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1086.1 Form of Stool Ball Possibly Found in Domesday Book in Norman England
Stool ball, a stick and ball game and a forerunner of rounders and cricket, is apparently mentioned in the Domesday Book as "bittle-battle."
Note: This source is Henderson, Robert W., Ball, Bat and Bishop: The Origins of Ball Games [Rockport Press, 1947], p. 75.
Henderson doesn't exactly endorse the idea that the cited game, "bittle-battle," is a ball game [or if it is, could it be a form of soule?] He says that one [unnamed] author claims that bittle-battle is a form of stoolball. I saw only two Henderson refs to stoolball, ref 72 [Grantham] and ref 149 [London Magazine]. One of them may be Henderson's source for the 1086 stoolball claim. I don't see a Henderson ref to the Domesday text itself, but then, it probably isn't found at local lending libraries.
The Dictionary of the Sussex Dialect  reportedly gives "bittle-battle" as another name for stoolball. It is believed that "bittle" meant a wooden milk bowl and some have speculated that a bowl may have been used as a paddle to deflect a thrown ball from the target stool, while others speculate that the bowl may have been the target itself.
Note: We need to confirm whether the Domesday Book actually uses the term "bittle-battle," "stool ball," or what. We also should try to ascertain views of professional scholars on the interpretations of the Book. Martin Hoerchner advises that the British Public Records Office may, at some point, make parts of the Domesday Book available online.
1189.1 "Unconfirmed" Report of a Stoolball Reference by Iscanus
There is "an unconfirmed report which was published in the beginning of the Century quoting one Joseph Iscanus, of Exeter, as having referred to stoolball in 1189, but no satisfactory evidence that this quotation was genuine." National Stoolball Association, "A Brief History of Stoolball," page 2. This mimeo, available in NSA files, has no date or author, but has one internal reference to an 1989 source, so it must be fairly recent. It contains no hint on the source of the 1189 claim or how it has been assessed. Note: Is it now possible to further pursue this claim using online resources? The 1189 claim appears nowhere else in available writings about stoolball.
However, some cite a Joseph Iscanus couplet: "The youth at cricks did play/Throughout the livelong [or "merry"] day/" as an indicator of early cricket. However, the online source of this rhyme does not give a source. Very murky, no? [The rhyme is quoted as early as the 1860 edition of The Cricketer’s Manual, and ten years earlier in Bell’s Life in a letter from “Alexis” on the subject “When Was Cricket Invented?” ] Query: what do leading cricket historians say of this alleged reference?
1300s.3 Stoolball Said to Originate Among Sussex Milkmaids
"Stoolball is a ball game that dates back to the 14th century, originating in Sussex [in southern England]. It may be an ancestor of cricket (a game it resembles), baseball, and rounders. Traditionally it was played be milkmaids who used their milking stools as 'wickets.' . . ." Later forms of the game involved running between two wickets, but "[o]riginally the batsman simply had to defend his stool from each ball with his hand and would score a point for each delivery until the stool was hit. The game later evolved to include runs and bats."
Source: Wikipedia entry on "Stoolball," accessed 1/25/2007. Note: this source does not credit bittle-battle [see entry 1086.1] as an earlier form of stoolball. It gives no citations for the evidence of the founding date. The Wikipedia entry is compatible with entry #1330.1, below, but evidently does not credit 1330 as the likely time of stoolball's appearance.
1330.1 Vicar of Winkfield Advises Against Bat/Ball Games in Churchyards; First Stoolball Reference?
"Stoolball was played in England as early as 1330, when William Pagula, Vicar of Winkfield, near Windsor, wrote in Latin a poem of instructions to parish priests, advising them to forbid the playing of all games of ball in churchyards: "Bats and bares and suche play/Out of chyrche-yorde put away."
Henderson, Robert W., Ball, Bat and Bishop: The Origins of Ball Games [Rockport Press, 1947], p. 74. Note: The Vicar's caution was translated in 1450 by a Canon, John Myrc. Henderson's ref 120 is Mirk [sic], J., "Instructions to Parish Priests," Early English Text Society, Old Series 31, p. 11 [London, 1868]. A contemporary of Myrc in 1450 evidently identified the Vicar's targets as including stoolball. Block [p. 165] identifies the original author as William de Pagula. Writing in 1886, T. L. Kington Oliphant identifies "bares" as prisoner's base: "There is the term "bace pleye," whence must come the "prisoner's base;" this in Myrc had appeared as the game of "bares." Kington Oliphant does not elaborate on this claim, and does not comment on the accompanying term "bats" in the original. The 1886 reference was provided by John Thorn, 2/24/2008
1344.1 Manuscript Shows a Club-and-Ball Game with Stool-like Object
"A manuscript of 1344 in the Bodleian Library at Oxford (No. 264) shows a game of club and ball. One player throws that ball to another who holds a vicious-looking club. He defends a round object which resembles a stool but with a base instead of legs. . . ". "In the course of time a second stool was added, which obviously made a primitive form of cricket. Now a stool was also called a "cricket" and it is possible that the name cricket came from the three-legged stool . . . " "We may summarize: The game and name of cricket stem back to ancient games played with a curved stick and ball, starting with la soule, and evolving in England through stoolball . . .".
Henderson, Robert W., Ball, Bat and Bishop: The Origins of Ball Games [Rockport Press, 1947], pp. 130-131. Henderson's ref 17 is Bodleian Library, Douce MSS 264, ff 22, 44, 63. Cox's 1903 edition of Strutt includes this drawing and its reference. Note: do other observers agree with Henderson on whether and how stoolball evolved into cricket?
1450.1 John Myrc Repeats Warning Against Ball Play in the Churchyard, Including "Stoil Ball"
David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It [page 165], cites the Myrc work, "early poetic instruction of priests," as "How thow schalt thy paresche preche," London. It warns "Bal and bares and suche play/ Out of chyrcheyorde put a-way." A note reportedly inserted by another author included among the banned games "tenessyng handball, fott ball stoil ball and all manner other games out churchyard." Note: can we determine when the "other author" wrote in "stoil ball? This may count as the first time "stool ball" [virtually] appeared.
1450.2 Stoolball Dated by NSA to 1450 in "Don Quixote"
"[Stoolball] is mentioned in the classic book Don Quixote."
National Stoolball Association website, accessed April 2007.
Note: we need a fuller citation and the key text. Is it possible that this entry confuses D'Urfey's 1694 play about Don Quixote [see Entry #1694.1, below] with the Cervantes masterpiece?
1470c.1 Editor Sees Stoolball in Verse on Bachelorhood
"In al this world nis a murier lyf/Thanne is a yong man wythouten a wyf,/For he may lyven wythouten strif/In every place wher-so he go.
"In every place he is loved over alle/Among maydens grete and smale-/In daunsyng, in pipyngs, and rennyng at the balle,/In every place wher-so he go.
"They leten lighte by housebonde-men/Whan they at the balle renne;/They casten ther love to yonge men/In every place wher-so they go.
"Then seyn maydens, "Farewel, Jakke,/Thy love is pressed al in thy pak;/Thou berest thy love bihynde thy back,/In every place wher-so thou go."
Robert Stevick, ed., One Hundred Middle English Lyrics (U of Illinois Press, 1994), page 141. Posted to 19CBB on 11/14/2008 by Richard Hershberger. Richard reports that Stevick dates this poem—#81 of the 100 collected in this volume—to c. 1470. He interprets the lyric's 'running at the ball' as 'stool ball, probably,' but stow ball [resembling field hockey] seems apter. Richard also points out that "for the sake of precision, it should be noted that this volume is intended for student use and normalizes the spellings."
1500s.2 Queen Elizabeth's Dudley Plays Stoolball at Wotton Hill?
Lord Robert Dudley; Queen Elizabeth I
According to a manuscript written in the 1600s, Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester and his "Trayne" "came to Wotton, and thence to Michaelwood Lodge . . . and thence went to Wotton Hill, where hee paid a match at stobball."
Internal evidence places ths event in the fifteenth year of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, which would be 1547-48. Elizabeth I named her close associate [once rumored to be her choice as husband] Dudley to became Earl of Leicester in the 1564, and he died in 1588.
Caveat: "Stobbal" is usually used to denote a field game resembling field hockey or golf; thus, this account may not relate to stoolball per se.
The Wotton account was written by John Smyth of Nibley (1567-1640) in his Berkeley Manuscripts [Sir John McLean, ed., Gloucester, Printed by John Bellows, 1883]. Smyth's association with Berkeley Castle began in 1589, and the Manuscripts were written in about 1618, so it is not a first-hand report.
Note: Is it possible to determine the approximate date of this event?
1523.1 Baron's Trespass Records Mention Stoball
"Item, quod petrus frankeleyne vid posuit iiiixx ovesin le stoball field contra ordinacionem."
Source: National Stoolball Association, "A Brief History of Stoolball," [mimeo, author and date unspecified], page 2. This wording is reportedly found in "an extract from the rolls of the Court Baron of the Royal Manor of Kirklington, belonging to the Duchy of Lancaster (16th Century), under the heading of trespass." Note: We need a citation here, and a reason for assigning the 1523 date. The relation of stoball to stoolball remains under dispute, with many observers seeing stoball as an early golf-like game. Can we obtain a good translation and interpretation of this quotation?
1564.1 Formal Complaint in Surrey: Stoolball is Played on Sunday
"1564 - complaints were made to the justices sitting at the midsummer session, at Malden, Surrey, that the constable (himself possibly an enthusiast with the stool and ball) suffered stoolball to be played on Sunday."
M. S. Russell-Goggs, "Stoolball in Sussex," The Sussex County Magazine, volume 2, no. 7 (July 1928), page 318. Surrey is the adjoining county to Sussex. Note: we need to locate the full citations for this and all other Russell-Goggs references.
1567.1 English Translation of Horace Refers to "the Stoole Ball"
"The stoole ball, top, or camping ball/If suche one should assaye/As hath no mannour skill therein,/Amongste a mightye croude,/Theye all would screeke unto the frye/And laugh at hym aloude."
Drant, Thomas, Horace His Arte of Poetrie, Pistles, and Satyrs Englished, and to the Earle of Ormounte, [London], per David Block, page 166. There is no implication that Horace himself refers to a stool ball.
1585c.1 Stoole-ball, Nine Holes Included Among Country Sports
In a 1600 publication attributed to Samuel Rowlands [died 1588], the fourth of six "Satires," presents a catalog of about 30 pastimes, including "play at stoole-ball," and "play at nine-holes." Other diversions include pitching the barre, foote-ball, play at base, and leap-frog.
Rowlands, Samuel, The Letting of Humour's blood in the head-vein (W. White, London, 1600), as discussed in Brydges, Samuel E., Censura Literaria (Longman, London, 1808), p.279. Virtually the same long verse - but one that carelessly lists stoole-ball twice - is attributed to "Randal Holme of Chester" in an 1817 book: Drake, Nathan, Shakspeare and His Times (Cadell and Davies, London, 1817), pages 246-247. Drake does not suggest a date for this verse. Caveat: Our choice of 1585 as the year of Rowlands' composition is merely speculative. Note: This entry needs to be reconciled with #1630c.1 below.
1586c.1 Sydney Cites Stoolball
Sir Philip Sydney, Lady Mary Dudley
"A time there is for all, my mother often sayes
When she with skirts tuckt very hie, with gyrles at stoolball playes"
Sir Philip Sydney, Arcadia: Sonnets , page 493. Note: citation needs confirmation.
Sir Philip Sydney (1554-1586) died at age 31 in 1586.
As of October 2012, this early stoolball ref. is the only one I see that can be interpreted as describing baserunning in stoolball - but it still may merely describe running by a fielder, not a batter. (LMc, Oct/2012)
Sydney's mother was the sister of Robert Dudley, noted in item #1500s.2 above as a possible stoolball player in the time of Eliizabeth I.
Further interpretations are welcome as to Sydney's meaning.
1592c.1 Moralist Lists Things for Scholars to Avoid, Including Playing "Stoole Ball Among Wenches"
"Time of recreation is necessary, I graunt, and think as necessary for schollers . . . as it is for any. Yet in my opinion it were not fit for them to play at Stoole-ball among wenches, nor at Mumchance or Maw with idle loose companions; not at trunks in Guile-halls, nor to dance about Maypoles, nor to rufle in alehouses, nor to carowse in tauernes, nor to steale deere, nor to rob orchards. Though who can deny that they may doe these things, yea worse."
Attributed to Dr. Rainoldes in J. P. Collier, ed., The Political Decameron, or Ten Conversations on English Poets and Poetry [Constable and Co., Edinburgh, 1820], page 257. This passage is from the "ninth conversation" and covers low practices during the reigns of Elizabeth and of James I. Note: we need to ascertain the source, date, and context of the original Rainoldes material. It appears that Rainoldes' cited "conversation" with Gager took place in 1592.
1592.2 Canterbury Stoolballer Bloodies Pious Critic
"We present one Bottolph Wappoll, a continual gamester and one of the very lewd behaviour, who being on Mayday last at stoolball in time of Divine service one of our sidesmen came and admonished him to leave off playing and go to church, for which he fell on him and beat him that the blood ran about his ears."
Source: National Stoolball Association, "A Brief History of Stoolball," [author and date unspecified], page 2. The original source is not supplied but is reported to have been a presentation from the parish of St Paul in Canterbury to the Archdeacon of Canterbury. Note: can we find this source?
1613.1 His and Her Stool-ball Banter: Play or Foreplay?
"Ward: Can you play at shuttlecock forsooth?
Isabella: Ay, and stool-ball too, sir; I have great luck at it.
Ward: Why, can you catch a ball well?
Isabella: I have catched two in my lap at one game
Ward: What, have you, woman? I must have you learn to play at trap too, then y'are full and whole."
Dutton, Richard Thomas, Women Beware Women and Other Plays [Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1999], page 135. The play itself is generally dated 1613 or 1614. Submitted by John Thorn, 7/9/2004
1614.1 Poet Yearns to "Goe to Stoole-Ball-Play"
Breton, Nicholas, I Would, and Would Not [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 168. Stanza 79 reads "I would I were an honest Countrey Wench/ . . . / And for a Tanzey, goe to Stoole-Ball-Play." Tansy cakes were reportedly given as prizes for ball play.
1615.1 Stoole Ball Goes North with Early Explorer
"And some dayes heare we stayed we shott at butts and bowe and arrows, at other tymes at stoole ball, and some tymes of foote ball
William Baffin, from "The Fourth Recorded Voyage of Baffin," in C. M. Markham, ed., The Voyages of William Baffin, 1612-1622, [Hakluyt Society, 1881], page 122. This voyage started in March 1615, and the entry is dated June?? 19th, 1615. The voyage was taken in hope of finding a northwest passage to the East, but was thwarted by ice, and Baffin returned to England in the fall of 1615. Note: Ascertain the month, which is obscured in the online copy. Was location of play near what is now known as Baffin Island?
1616c.1 Translation of Homer Depicts Virgins Playing Stool-Ball, Disturbing Ulysses' Snooze
Translator Chapman described a scene in which several virgins play stool-ball near a river while Ulysses sleeps nearby: "The Queene now (for the upstroke) strooke the ball/Quite wide off th' other maids; and made it fall/Amidst the whirlpools.
Chapman, George, The whole works of Homer: prince of poets, in his Iliads, and Odysses [London, 1616], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 168.
Steel and Lyttelton indicate that Chapman's translation may date "as early as 1614," and say report that Chapman calls the fragment "a stoolball chance." See A.G. Steel and R. H. Lyttelton, Cricket, (Longmans Green, London, 1890) 4th edition, page 2. Note: The year of the translation needs to be confirmed;. It would be interesting to see how other translators have treated this scene.
1619.1 Bawdy Poem Has Wenches Playing "With Stoole and Ball"
"It was the day of all dayes in the yeare/That unto Bacchus hath its dedication,/ . . . / When country wenches play with stoole and ball,/And run at Barley-breake until they fall:/And country lads fall on them, in such sort/That after forty weekes the[sic] rew the sport."
Anonymous, Pasquils Palinodia, and His Progress to the Taverne; Where, After the Survey of the Sellar, You Are Presented with a Pleasant Pynte of Poeticall Sherry [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 169, who credits Henderson, page 74. Block notes that "Barley-Break" [not a ball game] was, like stoole ball, traditionally a spring courtship ritual in the English countryside.
1621.1 Some Pilgrims "Openly" Play "Stoole Ball" on Christmas Morning: Governor Clamps Down
Governor Willliam Bradford
Governor Bradford describes Christmas Day 1621 at Plymouth Plantation, MA; "most of this new-company excused them selves and said it wente against their consciences to work on ye day. So ye Govr tould them that if they made it mater of conscience, he would spare them till they were better informed. So he led away ye rest and left them; but when they came home at noone from their worke, he found them in ye street at play, openly; some at pitching ye barr, and some at stoole-ball and shuch like sport. . . . Since which time nothing hath been attempted that way, at least openly."
Bradford, William, Of Plymouth Plantation, [Harvey Wish, ed., Capricorn Books, 1962], pp 82 - 83. Henderson cites Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1856. See his ref 23. Full text supplied by John Thorn, 6/25/2005. Bradford explained that the issue was not that ball-playing was sinful, but that playing openly while others worked was not good for morale.
1630c.1 "Ancient Cheshire Games" Include Stooleball, Nine Holes
"Any they dare challenge for to throw the sleudge,/To Jumpe or leape over dich or hedge,/ To wrastle, play at stooleball, or to Runne,/ To pitch the bar, or to shoote off a Gunne/ To play at Loggets, nine holes, or ten pins. . . .[list continues, mentioning stool ball once more at end.]"
This verse, titled "Ancient Cheshire Games: Auntient customes in games used by boys and girles merily sett out in verse," is attributed to "Randle Holmes's MSS Brit Mus." Is in Medium of Inter-communications for Literary Men, Artists, Antiquaries, Genealogists, Etc, July - December 1856, page 487. Note: Can we learn why is this account associated with 1630? This entry needs to be reconciled with #1585.1 above. Add online search detail?
1630c.2 Stoolball Play Makes Maidstone a "Very Profane Town"
"About 1630 a Puritan records that 'Maidstone was formerly a very profane town, where stoolball and other games were practiced on the Lord's Day."
M. S. Russell-Goggs, "Stoolball in Sussex," The Sussex County Magazine, volume 2, no. 7 (July 1928), page 318. Note: we need to locate the full citations for this and all other Russell-Goggs references.. We need to sort out how this claim relates to the very similar wording in the quote by Reverend Wilson in entry #1672.1 below.
1630c.3 At Oxford, Women's Shrovetide Customs Include Stooleball
"In the early seventeenth century, an Oxford fellow, Thomas Crosfield, noted the customs of Shrovetide as '1. frittering. 2. throwing at cocks. 3. playing at stooleball in ye Citty by women & footeball by men.'" Shrovetide was the Monday and Tuesday [that Tuesday being Mardi Gras in some quarter] preceding Ash Wednesday and the onset of Lent.
Griffin, Emma, "Popular Recreation and the Significance of Space," (publication unknown), page 36.
The original source is shown as the Crosfield Diary entry for March 1, 1633, page 63. Thanks to John Thorn for supplementing a draft of this entry. One citation for the diary is F. S. Boas, editor, The Diary of Thomas Crosfield (Oxford University Press, London, 1935).
Can we find and inspect the 1935 Boas edition of the diary?
1630.4 Stoolball Played in Sherston, England
"Back in 2014 I contacted Wiltshire County Council as I found a reference on their website to stoolball being played in a village called Sherston in 1630. In their reply it's obvious it's 'stoball' not stoolball and they give the quote that I think you already have recorded. However, it's still an interesting reminder in terms of the ball."
Per-e Email from Anita Broad, Vice Chair, Stoolball England, January 23, 2018.
We are uncertain whether the game was a running game or a field-hockey=-type game also called "stoball."
Sherston, England is in the southwest of England, near the Cotswolds and about 20 miles NE of Bristol England.
Is the Wiltshire County website's URL available? Is it still operative?
Is the original source of the data given?
1633c.1 Ambiguous Reference to Stoole Ball Appears in a Drama
"At stoole ball I have a North-west stripling shall deale with ever a boy in the Strand."
Cited in W. C. Hazlitt, Faiths and Folklore: A Dictionary of National Beliefs, Superstitions and Popular Customs [Reeves and Turner, London, 1905], page 569. Hazlitt attributes this mysterious fragment to someone named Stickwell in Totenham Court, by T. Nabbes, appearing in 1638. Note: Can we guess what Stickwell was trying to say, and why? I find that Nabbes wrote this drama in 1633 or before, and surmise that "Stickwell" is the name of the fictional character who speaks the quoted line. Can we straighten out, or interpret, the syntax of this line? [The Strand, presumably, refers to the London street of that name?]
1634.1 That Archbishop Laud, He Certainly Doesn't Laud Stoolball
"In his visitation and reference to churchyards, he [Archbishop Laud, in 1634] is troubled because 'several spend their time in stoolball.'"
M. S. Russell-Goggs, "Stoolball in Sussex," The Sussex County Magazine, volume 2, no. 7 (July 1928), page 318. Note1: we need to locate the full citations for this and all other Russell-Goggs references.
Another source quotes Laud as saying "This whole churchyard is made a receptacle for all ydle persons to spend their time in stopball and such lyke recreacions." OED, Abp Laud's Visit, in 4th Rep Hist. MSS Comm. App 144/1, provided by John Thorn, email of 6/11/2007. Note2: is this from the same source?
1638.1 Bishop Sees Churchyard as Consecrated Ground: No Stool Ball, Drinkings, Merriments
Bishop Mantague admonishes Norwich Churchmen to consider the churchyard as consecrated ground, "not to be profaned by feeding and dunging cattle . . . . Much less is it to be unhallowed with dancings, morrises, meetings at Easter, drinkings, Whitson ales, midsummer merriments or the like, stool ball, football, wrestlings, wasters or boy's sports."
Barrett, Jay Botsford, English Society in the Eighteenth Century as Influence from Oversea [Macmillan, New York, 1924], page 221. Barrett cites this passage as Articles of Enquiry and Direction for the Diocese of Norwich, sigs. A3-A3v.
1638.2 - Archdeacon: Churchyards Are Not For Stoole-ball or "Other Profane Uses"
"Have any playes, feasts, banquets, suppers, churchales, drinkings, temporal courts or leets, lay juries, musters, exercise of dauncing, stoole-ball, foot-ball, or the like, or any other profane usage been suffered to be kept in your church, chappell, or churchyard?
Attributed to Mr. Dr. Pearson, Archdeacon of Suffolke, in Heino Pfannenschmid, Das Weihwasser [Hahn'sche Hofbuchhandlung, Hannover, 1869], page 74n.
1640.1 Stoolball Attracts Gentry, Rascals, Boys
"J. Smythe, in his Hundred of Berkeley (1640) gave the following admonition: 'Doe witness the inbred delight, that both gentry, yeomanry, rascallity, boyes, and children, doe take in a game called stoball. . . And not a sonne of mine, but at 7 was furnished with his double stoball staves, and a gamester thereafter.'"
M. S. Russell-Goggs, "Stoolball in Sussex," The Sussex County Magazine, volume 2, no. 7 (July 1928), page 320. John Smyth's three-volume Berkeley Manuscripts were published in 1883 by J. Bellows; Volume Three is titled "A description of the hundred of Berkeley in the County of Gloucester . . . ." Citation supplied by John Thorn, email of 1/30/2008.
1648.1 Short Herrick Poem Proposes a Wager on Stool-ball Game
"At Stool-ball, Lucia, let us play," offers the poet, then proposing that if he wins, he would "have for all a kisse."
Herrick, Robert, Hesperdes: or, the Works Both Human and Divine of Robert Herrick, Esq. [London], page 280, per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 171.
1652.1 Traveler in Wales Reports "Laudable" Sunday Games of "Trap, Cat, Stool-ball, Racket &c"
Taylor, John, A Short Relation of a Long Journey Made Round or Ovall [London], book 4, per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 172. A versifier recounts his journey to Wales, where he notes a lack of religious fervor, "so that people do exercise and edify in the churchyard at the lawful and laudable games of trap, cat, stool-ball, racket, &c., on Sundays."
1656.2 Two English Counties Agree: Stoolball Gets "Too Much Attention."
"The game [Stoolball] cropped up in 1656 in a pronouncement by the Counties of Cumberland and Westmoreland which said that "too much attention was being paid to 'shooting, playing at football, stoolball, wrestling.'"
SRA website, accessed 4/11/07. Note: we need a fuller citation and perhaps further text and motivation for these pronouncements.
1660c.1 Village Life: The Men to Foot-Ball, Maids and Kids to Stoolball
The biography of a 17th century lord includes "a nostalgic description of the little town of Kirtling" by the lord's son Roger, born in 1651, as follows:
"The town was then my grandfather's . . . it was always the custom for the youth of the town . . . to play [from noon when chores ended] to milking time and supper at night. The men [went to play] football, and the maids, with whom we children were commonly mixed, being not proof for the turbulence of the other party, to stoolball and such running games as they knew." Dale B. J. Randall, Gentle Flame: The Life and Verse of Dudley, Lord North (1602 - 1677 (Duke Univ. Press, 1983), page 56. The town of Kirtling is in Cambridgeshire, northeast of London.
1661.1 Galileo Galilei Discovers . . . Backspin!
The great scientist wrote, in a treatise discussing how the ball behaves in different ball games, including tennis: "Stool-ball, when they play in a stony way, . . . they do not trundle the ball upon the ground, but throw it, as if to pitch a quait. . . . . To make the ball stay, they hold it artificially with their hand uppermost, and it undermost, which in its delivery hath a contrary twirl or rolling conferred upon it by the fingers, by means whereof in its coming to the ground neer the mark it stays there, or runs very little forwards."
(see Supplemental Text, below, for a longer excerpt, which also includes the effect of "cutting" balls in tennis as a helpful tactic.)
Galileo Galilei, Mathematical Collections and Translations. "Inglished from his original Italian copy by Thomas Salusbury" (London, 1661), page 142.
Provided by David Block, emails of 2/27/2008 and 9/13/2015.
David further asks: "could it be that this is the source of the term putting "English" on a ball?"
Can we really assume that Galileo was familiar with 1600s stoolball and tennis? Is it possible that this excerpt reflects commentary by Salusbury, rather that strict translation from the Italian source?
1669.1 Shadwell Play Said to List Rural Games, including Stool-ball.
"The writer who took most interest in popular pastimes was Shadwell, whose rococo play The Royal Shepherdess was produced before the king in 1669. It included country folk who danced and sand of a list of genuine English rural games, such as trap, keels, barley-break, golf [and] stool-ball . . . ."
Hutton, Ronald, The Rise and Fall of Merry England: the Ritual Year, 1400-1700 (Oxford U Press, Oxford, 1994), page 235. Provided by John Thorn, email, 7/9/2004. Note: can we retrieve the full original list?
1671.1 Lusty Little Song Mentions Trap as "Innocent" Prelude to Heavy Petting
"Thus all our life long we are frolick and gay,/And instead of Court revels, we merrily play/At Trap, at Rules, and at Barly-break run:/At Goff, and at Foot-ball, and when we have done/These innocent sports, we'l laugh and lie down,/And to each pretty Lass/We will give a green Gown.
Ebsworth, Joseph W., Westminster Drolleries, Both Parts, of 1671, 1672 [R. Roberts, Lincolnshire, 1875], page 28. Note: Yes, the player's method for turning the gown to green is what you suspect it is. We'll see this gown again at #1719.1, below.
1672.1 Rev. Wilson Decries Sunday "Stool-Ball" and "Cricketts" Playing
In his memoirs, the Rev. Thomas Wilson, a Puritan divine of Maidstone, England, states: "Maidstone was formerly a very profane town, in as much as I have seen morrice-dancing, cudgel-playing, stool-ball, cricketts, and many other sports openly and publicly indulged in on the Lord's Day."
Note: Henderson covers Wilson, but doesn't reference him. In the text, he says that Wilson wrote a memoir in 1700, but doesn't use a year for the events that were then recalled. I assume that the 1672 date is taken from date clues in the whole text. Henderson's source may be his ref #167: see Woodruff, C.H., "Origin of Cricket," Baily's Magazine [London, 1901], Vol. 6, p. 51. David Block [page 173ff] describes how "base ball" was substituted for "stool-ball" in later accounts of Wilson' s biography, which he cites as Swinnick, George, The Life and Death of Mr. Tho. Wilson, Minister of Maidstone [London].
1672c.2 Francis Willughby's "Book of Games" Surveys Folkways: First Stoolball Rules Appear
Warwickshire scientist Francis Willughby (1635-1672) compiled, in manuscript form, descriptions of over 130 games, including, stoolball, hornebillets, kit-cat, stowball, and tutball [but not cricket, trapball or rounders]. He died at 36 and the incomplete manuscript, long held privately, became known to researchers in the 1990s and was published in 2003.
Willughby described stoolball as a game in which a team of players defended an overturned stool with their hands. Hornebillets, unlike stoolball and early cat games, involved using a bat, and also base-running [between holes placed 7 or 8 yards apart], but it used no ball - a cat was used as the batted object. A runner [running was compulsory, even for short hits] had to place his staff in a hole before the other team could put the cat in that hole. The number of holes depended on the number of players available. Stowball appears as a golf-like game. Kit Cat is described as a sort of fungo game in which the cats can be propelled 60 yards or more.
David Cram, Jeffrey L. Forgeng, and Dorothy Johnston, Francis Willughby's Book of Games: A Seventeenth Century Treatise on Sports, Games, and Pastimes [Ashgate Publishing, 2003].
See also L. McCray, "The Amazing Francis Willughby, and the Role of Stoolball in the Evolution of Baseball and Cricket," in Base Ball: A Journal of the Early Game, Volume 5, number 1 (Spring 2011), pages 17-20.
1677.1 Almanac's Easter Verse Mentions Stool-ball
"Young men and maids,/ Now very brisk,/ At barley-break and/ Stool-ball frisk."
W. Winstanley, Poor Robin 1677. An almanack after a new fashion, by Poor Robin [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 174.
1680.3 John Bunyan's Son Yields to "Drunkenness, Card-playing, Stoolball," Maypole Dancing
"Bunyan repeatedly emphasized that children should be taught about hell, and that they are accursed. 'Upon the Disobedient Child is written strictly from the parents' point of view. 'The rod of correction....is appointed by God for parents to use' Bunyan had written in Mr Badman, 'that thereby they might keep their children from hell.' But flogging in this case was not successful. 'Since this young Badman would not be ruled at home', his father put him out as an apprentice to a good man of his acquaintance.This familiar seventeenth-century practice did not work either. Bunyan's own eldest son, John, though apparently properly flogged in childhood, was by 1680 mixing with bad company (including another son of a member of Bunyan's church) and later took to 'drunkenness, card-playing, stoolball', and dancing round the maypole."
Christopher Hill, John Bunyan; A Turbulent, Seditious, and Factious People: John Bunyan and his Church (1989), page 270.
Another source attributes Hill's source as Particia Bell, "John Bunyan in Bedfordshire," in The John Bunyan Lectures (Bedfordshire Educational Service, 1978), pp. 35-36.
John Bunyan (1628-1688) was a Baptist preacher and author of The Pilgrim's Progress (1678 and 1684).
So . . . the quote was, perhaps, from a 1680 lecture by John Bunyan himslef?
1685.1 Juicy Early Description of Stool-ball is Written, Then Unread for 162 Years
Aubrey, John, Natural History of Wiltshire [London, Nichols and Son, 1847], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 210. Folklorist Alice Gomme [see below] called this the earliest description of stool-ball. Aubrey says "it is peculiar to North Wilts, North Gloucestershire, and a little part of Somerset near Bath. They smite a ball, stuffed very hard with quills and covered with soale leather, with a staffe, commonly made of withy, about three feet and a half long. Colerne down is the place so famous and so frequented for stobbal playing. The turfe is very fine and the rock (freestone) is within an inch and a halfe of the surface which gives the ball so quick a rebound. A stobball ball is of about four inches diameter and as hard as stone. I do not heare that this game is used anywhere in England but in this part of Wiltshire and Gloucestershire adjoining." From A. B. Gomme, The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland, 1964 reprint of 1898 text [New York, Dover], page 217.
1688.1 New Royals Reportedly Watch Stoolball
"It is reported that William III watched the game soon after he landed at Torbay, and that subsequently Queen Anne was an interested spectator."
M. S. Russell-Goggs, page 320. Note: we need to locate the full citations for this and all other Russell-Goggs references; short of this, we need to confirm the date of the Torbay landing. A cursory Google search does not reveal confirming evidence of this anecdote.
1690.1 Literary Simile: "Catch it Like a Stool-Ball"
Anon., The Pagan Prince: or a Comical History of the Heroik Atchievements of the Palatine of Eboracum [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 175. In this comical prose work, protection in battle was said to be provided by four Arch Angels - who, "when they see a Cannon Ball coming toward ye from any corner of the Wind, will catch it like a stool-ball and throw it to the Devil."
1694.1 Musical Play Includes Baudy Account of Stoolball
D'Urfey, Thomas, The comical history of Don Quixote [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 175. Block sees a "long, silly, bawdy rap song" in this play. It starts "Come all, great, small, short tall, away to Stoolball," and depicts young men and women becoming pretty familiar. It ends "Then went the Glasses round, then went the lasses down, each Lad did his Sweet-heart own, and on the Grass did fling her. Come all, great small, short tall, a-way to Stool Ball." Sounds like fun.
1694.2 Thaw Arrives; Cricket Added to Old List of "Evening" English Pastimes
"With a relaxation of attitudes towards sports at the Restoration cricket began to emerge from its position of relative obscurity with the printed word beginning to define it, along with other folk games, as an element of the national culture. Edward Chamberlyne's Anglia Notitia, a handbook on the social and political conditions of England, lists cricket for the first time in the eighteenth edition of 1694. 'The natives will endure long and hard labour; insomuch, that after 12 hours of hard work, they will go in the evening to foot-ball, stool-ball, cricket, prison-base, wrestling, cudgel-playing, and some such vehement exercise, for their recreation.'"
Source: Bateman, Anthony, "More Mighty than the Bat, the Pen . . . ;' Culture, Hegemony, and the Literaturisaton of Cricket," Sport in History, v. 23, 1 (Summer 2003), page 30.
Upon further examination, Protoball notes that Anglia Notitia actually has two ongoing areas of special interest. The first is the text above in part 1, chapter V, which had evolved through earlier editions - the 1676 edition - if not earlier ones - had already mentioned stow-ball [changed to "stoolball" as of 1694 or earlier], according to Hazlitt's Faith and Folklore. Cricket historian Diana Rait Kerr agrees that cricket was first added in the 18th edition of 1694.
Another section of Anglia Notitia catalogued English recreations. Text for this section - part 3, chapter VII - is accessible online for the 1702, 1704, 1707, and later editions. These recreations were listed in three parts: for royalty, for nobles and gentry, and for "Citizens and Peasants." Royal sports included tennis, pell mell and billiards. The gentry's sports included tennis, bowling, and billiards. And then: "The Citizens and Peafants have Hand-ball, Stow-ball, Nine-Pins, Shovel-board [and] Goffe," said the 20th edition . In the 22nd edition , cricket had been inserted as something that commoners also played. We find no reference to club ball, stick ball, trap ball, or other games suggested as precursors of baseball. The full title of Chamberlayne is Anglia Notitia, or the Present State of England: With Divers Remarks on the Ancient State Thereof. Chamberlayne's first edition apparently appeared in 1669; the 37th was issued in 1748. Another Chamberlayne excerpt is found at entry #1704.2 below.
John Thorn supplied crucial input for this entry. Note: It would be interesting to see whether earlier and later editions of Chamberlayne cite other games of interest.
1704.2 While the Rurals Had Stool-ball and Cricket, the Londoner Had "Blood-Stirring Excitement"
"[T]he growth of a commercial London failed to raise the tone of sporting tastes. While the countryman exercised vehemently at football, stool-ball, cricket, pins-on-base, wrestling, or cudgel-playing, there was fiercer and more blood-stirring excitement for the Londoner. Particularly at Hockley-in-the-Hole, one could find bear-baiting, bull-baiting and cock-fighting to his heart's content."
Chamberlayne, Edward, Anglia Notitia: The Present State of England [London, 1704 and 1748], page 51. Submitted by John Thorn, 7/9/04.
1711.1 Betty Was "a Romp at Stool-Ball"
"James before he beheld Betty, was vain of his strength, a rough wrestler . . . ; Betty [was] a publick Dancer at May-poles, a Romp at Stool-Ball. He was always following idle Women, she playing among the Peasants; He a Country Bully, she a Country Coquet."
Steele, Spectator number 71, May 22, 1711, page 2. Provided by John Thorn, emails of 6/11/2007 and 2/1/2008. The implication of the passage appears to be that women who played a game like stool-ball were unlikely to be chaste.
1715.1 Men Top Women in "Merry-Night" of Stoole Balle
"The Young Folks of this Town had a Merry-Night . . . . The Young Weomen treated the Men with a Tandsey as they lost to them at a Game at Stoole Balle."
T. Ellison Gibson, ed., Blundell's Diary, Comprising Selections from the Diary of Nicholas Blundell, Esq. (Gilbert G. Walmsley, 1895), diary entry for May 14, 1715, page 134. Note: "Tandsey" presumably refers to tansey-cakes, traditionally linked to springtime games.
1719.1 Trap and Stool-ball Help Set the Mood . . . Again
"Thus all our lives we're Frolick and gay,/And instead of Court Revels we merrily Play/ At Trap and Kettles and Barley-break run,/ At Goff, and at Stool-ball, and when we have done/ These innocent Sports, we Laugh and lie down,/ And to each pretty Lass we give a green Gown."
D'Urfey, Thomas, Wit and Mirth: or Pills to Purge Melancholy [London], Vol. 3, per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 177. Note: This closely mimics the verse found above at #1671.1.
1720.1 Puritans Thwarted Fun, "Even at Stool-ball"
In a strong anti-Presbyterian tract, Thomas Lewis noted that among Puritans "all Games where there is any hazard of loss are strictly forbidden; as Tennis, Bowles and Billiards; not so much as a Game at stool-ball for a Tansy, . . . upon Pain of Damnation."
Thomas. Lewis, English Presbyterian Eloquence: Or, Dissenters Sayings Ancient and Modern (T. Bickerton, London, 1720), page 17. Citation provided by John Thorn, email of 2/1/2008.
1733.1 Long Poem Describes Stool-Ball in Some Detail; First Evidence of Use of a Bat
The London Magazine, vol 2, December 1733 [London], page 637, per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 177. Block calls this account "the most complete and detailed portrayal of the game to date." It provides the earliest reference to the use of a bat, describes a game that does not involve running after the young [female] players hit the ball, and includes a description of the field and the assembled audience. Note: A bat had been described in Willughby's c.1672 account of hornebillets. Some actual text should be added here, if it can be captured.
1740.2 Almanack Sees Time Wasted at Stool-ball
"Much time is wasted now away/ At pigeon-holes and nine-pin play/. . . ./ At stool-ball and at barley-break,/Wherewith they at harmless pastime make."
W. Winstanley and Successors, Poor Robin 1740. An almanack after a new fashion [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 178.
1755.1 Johnson Dictionary Defines Stoolball and Trap
Stoolball is simply defined as "A play where balls are driven from stool to stool," and trap is defined as "A play at which a ball is driven with a stick."
Johnson, Samuel, A dictionary of the English language [London, 1755], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 179.
1780s.5 Diminished in its Range, Stoolball Still Played at Brighton
"The apparent former wide diffusion of stoolball was reduced in the 18th century to a few geographical survivals. It was played in Brighton to celebrate a royal birthday in the 1780s and by the early 19th century appeared to be limited to a few Kent and Sussex Wealden settlements."
John Lowerson, "Conflicting Values in the Revivals of a 'Traditional Sussex Game,' SussexAchaeological Collections 133 , page 265. Lowerson's source for the 1780s report seems to be F. Gale, Modern English Sports [London, 1885], pages 8 and/or 11.
1789.3 Stoolball Played at Brighthelmstone in Sussex
"From the 'Jernal' of John Burgess of Ditchling (Sussex) he wrote on Augest 17th 1789 that he went to Brighthelmstone 'to see many divertions which included Stoolball'."
The XVth (1938) Annual Report of the Stoolball Association for Great Britain [unpublished]. Provided by Kay and John Price, Fall 2009.
A web search doesn't lead to this journal entry, but does locate a similar one:
"[August 19, 1788] Went to Brighthelmstone to see many Divertions on account of the Rial Family that is the Duke of Yorks Berth day Cricketing Stool Ball Foot Ball Dancing &c. fire works &c." A side note was that some estimated that 20,000 persons attended.
Sussex Archaeological Society, Archaeololgical Collections, Volume XL. (1896), "Some Extracts from the Journal and Correspondence of Mr. John Burgess, of Ditchling, Sussex, 1785-1815," page 156. Accessed 1/31/10 via Google Books search ("john burgess" ditchling).
1797.4 "Grand Match" of Stoolball Pits Sussex and Kentish Ladies
"A grand Match of Stool-ball, between 11 Ladies of Sussex, in Pink, against 11 Ladies of Kent, in Blue Ribands."
Source: an undated reproduction, which notes "this is a reproduction of the original 1797 Diversions programme." The match was scheduled for 10am on Wednesday, August 16, 1797. Provided from the files of the National Stoolball Association, June 2007.
1801.1 Joseph Strutt Says Stoolball Still Played in North of England; But He Slights Cricket
Strutt, Joseph., The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England [London, 1801]. Need page reference [is on page 102 of 1903 edition]. Strutt's account does not portray stoolball as a running game, or one that uses a bat. Strutt also treats cricket [but only cursorily], trap-ball, and tip-cat . . . but not rounders or base-ball. David Block [page 183] points out that Strutt views a game he calls "club ball" as the precursor to this set of games, but notes that modern scholars are skeptical about this proposition.
1819.2 Scott's Ivanhoe Mentions Stool-ball
[The Jester speaks] "I came to save my master, and if he will not consent, basta! I can but go away home again. Kind service can not be checked from hand to hand like a shuttle-cock or stool-ball. I'll hang for no man . . . ."
Scott, Walter, Ivanhoe; A Romance (D. Appleton and Co., New York, 1904), page 257. Reference provided by John Thorn 6/11/2007.
1847.13 "Boy's Treasury" Describes Rounders, Feeder, Stoolball, Etc.
The Boy's Treasury, published in New York, contains descriptions of feeder [p. 25], Rounders [p. 26], Ball Stock [p. 27], Stool-Ball [p. 28], Northern Spell [p. 33] and Trap, Bat, and Ball [p 33]. The cat games and barn ball and town ball are not listed. In feeder, the ball is served from a distance of two yards, and the thrower is the only member of the "out" team. There is a three-strike rule and a dropped-third rule. The Rounders description says "a smooth round stick is preferred by many boys to a bat for striking the ball." Ball Stock is said to be "very similar to rounders." In stool ball, "the ball must be struck by the hand, and not with a bat."
The rules given for rounders are fairly detailed, and include the restriction that, in at least one circumstance, a fielder must stay "the length of a horse and cart" away from baserunners when trying to plug them out on the basepaths. For feeder and rounders, a batter is out if not able to hit the ball in three "offers."
Feeder appears to follow most rounders playing rules, but takes a scrub form (when any player is out he, he becomes the new feeder) and not a team form; perhaps feeder was played when too few players were available to form two teams.
The Boy's Treasury of Sports, Pastimes, and Recreations (Clark, Austin and Company, New York, 1850), fourth edition. The first edition appeared in 1847, and appears to have identical test for rounders and feeder.
Rounders and Feeder texts are cloned from 1841.1, as is 1843.3
It seems peculiar that rounders and ball stock are seen as similar; it is not clear that ball stock was a baserunning.
We have scant evidence that rouunders was played extensively in the US; could this book be derivative of an English pubication?
:Apparently so: the copy on Google Books says "Third American Edition," and the Preface is intensely redolent of English patriotism (" the noble and truly English game of CRICKET... ARCHERY once the pride of England") Whicklin (talk) 04:08, 11 March 2016 (UTC)
1850s.13 Trap Ball, Stool Ball, Well Established in Louisville KY
"Other forms of bat and ball games, like trap-ball and stool-ball, became well established in Louisville in the decade preceding the Civil War."
Bob Bailey, "Chapter 1 - Beginnings: From Amateur Teams to Disgrace in the National League (mimeo, 1990)', page 1. Bob (email, 1/27/2013) notes that his source for this observation is The Boy's Own Book: A Complete Encyclopedia of all the Diversions, Athletic, and Recreative, of Boyhood and Youth (Louisville, Morton and Griswold, 1854), page 67.
Can we obtain original sources?
1850s.50 Benefits for Adults Seen in Ballplaying in English Shire: Tutball Rules Described
"Yorkshire: Now only played by boys, but half a century ago [1850's] by Adults on Ash Wednesday, believing that unless they did so they would fall sick in harvest time. This is a very ancient game, and was elsewhere called stool-ball. [West Yorkshire]. Shropshire: Tut-ball; as played at a young ladies school at Shiffnal fifty years ago. (See also 1850c.34). The players stood together in their 'den,'behind a line marked on the ground, all except one, who was 'out', and who stood at a distance and threw the ball to them. One of the players in the den then hit back the ball with the palm of the hand, and immediately ran to one of three brick-bats, called 'tuts' . . . . The player who was 'out' tried to catch the ball and to hit the runner with it while passing from one 'tut' to another. If she succeeded in doing so she took her place in the den and the other went 'out' in her stead. This game is nearly identical with rounders."
Joseph Wright, The English Dialect Dictionary (Henry Frowd, London, 1905), page 277. Part or all of this entry appears to credit Burne's Folklore (1883) as its source.
Note: This describes a scrub form of tutball/rounders. It suggests that all hitting was forward, thus in effect using a foul line, as would make sense with a single fielder.
The claim that tutball and stoolball used the same rules is surprising; stoolball is fairly uniformly described as having but two bases or stools, and using a bat.
1860c.26 British Book Shows Several Safe-Haven Games - Cricket, Rounders, Feeder, Nine Holes, Doutee Stool, and Stoolball
Doutee Stool: After a ball is thrown or struck, players try to reach a stool further along a circle before the server can retrieve the ball and strike one of them [page 41-42].
Egg Hat: Player A throws a ball into another player's hat, say Player B. Player B tries to retrieve the ball and hit one of the fleeing others, or he is assessing an egg. Three eggs and you're out [pages 42-44].
Feeder: Batter must complete a circle of bases [clockwise] before the pitcher [feeder] retrieves the ball and hits him with it. Not described as a team game [pages 44-46].
Nine-Holes: Egg Hat without hats [pages 54-56].
Rounders: "a most excellent game, and very popular in some of our English counties." One-handed batting; teams of five or more, stones or stakes for bases, runners out be plugging or force-out at home, one-out-side-out, three strikes and out, balks allowed, foul balls in play [pages 57-60].
Stool-Ball: "an old English sport, mentioned by Gower and Chaucer, and was at one period common to women as well as men. Player defends against thrown ball hitting his stool [pages 61 ff]."
Ball Games with Illustrations (Routledge and Sons, London, 1860 [as annotated by the MCC]). Per Google Books, published in 1867.
1861.2 Stoolball Played, in Co-ed Form
"Stoolball was played at Chailey [Sussex] in 1861. Major Lionel King . . . first saw stoolball in the early 'sixties, while still a very small boy. He watched a game in a field belonging to Eastfield Lodge, Hassocks [Sussex], and both men and maidens were playing"
Russell-Goggs, in "Stoolball in Sussex," The Sussex County Magazine, volume 2, no. 7 (July 1928), page 322. Note: Russell-Goggs does not give a source for this report.