1535: 27 Henry 8 c. 6: The bill for the increase of horses.
THE King our sovereign lord continually studying for the advancement, augmentation and increase of the public weal of this his realm, calling to his most gracious memory the great decay of the generation and breeding of good, and swift and strong horses, which heretofore have been bred in this realm, to the great defence, profit and common commodity of the same; and now remembering that like breed of horses is sore diminished and decayed, the occasion whereof is thought to proceed,
[The cause of the decay of the breed of horses.]
for that in many and most places of this realm, commonly little horses and nags of small stature and value be suffered to depasture, and also to cover mares and fillies of very small stature, by reason whereof the breed of good and strong horses of this realm is now lately diminished, altered and decayed, and farther is like to decay, if speedy remedy be not sooner provided in that behalf.
II. The King’s highness willing therefore to provide remedy on that behalf, by the advice of the lords spiritual and temporal, and the commons, in this present parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, hath ordained, enacted and established,
[Owners and farmers of parks shall be charged to keep mares.]
That every person and persons, as well spiritual as temporal, of what estate, degree or condition soever he or they be, which at this present time, or at any time hereafter, shall have any park or ground inclosed with hedge, ditch, wall or pale, wherein any deer is, or hereafter shall be, usually kept for game, containing the quantity of one mile in compass, and is or shall be seised thereof in fee-simple, fee-tail, or for term of life, in possession, to his or their own profit and behoof, that every such owner of every such park and ground being in his own hand, and every fermer of every such park or ground being let to ferm, from the first day of May, that shall be in the year of our Lord God 1537, shall keep for every such park or ground being inclosed as is aforesaid, as long as the same park or ground inclosed shall be used, and kept with deer in the same for games, two mares being not spayed, apt and able to bear foals, each of them of the altitude or height of thirteen handfuls at the least, to be measured from the lowest part of the hoof of the foot unto the highest part of the shoulder, and every handful to contain four inches of the standard, upon pain of forfeiture of xl. s. for every month’s lacking the same mares contrary to this act; (2) and that every such owner or fermer of park or ground, whereof the compass is four miles and above, upon pain afore expressed, shall keep for every such park four mares being not spayed, apt and able to bear foals, of the altitude or height of thirteen handfuls at the least, to be measured as is aforesaid.
III. Provided, That if it shall happen any of the said mares by mischance or casualty for to die, that then the lord, owner or owners of the said mares, providing or buying others of like height and altitude as is before limited, within three months next after the death of the same mares, shall not incur the danger and penalty of this estatute; any thing before rehearsed to the contrary notwithstanding.
[Mares shall not be covered with small horses.]
IV. And it is also enacted by authority aforesaid, That the lords, owners and farmers of all parks and grounds inclosed as is above rehearsed, limited and appointed by this act to keep mares, shall not at any time after the said first day of May, which shall be in the year of our Lord God 1537. willingly suffer any of the said mares to be covered or leapt with any stoned horse under the stature of fourteen handful, to be measured in form afore rehearsed, (2) upon pain of forfeiture of xl. s. The moiety of all such forfeitures shall be to the King our sovereign Lord, and the other moiety thereof to the party that will sue for the same in any court of our said sovereign lord the King, by action, bill, plaint, information, or otherwise; in which action or suit the defendant shall not be admitted to wage his law, or any protection or essoin shall be unto the defendant allowed in that behalf.
[To what counties this statute extendeth not.]
V. Provided alway, That this act extend not to charge the lord, owner or owners of any park or ground inclosed within the counties of Westmoreland, Cumberland, Northumberland and the bishoprick of Durham, nor any of them, to keep any mares for any park or parks, ground or grounds inclosed as is aforesaid, lying in the said counties of Westmoreland, Cumberland, Northumberland and the bishoprick of Durham, otherwise than they have or might have done before the making of this act; (2) nor also shall extend to charge the lords, owner or owners of any park or parks, or grounds inclosed, with the finding of any mares, the herbage of which park or parks is common to the tenants and inhabitants of the townships next adjoining to the same park or parks; any thing in this present act made to the contrary hereof notwithstanding.
[Spiritual persons may sell the increase of their mares.]
VI. Provided also, That every spiritual person and persons, charged and chargeable by this act with the finding of mares, may lawfully bargain and sell the increase and breed of their said mares; any act or acts heretofore made to the contrary in any wise notwithstanding.
Further reading: Wikipedia.