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"Bursted, Sussex, 1666. Richard Bassett, the old clarke of this parish, who had continued in the office of clarke and sexton for the space of 43 years, whose melody tumbled forth as if he had been thumped on the back with a stone, was buried the 20th Sept."
66 Kyloe, Northumberland. 1696. Buried, Dec. 7. Henry, the son of Henry Watson of Fenwick, who lived to the age of 36 years and was so great a fool that he never could put on his own close, nor never went a mile off yo house in all this space."
"Bp. Middleton, Durham. A poor maide of Cornforth having a decease in a legge buried Maii 20, 1674."
I never before heard of a decease in the leg, but I have heard repeatedly in my own village of an absence in the same, or some other, part of the body.
I will add here a most charming inscription from the Melton Mowbray book, dated 1670, and written after the fashion dear to lawyers, viz., without a single stop:
"Here is a Bill of Burton Lazars of the people which was buried and which was and married above 10 years old for because the clark was dead and therefore they were not set down according as they was But they are all set down sure on nough one among another here in this place."
I must not omit to add that these irregularities in the registration during the time of the Great Rebellion, although very general, were not universal. It is mentioned by Mr. Methuen, in his valuable and exhaustive paper upon the history of All Cannings in the Magazine of our Society (vol. xi., p. 189), that the books were regularly kept and the entries appear to have been made contemporaneously during
The English of this gentlemen can be well capped by a piece of Latin occuring on a monumental slab in Cherhill Church. There are commemorated on this slab the virtues of a certain good woman who died in her fifty-third year "Etatis suæ." But when her husband came to die, he, being a man, is recorded on the same slab to have departed in the seventy-third year" Ætatis sui." To persons who do not understand Latin, (in case my paper should chance to fall into the hands of any such) it would be impossible to explain by translation the exquisite absurdity of this piece of grammar. I can only parallel it by saying that it is as if a groom should equip his steed with a man's saddle or a side saddle, not according to the sex of the person about to ride, but according as the animal to be ridden was a horse or a mare!
the whole of this period at the chapelry of Etchilhampton in that parish.
At the Restoration, the register books returned naturally to the care of the clergy, where they have ever since remained.
The Cherhill books begin in 1690-one year after the accession of William and Mary. From this date until 1754 we have only one book used at a time, made of vellum, with baptisms and marriages at one end and burials at the other, until they met in the middle and a new book had to be begun. In the books of Broad Hinton, however, of this period (and in fact from the time of their commencement in 1611) the three entries appear to have been kept in parallel columns, the baptisms generally taking up more than one half of the page, the burials a smaller portion, and the marriages being inserted vertically between them. The most curious thing that I find in the Cherhill books of this time is a horoscope, or what I suppose to be such. This occurs opposite to the entry of the baptism of one Hesther Smith in February, 170, and is as follows:
II ↑ *
What the connection is between the zodiacal signs and the figures placed beneath them, or what is the nature of the calculation, I have been unable to discover, and should feel greatly beholden to anyone who could inform me. The only other apparent reference to astrology with which I am acquainted is one mentioned by Burns, in his History of Parochial Registers. This is at St. Edmund's,
1 This fractional-looking way of writing dates in the first three months of the year, arising from the beginning of the ecclesiastical year on March 25th, and of the legal year on January 1st, although of frequent occurence, is by no means universal. This "ecclesiastical" year is of course not to be confused with the spiritual year, often called ecclesiastical, which begins in Advent. In an old Prayer Book in my possession, printed at Oxford in 1740, is a “ Note, that the Supputation of the year of our Lord in the Church of England beginneth the 5th and 20th day of March."
Dudley, where, under date of 1539 we are informed that Samuell, son of William Smithe, Clarke, Vicare of Duddly, was born on Friday morning at 4 of the clock, being the xxviij day of February. The sign of that day was the middle of Aquarius N, the sign of the month, the plenet of the day, plenet of the same ower and the morrow day. Whose name hath continued in Duddly from the conqueste."
To the same valuable and scarce work I am indebted for the fact (on which the author is a good authority, he having been in the office of the Registrar-General), that the best preserved of the register books of the kingdom are those of marriage; next, those of burial; and worst, those of baptism (pp. 100, 144). And furthermore for the following curious saying, which he states to be an old English proverb: "The marriage of a young woman and a young man is of God's making, as Adam and Eve of an old man and a young woman of our Lady's making, as Mary and Joseph: but of an old woman and a young man by the Author of Evil" (p. 165.)
The handwriting in these old books is remarkably good and careful -much better than what I find a century later. It is curious to see the German form of the letter e gradually passing through the form (very similar to an o) which held its ground for so long a time into that in which it appears in modern manuscript. The two latter forms are not uncommonly found together in the same word. And in the same way I see an instance of the German and the modern English occurring together in the name of Elizabeth Preter, in 1723. The gradual transformation of the ff into F may also be traced, the second stroke getting smaller and smaller until it disappears in the detached central stroke which is at present used. These two forms also coexist in the case of the same name, borne by the same person; whence it has come, no doubt, that some families have retained the one form as Ff and others of cognate origin have been content with F. In a like way I trace the manner in which names now widely different have been derived one from the other. Maskelyne becomes Masklyne; then a little later Maskling; then Masling; and then the now not uncommon form of Maslen. So Talbot becomes Tolbit-then Tobit; in which form it would no
doubt be referred by a casual observer who was unacquainted with its real history, to a scriptural origin. Similarly the now not uncommon Wiltshire name of Amor has nothing whatever to do with the widespread influence which is denoted by that word in Latin, but is simply a corruption of Aylmer, as traceable in the registers of St. Katharine's, Savernake. Spelling is, I need scarcely say, a matter of the most perfect indifference up to a very short while ago. There are repeated instances in the Cherhill books of the same name being spelled differently in the same entry; and in successive entries the variety is infinite. Ealey, Ealy, Elly, Ely, and Hely all occur within the space of one generation for the same family. So Hazel, Hazell, Hasel, Heasel, and Hezel. And this list I might multiply almost indefinitely.'
In Christian names the great crux appears to have been the name of Rebecca, which occurs in almost every imaginable spelling, the most curious perhaps being Rebakko, in 1716, and Rabacko, in 1725. In the name of Elizabeth the only question appears to have been whether to assign the a to the second syllable and the e to the last, or vice versa. Hester appears in the curious form of Easter, in 1724, and Martha in that of Mattha (as it is even now often pronounced), five years later. Sarah similarly becomes Sary, in 1734, and Saro on a subsequent occasion; Alice, Ellis, in 1756, and Elice, in 1721; while we get at different times such strange, yet clearlyrecognizable designations as Meriah, Georog, Edwan, Meery, and Edument. One Lucy Alexander has been unfortunate in the spelling of both her names, appearing as Lusy Elxander in 1739. Three Christains appear to one Christian: eight Hannahs spell their name with one against fourteen who enjoy the usual number: and although we have one Winifred, the balance of testimony is largely in favour of Wineford. An Orford, baptized in 1833, I strongly suspect to have been named, not after the noble house of Walpole,
1 So in the records of my own family, the last syllable of our name is spelled in no less than five different ways. And I actually find one of my ancestors inscribed on the Scottish Parliamentary Roll with one spelling in 1670, and his brother appointed Commissioner of Supply for the county with another spelling in 1615, while they were both of them making contemporaneous entries in our family Bible with a third!
but after the cake-burning king. In 1798 I find an entry (written in so clear a hand that not one of the letters is mistakeable) of the burial of "Besepty, Daughter of Eristper Bromham." This means of course Bessy, daughter of Christopher, and occurs in a hand quite different from that of any of the entries either before or after. My idea is that for some reason or other the churchwarden or clerk took upon himself to enter it, and not being able to read the memorandum made by the clergyman, put it in this curious form. And from the initial letter of Christopher being taken for an E, we learn no doubt that the less educated people still wrote that vowel in the German way, which had long been abandoned by the more educated. Letitia appears as Lettisha, in 1752, and at a later period as Lettechia. In the first of these entries it was originally written in a large bold hand Purtishah, but through this the pen has been passed, and Lettisha written twice above it. This spelling is however sometimes even now a matter of deliberate choice. 1 have myself been obliged to write Millicent in the registers with an intruded between the second and third syllables, despite my protest; and nothing will disabuse some of my parishioners of the idea that they are right in compelling me to enter Winifred as "Wineford," however much I may wince under the operation. Among other curious names in the Cherhill registers I may mention Israel as a girl's baptismal name in 1751, and Francis as that of a woman whose marriage is recorded in 1722. The common name of Dyke is metamorphosed into Diyck; and the current pronunciation of Rawlings is shewn by its being spelled "Rollings," even as the entry of "Piteryealy " accuses the shortened penultimate and preposed y customary in these two names; and, as I fear, that of "John Arris" at Newington Butts, in 1689, shews an indifference to aspirates which is not without a parallel even in the present day. In 1598 I find the name of Hugh spelled "Hewge" in the records of St. Matthew's, Friday Street, London. And (to add here a few more curious names which I have extracted from the registers of this parish, and also from those of St. Peter's Cheap,) the following appear as Christian names of males, Hanniball, Stylas, Armynger, All Santis (All Saints), Bowlas, Galfrid, Zuraizaday, and Purifie. Of females, Adlyn, Armenelle, Eriphine, Alse,