The Capper's Act, 1488

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TIDBIT: In Henry VII's reign it became a legal requirement for every man to wear a knitted cap on Sundays.

Henry VII reigned from 1485 to his death in 1509. The only real reference I can find to back this up is from Elizabeth Hurlock, Elizabeth who says during the 16th century [...] velvet caps, made from material coming from Italy and France, were the stylish headgear for men. To encourage home production, England passed a law compelling all persons over six years of age, except those of high position, to wear woolen caps, made in England, on Sundays and all holy days. This law remained in effect for twenty-six years... [1]

The Cappers' Act of 1488 fixed the prices of knitted caps and hats and heavy fines were imposed on anyone wearing a foreign-made cap or hat, half for the King, half for the informer, and in 1512 an Act decreed that '...no caps or hats ready wrought should be brought from beyond the seas...'. However, by 1529 Bristol's cappers were already complaining to the Court of the Star Chamber that cappers from London were threatening the livelihood of hundreds of carders, spinners and knitters in Bristol. The Elizabethan Statute of 1571 was 'An Act for the Continuance of the Making of Caps' and it lists fifteen distinct crafts in their manufacture insisting that '. ..all above the age of six years except some of certain state and condition, shall wear upon the Sabbath and Holydays, one cap of wool knit, thicked and dressed in England, upon the forfeiture of 3s. 4d....'. Women were similarly restricted, and all Citizens' wives '...were constrained to wear white knit caps of woollen yarn, unless their husbands were of good value in the Queen's book, or could prove themselves gentlemen by descent...' This imposition was however resented and ignored with only the conscientious obeying, and the Statute Cap was frequently ridiculed. It did little to help the declining industry, and the Act was finally repealed in 1597. [2]

Copyright 2001-3 Vicki Eldredge. All Rights Reserved
sources:
[1] Hurlock, Elizabeth "Sumptuary Law." In Dress, Adornment and the Social Order, edited by Mary Ellen Roach and Joanne Bubolz Eicher. New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 1965.
[2] The Isca Morrismen, at http://freespace.virgin.net/les.chittleburgh/monmouth.htm (graphic also)