Friday, March 28, 2008

Laws for laughs

I've been enjoying reading about old laws in England that today make no sense at all, but are still in effect. Some examples:

  • Ladies who bare their breasts in public in the city of Liverpool are exempt from prosecution - if they work in a tropical fish shop.
  • Women are permitted to bite off the nose of any man who kisses them without permission.
  • King George I decreed: "The severest penaltys (sic) will be suffered by any commoner who doth permit his animal to have carnal knowledge of a pet of the Royal House." So, even if your pampered pooch is pedigreed, if he gets into the wrong sort of Royal petting he's in trouble - and so are you!
  • A 1307 law assigns ownership of the head of any dead whale found on British beaches to the king. The queen gets the tail (for whalebones for her corsets). No word on who gets the middle bits.
  • Edward VI ruled that anyone cracking a boiled egg at its sharp end would spend 24 hours in the village stocks.
  • In the city of York it's still legal to kill any Scotsman found within the city walls, provided he's carrying a bow and arrows.
  • In the city of Hereford, on Sundays, you are forbidden to shoot a Welshman in the Cathedral Close using a longbow. (Presumably a crossbow - or a firearm, for that matter - is quite OK. No word on shooting at nationalities other than Welsh, either.)
  • And finally, it's treason to stick a postage stamp bearing the image of the British Monarch upside down.
A bill has been introduced to repeal 328 such obsolete laws from the British statute books. Personally, I'm not sure that's a good idea . . . the utter daftness of some of the laws cited above makes them worth keeping for the amusement value alone!



Anonymous said...

Usually I can imagine the reason for the origination for most of the silliest of laws, but the egg still has me wondering...

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

When lived in South Carolina.
they had a law saying that you could not buy shoe laces,light bulbs and mens under shorts on Sunday.It was some of the as they called the The Blue Laws.That were removed from the books.Strange.

Anonymous said...

Come on, do you really think they'd get rid of the silly old laws when they're currently committing stupidity like banning fire extinguishers?

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm.... I have a sudden need to go look at tropical fish.....