News and Blog

The latest news and information from the Achievements team.

  1. Burial in Woollen

    Family history research can often raise questions, not just who was our ancestor! Searching in parish registers we can find terms we are unfamiliar with. For example, have you ever seen the word affidavit in a burial register and wondered what it meant?

    untitled

    Following the Restoration, Britain’s sheep farmers were producing more wool than was being used and so to address the problem and boost the wool trade, in 1666 the first Act ordering that all bodies had to be buried in a shroud made of woollen cloth was passed.  In 1678 a second Act was passed with more stringent regulations, ordering an affidavit signed by a magistrate to be produced to confirm that a burial had met the necessary requirements. In 1680 a concession was made allowing the affidavit to be signed by a minister. Richer people often chose to flaunt their wealth by ignoring the regulation and choosing to pay the fine for non-compliance.  The fine was in the sum of £5, of which 50% was paid to the informant and the balance to the poor.

    So even the word affidavit in a parish register reveals another detail of how our ancestors lived.

  2. Death by . . . .gravel?!

    An intriguing cause of death was found this week by one of our researchers on a Scottish burial record of 1845.  In the “cause of death” column, the word “gravel” was given.  Other people on the same page died of things such as “paralysis” and “consumption”, but what on earth was “gravel”?

    Gravel death description

    In fact, further research suggested that “gravel” was a word for the modern equivalent of kidney stones.  A good example of how family history can always throw up new terms to investigate!

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