As a new feature of 2018 I thought I’d add a little levity and a little (more) strangeness to the blog. Weird Wednesdays – featuring strange laws, odd words, peculiar facts, and amazing place names. #WeirdWednesdays #strangelaws
I read a lot of history, and boy is some of human past weird! It never ceases to amaze me that humanity got over hitting each other with rocks but somehow we did and invented civilisation (although some days watching the news you’d not know it). Even so, our past has held some very odd ideas (and still does in some places) and some strange laws and rules.
From Witchcraft laws, judges prosecuting animals, clouds, corpses to outdated laws still on the statute books there have been some damn silly, and damn weird laws of the land. Some sound weirder than they actually are, and when one investigates it becomes more obvious why this is in place. Some don’t.
I’ll start with Britain – as I live there – but other countries will be discussed at later dates.
Odd or confusing Law 1:
It is illegal to be drunk on licenced premises. Under section 12 of the Licensing Act 1872,
“every person found drunk… on any
licensed premises, shall be liable to a
penalty”. It is also an offence under
the Metropolitan Police Act 1839 for
the keeper of a public house to permit
drunkenness or disorderly conduct on
the premises. Furthermore, under the
Licensing Act 2003, it is an offence to
sell alcohol to a person who is drunk,
or to obtain alcohol for consumption
by a person who is drunk.”
So you can go into a public-house and buy booze but if you get squiffy you are breaking the law, and so is the landlord or landlady. I can see the logic of this – alcohol accounts for a high proportion of crime – in 2014/15 nearly 50% of violent crime was related to booze. Anyone who has been in the city on a Friday night can testify as an eye witness to this (in my city at least).
The Licensing Act states
Penalty on persons found drunk.
Every person found drunk in any highway or other public place, whether a building or not, or on any licensed premises, shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding [F1level 1 on the standard scale], and on a second conviction within a period of twelve months shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding [F1level 1 on the standard scale], and on a third or subsequent conviction within such period of twelve months be liable to a penalty not exceeding [F1level 1 on the standard scale].
Every person . . . F2 who is drunk while in charge on any highway or other public place of any carriage, horse, cattle, or steam engine, or who is drunk when in possession of any loaded firearms, may be apprehended, and shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding forty shillings, or in the discretion of the court to imprisonment . . . F3 for any term not exceeding one month.
Is this a Weird Law? I guess that depends on your point of view regarding alcohol consumption. What constitutes ‘drunkenness’? One person could sink a barrel and the next person is bladdered after half a shandy.
Odd or confusing law 2
It is illegal to handle salmon in suspicious circumstances
This is an offence under the Salmon
Basically, if a person knows or believes a salmon, eel, or lamprey has been acquired under ‘an offence’. So a fish illegally caught from a salmon farm, an unlicensed fisherman etc.
Weird or confusing law 3
It is illegal to beat or shake any carpet or rug in any street. However, beating or shaking a doormat is allowed before 8am.
This is an offence under section 60 of the Metropolitan Police Act 1839. In other districts, it is an offence under section 28 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847.
I’d guess this is to stop pollution and fouling of the streets…. but I could be wrong
Do look out for more strange laws of the land.
Other sources Britain Explorer Blog
The Strange Laws of Old England