Early animal protection laws in the English-speaking world According to Richard D. Ryder, the first known animal protection legislation in the English-speaking world was passed in Ireland in 1635. It prohibited pulling wool off sheep, and the attaching of ploughs to horses' tails, referring to "the cruelty used to beasts."[17] In 1641 the first legal code to protect domestic animals in North America was passed by the Massachusetts Bay Colony.[18] The colony's constitution was based on The Body of Liberties by the Reverend Nathaniel Ward (15781652), an English lawyer, Puritan clergyman, and University of Cambridge graduate. Ward list of "rites" included rite 92: "No man shall exercise any Tirrany or Crueltie toward any bruite Creature which are usuallie kept for man's use." Historian Roderick Nash (1989) writes that, at the height of Rene Descartes' influence in Europeand his view that animals were simply automatait is significant that the New Englanders created a law that implied animals were not unfeeling machines.[19] The Puritans passed animal protection legislation in England too. Kathleen Kete writes that animal welfare laws were passed in 1654 as part of the ordinances of the Protectoratethe government under Oliver Cromwell (15991658), which lasted from 1653 to 1659, following the English Civil War. Cromwell disliked blood sports, which included cockfighting, cock throwing, dog fighting, bull baiting and bull running, said to tenderize the meat. These could be seen in villages and fairgrounds, and became associated with idleness, drunkenness, and gambling. Kete writes that the Puritans interpreted the biblical dominion of man over animals to mean responsible stewardship, rather than ownership. The opposition to blood sports became part of what was seen as Puritan interference in people's lives, and the animal protection laws were overturned during the Restoration, when Charles II was returned to the throne in 1660 Against Descartes, the British philosopher John Locke (16321704) argued, in Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693), that animals did have feelings, and that unnecessary cruelty toward them was morally wrong, but that the right not to be harmed adhered either to the animal's owner, or to the human being who was being damaged by being cruel. Discussing the importance of preventing children from tormenting animals, he wrote: "For the custom of tormenting and killing of beasts will, by degrees, harden their minds even towards men."[25] Locke's position echoed that of Thomas Aquinas (12251274). Paul Waldau writes that the argument can be found at 1 Corinthians (9:910), when Paul asks: "Is it for oxen that God is concerned? Does he not speak entirely for our sake? It was written for our sake." Christian philosophers interpreted this to mean that humans had no direct duty to nonhuman animals, but had a duty only to protect themselves from the effects of engaging in cruelty.

The 19th century saw an explosion of interest in animal protection, particularly in England. Debbie Legge and Simon Brooman write that the educated classes became concerned about attitudes toward the old, the needy, children, and the insane, and that this concern was extended to nonhumans. Before the 19th century, there had been prosecutions for poor treatment of animals, but only because of the damage to the animal as property. In 1793, for example, John Cornish was found not guilty of maiming a horse after pulling the animal's tongue out; the judge ruled that Cornish could be found guilty only if there was evidence of malice toward the owner.[32] From 1800 onwards, there were several attempts in England to introduce animal protection legislation. The first was a bill against bull baiting, introduced in April 1800 by a Scottish MP, Sir William Pulteney (17291805). It was opposed inter alia on the grounds that it was anti-working class, and was defeated by two votes. Another attempt was made in 1802, this time opposed by the Secretary at War, William Windham (17501810), who said the Bill was supported by Methodists and Jacobins who wished to "destroy the Old English character, by the abolition of all rural sports." In 1809, Lord Erskine (c. 17461828) introduced a bill to protect cattle and horses from malicious wounding, wanton cruelty, and beating. He told the House of Lords that animals had protection only as property: "They have no rights. [It is] that defect in the law which I seek to remedy." The Bill was passed by the Lords, but was opposed in the Commons by Windham, who said it would be used against the "lower orders" when the real culprits would be their employers