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Game Bittle-Battle
Game Family Hook-em-snivy Hook-em-snivy
Regions Britain
Eras Predecessor
Invented No

A game called bittle battle is mentioned [[[as such?]]]  (but not described) in the famous 1086 Domesday Book in England. Some have claimed that this game resembled Stoolball:

[A] In fact, Gomme [1894, ] describes Bittle-Battle as “the Sussex game of ‘Stoolball.,’ but does not link it to the Domesday Book.

[B] Similarly, Andrew Lusted reports that an 1875 source lists bittle battle as "another word for stoolball," 

[C] Andrew Lusted also finds an 1864 newspaper account that makes a similar but weaker claim: "Among the many [Seaford] pastimes were bittle-battle, bell in the ring, . . . "

[D] From David Block: "the source of the Domesday myth appears to be in an article entitled “The Game of Stoolball” by Mary G. Campion from the January 1909 issue of “The Country Home.” She wrote: The game is an old one. It is mentioned in Domesday Book as Bittle Bat, and the present name of Stoolball is supposed to have originated from milkmaids playing it with their stools.” As you can see, she didn’t write 'bittle-battle', she wrote “battle-bat.” Grantham cited her but changed the name to 'bittle-battle.' Here is a link to the publication; the Campion article starts on p. 153:"


On the Domesday Book s-See Protoball Chronology #1086.1

[A.] Gomme, Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland, Volume 1 (Dover Press,  New York, 1964 -- orig. 1898), page 34.

[B] Lusted, Andrew, Girls Just Wanted to Have Fun, 2013, page 3, citing Rev'd W. D. Parish, Dictionary of the Sussex Dialect, 1875.

[C] Lusted, op. cit., page 28.  The source is the Sussex Advertiser, June 21, 1864.

[D] David Block, email of 12/6/2021.



"Another rule-bound version of an English folk sport was called town ball, the Massachusetts game or the New England game. It was played with a bat, a ball and four bases on a field sixty feet square, by eight to twenty players, each of whom kept his own individual tally. The New England game was also descended from a family of English traditional games, of which perhaps the nearest equivalent was called bittle-battle. Its rules were remarkably similar to modern baseball. Bittle-battle was played with four bases (each about a foot square) 48 feet apart. The pitcher stood 24 feet from home base, and each batter was out if the ball was caught, or if it touched a base before the batter reached it. The game of bittle-battle was played in southeastern England, particularly in Kent. It was brought to Massachusetts in the early seventeenth century, and became so common that by the eighteenth century it bore the name of the region."

Bell-Irving, "Mayfield: The Story of an Old Wealden Village" (1903), p. 16, says the following: "Stoolball, an old Sussex game, . . . is played by girls, and is similar to cricket, the chief difference being that a round bat is held up against a wicket board one foot square, on a post between four and five feet in height. Tradition says it was originally played by milkmaids, holding up their stools for wickets, hence its name. Another name for the game was 'bittle-battle' (bittle, a wooden milk bowl, bat, a piece of wood)." [ba]

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