I was searching for court records related to an ancestor of mine, Thomas Joy, who was a minor figure in a 1646 conspiracy in Massachusetts, related to a petition sometimes called “Child’s Remonstrance.” After jumping from Savage (vol. 2, p. 572) to Winthrop’s Journal (vol. 2, p. 308) I ended up at the Records of Massachusetts (vol. 2), which treats the conspiracy and its aftermath in several places. But more on that another day. The reason I’m writing today is that I found something in passing, something amusing that I want to share with you.
This transcript comes from 20 May 1647 (Records of Massachusetts, vol. II, p.195). In modern orthography and spelling, it reads:
Upon complaint of great disorder that hath been observed, and is like further to increase, by the use the game called shovelboard, in houses of common entertainment, whereby much precious time is spent unfruitfully, and much waste of wine and beer occasioned thereby; it is therefore ordered and enacted, by the authority of this Court, that no person shall henceforth use the said game of shovelboard in any such house of common entertainment, nor in any other house used as common for such purpose, upon pain for every keeper of such house to forfeit for every offence 20 shilling, & for every person playing at the said game in any such house to forfeit for every offence 5 shilling, and any magistrate may hear & determine any offence against this law.
For all I know, shuffleboard is still illegal in Massachusetts. Stranger things have happened. Pinball was banned in NYC until 1976.