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PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2009 11:01 am 
Spider Lady
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Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 9:23 pm
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Location: Staffordshire
In Nicholas Asshetons Journal, he mentions that the corpse of a Mrs. Starkie was carried to church by four relatives ; there was a sermon, and afterwards dinner, forty messes being provided for. On this. Dr. Whitaker remarks :—" An ancient usage. The nearest relations always took up the corpse at the doorj and once more, if the distance was considerable, at the church gates. By forty messes, I suppose are to be understood so many dishes of meat. ' The editor (the Rev. Canon Raines) adds : —" This custom, which appears to be quite patriarchal, is still prevalent in some of the country parishes in South Lancashire. The custom of preaching funeral sermons on the day of the burial is now exploded, although so recently as 1776 the vicar of one of the largest parishes in Lancashire (Rev. John White, B.A., of Blackburn), objected to the building of a church in his parish unless he had 'some compensation made for the funeral sermons to be preached in it.'^ I should rather understand the forty messes to be dinners provided for forty persons, although funerals in Lancashire at this period were conducted on a scale of prodigality scarcely to be conceived." [The House and Farm Accounts of the Shuttleworths give examples of three burial customs—that of a dole to the poor ; at one place ^os. "/d., at another 57^. 4c/., at a third 475. Sd. (?) a penny to each person 3 that of payment to the clergyman for a funeral sermon, in one case 55. ; and that of providing dinners for the mourners, chiefly for those from a distance, in one case twenty-four messes of meat cost 585. Sd. j in another instance seventy dined at 6d. the mess or meal, seventysix and sixty-five at ^d. ; in all 211 persons attending one funeral. —Eds.]

Lancashire Folk-lore by Harland & Wilkinson.

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