There are several entries in the 17th Century that relate to the Burial in Woollen Acts of Parliament 1666-1680. These acts required the dead to be buried in pure English woollen shrouds to the exclusion of foreign textiles. An affidavit had to be sworn in front of a JP confirming this. There was a £5 fine for non-compliance. Registers were marked ‘naked’ for those too poor to afford wool. The legislation was in force until 1814 but ignored after about 1770. This was to protect the English wool trade.
2 entries for Escomb….
26th December 1678 – John Stobbs Jnr. was buried. “An affidavit came to me 2nd die Januarij 1678 from Justice Carr that he was buried according to ye act for burying in woolen only.”
4th March 1689 – Anne Markendaile, ye wife of John Markendaile buried March ye 4th. “Anne Rumford and Dorothy Wilson made oath before me that Anne Markendaile…….was not wrapt or wound up in anything nor her coffin lin’d or faced with anything but wt. was sheep’s wool onelie according to ye sd. act made and provided; and herein we certify ye curate of Escomb aforsd. taken and sworn before me. Anne Rumford, Dorothy Wilson, Capt. Et jurat cora’ me die et Anno Supradiet: Jo: Stockhouse, Clericu.
This original certificate was found in the vicarage in 1922.
There are several other similar entries.
It appears to have been customary for the better off residents to leave money for the poor. Below are just a few of the many entries describing this charitable giving.
1633 “September the 27th – William Trotter was buried, giving by his last will XXs to be successivelie in the Churchwardens hands and they for ever to be accomptable to the Minister and the parish that it be in sure hands and the increase of the same to be given to the poore of the parish at such times as by the discretion of the Churchwardens and Overseers of the poore together with the Executors or executrix of the said William for ever may be thought fittest. And the churchwardens for their time shall yeerelie deliver a bond of the same to those that succeed who must stand charged with it for their times. Ffurther we leave here upon record that Marie Trotter Executrix of the said Willm. her husband in her charitie leaveth and bequeatheth to the churchwardens for ever for the benefit of the poore of this parish XXs. the consideracon whereof to be given to the poore as aforesaid for ever in liewe whereof by agreemt. of the whole parish they will pay her all sessements for the poore during her life natural.”
- 1634 Mr Bell left 10s. to the poor
- 1635 George Robinson gave 10s. to the poor
- 1656 April the 12th – Bryan Pearson buried, giving 40s. to the augmentation of the poore stock of Escombe.
And from the Overseers’ and Churchwardens’ accounts:-
1759 “April the 14th – Whereas the Reverend Ezra Emmerson, late curate of this parish left by Will Thirty pounds to this parish for charitable purposes; and whereas the Reverend Abraham Smith the present curate made a purchase of Pictsly Hills with a part of Queen Ann’s Bounty * for the augmentation of this curacy and the said purchase could not be perfected with that part of Queen Ann’s Bounty then remaining for want of eighteen pounds to complete the same; and whereas it was unanimously agreed by the said Abraham Smith, Curate, Churchwardens and principal inhabitants hereof, the eighteen pounds of the said Mr Emmerson’s charity should be applied to complete the same. Let be here remembered that tis this day agreed upon in a full vestry, that the said purchase is charged for ever with the payment of the interest of Eighteen pounds after the common rate of the interest of the money to be annually paid at Easter and applied to the purposes directed by Will of the said Mr Emmerson.”
*Queen Anne’s Bounty was a fund established in 1704 to augment the incomes of the poorer clergy of the C of E.