In a Little over a hundred years BSA has grown from a small union of gunsmiths to become one of Britain's important industrial groups. The story is not entirely one of steady progress and expansion; there is drama and excitement too. And because BSA has served its country more directly than most private concerns, its story is also part of Britain's history. To begin at the very beginning, however, it is necessary to go back much farther than a century - to the year 1689, infact, at the court of William and Mary. King William III, worried by threats of invasion, sharply criticised the practice of obtaining military weapons from Holland. He was overheard by Sir Richard Newdegate, an MP for Warwickshire,who immediately spoke up on behalf of his Birmingham constituents - among whom were many fine gunsmiths. The result was a trial order for five of the leading Birmingham smiths. It was satisfactorily carried out, and a firm contract was made between the Government and the quintet for the supply of 200 snaphance muskets a month"at seventeen shillings per piece, ready money".