British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

A calendar of the traditional customs, practices & rituals of the British Isles.

Home Main Menu Order Support About Search

Share page  

Previous Contents Next

66                                       SHROVE TUESDAY.                              [FEB- 3-
the following:—" March 2,7 Hen. VII. Item, to Master Bray for rewards to them that brought Cokkes at Shrovetide, at Westmr. xx8."
The earliest mention of cock-fighting in England is by FitzStephens, who died in 1191. He mentions it as one of the amusements of the Londoners, together with the game of foot-ball. He says ; " Yearly at Shrove-tide the boys of every school bring fighting-cocks to their masters, and all the forenoon is spent at school, to see these cocks fight together. After dinner all the youth of the city goeth to play at the ball in the fields; the scholars of every study have their balls ; the practisers also of the trades have every­one their ball in their hands. The ancienter sort, the fathers, and the wealthy citizens, come on horseback to see these youngsters contending at their sport, with whom, in a manner, they participate by motion; stirring their own natural heat in the view of the active youth, with whose mirth and liberty they seem to communicate." Cock-fighting is now happily by law a misdemeanour, and punishable by penalty.
Throwing at Cocks.—In days not very long gone by, the inhuman sport of throwing at cocks was practised at Shrove­tide, and nowhere was it more certain to be 6een than at the grammar-schools. The poor animal was tied to a stake by a short cord, and the unthinking men and boys who were to throw at it took their station at the distance of about twenty yards. Where the cock belonged to some one disposed to make it a matter of business, twopence was paid for three shies at it, the missile used being a broomstick. The sport was continued till the poor creature was killed out­right by the blows. Such outrage and tumult attended this inhuman sport a century ago that it was sometimes dan­gerous to be near the place where it was practised.—Book of Days, 1863, vol. i. p. 238.
The following extract is taken from the Daily London Advertiser, Wednesday, March 7th, 1759 :—Yesterday, being Shrove Tuesday, the orders of the justices in the City and Liberty of Westminster were so well observed that few cocks were seen to be thrown at, so that it is hoped this barbarous custom will be left off.
In Men-Miracles (by M. Lluellin, student of Christ
Previous Contents Next