SUNDAY LAWS IN GEORGIAN ENGLAND

by Ron Dale


The following bye-laws were introduced by the parish committee of Royston, Hertfordshire in 1787, and although they were not the  same in every town, they do reflect  King George III’s  strict observance of Sundays practised in those days.

NO DROVER, horse courier, wagonner, butcher, higler, or their servants, shall travel on Sunday. Punishment: 21s. or in default 2 hours in Stocks.


NO FRUIT, herbs or goods of any kind shall be cried or exposed for sale on a Sunday. Goods will be forfeited.


NO SHOEMAKER shall expose for sale any boots or shoes on Sunday.Fine: 3s.4d. per pair and goods seized.


ANY PERSON offending against these Laws are to be prosecuted, except BUTCHERS who may sell meat up to 9 o’clock in the morning and at which time all Barbers are to be shut up and no business done after that time.


NO PERSON without a reasonable excuse shall be absent from some place of divine worship on a Sunday.

Fine: 1s. to the poor.


NO INN-KEEPER or alehouse-keeper shall suffer anyone to continue drinking or tippling in their house. Forfeit 10s.and disabled for 3 years. (i.e. closed down)


These laws were enforced and the town Constable would be around on Sundays to enforce them. How different today!

Ron Dale, May, 2017



1:  Fragments of Country Life When George III was King, Alfred Kingston, Royston, 1886