Sunday, November 1, 2015

No, Lipstick wasn't made illegal in 1770

"In 1770, British Parliament banned lipstick, saying it had the power to seduce men in to (sic) marriage, which was classified as witchcraft" -, 'history fact of the day' October 27, 2015

First off, any law or proposed laws in the UK parliament have to be published in the London Gazette - - this can easily be searched to show no such law was ever proposed in parliament.

This myth seems to have originated from a filler piece in a Richmond, Virginia newspaper from 1861 - fillers, as the name implies, were short paragraphs to fill up space in a paper - they were written on the spot if there was a blank space in the layout of the page that needed to be filled, and they tended to be humorous articles that were not meant to be taken seriously:

False pretences.

--A law against obtaining husbands under false pretences, passed by the English Parliament in 1770, enacts--‘"That all women, of whatever age rank, profession or degree, who shall after this act, impose upon, seduce, and betray into matrimony any of his Majesty's subjects, by virtue of scents, paints, cosmetic washes, artificial teeth, false hair, iron stays, bolstered hips, or high-heeled shoes, shall incur the penalty of the law now in force against witchcraft and like misdemeanors and the marriage, under such disbursement upon conviction of the offending parties, shall be null and void:"’


  1. I first came across this in a book called "perfumery with herbs" by Ivan Day, 1979. It further stated that it hadn't been repealed.
    I attended University for a Law degree in the late 90's and had access to the Law Library and searched high and low in the books to substantiate the claim.

  2. Well, it is true that you can't repeal something that doesn't exist in the first place.

  3. Yea I read this in shannon book the predatory females but it didn't quit sit well with me

  4. This "act of 1770"(?) was cited in a 1907 work by Bartlett Burleigh James, "Women of England," p. 318 ( It is quoted from that source in Will and Ariel Durant's, "The Story of Civilization," Vol. 9, "The Age of Voltaire" p. 76.

    1. This quote or assertion of such an Act in 1770,... is mirrored in the book about - John Wesley and Marriage - page 90; By Bufford W Cole >>>>,+and+like+misdemeanors+ACT+1770&source=bl&ots=szaq3jWFIb&sig=Fg8RlD2qRzlIXqxyuMhRPMtbNsA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjVttTe9YLbAhVkJ8AKHXY3BboQ6AEITjAD#v=onepage&q&f=false

  5. Thank you so much. Saw this on FB today thru somebody I know who never read an urban legend he didn't believe. Good grief, read the novels of the times right up to and including Jane Austen and you'll see that maquillage for one thing was supposed to hide and cure syphilis lesions (due to the lead content :-O ) . This too.