Laws of Æthelberht, King of Kent, from around 600 A.D.
    (These are the earliest English laws, written in Anglo-Saxon, or Old English.  Mostly they appear to be a documentation of customary or oral law, and were therefore not legislation in the modern sense.  The writing of the laws seems to have happened soon after the king converted to Christianity and was introduced to the practice of writing by Augustine and the monks who accompanied him.  This file contains a sampling of the laws in Anglo-Saxon, along with a modern English translation)

Hunting Decree in the form of a writ, William I (the Conqueror)
    (Made between 1070 and 1088.  Modern enacted statutes do not yet appear in England.  Most of William's writs were in Latin only.  A few, like this one, were in Anglo-Saxon or Old English, perhaps to emphasize that--although he had conquered England and spoke French--he considered himself the legitimate heir of the Anglo-Saxon kings)

Statute of Marlborough (1267)
    (This appears to be the oldest English statute that is still (partially) in force today.  It might be the oldest statute that is in force anywhere in the world.  If you have other candidates, please email me.  I am not including religious laws like the Ten Commandments)

Treason Act (1351)
    (This act is also still in force today in England.  Note the broad definition of treason, which includes simply "imagining" the king's death. The act as presented is in English translation and includes only the part still in force; the original included many other acts, like counterfeiting the coinage of the realm.  As to the penalty, see the movie Braveheart.  I have added the original law French version.)

Statute of Pleading (1362)
    (Required use of English in court pleading, noting that French is much unknown in the realm. Nonetheless, lawyers continued to use French intermittently for another three centuries)

Early Arms Control Act (1383)

Treason Act (1495)
   (Around the time of Henry VII, statutes--like this one enacted in the 11th year of his reign--appear in English rather than Law French)

An Act agaynst wearing of costly Apparrell (1509)

An Acte for Lawes & Justice to be ministered in Wales in like fourme as it is in this Realme (1535)
    (Henry VIII benevolently extends to Wales the laws of England, relieving the Welsh of their "senister usages and customes", and noting that their "speche [is] ne consonant to the naturall mother tonge used within this Realme")

An Ordinance for the better observation of the Lords-Day (1644)
    (A Puritan statute passed during the Commonwealth.  Besides requiring observance of the Sabbath, it forbade maypoles, which the Puritans felt were heathen.)

An Act for turning the Books of the Law, and all Proces and Proceedings in Courts of Justice, into English (1650)
    (Another Puritan statute; note that it provided a reward to those who sued to enforce the law.  It was repealed after the monarchy was restored)

Statute of Frauds: text (1677); an original printing: photo1   photo2   photo3   photo4   photo5
    (This famous statute requires that various legal transactions be in writing or evidenced by a writing.  It contains several provisions relating to wills that are still in effect, in virtually the same terms, today in the United States)

The infamous British Tea Act of 1773
    (This was one of the causes of the American Revolution and led directly to the Boston Tea Party)

Welsh Language Act (1993)
      (This act sets up a board to promote the use of the Welsh language in public and requires public bodies dealing with Welsh speakers to establish a scheme to put Welsh and English on an equal footing.  The act (beginning in section 22) allows Welsh to be used in legal proceedings.  The act repeals legislation of Henry VIII in the sixteenth century that (re)incorporated Wales into England and the English legal system)


Act to Abolish Death Penalty, Maine, 1874 (photo)
    (This was apparently a legislator's copy, who kept track of the votes on the bottom of the page; it lost)

Some state statutes requiring plain English in certain classes of consumer documents (including the original New York law)

Various American state statutes declaring English the official language of the state.
     (This file is a few years old and might be a bit out of date.  The Arizona statute was ruled unconstitutional in the Ruiz case, posted elsewhere on this site)

The Iraq Liberation Act of 1998

Congressional Resolution Authorizing Use Of Military Force Against Iraq (2002)
    (It is generally accepted that a statute cannot be true or false.  But notice that the various propositions in the "whereas" clauses are clearly factual, and many of them are certainly false (Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, was harboring members of Al Qaida, etc.)