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Forced Attendance at Church in Briercliffe in 1751
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Author:  Mel [ Sun Jul 19, 2015 7:51 am ]
Post subject:  Forced Attendance at Church in Briercliffe in 1751

Express and Advertiser

December 09, 1899

Literary and Antiquarian

Forced Attendance at Church in Briercliffe in 1751

The following is a copy of a document preserved at Burwains, at the house of Mrs. Robertshaw. It illustrates the custom of our forefathers, and how they literally interpreted the scriptural injunction "Go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in." Armed with long staffs the churchwardens sallied forth during divine service and any unlucky wight who was found taking his walks abroad when he should have been seated in God's House, was taken and bundled into church "neck and crop" as the saying goes.
The document reals as follows:-
County of Lancaster, to wit
Whereas complaint hath been made unto us, two of His Majesty's Justices of the Peace, and Quorum, in and for the said County, by several inhabitants within the Hundred of Blackburn and County aforesaid, that very many idle persons in several Townships within the said Hundred, make it a common practice of leaping, playing at football, quoits, bowls, and many other unlawful games, hunting, and tipling in Ale-houses, swearing, cursing and profaning the Sabbath and absenting themselves, in time of Divine Service, from the Church on the Lord's Day, by which they incur upon themselves by every such offence the Penalty of Three Shillings and Fourpence for the use of the Poor of the Township where such offences are committed, or sit in the Stocks for the space of three hours.
These are therefore in His Majesty's Name, strictly to charge and command you to the Constable, churchwardens, and Overseers of the Poor of Briercliffe-with-Extwistle, to give Notice to all Householders and Inhabitants within your said town not to suffer any of your children or Servants to wander out or play at any of the aforesaid Games or b e guilty of any of the afore-mentioned offences on the Lord's Day, and that you make diligent and strict search within your said Town, in all suspected Houses every Sabbath Day for the finding and apprehending of all such persons, and him, her, or them to bring before Us or some of His Majesty's Justices of the Peace to answer the Premisses and further to be dealt with according to Law. Herein fail not at your Peril. Given under our Hands and Seals this 12th day of September, in the year of our Lord, One Thousand, Seven Hundred, and 51.
The the Constable, Churchwardens, and Overseers of the Poor of Briercliffe-with-Extwistle.

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