"lewd walking"

Baker, John M. JMB at STRADLEY.COM
Tue May 18 20:43:51 UTC 2010

        The prohibition on "wearing of bone lace, gold or silver
buttons" is not codified in the General Laws of Massachusetts.  I
suppose it's possible that it's an older statute, one that has never
been codified and, because everyone has forgotten about it, has never
been repealed, but if that is the case then its current status as a
penal statute is doubtful.  I'm generally quite skeptical of "weird law"

        "Lewd walking" probably refers to chapter 272, section 53 of the
General Laws:

Common night walkers, common street walkers, both male and female,
common railers and brawlers, persons who with offensive and disorderly
acts or language accost or annoy persons of the opposite sex, lewd,
wanton and lascivious persons in speech or behavior, idle and disorderly
persons, disturbers of the peace, keepers of noisy and disorderly
houses, and persons guilty of indecent exposure may be punished by
imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for not more than six
months, or by a fine of not more than two hundred dollars, or by both
such fine and imprisonment.

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
Of Joel S. Berson
Sent: Tuesday, May 18, 2010 10:08 AM
Subject: Re: "lewd walking"

At 5/17/2010 11:47 PM, Mark Mandel wrote:

>We lived for many years in Framingham, Mass., where mny wife was an
>of the elected Town Meeting. She points out to me that there may well
>once been a charge of "lewd walking" on the books, that it could have
>removed in a cleanup some years ago, and that the person making the
>was unaware of the change. Or maybe it counts as an older name for the
>behavior. There have been a number of such antiquated loaws, some with
>now-quaint names, on the books of the Commonwealth, though none spring
>this weary mind. (11:46 pm)

Some of the antiquated laws are still on the books of the
Commonwealth, at least according to an article titled "Back and blue"
(Boston Globe, Dec. 4, 2005).  One of these, allegedly, is "wearing
of bone lace, gold or silver buttons" by anyone whose personal worth
does not exceed 200 pounds.  But I have been unable to confirm the
continued presence of this regulation.

As for "lewd walking," I have not yet tried to find this in the
statute books of the colony or province of the Massachusetts Bay.


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