Bowls historians believe that the game developed from the Egyptians. One of their pastimes was to play skittles with round stones. This has been determined based on artefacts found in tombs dating circa 5,000 BC. The sport spread across the world and took on a variety of forms, Bocce (Italian), Bolla (Saxon), Bolle (Danish), Boules (French) and Ula Maika (Polynesian).
The oldest bowling green still played on is in Southampton where records show that the green has been in operation since 1299. There are other claims of greens being in use before that time but these have not yet been
The most famous story in bowls, flat green at the time, is with Sir Frances Drake and the Spanish Armada. On July 18 1588, Drake was involved in a game at Plymouth Hoe when he was notified that the Spanish Armada was approaching.
His immortalised response was that \\\"We still have time to finish the game and to thrash the Spaniards too\\\". He then proceeded to finish the match which he LOST before embarking on the fight with the Armada which he WON.
Whether this famous story really took place has been heavily debated.
King Henry V111 was also a lawn (flat green) bowler. However he banned the game for those who were not wealthy or \\\'well to do\\\' because \\\"Bowyers, Fletchers, Stringers and Arrowhead makers\\\'\\\" were spending more time at recreational events such as bowls instead of practising their trade. He requested that anybody who wished to keep a green pay a fee of £100. However the green could only be used for private play and he forbade anyone to \\\"play any bowle or bowles in open space out of his own garden or orchard\\\"
King James 1 issued a publication called \\\"The Book of Sports\\\" and although he condemned football (soccer) and golf, encouraged the play of bowls. In 1845, the ban was lifted and people were again allows to play bowls and other games of skill.
The earliest documented use of the word \\\'Jack\\\' in bowls was penned by Shakespeare in the play \\\"Cymbeline\\\", thought to have been written in 1609 when he caused Cloten to exclaim \\\"was there ever man had such luck! When I kissed the jack, upon an up-cast to be hit away\\\".
However there are two more competing theories as to the historical origin of the word \\\'Jack\\\'. John P Monro (Bowls Encyclopaedia) gives that the name \\\'Jack\\\' is derived from the Latin word jactus, meaning to cast or a throw.
A sport played by young men called \\\"casting the stone\\\" is mentioned by William Fitzstephen in the preface of his biography Vita Sancti Thomae written during the twelve century. Casting of stones translates in Latin as \\\"jactu lapidum\\\" and was a game in which rounded stones were thrown at or bowled towards a target object and so some are persuaded that the modern word \\\'Jack\\\' derives originally from this term.
But the most straightforward theory and the one most favoured by many is that it appears that \\\'Jack\\\' in some contexts meant a slightly smaller version of something. For example a jack rabbit is a little rabbit. In this case a \\\"Jack Bowl\\\" was a little bowl , later shortened to \\\"Jack\\\". In 1697 R. Pierce wrote \\\"He had not strength to throw the Jack Bowl half over the green\\\".
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