Sabbath breaking in Nottinghamshire

According to the Bingham Deanery Visitations

By R B Parish

Non-attendance during divine service, the Sabbath, especially on feast days is one of the aspects investigated in the visitations of the Archdeacon in the 1600s. Nottinghamshire is fortunate to have a number of documents from the Bingham Deanery which give a fascinating insight into the reasons why people were absent.

Sometimes such as reported at Easter 1621 in Normanton upon Soar it may have been because they were drinking in their house. In Stanford upon Soar it appears to have been a bit of a problem as the churchwardens presented:

John Marson for suffering evil company in his house in evening prayer time on the Sabbath day; Fransis Bate for drinking and swaggering on the Sabbath day in evening prayer time; Tristram Silcooke for being in the alehouse in evening prayer time on the Sabbath day; Richarde Tayler for being in the alehouse in evening prayer time on the Sabbath day.”

In Whatton at Easter 1622, a William Walles was presented:

“for suffering card play in his house in time of divine service on the Sabbath day; Thomas Hough of Aslockton and Thomas from Flawborough for playing at cards in Willm Walles’ house on the Sabbath day.”

Similarly, at Sutton Bonington (St Anne) Michaelmas 1629 even the churchwarden appeared to disregard the sacred nature of the day when:

“Tho. Browne, churchwarden, for drinking and tippling at the house of William Marshall at unseasonable hours at night on the Sabbath day.”

Some continued domestic duties or this case perhaps caused a servants to do so at Hickling Michealmas 1624:

“the common fame is that Willm Smith's wife has divers times caused one of her maids to wash clothes on the Sabbath day within these last two years.”

Many people continued to toil their daily occupations Ruddington’s Jarvas Mansfield was accused of baking,  at West Leake,  Michaelmass accounts in 1625 present:

“Thomas Abbott for very commonly using 'the trade of Barbinge' on the Sabbath day,”

He had been warned about it before as it adds: “having had warning to the contrary.”

At Hickling Michaelmas 1628 an Elizabeth Browne was presented:

“for 'picking of a milne' on the Sabbath day in time of divine service.”

Agricultural workers appear to be the most likely, to miss the Sabbath, at Normanton upon Soar in the Michealmas visitation in 1621 :

“John Newton for turning hay in prayer time on the Sabbath day”

Flintham , on Easter 1626, the churchwardens presented:

“John Cowe for profaning the Sabbath day by carrying straw upon his back on a Sunday about Candlemas last.”

Similarly at Kingston-on-Soar on Michaelmas 1629 a Richard Hides and Edward Hides were presented for “teaming a load of hay on the Sabbath day.”

There clearly was a demand for the wheat for atUpper Broughton Michaelmas 1624 a  Robert Brett was presented  

“for grinding on the Sabbath day; Robert Holland, Robert Willimott and George Loe for working in time of divine service on 1 August.”

At Adbolton Michaelmas 1626 John Hallam was presented “for setting peas in service time on the Sabbath day about Midsummer last.”

Similarly atOrston Michaelmas 1626 Ales wife of William Tourrs was presented for gathering peas on the Sabbath day.

Observation of feast days were particularly singled out for example

“St Luke's Day 12 carts from Widmerpoole were seen in Nott. at 11 o'clock, and so consequently they were neither at morning nor evening prayer that day.”

A widow, Marie Mee, was presented for weeding corn on a holy day, although it could not be identified being either “St James's day last or some other holy day or festival since Midsummer.”

One of the commonest conflicts appears to be between the church and may day observations when the day fell upon a Sunday. At the Michealmas presentation of Shelford 1626:

Newton younmen for goeing with a meay gam on the Sabbath day.”

That is the young men going to a May game, similarly at Costock a Joane Eastwood, wife of Willm Eastwood, for ‘ braking towe’ on May Day last;

The political changes can be seen in the report from Rempstone at Easter 1622 when churchwardens presented:

“Willam Pallmer for not coming to the church, nor any of his family, on 5 November which was appointed to be kept holy.”

Suggesting that the support for this new political religious event was not hundred  percent accepted.

Some unusual activities were recorded such as at East Bridgford Michaelmas 1626 when churchwardens presented:

“two of Willm Mafeld's men, one Thomas Bladg, and other one's name we do not know, for mending some 'heacookes' that a bull had thrown about, on the Sabbath day;”

Or perhaps the oddest at Bingham Michaelmas 1625:

“Robert Somer the younger and Robert Harringson for 'hinging up a Cock one the Sabarth daye in the preaching tyme for weding folke to ride, at which did distorgich the congregacion'

This might mean  “hanging up a cock on the Sabbath day in the preaching time for wedding folk to ride, at which the congregation disgorged or left the church.”

Church must have been very dull for at Edwalton, Michaelmas 1628 it is record that:

“Thomas Hemfrey for filling the muck cart on the Sabbath day between Whitsunday and Lammas.”


This page was added by R B Parish on 21/03/2013.

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