English Local Records. Seventeenth Century Life in the Country Parish, with special reference to Local Government. By Eleanor Trotter. Cambridge: The University Press, 1919.
The object of this book is to describe how the ordinary business of Government—the maintenance of justice and the preservation of law and order—was carried on during that most troubled period in the life of our race, the seventeenth century. We have here a large collection of facts to illustrate social life: the Parish, the Churchwardens, the Anglican Priest and the Church, the Overseer of the Poor, the Petty Constable, the Repairs of Highways and Bridges, Labourers and Apprentices, Rogues and Vagabonds, the Social Life of the Village Community, and the Justice of the Peace. Many interesting customs are noted: Gang Week, or the riding round the Parish boundaries at Rogation-tide; Church Ales, Dog Whippers, the burning of juniper benzoin and frankincense in churches to counteract the pollution arising from intramural burials, the Hue and Cry raised by the Constables on which all residents had to turn out on horseback or on foot; the Ducking of Scolds, the Godspenny or earnest money given at hiring, the permission to play cards at Christmas time. An unfortunate woman is accused of “exercising certain most wicked arts in English enchantments and charms on a black cow, by which the cow was sorely damaged, and the calf in her totally wasted and consumed.” She was convicted and sentenced to be imprisoned for a year, and once in each quarter to stand in the pillory of some market town on fair day or market day. The book is provided with an index of place-names, to which in a second edition it might be well to add one of subjects.