Friday, February 6, 2009

Buried in Wool

This was a Law in the 16-1700's. It may be of use to anyone who is researching their family history:
While looking through Parish Records you may notice that an entry saying 'Buried In Woollen' has been made. Probably this will simply be A or Aff, short for affidavit, which had to be legally sworn to say that the act had been complied with, but if a family were poor and could not afford a woollen shroud, the entry may have the word 'naked' written instead. Further information may be found in Churchwardens's accounts or vestry minutes if they have survived.
From 1666 to 1678 Acts of Parliament were passed, The Burial in Woollen Acts, to help promote the declining wool trade. This stated that all dead bodies excluding plague victims must be wrapped in wool only for burial and a certificate issued to that effect by a Justice of the Peace or a neighbouring clergyman and presented within eight days of the burial. However this did not preclude a coffin as well.
Act 30 Car. II c.3 (1677) stated that it was:
“intended for lessening the importation of linen from beyond the seas, and for the encouragement of the woollen and paper manufactures of this kingdom”.
If this law was ignored there was a penalty of five pounds, or the goods and chattels of the deceased could be seized in payment.
The law stayed in force until 1814 when it was repealed by 54 Geo III c. 108, but was usually ignored after 1770.
My thanks to fellow researcher Lorna Cowan, for this piece of information which may be of help to others.

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