Surreal law facts
The truth is always stranger than fiction.
Fish hooking a bad law
Samuel Mulford (1656-1725) was angry with England over its tax on whale oil, 50% of the catch. So angry that in 1716, the 70-year old New Yorker sailed for England to make his case directly to the British Government.
He landed in London and warned about pickpockets, he lined his pockets with fishhooks. Right away, he caught a pickpocket and had him arrested, with the news of the hook invention racing around London like wildfire. Almost instantly, pick pocketing ceased for fear of being hooked.
The British government asked him to attend their chamber and even King George I asked to meet this elderly and eccentric American.
When Mulford had his chance, he argued for the removal of the whale tax.
The whale tax was removed within a year and Samuel "Fishhook" Mulford returned to the American colonies a hero, having changed a taxation law by the power of a simple fishhook.
The best rent deal ever
Richmond, North Yorkshire is the Mother of all the Richmonds worldwide.
It also has the mother of all rent deals.
William the Conqueror rewarded his sympathizers by giving them land and his nephew Alan Rufus took the area near present-day Richmond. In 1071, Rufus started the construction of Richmond Castle on a hill above the Swale River. The town grew around the Castle and a tower was added in the 12th Century.
Since about 1136, the land upon which now stands much of the town-centre of Richmond has been perpetually leased (rented) from the British Crown for £29 (although instead of the modern word for rent, it was called a fee farm).
Mr. G. Coates, town clerk for the tenant, the Town of Richmond, adds:
"The fee farm was increased to £40 ... in 1268.
"During a recession in 1440 the inhabitants petitioned that they could not raise £40 and after setting up a commission to investigate King Henry VI issued a new charter reducing it to £12.
"For several centuries now the sum has been paid but refunded by the Crown, and used for charitable purposes."