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Recent Acquisition

Rules of the
Hawksbill Society

An Unrecorded Shenandoah Valley Pamphlet

Rules of the Hawksbill Society for Apprehending Horse Thieves.
Printed in 1806 by Richard Bowen, Winchester, Virginia.

This is the only edition of an unrecorded Shenandoah Valley pamphlet. It sets out in eleven articles the rules of the Society, its geographical limits, and the names of the members and their plantations.

In the days before town constables, many towns formed groups of thief detectors from among the leading citizens. Stealing horses was so prevalent that it became necessary, in the language of the 1795 Worcester Association of Mutual Aid in Detecting Thieves, "for the well disposed to unite for protecting their property against the hostile incursions of unprincipled individuals and lawless freebooters that infest our community."

Stoddard Fund Article five of the Hawksbill Society states that a member must pursue a horse thief for at least 50 miles and if particular news is heard about the thief and the horse, a further 50 miles is allowed.

In 1977, the Worcester Thief Detectors dedicated themselves to a new mission: the support of the American Antiquarian Society.

Purchased on the Harry G. Stoddard Memorial Fund
August 2001

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