforcement of sumptuary statutes enacted the previous year (and apparently still not taken seriously) and the "decay and disfurniture of all kinds of horses."  In the second paragraph from the end, it seems to say that no one should blame his lack of good horses on his wife's spending too much on clothes she shouldn't be wearing anyway.  No specific penalties are described, except "the pains that otherwise thereof must and shall ensue."

The Queen's Majesty, calling to her good remembrance how well this realm is furnished with good laws and orders for redress of many enormities, and how through negligence of officers and presumption of offenders the same nevertheless do rather grow than abate, hath thought meet at this present to devise with her Council how some few necessary laws very beneficial for this time might be duly executed and observed as they were meant, to the weal and comfort of her majesty.  For which purpose her Majesty giveth all manner her subjects to understand that like as the last year a certain abbreviate of statutes was made and published by order of her Council upon her commandment, and was by the justices of the peace in divers counties diligently regarded and in a great part put towards execution, though in some parts for lack of time the same took not so good effect: so her Majesty chargeth all manner her justices and other ministers to whom the same shall belong to take in hand again their former charge given to them the last year for the execution of the said statutes, hastening their assemblies for that purpose now in the beginning of this summer, so as their doings may be certified in such sort as they were commanded and prescribed the last year.

            And besides these, her Majesty findeth like cause to have two other great enormities daily increasing in this her realm to be speedily reformed, for which there do remain in force good laws.  The one is the monstrous abuse of apparel almost in all estates, but principally in the meaner sort.  The other is the decay and disfurniture of all kinds of horses for service within the realm.  And because her Majesty perceiveth that although the laws be very penal in both these cases, yet without some special direction given for the execution thereof, the reformation will not ensue.  Her Majesty briefly collected, and presently by this her proclamation chargeth all manner her sheriffs to publish the same jointly with this proclamation and to fix the same up in places accustomed.

            And for the manner of the speedy execution of the statutes for apparel [Edward IV 1463; 22 Edward IV, 1483; 1 Henry VIII, 1510; 6 Henry VIII, 1515; 7 Henry VIII, 1515, 24 Henry VIII, 1533; 1 Philip & Mary, 1555 --ed.] and other enormities incident thereto, her Majesty hath caused certain good ordinances to be devised and accorded by her Council; which also her Majesty's pleasure is to be well regarded, straightly kept, and observed according to the several limitations thereof; wherefore there is good hope conceived by her Majesty of a speedy redress by means of the said good orders.  And if in any point of the same statutes or orders any doubt shall arise for the understanding of the same, her Majesty willeth that the advice and answer of her Privy Council be required and followed.  And for the other default tending to the decay of horses within the realm, which partly riseth by stealing and carrying numbers of horses, geldings, mares, and colts out of the realm, and by neglecting the breeding and keeping of horses within the realm, according to the laws provided.

            For redress of the former part concerning carrying out of horses out of the realm, her Majesty chargeth all manner her subjects and others within her realm to take knowledge of the laws now published for that purpose and not to trust in any remission of penalties therefor provided.  For the speedier observation whereof her Majesty meaneth shortly to direct her several commissions under the Great Seal to such parts of her realm where the conveyance hath accustomably been or hereafter may be to inquire thereof diligently and straightly by order of law, and thereupon to proceed sharply to the execution, as the cases shall require.

            And as to the latter part, tending to the decay of breeding and keeping of horses, her Majesty doth likewise charge all manner her subjects to take knowledge of the laws remaining in force and now published at this present time.  And for that it is thought by her Majesty that the same laws have been by the same persons so long forgotten that it will seem hard to have the same speedily put in execution, her Majesty, of her gracious disposition, meaneth to proceed to the execution in this manner following:

            Her Majesty intendeth to direct her several commissions to special persons in every county of the realm to inquire by order of law what persons shall not have, before the 15th of August next, horses by according to the statute, by reason of their wives' apparel mentioned in the statute, and what other persons, chargeable to breeding or keeping of horses by force of the statutes, shall not, before the 15th of December next, perform the meaning and intent of the said statutes, as well for breeding as keeping.

            And for the more certain execution hereof her Majesty also meaneth in cause a special view to be taken through the realm in September next of the number inquirable by the foresaid 15th day of August, as is above expressed; and a like muster and view to be taken to be taken in January next at one instant time, both of the number and of all the rest, whereof inquisition shall be made by the said commission to be provided before the said 15th day of December.  After which views and musters taken, her Majesty intendeth at every half year to have the same severely executed by officers specially appointed, until the realm be replenished with such number of horses as may well be kept and maintained for the service of the same.

            Of all these her Majesty's determinations, tending only to the weal, good order, and strength of her realm, her Majesty hath thought meet in this plain manner to give notice thereof by this proclamation to all manner her subjects to avoid the pains that otherwise thereof must and shall ensue.


14 July 2001 pkm