Institutes of the Laws of England

It is an English Proverb, That many men talk of Robin Hood, that never shot in his Bow: and because the Statutes and Records hereafter mentioned cannot be well understood, unless it be known what this Robin Hood was that hath railed a name to these kind of men called Robersdmen, his followers, we will describe him.

This Robin Hood lived in the reign of King R. I. in the borders of England and Scotland, in woods and desarts, by robbery, burning of houses, felony, waste and spoile, and principally by and with Vagabonds, idle wanderers, night walkers, and drawlatches: so as this notable thief gave not only a name to these kind of men, but there is a Bay called Robin Hood’s Bay, in the River of           in Yorkshire. And albeit he lived in Yorkshire, yet men of his quality took their denomination of him, and were called Roberdsmen, throughout all England.

Against these men was the Statute of Winchester made in 13 E. 1. for preventing of robbery, murders, burning of houses, etc. Also the statute of 5 E. 3. Which reciteth the statute of Winchester, and that there had been divers manslaughters, felonies and robberies done is times past by people that be called Roberdsmen, Wasters, and Drawlatches; and remedy is provided by that Act for the arresting of them.

At the Parliament holden 50 E. 3. It was petitioned to the king that Ribauds and sturdy Beggers might be banished out of every town. The answer of the king in Parliament was touching Ribauds, the Statute of Winchester and the declaration of the same, with other* statutes of Roberdsmen; and for such as make themselves Gentlemen, and men of Armes and Archers, if they cannot prove their selves, let them be driven to their occupation or service, or to the place from whence they came.

It is provided by the Statute of 7 R. 2. that the statutes made in the time of King Edward, Grandfather of the King, of Roberdsmen and Drawlatches, be firmly holden and kept, and further provision against Vagabonds wandering from place to place. See a Law made in the first Parliament of Queen Mary, Anno Dom. 1555 in Scotland against Robin Hood, Little John, and etc.