Sunday, 10 November 2013

Bromley Parish Register Burials in Woollen

My in box as an Online Parish Clerk contains many queries in the earlier parish registers for Bromley area parishes and the question arises why "burial in Woollen". I am currently working on the Bromley burial in Woolen  register from 1678-1778.
In 1666, Charles II signed into English law (Cha.II ch.4 1666) a law which required a corpse to be buried only in a shroud or clothing made of wool. In 1678 the original Act was repealed and the 1678 repeal Act remained in force until 1814. The original Act is explained here
Fear of importation threatened the woolen trade and Parliamentary constituencies involved in the wool trade led to the Acts. A failure to comply lead to a £5 Fine or seizure of goods to that value. The sale of seized goods was directed to the parish poor house and was to be used by the Church wardens and Commissioners of the poor to assist the destitute and any able bodied to be put to work. If a relative informed of non-compliance they received 50% of the fine money and this lead to abandonment of wool for other materials and non compliance.
The 1666 Act exempted plague burials and the Bromley Composite register from 1578-1677 includes the early operation of the Act. The 1678 Burial Register begins:
"A Register of Burials in the parish of Bromley in the County of Kent,according to an Act of Parliament in the 30th year of  His Majesty's reign and in the year 1678"
The Bromley Register has a column of dates of Burial and a column of dates of Affidavits. The Act required an affidavit to be obtained from the Mayor, Justices of the Peace or two creditable persons within 8 days of burial. The Bromley registers between 1678 and the mid 1690's demonstrate very few non compliant burials although infant burials have a burial date only. By the mid 1690's dates are no longer recorded but the affidavit column reflects the name of the person signing the affidavit. The affidavits were perhaps kept in the parish chest and many would not survive.
The Bromley register provides little evidence of non compliance and the clergy could organise signatures to comply in nearly all cases, named Doctors and Esquires exist in the Bromley register as well as clergy in the town including chaplain to Bromley College. In other parish registers I have experienced large non compliance and  I recall Alexander Pope in his Moral Essays Epistle 1 refers to the words of Mrs Narcissa Oldfield (an actress). Pope read of her burial in a Brussels lace headdress, a dutch lace embroidered shift and new kid gloves.
"Odious in woollen! 'twould a saint provoke!
(Were the last words that Narcissa spoke).
No let a charming chintz and Brussels lace
Wrap my cold limbs, and shade my lifeless face"
The transcript of this Bromley register is currently being compiled for online publication in 2014.
All of the transcripts for Bromley Parishes are gathered on one page at Kent Online Parish Clerks Bromley Transcripts
One feature of Bromley in the seventeenth century is the burial register record of  nurse children from London and the names of those nursing them (mainly male). These entries precede the foundation of the London Foundling Hospital of which the most authoritative writing is Anthony J.Camp MBE,BA (Hons) FAGP,FUGA,FAGRA contribution London Foundling Hospital:Reclaimed Foundlings This is consistent with the registers of nearby parishes like Keston with other nurses recorded in the burial registers.
Copyright (c) Henry Mantell 2013