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Author Topic: Old UK laws still on statutes
Victoria J
Jingle Bell Hock


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Following all the discussion about fake lists of strange laws, here are some apparently real ones :

A new Law Society exhibition is to highlight legislation dating from 1603 to 1898, and remaining in force today.

quote:
The licensing Act of 1872 states that it is illegal to be drunk in charge of a cow, horse or steam engine.

It is certainly from a very authoriative source...

In the Metro (free paper) this morning they had an article about it which added that Whales washed up on shore belonged to the royal family. The head to the king, the tail to the queen (for whale bone corsets)...it didn't say what the king was meant to do with the head though. (Say "thank you - just what I have always wanted", and hope nobody noticed it wasn't in the palace when people visited again ???. [Big Grin] ) That one is absent from the law society page.

Victoria J.

[ 20. January 2006, 06:19 AM:   snopes ]

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Aptenodytes_Forsteriis
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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I don't know how obsolete some of these are. I sure don't want anyone firing any cannons close to my house. [Wink]

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Andrew of Ware, England
A-Ware in a Manger


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I think not firing cannons near dwellings is an eminently sensible law.

Others I have heard of include:

  • It is legal to shoot a Scotsman inside the walls of York (but not on a Sunday)
  • All sturgeons caught in British waters must first be offered to the monarch
  • No Welshman is allowed inside the city of Chester after dark
  • All swans on the Thames belong to the monarch
  • It is illegal to wear 'Highland dress' (i.e. the kilt)
  • It is illegal to book into a London hotel under assumed names for the purposes of love-making

I'm sure at least some of these have been repealed, but as the Law Society is very reputable I am sure the examples given in the OP are still on the statute book.

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Andrew, Ware, England

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Snafu
Deck the Malls


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quote:
All swans on the Thames belong to the monarch
I heard it was all swans in the country.

quote:
It is legal to shoot a Scotsman inside the walls of York (but not on a Sunday)
Any York-based Snopsters willing to try? You don't have to kill the poor fella, just shoot him in the leg or something.
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cubbie
Deck the Malls


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snafu, what if i was part scottish, irish and english?

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Snafu
Deck the Malls


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quote:
snafu, what if i was part scottish, irish and english?
Shoot the Scottish part.
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Victoria J
Jingle Bell Hock


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That could be very painful - depending on which half.... [Roll Eyes]

2000 repealed laws doesn't seem very many, and suggests that there really are an awful lot of laws that aren't used, aren't likely to be used, but remain the law.

Victoria J

[edited to add an L and correct "ikely"]

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lazerus the duck
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*Computer says no.*

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lazerus the duck
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It is illegal to drive a hackney carriage in the London boundaries without having a bail of hey tied the roof to feed the horse.

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Cold DecEmbra Brings The Sleet
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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Is it still illegal to impersonate a Chelsea Pensioner and to deface Westminster Bridge? Those are the classic examples I remember from history lessons about early 19th century reform of the penal code: the death penalty for these offences was abolished I seem to remember, but perhaps they are still illegal.

Does anyone remember The Sunday Show segment called "Breaking the Law"?

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Don Enrico
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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quote:
Originally posted by Andrew of Ware, England:
  • It is illegal to book into a London hotel under assumed names for the purposes of love-making

"No, Your Honour, we didn't book in for the purpose of love-making. Honestly, we just thought it would be fun to book in under assumed names - and no, we couldn't come up with anything more creative but 'Mr and Mrs Smith'. The idea of love-making first appeared when we were already in the room."

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Richard W
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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quote:
Originally posted by Victoria J:
The head to the king, the tail to the queen (for whale bone corsets)...

That can't be right - whalebone is baleen and therefore comes from the head end...
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Victoria J
Jingle Bell Hock


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The Metro might have made that one up. I'm shocked at the possibility. [Roll Eyes]

There was no mention of that one on the Law Society page so I am not sure where they got it from. The law society should be a fairly knowledgable source - The Metro somewhat less trustworthy.

Victoria J

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Victoria J
Jingle Bell Hock


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quote:
Originally posted by Aptenodytes_Forsteriis:
I don't know how obsolete some of these are. I sure don't want anyone firing any cannons close to my house. [Wink]

Aptenodytes_Forsteriis - I don't see that there is anything stopping me firing a cannon next to your house. These are after all only UK laws.

I might be required to fire cannons at other countries...

*insane laughter echos*

Victoria J

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Andrew of Ware, England
A-Ware in a Manger


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quote:
Originally posted by Victoria J:
That could be very painful - depending on which half.... [Roll Eyes]

2000 repealed laws doesn't seem very many, and suggests that there really are an awful lot of laws that aren't used, aren't likely to be used, but remain the law.

Victoria J

Here is the BBC report about the exhibition

Quote:

In total there are more than 4,000 Public and General Acts, 11,000 Local Acts and 13,000 Private Acts dated before 1801 which are still on the statute books.

So repealing just 2,000 laws does not seem very many.

Another quote:

DON'T DO THE FOLLOWING...
Wear armour to Parliament (Royal Prerogative 1279)
Fire a cannon close to a dwelling house (Met Police Act 1839)
Bet or gamble in the library reading room (Library Offences Act 1898)
Use any slide upon ice or snow (Town Police Clauses Act 1847)
Drive cattle through the streets of London (Metropolitan Streets Act 1867)


So I was being very naughty when as a child we made slides on the pavement.

Yet another quote:

AND CERTAINLY DON'T...
Shoot a Welshman with a crossbow within the city of Chester after sunset - this urban myth may be rooted in a local byelaw but it won't afford you any legal protection


Very similar to the York one.

Another one I remember. Cab drivers in London are allowed to urinate in public as long as they have one hand on their cab. Was this ever true, and if so, is it still legal? (I am asking this out of curiousity and not because I am a London cabbie who wants...)

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Andrew, Ware, England

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Victoria J
Jingle Bell Hock


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quote:
Originally posted by Andrew of Ware, England:
(I am asking this out of curiousity and not because I am a London cabbie who wants...) [/QB]

There is such a thing as protesting [i]too[/] much...

The BBC source also says :

... like the Royal Prerogative passed in 1324 which states that whales and sturgeon caught or washed up on British coastline be offered to the Crown

So the Metro doesn't seem to have made the whole thing up, even if they wrong about the reasons.

Victoria J

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Aptenodytes_Forsteriis
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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quote:
Originally posted by Victoria J:
quote:
Originally posted by Aptenodytes_Forsteriis:
I don't know how obsolete some of these are. I sure don't want anyone firing any cannons close to my house. [Wink]

Aptenodytes_Forsteriis - I don't see that there is anything stopping me firing a cannon next to your house. These are after all only UK laws.

I might be required to fire cannons at other countries...

*insane laughter echos*

Victoria J

Just you try it! We'uns whupped y'all back in '76 and '12 was a draw.

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Richard W
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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quote:
Originally posted by Victoria J:
So the Metro doesn't seem to have made the whole thing up, even if they wrong about the reasons.

Well, they could even have been right about the reasons - whalebone for corsets is one reason that a dead baleen whale would be valuable. They just don't know one end of a whale from the other...
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dlloyd
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I vaguely remember that London policemen have to surrender their helmets to any pregnant women who have been caught short.
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Jay Tea
The "Was on Sale" Song


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quote:
Originally posted by dlloyd:
I vaguely remember that London policemen have to surrender their helmets to any pregnant women who have been caught short.

Oh that would just about make my life! [Big Grin]

Y'know, if it were true, and I were a pregnant woman needing a waz, in london...

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Dara bhur gCara
As Shepherds Watched Their Flocks Buy Now Pay Later


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It is illegal to urinate in public, unless you are a London Taxi driver who is urinating on the left rear wheel of their vehicle, and you are in one of the 28 London and 6 Royal Boroughs.

I'm sure there's a reason for it, but temporarily it escapes me.

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Damian
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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quote:

DON'T DO THE FOLLOWING...

Drive cattle through the streets of London (Metropolitan Streets Act 1867)

Actually, several people, including Alan Greenspan, have the right to drive livestock across the Tower Bridge and through the streets of London. They have been awarded "Freeman" status.

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Jenny
I Saw Three Shipments


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quote:
Originally posted by lazerus the duck:
It is illegal to drive a hackney carriage in the London boundaries without having a bail of hey tied the roof to feed the horse.

According to "Brainiac: History Abuse" this was repealed in the 1970s.
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Floater
Xboxing Day


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quote:
Originally posted by Dara:
It is illegal to urinate in public, unless you are a London Taxi driver who is urinating on the left rear wheel of their vehicle, and you are in one of the 28 London and 6 Royal Boroughs.

I'm sure there's a reason for it, but temporarily it escapes me.

As I remember reading about that law it is not limited to cab drivers and taxis. According to whoever had written about it every man can do it on any parked vehicle (a woman can ask a policeman to hide her with his coat while she urinates in the gutter). I just wonder what would have happened if I had been apprehended when I did just that (behind the police station in Kensington as it turned out).

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