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Sunday, 1 February 2015


In Ancient Britain the fine for insulting the king’s bard was six cows and eight pence.

In the 9th century, King Henry I of Saxony decreed that the fine for killing a cat should be sixty bushels of corn.

Geoffrey Chaucer was fined in his youth for beating up a Franciscan monk in London's Strand.

Queen Elizabeth I sanctioned a law in 1571 obliging everybody over the age of seven to wear a a "cap of wool knit" on Sundays and holidays. This was to help out the ailing wool trade. Non cap wearers were fined 3s 4d for each day of neglect. It was repealed in 1597 as unworkable.

William Shakespeare's Protestant father was fined by the authorities for non-attendance at church.

Christmas was banned in 1659 in Boston. Anyone found guilty of observing Yuletide or any other religious holiday was made liable to pay a fine of five shillings. The ban lasted for over 20 years before being repealed

The colony of South Carolina required "all persons whatsoever" to attend church each Sunday and refrain from skilled labor and travel. Violators of the "Sunday Law" could be fined 10 shillings or locked in the stocks for two hours.

In 1772 Scotland became the first country to make left-hand travel a national law, applying to all city traffic. (Offenders were fined 20 shillings, a substantial amount then.)

The Great Western Railway Bill of the 1840s made the company liable for a £20 fine for every locomotive or carriage discovered using the tracks on the Lord’s Day.

In June 1842 the inventor of the pedal bicycle, Kirkpatrick Macmillan decided to visit his brother in Glasgow on his contraption, a distance of 68 miles. However when he reached the Gorbals he knocked down a little girl who ran across his path and he was fined 5 Scots shillings for speeding at 8 mph. The magistrate initially declared that the highways of Britain had to be kept free of speedsters of his kind but later modified his opinions after the young inventor had shown him his bicycle and is said to have slipped him the money for the fine.

The first "officially recorded" baseball game between two different teams was played on June 19, 1846 at the Elysian Fields in Hoboken. The umpire fined one player six cents for swearing.

On January 28, 1896 Mr Walter Arnold of East Peckham, Kent became the first person to be fined for breaking the speed limit. He was fined one shilling plus nine shillings costs for driving his car at 8mph when the speed limit was 2mph.

When George Smith drove his taxi into a building in London's Bond Street in 1897 he became history’s first convicted drunk driver. Smith claimed he’d had only two or three beers but was fined £1.

Britain’s first holiday camp was Dodd’s socialist Holiday Camp at Caister-on-Sea in Norfolk, which opened in 1906. Accommodation was under canvas and anyone failing to keep his or her tent tidy was liable to a 6d fine for each offense.

Ray Charles had his first hit in 1949 with, "Confession Blues." The recording session for the song was noteworthy for another reason - Charles recorded it while there was a musicians' strike. The union fined him $600 - his life savings at that point - for the infraction.

The largest fine ever levied for an overdue library book was $345.14 (£203.29) for the poetry book Days And Deeds. It had been checked out of Kewanee Public Library in Illinois in the U.S. in 1955 by Emily Canellos-Simms, who returned it 47 years later after discovering it in her mother’s house.

History's most overdue library book, Dr. J. Currie's Febrile Diseases, was returned to the University of Cincinnati Medical Library in 1968. It had been checked out 145 years earlier by Mr. M. Dodd and was returned by his great-grandson, Richard Dodd. The fine, estimated at $2,264, was waived.

In 1970 John Lennon paid all of the fines for 96 people who had been arrested for protesting against the apartheid South Africa rugby team playing in Britain.

When the Skylab space station burned up in Earth's atmosphere  in 1979, the government of Western Australia fined Nasa $400 for littering. It was eventually paid in 2009.

In 1984, a U.S. library accused Michael Jackson of owing it over $1 million in overdue book fines. Officials said they would scrap the fines if he returned the books autographed.

In 2012 GlaxoSmithKline pleaded guilty to criminal charges of health care fraud and was fined a record US$3 billion.

Feeding the Barbary apes in Gibraltar is punishable under Gibraltar law by a fine of up to £4,000.

In Holland, you can be fined for not using a shopping basket at a grocery store.

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