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Poaching 1

What is Poaching? Poaching is the illegal trapping and hunting of animals such as deer, hares, pigeons etc.

Before 1750 - Forbidden by contradictory laws in the 14th Century.

Why Poach?

  • Some poachers did it for a profit by supplying food to the black market. - The black market came about because it became illegal to trade game.
  • •Some people poached to provide food for their family.

The Aristocracy

  • Saw poaching as an attack on their own right and as an invasion of their property.
  • Owned the game so they believed they were the only ones who could hunt.


  • Not a harsh offence - no intrusion into or a house or persons clothings.
  • imprisonment or fine
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Poaching 2

After 1750 - Why Poach?  Need& Greed


  • Lots of rural poverty
  • Enclosure movement of 18th Century deprived people of land --> many became labourers. --> Wages were low, diet was worse. ---> Poaching
  • Poachers thought of as HEROES, people rescued them from keepers and Police and intimidated people who took them to court.


  • Poaching could never be justified
  • Police & Estate owners thought there was no connection between Poverty and Poaching.
  • Thought profits spent in pubs instead of food. --> Many did.
  • Most poaching gangs in pubs
  • The gangs grew in size between 1830 and 1970.
  • Poaching became more tempting as Estate Owners were building up their game.
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Poaching 3


  • Authorities introduced a variety of man-traps and spring-guns - to kill, mutilate or break legs - DETERRENT
  • Punishments became worse 
  • Longer time of imprisonment
  • Less fortunate, 1816, transported to Australia for 14 years.
  • Poaches hanged between 1750 and 1820 - especially for carrying a firearm or injuring a gamekeeper.
  • During 1830s man traps etc were made illegal.
  • ACT in 1883 allowed tennants to kill rabbits, hares and hares on their own farms - ending old game laws. 
  • BUT law still heavy in poachers. Poaches still transported, or imprisoned up to 7 years.
  • POACHING PREVENTION ACT of 1862 - anyone suspected of poaching could be searched. 
  • in 19th centurys, poaching treated more harshly than any other types of theft/

This shows that the views of poaching changed more slowly than many other forms of theft on property since 1750.

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