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Originally appearing in Volume V25, Page 735 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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THE BOOK OF SPORTS, or more properly the DECLARATION OF SPORTS, an order issued by James I. in 1617 on the recommendation of Thomas Morton, bishop of Chester, for use in Lancashire, where the king on his return from Scotland found a conflict on the subject of Sunday amusements between the Puritans and the gentry, many of whom were Roman Catholics. Permission was given for dancing, archery, leaping, vaulting and other harmless recreations, and of " having of May games, Whitsun ales and morris dances, and the setting up of May-poles and other sports therewith used, so as the same may be had in due and convenient time without impediment or neglect of divine service, and that women shall have leave to carry rushes to church for the decorating of it." On the other hand, " bear and bull-baiting, interludes, and (at all times in the meane sort of people by law prohibited) bowling " were not to be permitted on Sunday (Wilkins, Concilia, iv. 483). In 1618 James transmitted orders to the clergy of the whole of England to read the declaration from the pulpit; but so strong was the opposition that he prudently withdrew his command (Wilson, in Kennet, ii. 709; Fuller, Church History, v. 452). In 1633 Charles I. not only directed the republication of his father's declaration (Rushworth, ii. 193) but insisted upon the reading of it by the clergy. Many of the clergy were punished for refusing to obey the injunction. With the fall of Laud all attempts to enforce it necessarily came to an end.
End of Article: THE BOOK OF SPORTS

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