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Man-traps and poachers

Game laws

My novel, The Mrs MacKinnons, involves a poacher and mantraps, in a small way, so I looked into what the law was on these subjects at the beginning of the 19th century.

The rural poor in England could, at one time, legally graze cows or sheep on common land, or take the occasional rabbit. Some resorted to poaching game on private land to feed themselves or to sell the game for profit.  During the Regency period and earlier, man-traps were one of the inhumane methods used to trap poachers on private land.

There were many laws introduced over the centuries aiming to prevent the poor taking game from private land. For example, an act passed in 1671, in the reign of Charles II, decreed that the following people were not allowed to have guns, bows, hunting dogs or ferrets, nets etc:

“..all and every person and persons, not haveing Lands and Tenements or some other Estate of Inheritance in his owne or his Wifes right of the cleare yearely value of one hundred pounds per ann. or for terme of life, or haveing Lease or Leases of ninety nine yeares or for any longer terme, of the cleare yearely value of one hundred and fifty pounds, other then the Sonne and Heire apparent of an Esquire, or other person of higher degree”

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Ice houses, succession houses and ha has

Do you know what ice houses, succession houses and ha has are? They are all structures often found in the grounds of stately homes in Georgian times – and later. All three are mentioned in The Mrs MacKinnons, and there were a few ‘what does that mean?’ comments from people who read the manuscript in development.

Ice houses

Ice houses were used to store ice from frozen lakes or streams in the winter, keeping it cool enough for it to be used the following summer. Some were below ground; the ones that were not were often covered with a thick layer of earth for extra insulation. All you would see from the outside would be a wooden door.

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