Historical Sketches - Scottish Archery

For those researching family in the three towns area.
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Historical Sketches - Scottish Archery

Post by hahaya2004 »

Historical Sketches – Scottish Archery

NO. 1

From the Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald 28/05/1855

In a previous sketch of Scottish Archery, which appeared in No. 19 of the Herald [ Historical Sketches Kilwinning No. 5] we gave a brief outline of the early history of Archery, both in its application to warlike purposes, and as a national pastime; and we now return to the subject, for the purpose of bringing up other facts which our want of space then prevented us from noticing. It will therefore be necessary on the present occasion, to recapitulate several of the leading features of that article. The introduction of the long-bow to England dates from the era of the Norman Conquest; and its first appearance amongst the Scottish weapons of war, is in the reign of David I. In the battle of the Standard, fought during the reign of that monarch, archers are mentioned, for the first time, in the array of the Scottish army; but they do not appear in the muster of the army again till the reign of Alexander III., when they are mentioned as taking part in the battle of Largs. At the battle of Falkirk, however, Wallace must have had a respectable, although probably not a numerous body of archers, for in the disposition of the Scottish forces on that occasion, the archers are stated to have been stationed in the spaces between the Schiltrons, or compact bodies of spearmen. But it is a somewhat singular circumstance, and one which argues that they were not, even at that period, a very numerous nor effective arm of the service, that during the Bruce and Baliol wars no mention is made of archers, as composing part of the Scottish army, in any of the battles, with the exceptions of the defeat of the Lord of Lorn at the pass of Cruachan-Ben, and the battle of Bannockburn. Although we have no means for ascertaining the exact proportion of the archers when compared with the numbers of other arms in the Scottish army; yet we may safely conclude that the bow had not, even at that period become a popular weapon with the Scottish yeomen. That Bruce was, however, fully aware of its deadly effects as a defensive and offensive weapon is abundantly evident, for in an act of arming passed in 1319, every man, possessed of property to the value of a cow, is commanded to arm himself with a bow and a sheaf containing twenty-four arrows; while in the testament of the same monarch, he specially enjoins upon his successor the necessity of encouraging to the utmost, the use of the bow.
During the same period, however, the English seem not only to have thoroughly adopted the long-bow, but must have attained to an unequalled proficiency in the use of it, if we are to judge by the numbers of archers which they could bring into the field, and the deadly havoc which they invariably made in the ranks of the Scottish army. Barbour in his life of [The Brus – missing words due to fold in paper] Sir Ingram de Umfraville—

"Draws forth his South'ron [English] bowmen to the field,
Ranged to the attack full fifty thousand came."

While this immense force, when in action, is represented as darkening the sky with the multitude of their arrows,—

"From twanging yews the whizzing tempests fly,
And clouds of feathered darts obscure the sky."

In the muster of the English army at the battle of Bannockburn, the number of the archers employed is set down at ten thousand, while some years later, (1357,) they could invade Scotland with an army, which included in its ranks a force of twenty-four thousand long-bowmen. And a still more convincing proof of the extent to which the practice of archery had been cultivated in England, is to be found in the astonishing fact, that Edward III., while engaged in a war with France, could raise a force of twenty thousand Archers to repel the invasion of the Scots under David II. These immense musters of archers would, indeed, appear incredible did we not know that the English monarchs had, through a series of reigns, strenuously enforced by legislative enactments, the practice of archery amongst their subjects. By a statute of Edward IV., every Englishman is commanded to have in his house a bow, of his own length, made either of yew, witch hazel, ash, or alder; but on account of the yew tree being scarce in England, and of an inferior quality as well, the legislature, in order to keep up the supply of bows, declared by special enactment, that the bowyers, or bow-makers, for every bow of yew which they made, were to make four of witch-hazel, ash, or elm; and still farther to prevent scarcity by limiting the consumption of yew-bows it was provided that no person under the age of seventeen years, unless possessed of moveable property worth forty marks, or the son of parents having an estate of not less than ten pounds annual rental, was to shoot with a bow made of yew. In a statute of the reign of Henry V., arrows are directed to be made of the wood of the asp-tree, as being the best suited to the purpose; and a subsequent act declares that the price of the bow is not to exceed 3s. 4d. So late as the reign of Elizabeth, legislation had not ceased on that subject, for we then find a statute relating to bowyers, in which each maker of bows is commanded to have always in his house fifty bows of witch-hazel, elm, or ash; and from another act of bowyers in the same reign, we learn that the English were still dependent on foreign countries for a supply of yew. This act regulated the price and qualities of the bows which were made in England; "bow's meet for men's shooting, being outlandish (foreign) yew of the best sort, are not to be over the price of 6s. 8d.; bows of the second sort, 3s. 4d.; bows of the third sort, 2s.; bows made of English yew, 2s. There were likewise numerous statutes, ranging from the thirteenth to the sixteenth century, directing the erection of "Butts" [Marks for practice in archery; Mound or erections supporting a target] in the several parishes and burghs throughout the kingdom; and commanding all persons between the ages of sixteen and sixty to meet upon the holidays, and other nonworking times, for the purpose of perfecting themselves in the art of archery. In the sixteenth century, however, the use of the longbow as an English pastime seems to have very much declined; and Stow, the historian of London, who died in 1605, informs us, that before his time it had been customary at Bartholomewtide [24th August] for the Lord Mayor, with the Sheriffs and Aldermen, to go into the fields at Finsbury, where the citizens were assembled, and shoot at the standard with broad and flight arrows for games; this exercise he says, was then continued for several days: but in his time it was practised only one afternoon, and that three or four days after the festival of St. Bartholomew.
While the English were thus adopting every means for the establishment of archery, and rendering it at once a healthful exercise, and an important branch of the military art, very little appears to have been done to further its progress by the Scots till the reign of James I. It is true that small bodies of archers occasionally appear in the Scottish army, in the subsequent reigns; but to that monarch the honour is due of having taken the most decided measures to encourage the use of the long-bow amongst the Scottish. During his long captivity of twenty years, at the English court, James must have had frequent opportunities of witnessing the unrivalled skill of their archers, and we accordingly find that immediately on his return to Scotland, one of the statutes passed in his first Parliament, provides that all the male subjects of the realm, after having attained the age of twelve years, "shall busk themselves as Archers;" that is, shall provide themselves with a bow and a sheaf of arrows; and that upon every ten pound land bow marks, or butts, shall be erected, especially in the vicinity of parish churches, where the people may practice archery, and where each person was bound to shoot at least three times about, under the penalty of paying a wedder to the lord of the land, in the event of not obeying the injunction. And in order that other pastimes might not interfere in preventing the carrying out of the objects of the statute, it is further provided that the game of foot-ball, which appears to have then been a popular amusement, shall not be practised, so that the common people might be the better able to give the whole of their leisure time to the acquisition of a just eye, and a steady hand in the use of the longbow. The armed musters, or "weaponshawings" it was provided should take place four times in the year in each county and burgh throughout the kingdom, when every man in the realm, between the ages of sixteen and sixty, was ordered to be present, and be provided with a bow and a sheaf of arrows. Another injunction follows, which shows how anxious the king was that the people might be properly armed, it was enjoined that all merchants trading beyond the seas, shall bring home along with their usual cargoes, such a supply of harness [fold in paper] spear-shafts, bows and bow-strings, as can be conveniently stowed in the vessel, nor is this injunction to be neglected on any of their voyages. In another statute passed by the Parliament which met on the twenty-sixth of April, 1429, we find the practice of archery again strictly enforced and a minute description of the body armour then worn by the Scottish archer is given. Every yeoman, whose property amounted to twenty pounds in goods, was commanded to arm himself with a good doublet of fence, or habergeon [medieval jacket of mail], an iron hat, or knapskall [metal skullcap], a bow and a sheaf of arrows, along with a sword, buckler [small round shield] and dagger; while the second class of yeomen, or those who possessed only ten pounds value in goods, were only to furnish themselves with a bow and sheaf of arrows, and a sword, buckler and dagger. Indeed, during the whole of his reign, James I. seems to have been indefatigable in his endeavours to promote the practice of archery, and complete the organisation and equipment of the whole of the Scottish forces; and there is every reason to believe that his exertions were crowned by the success which they deserved.
Nor was James II. insensible to the incalculable advantages likely to result from the enlightened policy inaugurated by his father. Numerous statutes also appear in his reign similar in tenor to those already noticed. There is one, however, passed by the Parliament held in 1457, which, as it contains several novel features, is worthy of especial notice. After reciting that the " weaponshaws " or armed musters of the people for exercise in the use of their arms, and the inspection of their weapons, shall take place, four times in the year, it proceeds to declare, that from thence forward the games of the foot-ball, and the golf shall be abolished. That the authorities in each parish and burgh throughout the realm, shall see that care is taken that a pair of butts be made and erected adjoining to each parish church, where the people were to assemble every Sabbath for the practise of shooting. Every man, it was enjoined, was to shoot at least six shots, and if any person refused to attend, or otherwise absented himself from the assemblage on the days appointed for shooting, he was to be amerced in a fine of two-pence, and all fines thus imposed and recovered were directed to be given to those who came to the bow-marks, or butts, for drink-money. This mode of instruction was to be continued from Pasch [Easter] to Allhallowmes [All Saints Day, 01st November], and it was expected that by the Midsummer next, following, all persons would be properly instructed in the use of the long-bow. And in order that an adequate supply of the necessary arms might always be ready for the arming of the people, it was provided, that in every head town of the shire, or of the parish, a good bow-maker and "a fledger" or arrow maker, were to be established, and it was enjoined on the town to furnish these tradesmen with all the materials necessary for the proper following of their occupation, according as they might require them. If the parish was large, three or four bow-marks were to be erected, according to its size; so that every man, who had reached twelve, and was within fifty years of age, might without inconvenience be enabled to perfect himself in shooting. So careful were the legislators of those times, that they did not leave even those who were unfitted to bear arms unprovided for. In the same statute, it is directed that such persons as have past the age of fifty years, were to amuse themselves with such honest games as were best adapted to their time of life, always excepting the games of foot-ball and golf, which were declared utterly abolished, and on no account to be practised. From these statutes of James I. and II. is to be dated the rise and consolidation of archery, both as a branch of the military art, and as a popular pastime; and assuredly there can be no better indication had, of the popular estimation in which the game was then held, than the frequent descriptions of the practice which occur in the soul-stirring ballad poetry of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The poet then seeks his heroes in the " deep gloom of the shadowy forest," where he finds "the gude archaris [good archers] idling in the greneshawe" [copse] and in the ardour of his enthusiasm, he exclaims—

"Merye it is in the grene forest,
Among the levès grene;
Whereas men shoot east and west
Wyth bows and arowes kene,"

[Merry it is in the green forest,
Among the green leaves;
Where men shoot east and west
Boldly with bows and arrows]

and strolling by the banks of the Yarrow he espies the "gude outlaw Murray" with his—

"five hundred meryemen,
Shooting with bows on Newark lea,
They were a' in ae lyverye clad, [dressed in the same livery]
O' the Lincome grene saye gaye to see. [green Lincoln-made fabric, beautiful to behold]
His men were a' clad in grene [all dressed in green],
The knight was armed capapie [from head to foot],
With a bended bow, on a milk white steed,
And I wot [swear] they rank'd right bonnylie [lined up handsomely]".

Or he sees the " thre Wyghtye yemen" [three strong free men] Adam Bell, Clym of the Clough, and William of Cloudesly

"bendying theyr good ewe [yew] bows,
And loked [looked if] theyr strynges [bowstrings] wer round;"

and accompanies the bold outlaws to the English court, and hears the King challenging them to a trial of skill, and calling—

"his best archars [archers]
To the buttes wyth him to go:
I wyll se these fellowes shote [shoot], he said,
That In the north have wrought this wo [sorrow, woe].

The kynges [king's] bowmen buske them blyue,
And the quenes [queen's] archars also;
So dyd these thre wyghtye yemen;
With them they thought to go.

Ther [there] twyse, or thryse they shote about
For to assay theyr hande;
Ther was no shote these yemen shot,
That any prycke [stick, rod] myght stand.

Then spake Wyllyam of Cloudesleè;
By him that for me dyed [died],
I hold hym never no good archar,
That shoteth at buttes so wyde.

At what a butte now would ye shote?
I pray thee tell to me.
At suche a butte, syr, he sayd
As men use in my countree.

Wyllyam wente into a field,
And with him his two brethren:
There they set up two hasell roddes [hazel rods]
Twenty score paces betwene.

I hold him an archar, said Cloudesleè
That yonder wande cleveth in two.
Here is none suche, sayd the kyng,
Nor no man can so do.

I hold him an archar, said Cloudcsleè,
Or that I farther go.
Cloudlesleè with a bearyng arowe
Clave [split] the wand in two."

The yeomen of the Scottish borders, it may be observed, were so early as the time of 'Wallace, celebrated for their skilful use of the bow, and the body of archers already alluded to as being at the battle of Falkirk, were chiefly drawn from Selkirk forest, a place as noted in the ancient border Minstrelsy for its bold foresters, [fold in paper] in the reign of James II. the borders furnished the principal portion of the archers in the Scottish army, and in a statute of the same monarch, the Wardens of the East, Middle, and West Marches, are commanded to keep up continually a body of three hundred long-bowmen and the same number of spearmen for the protection of the borders. But in the reign of James III. archery seems to have become naturalised amongst the north highlanders, for we find that by far the larger part of the archers engaged in the battle of Sauchie were highlandmen; and in an antecedent encounter between the rebel lords and James III.; the Lord Ruthven himself, could bring to the aid of the King a force of one thousand long-bowmen. During the reigns of James IV. and V., statutes similar to those already quoted continued to be passed, strictly enforcing the practise of archery, under severe penalties, and remained in force up to the period of the introduction of firearms, when the bow as an arm of the military art became useless. In the interval, however, societies were formed in various parts of the kingdom, which by the distribution of prizes, and periodical competitions, endeavoured to perpetuate the use of the bow as a national pastime; and amongst those was the Kilwinning Society of Archers.
Dating from the period of the Society's formation, the Kilwinning Company of Archers lays claim to a continuous existence of nearly four hundred years, interrupted by the break of a few years only, about the period of the Revolution of 1688, when, owing to some cause unknown, the ancient practice of shooting at butts and papingo was discontinued. But the Society was again organised and the practice of the games resumed, in 1688, as appears from the following minute, extracted from the Register of the Company: —

At Kilwining[sic] the fourt day of September, JAVI [1600], and Eightie-Eight years —The whilk [which] day the company of Archers of the toune of Kilwining, viz:—William Blair of that Ilk, Hugh Montgomerie of Collsfleld, Hugh Stevenson of Montgreenan, Mr James Stevenson, Advocat, his brother, Wm. Ilamiltoune of Ladyland, James Fergusson, writer in Edinburgh, Wm. Baillyie, merchant, burgess of the sd. [said] Burgh, Francis Baillyie, his brother, German, man, John Ewing writer in Edinburgh, Mr Wm. Rogers in Kilwining, Matthew Frew merchant ther, James Maxwell son to the deceast Mr Gabriel Maxwell, Minister of the Gospell, and James M'Bryd in Kilwining, haveing this day mett and conveened in order to the restoring of the ancient game of the Papingo, formerlie used to be practised in this place: And in order thereunto, ilk ane [each one] of the sd. company of Archers have payed out twentie shillings scots, and have bought therwith one silver plaite, worth twentie shillings, sterling, as the prize to be shote for: And haveing furnished the Papingo with the remainder of the said soume as sd. is: — As also they apoynt Wm. Baillyie above designed, ther precess [president/chairman] to the meeting, and the sd. Ja. [James] M'Bryd ther clerk, and have consigned in the hands of ther clerk the said Papingo and prize, and apoints the day of the first shooting to be at Kilwining, the Elevent day of this instant [this month], at ten o'clock in the forenoone, and recomends to the said precess to have the Papingo fixed in the terrats be Nine of the o'clock in the forenoone the ad. day: And sicklyke [also] they recomened to ther sd. precess to apointe a second dyet [meeting/time]for shooting; and both the sd. dyets of shooting is for silk [such] points of ane considerable value, and he that hits the Papingo, or breaks ane wing therof, shall have ane poynt on or mae [more] as the precess shall determine. And after the sd. two dyets of shooting for poynts are over, the precess is to appoint ane third dyet for shooting for the prize, and he who fairlie dings down [shoots down] the Papingo is to have the sd. prize. He always giveing bond and finding catione [surety] that he shall set up the same prize or ane other at the like value as the forsd. [aforesaid] upon the third Tuesday of August next. He receiving at that time Fourtine [14] shillings scots, from ilk [each] person that shall shoote; and in like manner apoints that intiman. [intimation] be made of this exercise and sport the next mercat [market] days at the Burgh of Air, Irwing [Irvine], and Kilmarnok; and recomends to the precess to apoynt the house wher the Archers shall dyne, and to deall [assign] for the ancient priviledge of ane plake [coin worth about 4 d] of a pynt of aill [pint of ale] to the goodmane of the house; and to give such orders and directions as he thinks fit, for compliting the exercise and sport. The Captan who wins the prize is to give bond also for putting the butts in sufficient repair against day of the shooting of the Papingo.


To be continued.
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Re: Historical Sketches - Scottish Archery

Post by bonzo »

Great read Irene, looking forward to the next part. Thanks.
Those wimin were in the nip.
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Re: Historical Sketches - Scottish Archery

Post by hahaya2004 »

Thanks, Bonzo. Glad you enjoyed it. :D
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Re: Historical Sketches - Scottish Archery

Post by hahaya2004 »

Historical Sketches – Scottish Archery

No. 2

From the Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald 29/09/1855

Kilwinning Company of Archers

From a minute of the Company it appears that the custom of shooting at Butts and Papingo had been practised by the inhabitants of Kilwinning from about the date of 1488. But the game fell into discontinuance for several years anterior to 1688, in which year, as shown by the original minute of re-organisation given in our last Sketch, the Society was re-formed, and the practice of the game of papingo resumed. The prize for shooting down the papingo prior to the resuscitation of the Society, was a piece of fine Persian taffetie, three ells long, and three quarters broad, of several colours, red, blue, green, scarlet, &c., of the value of twenty pounds (Scots), which was termed a Benn. The person who gained the prize, by shooting down the papingo, had the Benn tied round his waist, and was thereupon denominated Captain, an office which he held until the following year. After this ceremony the new Captain, attended by the preceding Captains, each wearing the Benns they had gained about their waists, and accompanied by the rest of the archers, paraded through the town, stopping at the door of every public house which they passed, when the landlord, according to use and wont supplied the company with ale and other liquors, to drink the health of the new Captain. On the restoration of the Society, however, in 1688, the prize of Persian taffetie was changed to a piece of silver plate of the value of twenty shillings sterling. There are also a number of minor prizes given to those who strike the papingo, or break one or more wings without knocking down the bird. These are called "points," and are pieces of silk ribband varying from half-a-yard to a yard in length. One of the shorter ribbands is given for every time the bird is hit, while the longer ones are reserved for those who break or knock off a wing. Every member on entering the Society takes a bond to put forth as it comes to his turn, a butt prize, which is generally a piece of silver plate. The first member who put out a prize to be competed for at the butts was Hugh Montgomery of Coilsfield. This was in 1694, and since then it devolves upon the senior member of the Company, who has not done so previously, to put forth a like prize to be annually shot for, the person having the greatest number of shots being the gainer. In 1774 David Mure of Kilwinning presented the Company with a silver arrow, as a papingo prize; when it was enacted that the same arrow should continue to be, in all time coming, the prize for shooting down the papingo; every succeeding Captain being bound to affix to it a badge of silver or gold, of the value at least of five shillings; and in the event of any member shooting off the papingo for six years in succession, the arrow was to remain his absolute property for ever, provided that he paid in lieu thereof the sum of five pounds. The annual exhibitions of the Society are held in the month of September, at which time the prizes at butts and papingo are competed for.

Company of Young Archers

This Society was instituted in 1722 by a number of young men, inhabitants of Kilwinning, who, having subscribed a small sum of money each, set up a papingo prize of the value of two shillings and sixpence, and provided the other requisites necessary to the game. The first Captain of the Company, Hugh Stevenston, merchant, Kilwinning, on gaining the prize gave his obligation to set out in the year following a prize of the value of five shillings sterling, and to provide 24 small ribbands, each half a yard in length, and two ribbands, each of the length of one yard, the former to be given to those who hit the papingo, and the latter to whoever shot off a wing. To defray the expense of ribbands, &c., each archer, prior to shooting on the day of the annual competition for the papingo prize, is bound to pay a stake of threepence. The prize for shooting down the papingo is a sum of money contained in a silk purse, and the person who gains it is denominated Captain for the following year, and enters into a bond, along with two substantial cautioners, to set up the same prize, or a sum of equal value for competition, with an additional sum fixed by the laws of the Society, on the expiry of his Captaincy. This additional sum to be added by the Captain to the original prize was, at the commencement of the Society, fixed at two shillings, but subsequently, in 1745, it was enacted that when the papingo prize amounted to £4, the person gaining it was to add to that sum four shillings, and when it attained £5 the addition was to be five shillings; and it was further provided that the addition was, in all time coming, to remain at the latter sum, whatever the amount of the prize itself might be. On the days of shooting for the prizes, the Captain, as a mark of distinction, wears a blue bonnet, with a cockade on the front composed of green and white ribbands, with a long ribband attached thereto, which hangs down over his 'shoulders; whilst each archer who appears on the shooting ground is bound to provide himself with a similar bonnet and cockade. In 1775 it was enacted that no old Captain could shoot for the papingo prize without rendering himself liable to a fine of one pound, one shilling. The value of the prize at that period amounted to £9 5s. In the second year of the Society's existence the first butt prize was shot for; and since then each person entering the Company takes an obligation to put forth in rotation, and according to seniority, a prize, not under the value of two shillings and sixpence, either in a sum of money or a piece of silver plate, to be competed for at the butts. But in 1834, the above prize being considered too small in value, when compared with the number of shooters who appeared to compete for it, the Society resolved that in future four of the above prizes should be uplifted and put forth annually, instead of one as formerly; and that after the company had shot for two hours, the tour persons having the greatest number of marks were to be declared the gainers of the prizes. In former times it was usual for the Captain to give a dinner to the assembled archers, but from the rapid increase of numbers, and the numerous attendance at the annual exhibitions of the Company, the expense thus entailed upon the Captain was considered to be an excessive grievance, and accordingly the dinner was abolished in 1779; and it was then provided that in future the Captain need not give more than five shillings to the Company to drink. From the records of the Society we also find that it had been customary for the Captain, on the day of shooting down the papingo, to regale the people who assembled at the steeple with bread and cheese, "washing it down " with a plentiful supply of beer and whiskey. But to such an extravagant extent had this liberality been carried on several occasions, that the Society, fearful of the custom being established into a precedent, found it necessary to declare, in 1826, that such practices were contrary to the rules of the Company, and to enact that no Captain shall be obliged to give more than five shillings to treat the party which joins him at night. In the following year another practice alike derogatory to the moral influence of the Society was also abolished, that of stopping and drinking at every public house on the day of shooting for the prizes at the butts. There is still, however, an annual dinner of the Company, which takes place on the day of shooting at the papingo, and between the diets of shooting for the points and the principal prize, and any member who does not sit to dinner on that occasion is for that year deprived of the privilege of shooting for the papingo prize. This prize at present amounts to five pounds, and each successive Captain is bound to augment it by the sum of five shillings. The purse has frequently contained a considerable sum of money, but has been kept low by being occasionally drawn upon to pay for various incidental expenses, especially in the year 1814, when the Company liberally gave a donation of £ 10 10 s. to assist in rebuilding the steeple. The anniversary of the Society is held on the second Wednesday of May, O.S.[Old Style], on which day the prizes at butts and papingo are shot for. The present Captain, John Husband, is the 133rd who has held that office.

Young Gentlemen Archers

From the records we learn that this Society owes its origin to "a number of school boys who, in the year 1770, formed themselves into a society, under the name of Young Gentlemen Archers. The prize first shot for being only a stone marble, has gradually increased" till, in 1847, the papingo prize amounted to one pound, three shillings and sixpence. In that year the purse was lost, but in what manner the minutes of the Society do not state; since then, therefore, there has been no papingo prize; but there is still a competition annually for the Captaincy. The Society is composed of youths under sixteen years of age, none above that being allowed "to shoot either for the prize or the ribbands". The gainer of the papingo prize was, as in the elder societies, styled Captain; and on the purse being put into his hands, he was under obligation to give his bond, and that of two sufficient sureties, to set out the same prize, or one of equal value, with an additional sum of one shilling added thereto. Also "to exhibit twenty-four small ribbands, or points, twelve red and as many white, each one to be not less than one-fourth of a yard long, and not under one-fourth of an inch broad, along with two wing ribbands, each a yard long," to be shot for at the game of papingo. The distribution of the ribbands was conducted in the same manner as in the elder societies. There are also several butt prizes annually competed for; and each person on joining the society gives his obligation to set forth a butt prize in turn not under the value of one shilling. Besides the prize set out annually by one of the members, many of the inhabitants of the town encourage the youths to exert themselves in their exhibitions, by presenting prizes for competition at the butts. These are in some cases altogether of considerable value, as for instance those of 1853, which were, half-a-dozen silver spoons, in two prizes; and three handsome pen knives, divided into as many prizes; whilst in 1854 the principal prize was a beautiful pocket bible, the minor ones consisting of a number of articles of inferior value.
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