The first generally accepted code of Laws for cricket was issued in 1744.
Prior to that, rules were generally agreed by the participants in advance of a given match, such as those agreed by the Duke of Richmond and Mr Brodrick in 1727. Neither these, nor the later Laws, offered any guidance on how to play the game – this was considered to be generally understood – instead they provided agreement on likely areas of dispute, an important consideration when significant sums of money were often at stake.
Gambling was rife amongst the English aristocracy in the 18th century and they found in cricket an excellent outlet for their passion. Many nobles assembled their own teams and challenged their contemporaries to matches; a ‘purse’ of a thousand guineas was not unusual. As the game grew in prominence and popularity, the need for a consistent framework of rules for the game became apparent. Cricket’s wealthy patrons began to meet frequently to revise the game’s Laws, at places like the Star and Garter in Pall Mall. When the new Marylebone Club began to attract these same patrons, it was natural for MCC to issue a new code of Laws. Lord’s would be the legislative and administrative centre of cricket for the next two centuries. MCC remains custodian of the Laws of Cricket to this day.