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1610-1619: Sports; social issues and crime; folkways; fashion; holidays.

Colonists from Europe brought with them their customs with regard to recreation. As early as May of 1611, the men of Jamestown, Va., played a game of bowls in the street, the first such event on record. At Christmas in 1625, a Virginian recorded that "the extreame winde, rayne, froste and snow caused us to keepe Christmas among the savages where we were never more merry, nor fed on more plenty of good Oysters, Fish, Flesh, Wilde fowl and good bread, nor never had better fires in England." In 1619, however, Virginia prohibited gaming at dice or cards. A few years later the Pilgrim and Puritan fathers of New England frowned on almost all frivolity.


Women started to arrive in Virginia. Unlike the Puritans in the North, Virginia settlers came over "not as men, but more as soldiers sent out to occupy an enemy's country." The arrival of women insured the growth and development of permanent communities.


In a move to compel church attendance, Gov. Samuel Argall of Virginia decreed that all who failed to attend church service would be imprisoned in the guardhouse, "lying neck and heels in the Corps of Gard ye night following and be a slave ye week following." Sunday dancing, fiddling, card playing, hunting, and fishing were also forbidden.


Laws restricting personal behavior were enacted in Virginia. Penalties were provided for excesses in apparel unbefitting a person's station in life; gambling at dice or cards was prohibited; drinking was strictly regulated; Sabbath observance was required; and anyone found idle was to be bound over to perform compulsory work. According to court records, violations of these laws were strictly enforced.

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Author:Carruth, Gorton
Publication:Encyclopedia of American Facts & Dates, 9th ed.
Article Type:Reference Source
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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