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 The wearing of arms in everyday dress.

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normanhurst
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PostSubject: The wearing of arms in everyday dress.   Wed 12 Sep 2012, 03:23

I'm not too sure if this is the right place for this... but as the tools of the hunter have been carried for millennia, and then for personal protection, swords or muskets etc, about what time did it become either unnecessary or socially unacceptable to carry a sword as everyday dress, bearing in mind that there’s many examples of fine sword sticks dating from the Victorian times. Could anybody carry a gun and sword or just the landed gentry to gaurd against the numerous footpads.
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Gilgamesh of Uruk
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PostSubject: Re: The wearing of arms in everyday dress.   Wed 12 Sep 2012, 22:43

A few years ago, I met the High Sherrif of Staffordshire - a sword is still part of his ceremonial dress
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normanhurst
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PostSubject: Re: The wearing of arms in everyday dress.   Thu 13 Sep 2012, 05:56

I had been reading some Scottish universities still require swords to be worn while taking tests, and exams etc. and fines imposed for those not complying.
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Islanddawn
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PostSubject: Re: The wearing of arms in everyday dress.   Thu 13 Sep 2012, 10:16

Wearing swords in an examination? That'll be interesting with a load of sleep deprived and over stressed students, locked in a room and writing against the clock!
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normanhurst
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PostSubject: Re: The wearing of arms in everyday dress.   Fri 14 Sep 2012, 04:32

Hmm typical, I’ve been in and out of so many sites looking for info ref the wearing of swords etc, I found this, but have lost track of where I copied it from.

At certain Scottish Universities it was an (unenforced) requirement for a gentleman to wear a sword when sitting an examination into at least the 1960's.
I know this because a teacher I had at school had claimed (through another old statute) a pint of ale during an exam. He received it, but also received a fine for not wearing his sword.


It seems around the early 1700’s wearing swords in public faded in favour of the cane, some of which concealed a blade.
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Caro
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PostSubject: Re: The wearing of arms in everyday dress.   Fri 14 Sep 2012, 04:54

I am trying to remember from the Georgette Heyers I read so much of, whether the young men carried swords with them or not. They are set in the Regency period, basically from 1800 - 1820, I suppose. In general if anyone insulted them in these books, a call-out was organised, but I think on occasions people drew their swords at the time. So I think the aristocratic young men with too much time on their hands did still carry swords then.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: The wearing of arms in everyday dress.   Fri 14 Sep 2012, 12:27

As a personal weapon of choice carried about the person, at least in England, the sword was replaced with firearms in the second half of the 17th century. From this point on it became more and more a matter of fashion and style rather than perceived necessity amongst the upper classes. By the same token the notorious Game Act of 1671 which was passed by Charles II and which attempted to inhibit the formation of potentially antagonistic militia under the guise of legislation against poachers and the like, forbade anyone who didn't own an estate or was of "high quality" to carry - or even own - a gun or a bow. This left the majority of the people unable to carry any weapon other than a blade. Given that this placed the riff-raff at a disadvantage in situations in which they might foolishly contemplate going one-to-one with a toff, most opted for a more practical blade. Knives and daggers in other words. The sword's practical function in "normal" society had been more or less eliminated from this point on and the incidence of carrying one decreased accordingly.

In several cities there had already long been by-laws enacted which forbade carrying of swords at certain times, or by certain "classes" of people all the way back to Tudor times and beyond. These were, right up to very recent times, the only legislation which was specifically levelled against swords and rarely invoked in prosecutions. The trial of Thomas Twinge and Mary Pressicks at York Assizes during the "Horrid Popish Plot" made mention of Pressicks' husband Richard who, it was claimed "agaynst the law of the city did many times hook a sword in the belt and go about the streets as one wuld have thoght him a man of standyng". This earmarked both him and his wife out not only as lawbreakers but as socially pretentious people to boot - though it's not clear from the record which offence was considered greater.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: The wearing of arms in everyday dress.   Wed 19 Sep 2012, 14:25

Just came across an advertisement for Handel's first ever performance of the Messiah Oratorio, which was a charity event raising money for a "Lying In" hospital in Dublin in 1742. Patrons are asked to leave their swords behind if they were men and their hoops if they were women so as to allow the most possible people to cram into the Great Music Hall in Fishamble Street (which obviously wasn't all that great really).

The headline name on the ad by the way was Susannah Cibber, daughter in law of Colley Cibber, who was one of only two women singers in the entire chorus. All the other high squeaky bits were performed by the boys from Christchurch and St Patrick's Cathedral choirs.

Couldn't find a copy of the image on the web but I did find this cover of the sheet music which was sold to patrons and the public at the time:


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normanhurst
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PostSubject: Re: The wearing of arms in everyday dress.   Thu 20 Sep 2012, 01:27

Thanks Nordmann,

I’ve heard about the lines along the house of parliament commons room floor, supposedly the distance apart of two mps armed with swords… but I can’t find anything about when swords were no longer worn in parliament… and is it true that mps still have a ribbon or some such to hang their swords on in the cloakrooms.

It would seem around the early 1900s the carrying of guns became questionable…

But I would have thought the information to answer this question would have been more readily available.
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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: The wearing of arms in everyday dress.   Thu 20 Sep 2012, 12:35

@normanhurst wrote:
I’ve heard about the lines along the house of parliament commons room floor, supposedly the distance apart of two mps armed with swords… but I can’t find anything about when swords were no longer worn in parliament… and is it true that mps still have a ribbon or some such to hang their swords on in the cloakrooms.

The wearing of swords by Members of Parliament in the House has been forbidden from well before sword-wearing dropped out of general fashion.... a very sensible rule considering how 'empassioned' debates sometimes used to beome. This is probably the origin of the 'fact' (not sure it is still true) that each MP has a hook to hang his sword on before entering the chamber. Currently the only person allowed to wear a sword in the UK House of Commons is the Serjeant-at-Arms who is in charge of security and in keeping order in the house. When present in the House he or she (the previous incumbent before the present one was a woman) still routinely wears a sword as part of their uniform.


Last edited by Meles meles on Thu 20 Sep 2012, 12:45; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : My error : It's Serjeant with a J not Sergeant with a G.)
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Triceratops
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PostSubject: Re: The wearing of arms in everyday dress.   Fri 21 Sep 2012, 15:24

A cane could be an effective weapon, as demonstrated by Preston Brooks' attack on Senator Sumner in the Capitol;


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