A COLLECTION Of such Statutes as do enjoyn the observation of LENT, And other Fish dayes throughout the year, with the Reasons for enjoyning the same.
ANd be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid for the benefit and Commodity of this Realm,* to grow, as well in maintenance of the Navy, as in spairing and increase of Flesh victuall of this Realm.
IT shall not be Lawfull to any person within this Realme to Eate any Flesh upon any dayes now usually observed as fish dayes (upon paine to forfeit twenty shillings for every time he shall offend,* or else suffer one moneths close Imprisonment without baile or mainprise 35 Eliz. 7.) And every person within whose house any such offence shall be done: and being privy and knowing thereof, and not effectu∣ally punishing and disclosing the same unto some publique Officer having authority to punish the same, for every such offence shall forfeit thirtéen shillings four pence (35 Eliz. 7.) All which forfeitures for not abstaining from Meates shall be divided into thrée equall parts: that is, one part to the use of the Quéene, the other to the Informer, the third to the common use of the Parish where the Offence shall be committed, and to be levied by the Church-wardens after any Conviction in that behalf, 5 Eliz. 5.
But this Act concerning eating of Flesh shall not extend to any persons having speciall Licenses upon Causes contained in the same, and grounded according to the Lawes of this Realme:* Every of which Licences shall be void, unlesse the same containe these Conditions, viz. Every Licence made to any person of the degrée of a Lord of the Parliament and his Wise, shall be upon condition, that they shall pay to the Poore mens box within the Parish where they remaine, &c. in the Feast of the Purification of our Lady, or within six days after, twenty six shillings eight pence, and to be payd within one moneth next after the same Feast upon paine of forfeiture of the same License: A Knight and his Wife shall pay yearely thirteen shillings four pence. Every person under the said degrée shall pay yearely six shillings eight pence to the said use at the foresaid time, and upon the foresaid Condition. 5 Eliz. 5.
All persons which by notorious sicknesse shall be enforced for the recovery of their health to eate Flesh for the time of their sicknesse,* shall be Licensed by the Bishop of the Diocess, or by the Parson, Vicar, or Curate of such Parish where such person is sicke, or of one of the next Parish adjoyning (If there be no Curate, &c. in the same Parish, or if he be wilfull) which Licence shall be signed by the Bishop, Parson, &c. and endure no longer then the time of sicknesse: And if the sickness continue above eight dayes after the Licence granted, it shall be Re∣gistred in the Church Book with the knowledge of one of the Church-wardens: And the party licensed shall give to the Curate four pence for every Entrie, and it shall endure no longer but for his sicknesse. And if any Licence by any Parson, Vicar, or Curate be granted to any person other then such as evidently appeare to have néed thereof by reason of their sicknesse, not onely every such Licence shall be void, but also every such Parson, Curate or Vicar shall forfeit for every such Licence otherwise granted five Marks, 5 Eliz. 5.
Such persons as have upon good Considerations any lawfull Licence to eate Flesh upon any Fish day,* be bound to have for every one dish of Flesh served to be eaten at their Table, one usuall dish of Sea-Fish fresh or salt to be likewise served at the same Table, and to be ea∣ten or spent without fraud or covin as the like kind is, or shall be usually eaten on or spent on Saturdayes (except such persons as for sicknesse shall for that time be licensed by the Bishop, Curate, &c. or by reason of age or other impediment allowed heretofore by the Ecclesiasticall Lawes of this Realme) upon the pain aforesaid, 5 Eliz. 5. 1 Jac. 25.
No Butcher or other person,* whether he be licenced or not licensed to kill Flesh, shall from henceforth at any time in the time of Lent, kill or dresse to the intent to put to sale any Oxe or Oxen, Béeves, Béevets, Hogs, Calves, Rams, Ewes, or Weathers, except Oxen or Béeves for victualling of Ships into forreign parts; and except all Flesh to be killed thrée dayes before Easter yearely upon pain to forfeit and loose the same Oxen, Béeves, &c. so killed and dressed contrary to this Statute, or the value of them, 1 Jac. 29.
All Iustices of the Peace,* Mayors, Bayliffs, head Officers and Constables as well of Cities and Townes Corporats as in every Coun∣ty of this Realme, shall have full authority yearely in the time of Lent, to enter into all houses of Victuallers and common Victualling houses within their Iurisdictions where such offences shall be suspected to be committed, and finding any such Oxen, Béeves, &c. killed or dressed, or any part or parcell of the same contrary to this Statute shall take seise the same as forfeited, and shall give and distribute the same to Prisoners and other poore folks by their discretion, 1 Jac. 29.
Every Taverner,* Inne-kéeper, kéeper of every common Tablinghouse, common Cooke, common Tipler, or Alehouse-kéeper offending at any time hereafter in the dressing of any Flesh victuall, contrary to the Statute of Anno 5 Eliz. or contrary to this Statute, shall not onely forfeit all the Flesh so dressed, but also the penalty imposed by the said Statute of 5 Eliz. for every offence to be committed, the one half of all which forfeitures (Except such forfeitures as shall be found and taken by the Iustices of Peace, Mayors, Bayliffs, head Officers and Con∣stables according to the Tenor of this Act) shall be to the KING, and the other halfe to such person or persons as shall sue or informe for the same in any Court of Record by Action of Debt, Bin, Plaint, or Information, wherein no Essoyn, Protection, or Wager of Law shall be al∣lowed, &c. 1 Jac. 29. To continue to the end of the first Session of the next Parliament.
A Clause in an Act 3 Car.*•. 4. And so much of an Act made the 5th year of the Reigne of the late Quéen Eliz. Intituled An Act touching certain Politick Constitutions made for the maintenance of the Navy, as is not repealed by any latter Statute, nor doth concern the eating of Flesh, or using of fish upon the Wednesday, &c. together with all and every other additions, explanations, and alterations made thereunto, or thereof, or of any part thereof by any Statute or Statutes made sithence the making of the said last mentioned Act, and in force the last day of the Sessi∣on of Parli. that was in the 21 yeare of the Reigne of the late King James, &c. shall continue in force untill the end of the next Session of Parl.
By a Clause in an Act of 17 Car.* 1. cāp. 4. The aforesaid Stat. be made perpetual. See the Abridgment of the late Statutes. Title, Continuance.
Note that all the time of Lent, and every Vigil (or Holy day Eve) and every Friday & Saturday (except Christmas-day falls thereon) and the embring dayes throughout the whole year were usually observed by the Laws and customes of the Realm as Fish days, which is proved by the preamble of the Stat. 2 & 3 Ed 6. cap. 19. whereby also it is Enacted, that in those times such abstinence should be used: And the Stat. of 5 & 6. Ed. 6. cap. 3. appoints what dayes shall be kept holy, the Eves of which are onely to be observed for Fish-dayes.
And by the Stat. of 5 Eliz. 5. Every Wednesday in the year (which shall not happen to fall in Christmas or Easter week) is limited to be observed as a Fish day, on which day no manner of person shall eate any Flesh otherwise then ought to be on the common Saturday.
* Note that by a Proviso in the Stat. of 5 Eliz. cap. 5. It is Enacted, that whosoever shall by preaching, teaching, writing, or open speaking no∣tifie, that any eating of Fish, or forbearing of Flesh mentioned in this Stat. is of any necessity for the saving of the soul of man, or that it is the service of God, otherwise then as other Politick Lawes are, and be, that then such persons shall be punished as spreaders of false Newes are, and ought to be.
The Faculty Office for granting Dispensations and Licences to eate Flesh, (by Act of Parliament) in any part of England, is at St. Pauls Chaine neer St. Pauls Church-yard.