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continued for another three nights, and then resumed again for three other nights, and then it concludes.
This is a different procession from that called the “ Skimmington,” which takes place when a woman beats her husband.
When I was quite a boy I saw a Skimmington in Gloucestershire; the principal group in the procession being a stuffed figure of a man placed on horseback, behind whom rode a man in woman's clothes, who, as the procession went on, kept beating the stuffed figure about the head with a wooden ladle.
I believe that a Skimmington is represented in one of the illustrations to Hudibras, and is described in part ii. canto 2, of that work.
The Wiltshire people called the Wooset procession a “ooset,” as they never pronounce w before o, calling wood “ood,” and the like.
In the reign of King Charles the first, there was one of these now obsolete and almost forgotten officers of the church at Ogbourn St. George.
In an old churchwarden's account book of that parish, (which has been mislaid within these last few years,) there are the following entries :“ 1632. To Looker for whipinge the doggs out of the
Church for one quarter ................ xijd.
Payde to Looker for keepinge the doggs out of the
Payments of 4s. a year to Looker occur in other years, but the entries do not state for what service those payments were made.
When I first saw these entries, I did not quite understand their meaning, but on my mentioning them to Mr. Gray, the magistrate
at Newbury, he told me that there are two ancient officers attached to the great church there, who are paid 4s. a year each; their present duty is to walk up and down the church, each bearing a black wand, and show the inhabitants to their pews ; they are now generally called vergers, but when he was a boy they were called Dog-rappers. They still receive the ancient salary of 4s. a year as Dog-rappers, though they also make a collection at Christmas for their present services as vergers.
I was also informed by the Rev. W. Heslop, the vicar of East Witton in Yorkshire, that in his parish there was a person appointed at a salary of 8s. a year, who had a whip hung up in his pew in the church, and was called the Dog-whipper. Probably one person at 8s. à year, instead of two at the usual salary of 4s. each.
It also appears from the church books of St. Mary's parish at Reading, (cited in Man's History of Reading, p. 301,) that in the year 1571, Mr. John Marshall was chosen clerk and sexton of that parish; and the entry goes on to state that “for the more orderly discharge of Divine service, it was agreed by all the parishioners present that from henceforth, John Marshall now being admitted clerk and sexton, shall have thirteen shillings and fourpence per annum ; in consideration thereof he shall, from time to time, see the church clean kept, the seats swept, and clean made; the mats beaten, the dogs driven out of the church, the windows made clean, and all other things done that shall be necessary to be done for the good and cleanly keeping of the church, and the quiet of Divine service.”
At the time when Dog-rappers were required, the state of the canine race must have been very different from what it is at present; however, Captain Grose in his Olio, in an essay entitled “ Sketch of worn-out Characters,” says, “ The country squire was an independent gentleman of £300 a year, (worth eight or nine hundred now,] who commonly appeared in a plain drab or plush coat, large silver buttons, and a jockey cap, and rarely without boots. He was commonly followed by a couple of greyhounds and a pointer, and announced his arrival at a neighbour's house by smacking his whip, or giving the view halloo.” This was the squire of about 1745;
and if several of these gentlemen attended by their dogs came to a church, Dog-rappers might be needed. But I have heard from old persons, that an immense reduction in the number of dogs occurred in 1796, when the dog tax was first imposed.
The sexton's whip had a small bell fixed to the end of the handle, which he rang when dogs came into the church, in order to frighten them away.
In the churchwarden's account book, of the parish of Banwell, county of Somerset, is the following entry:
<1572. Paid for a bell for the whipe .................. ja.
F. A. CARRINGTON..
The Book of Church Goods in Wiltshire, seized by the Crown under a Commission dated March 3, 1553, which is signed by two of the Commissioners,
“ Antony Hungerford,
Wyllya' Wroughton." contains the following entries, which show the extent of the church plate, and the number of bells at that time :
The Hundred of kynwarston.
Bellis West bedwyne. Deliuered to Willm. davnce
and to William Vince won Cuppe or Chal.
by Indenture of xiiij ovnce & v bell . xiij ovnc bells v In plate to the King's vse. . . . xlij ovnc East bedwyne. deliuered to John Dodsone
and to Nicholas Rawlings wone Cuppe or
Chals by Indentuer of xj ovnce & iiij bells xj ovnc bells iiij In plate to the Kings vse . . . ij ovnc & di
Eastone. deliuered to mighell busshell and
to James Myste won cuppe or Challis
by Indentuer of vij ovnc di & iij bells In plate to the Kings vse . . . xj ovnc di Milton. deliuered to John bovncke and to
John Smythe wone cupe or challs by
Indentue of viij ovnc and iij bells . viij ovnc bells iij In plate to the Kings vse . . . ij ovnc
The hunderde of Selkleigh. Alborne. deliuerede to Thomas hatte and to Willm. Sexton won Cuppe or Challis
bells iij by Indenture of viij ovnc di & iij viij ovnc di and a bells . . . . . . .
sanctus bell Winterborn Basset. deliuerede to John
Brown and to John Webbe won cupe or
Potter and Willm. Potter by Indenture
bells iij Itm to the Kinge no plate . . . Brodehenton. deliuered to John francleyne
and John Marchaunte won cuppe or
chalis by Indenture of xj ovnc & ij bells xj ovnc ij bells Presshatte. deliuered to Robert Hodges
and Thomas Hiscocks won Cuppe or
bells . . . . . . . xj ovnc bells iij In plate to the Kings vse . . . iij ovne Ockbourne Seynt Andrewe. deliuered to
Raffe Cole and Willm. Blake won Cuppe or Challis by Indenture of xj ovnc & iiij bells . . . . . . . xj ovnc iiij bells In plate to the Kings vse . . . x oync
Ovncis Bellis Aberye. deliuered to John Sherocker and to
Jone Truslowe won cuppe or Chalis by
Indentuer of xj ovnc and iij bells . xj ovnc iij bells In plate to the Kings vse . . . ij ovnc di Marlbroughe seyncte peter. deliuered to
Willm. Andrewes and to Rycharde
tuer of xij ovnc & v bells . . . xij ovnc bells v In plate to the King . . . . xvj ovnc Marlbroughe seynct maris. deliuered to John
Younge & to Robert Oary won cupp or
bells . . . . . . . xvij ounc bells v In plate to the Kings vse . . . Xx ovnce
The Hundred of Kamisbury.
Ramysburie. deliuered to Roger bouncke
and Willm. deane won cuppe or challis
bells . . . . . . xj ovnc bells iij In plate to the Kings vse . . . iij oync luddington. deliuered to Robert Walron
and to henrye Taylor j cuppe or challis
by Indentur of vj ovnc iij bells . . vj ovnc iij bells Swyndon. deliuered to Robt. heathe and to
George Carleys j cupp or chalis by In
denture of wij ovnc di iiij bells, . In plate to the Kings vse . . . lvij ovno dreycott ffoliat. deliuered to Thomas Weke
and to Thomas Weke j cuppe or challis
by Indentur of xiiij ovnc & ij belles xiiij ovnc bells ij Wanboroughe. deliuered to Nycholas escroupe
bells iiij and to John heringe j cuppe or chalis vij oync by Indentu of vij ovnc and iiij bells and a saunctus bell In plate to the Kings vse . . . xvij ovne