England, Genealogy

Buried In Woollen

‘Buried in Woollen’ What an odd sentence!

So I thought, whilst indexing very old, late 17th century documents for the church of Jesus Christ of  Latter Day Saints. I was indexing English burials and once started on the list, nearly every name was also accompanied by an affidavit stating that the person was  ‘Buried in Woollen’

It seemed to be very important to state this on the burial affidavits. I wondered about this unusual practice and decided to find out.

The museum in Hungerford, Berkshire England shows an affidavit similar to the one I was indexing.

I have written it out as it states on the affidavit.  Note that the letter ‘F” reads as an ‘S” in Old English.

It says:

Name of deceased……….of the Parifh of………….maketh Oath that…………………of the Parifh of lately deceased, was not put in, wrapt or wound up, or buried in any Shirt, Shift Sheet or Shroud made or mingled with Flax, Hemp, Silk, Hair God or Silver, or other than what is made of Sheeps. Wooll only nor in any Coffin lined or face with any Cloth, Stuff, or any other things whatforever made or mingled with Flax, Hemp, Silk, Hair, Godld or Silver or any other Material contrary to the late Act of Parliament for ‘Burying in Woollen, but Sheeps Wooll only.    Dated the…………..Day of….. in the………….Year of the Reign of our Sovereign By the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France and Ireland,               Defender of the Faith, etc. And in the Year of our Lord God 17……..Seated and Subfcribed by us who were prefent and Witnesses to the Swearing of the above faid Affidavit.

I do hereby Certify That the Day and Year abovefaid, the faid Affidavit as is above mention’d according to the faid late act Act of Parliament intituled, An Act for Burying in Woollen. Witnefs my Hand the Day and Year above-written.

(Printed for P. Barret Stationer, over-againsf Chancery-Land in Fleetfreet). [1]

Only those with the plague or who were destitute escaped this law. So much for the rules of burying in woollen. But why?

Between 1665 and the turn of the century, wool became a national symbol of importance in England,  but new materials and foreign imports were coming into the country and the industry was under threat as linen, silk, and satin were readily available and the need for woollen dropped away. Workers who specialised in silks, satins, and linens flocked into the country and the need for wool waned.

Most of the wealthy depended on wool for their lifestyles, and some of these wealthy sat in Parliament, Members whose constituencies depended on the woollen industry, and was an essential part of their fortunes. These Members depended on rents paid by tenants who worked in the woollen trade, and so they changed the laws.

Most people were buried in linen shrouds. It was the custom and older than Christianity itself, but it also benefited England’s greatest rival across the Channel, the French, who provided most of all England’s linen. So, to stymie the French and preserve the woollen trade in England, Parliament developed the law of burying in Woollen only.

The first Act was passed in 1666 and the second, and rather more famous, in 1678 repealing the first  Its aims were “for the lessening the importation of linen from beyond the seas, and the encouragement of the woollen and paper manufacturer of the kingdom.” [2]

Below is an extract from the Act.

For more of the legislation see The Justice of the Peace, and Parish Officer, Volume 5, 1814 on Google Books

The Act was not without its protesters as a more wealthy set wanted to be buried in their finery, not woollen.

“At first nothing could be more shocking,” wrote philosopher Bernard Mandeville, “to Thousands of People than that they were to be Buried in Woollen.”

“Our Savior was buried in Linnen,” protested Edward Waller, the representative for Hastings. “‘Tis a thing against the Customs of Nations and I am against it.”

Henry Coventry, Secretary of State for the Southern Department, was harsher, suggesting that “men of the Romish Religion” (Romish belonging or related to, Rome as Catholics) prefer woollen burials to linen. “I fear this Bill may taste of Popery,” he sneered.

Citizens were fined five pounds if they did not obey the law but many would pay the fine rather than be ‘seen dead in wool’  In 1678 this was an enormous sum of money about $1,000 in today’s money. [3]

The Act was repealed in 1814, although long before then it had been largely ignored.

Sources:

[1] www.hungerfordvirtualmuseum.co.uk/index.php/10-themes/961-buried-in-woollen

[2] http://www.historyhouse.co.uk/articles/buried_in_wool.html

[3] https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/england-wool-burial-shrouds

[4] Eric W. Nye, Pounds Sterling to Dollars: Historical Conversion of Currency, accessed Monday, March 25, 2019, http://www.uwyo.edu/numimage/currency.htm.

 

 

 

 

Genealogy, Research tips

FamilySearch indexing – How you can become involved

The following article was written for Genealogy Ensemble by Marian Bulford, a genealogist from the West Island of Montreal who has been indexing for many years. She gives us valuable insight about indexing and how we all benefit from the contributions of those who index the records we use in our genealogical pursuits.

Indexing is the data entry of human records worldwide in any language you choose. If you can type, then you can index, so why not get started today?!

Keyboard01_MicrosoftThe FamilySearch website has provided a way for anyone with an internet connection to assist in the monumental task of indexing world genealogical records. It is run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, more commonly known as The Mormons.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is in the process of digitizing the bulk of their genealogical records, as well as partnering with genealogical societies and other groups to digitize other records of genealogical value. Most of the websites today have obtained their records from this church.

As indexing is entered, the records are checked and arbitrated a few times. Then these digitized records are uploaded to the online FamilySearch Indexing project site for anyone, including you, to view free of charge.

Easy to download software and index
The indexing software is free and easy to download, and the online tutorials should get you started quickly. There is also an online help desk if you have questions.

You do not have to be a church member to index or search this free website. To start, simply go to the website link here. It takes only a few minutes to download your selected batch of records — in any language and in any part of the world you choose — and transcribe the entries using the provided software you will find on the web page.

Alternatively, if you just want to research a wonderful database for free with no obligation or fees, go to https://familysearch.org.

If you volunteer to index for FamilySearch, just remember, you are helping to add millions of data for us genealogists to find plus, as a side benefit, indexing can help you become a better researcher as you become more familiar with the wide variety of historical documents available to you and the type of information each contains. You can choose a beginner, intermediate, or advanced batch to index.

Where to start?
Indexing consists of births, deaths, marriages, banns, obituaries, christenings, or baptisms. In addition, there are historical records consisting of many other interesting items worldwide. For instance, how about indexing the following databases?

  • France, Diocèse de Coutances et Avranches – Registres Paroissiau from 1796 to 1880
  • UK Sussex Church of England Parish Records from 1538 to 1910
  • US Louisiana WW2 Draft Registration cards from 1940 to 1945
  • South African Free State, Estate Files from 1951 to 1980
  • Polska, Radom Roman Catholic Church Books from 1733 to 1868
  • Brazil, Pernambuco Recife Registro Civil from 1900 to 1920

All of the above databases, and many more, now await us to index them and provide a name or a lead for someone who is searching for their ancestors.

To help you through the indexing process, there are Help fields on the right of every batch you download. You never know, you may even come across some of your family names whilst indexing.

Once records have been indexed through FamilySearch Indexing, the new indices (and sometimes the document images) are posted online for free access at FamilySearch.

How I started
Because I am originally from the UK, I usually go to the UK batches for my indexing as I love history and I find so much of interest there, but I also like to mix it up and, as long as it is in English, I will index it.

Last year, I helped index the US 1940 Census. (As you well know, the census is usually the first place we go to find an ancestor’s name.) That monumental task was also completed well within the time range expected and up and running far sooner than anticipated.

Tremendous response to call for volunteers last month
Last month the FamilySearch website asked for volunteers for two days of indexing by asking everyone you know to join in. This, in part, is their response after that weekend. “We hoped to have an unprecedented 50,000 contributors in a 24-hour period. FamilySearch volunteers excelled, surpassing that goal by 16,511! That’s right—66,511 participants in one day! Incredible! We are grateful for the patience and persistence of many volunteers who faced technical difficulties due to an overwhelming response.” To read more, visit the blog post, FamilySearch Volunteers Set Historic Record.

According to some sources, volunteers participating in online indexing projects are adding over a million names a day in total.

Once records have been indexed through FamilySearch Indexing, the new indices (and sometimes the document images) are posted online for free access at FamilySearch Record Search.

So, log on and go see what you get back for a few hours, or even minutes, of indexing. Why not try a test drive on the above links and be part of the many people proud to add to the billions of records that amateur and professional genealogists like us search for daily.