Posted by P. Bingham on May 09, 1998 at 17:33:44:
In response to Kissing, written by P. Bingham on May 05, 1998 at 02:30:10
Here is what I've found on particular requests. If your request is not on here then I did not find an entry for it. I've added some that are either amusing or seem to have something in common with other requests.
Something on Henry VII's gift-giving.
Sir W. Vaughan of Merioneth observes: "The marriage day being come, (in some shires of England) the invited guests do assemble together, and at the very instant of the marriage, doe cast their presents (which they bestow upon the newly married olkes) into a bason, dish, or cup, which standith on the table in the church, ready prepared for that purpose. But this custom is only put in use amongst them which stand in need." Golden Grove, 1600, ed. 1608, sign. 0 4.
In a letter from William Wilson the actor to Edward Allyn, founder of the Dulwich College, written in 1617, there is a mentuion of the approaching marriage of the writer at St. Saviour's Southwark, whioch took placeNovember 2 in the year named, and the expression of the hope, that his fellow-players at the Fortune will make offerings at the church or privately to Wilson "of their own good nature'. Possibly there was, as in the quotation from Vaughan, some receptical specially alotted at st. Saviour's for these gifts on the part of friends; and both passages point to a peculiar donation.
An odd but very acceptable present in noticed in the accounts of Mrs. Joyce Jeffries of hereford, under 1647, as made by her to a bride: "September 5. Paid the butcher for a fatt weather to present this bridewoman on her wedding day, 6s. 6d."
It appears from Allan Ramsay's "Poems" 1721, p120, that is was a fashion in Scotland for friends to assemble in the new-married couple's house, before they have risen out of bed, and to throw them their several presents upon the bedclothes: "They commonly throw their gifts of household furniture above the bedclothes where the young folkes are lying." One gives twelve horn spoons; another a pair of tongs, etc. (OUCH!)
As regards gifts by a suitor to a woman made before marriage, in the case of William v. Cumming in 1742 it seems to have been deemed by Lord Hardwicke that a distinction existed between presents offered by "an adventurer", when in the event of a miscarriage of the matter a return could not be enforced, especially if the lady was a person of superior fortune, and such as might be received from a party, who had approaCHED her with a view to marriage, and had reasonable expectation of success, under which circumstances his lordship held that the articles were reclaimed. To come to a conclusion on such lines strikes a layman as attended by difficulty.
The Diarist (Pepys) and others, Feb 1667-8, went to Sir W. Pen's house after his daughter's wedding, and had favors given to them, which they could put in their hats. These are still usual, but are confined to sevants in attendance.
In the "Monthly Magazine" for 1798, pg 417, we read "It is customary, I country churches, when a couple has been newly married, for the singers to chaunt, on the following Sunday, a particular Psalm, thence called the Wedding Palm, in which are these words ‘Oh well is thee, and happy shalt thou be."
A syllabub is prepared for the May feast, which is made of warm milk from the cow, sweet cake and wine; and a kind of divination is practised, by fishing with the ladle for a wedding ring, which is dropped into it, for the purpose of prognosticating who shall be first married.
Whitening of houses:
Penant, notices the whitening of houses, says: "this custom, which we observed to be universally followed from the time we entered glamorganshire, made me curious enough to enquire into its origin, which it owes entirely to superstition. The good people think that by means of this general whitening they shut the door of their houses against the devil." Tour Through South Wales, p.28.
A game similar to One & Thirty. The game of cards so called. When Nares published his glossary in 1822, it was still played, but chiefly among children. The great object of the expert player was to get the ace at the bottom, which counting eleven went a good way toward winning the game. It was a favorite game both I Spain and in Ireland. The following reference to it is made in Taylor's Wit and Mirth 1629; ‘An unhappy boy, that kept his father's sheep in the country, did vse to carry a pair of cards in his pocket, and meeting with the boys as good as himself, would fall to cards at the Cambrian game of Whip-herginny, or English one-and-thirty; at which sport he would some days lose a sheep or two." The fact of the ace, as above noticed, reckoning as eleven, bespeaks it as sort of vingt-et-un.
The Morris Dance, in which bells are gingled, or staves or swords clashed, was learned, says Dr. Johnson, by the Moors, and was probably a kind of Pyrrhick or military dance. "Morisco" says Blount, (Span.) a Moor; also a dance, so called, wheirin there were usually five men, and a boy dressed in a girl's habit, whom they called the Maid Marian, or perhaps, Morian, from the Italian Morione, a head-piece, because her head was want tobe gaily trimmed up. Common people call it the Morris Dance. See the last edit. Of Nares' Glossary and Halliwell's Archaic Dictionary, ad vocem. The derivation of Morris from Morisco quasi Moor is very doubtful, but no better etymology has yet been proposed.
In the Privy Purse expenses of henry VII, under 1494 in an entry under Jan. 2, "For playing of the Mourice Daunce, 2 pounds; under Feb. 1pound 13s. 4d., which appears to be significant of its performance irrespectively of the season. Under the date of 1510-11, Gibson (supposedly Yoeman tailor to Henry VIII) gives an account of a "Morryshe Dance by the king's henchmen, who came out of an artificial hill, on the tope of which was a ‘golden stoke' branchyd with roses and pomgarnets crowned.' There is more of this sort of information but I jump to a later date...
Morrice dancing, with bells on the legs, continued to be common in and after Brand's time (1557) in Oxfordshire and the adjacent counties, on May Day, Holy Thursday, and Whitsun Ales, attended by the fool (Tom the Piper?) Or, as he is generally called, the Squire, and also the Lord and Lady. As to the Fool & bessy, they have probably been derived to us from the ancient festival of Fools held on New Year's Day. Bess was common generic term for a female Tom-a-Bedlam.
Waldron mentions seeing a company of Morris-dancers from Abington at Richmond in Surrey, in the summer of 1783. They appeared to be making a kind of annual circuit.
Walpole, or rather Vertue, in his Catalogue of Engravers has described two painting at Lord FitzWilliam's by Vinckenboom, about the end of the Reign of James I., in one of which a morris-dance is introduced, consisting of seven figures, viz., a fool, a hobby horse, a piper, a Maid marian and three dancers. In Old Change. According to the ‘History of Sign-Boards," 1867, there was a sign called "The Three Morris Dancers," in the time of Charles II. See for further partiulars of this subject, Douce's "Dissertation on the Ancient English Morris Dance," at the end of his "Illustrations of Shakespeare," 1807.
...In England it was formally the fashion to mourn a year for very near relations, thus Pope: ‘Grieve for a hour perhaps, then mourn a year."
A writer of the early part of last century remarked a practice of the common people in some localities to tying a dirty cloth about theri heads, when they appear as chief mourners at a funeral. Pennent, in his "Tours in Scotland (1769), remarks a singular custom in many parts of North britiain, of painting, on the doors and window-shutters, white tadpole-like figures, on a black bacjground, designed to express the tears of the country for the loss of a any person of distinction.
I saw a door that led into a family vault in Kelso Churchyard in 1785, which was painted over in the above manner with very large ones.
In the 18thc, a writer from Galston informs us that it was usual ‘for even the women to attend funerals in the village, dressed in black or red cloaks.'
Stat. ACC. Of Scotland, ii., 80. Women, and even ladies, sometime follow the dead, especially (in the former case) among the poor, and in the latter, where the deceased is a child. At the obsequies of a person of high rank, it often happens that, where the funeral is taken place (as indeed it usually does) in the country, one or two of the nearest female relatives claim the right of accompanying the remains. The same thing is occassionaly witnessed in large towns, and among the middle classes I believe that the custom is growing more and more common. Some curious particulars on this subject may be seen in Pegge's Curialia, 1818, pp.314-316.
There is three pages of this subect so I've tried to pick out those that are closer to the 18thc or 19c...
In parts of Huntingdonshire, the poor people go "sticking" or gathering sticks for fuel in Warboys Wood on May Day.
There is an engraving of the 18c where fiddler and two women describe as milkmaids are dancing, one of the dancers having on her head a silver plate, which was borrowed for the occassion. Bourne tells us that, in his time, in the villages of the North of England, the juvenile part of both sexes were wont to rise a little after midnight on the morning of that day, and walk to some neighborhood wood, accompanied with music and the blowing of the horns, where they broke down branches from trees and adorned them with nosegays and crowns of flowers. This done, they returned homewards with their booty, about the time of sunrise, and made their doors and windows triumph in the flowery spoil.
In the ‘Life of Mrs. Pilkington", the writer says, ‘They took places in the waggon, and quitted London early May morning; and it being the custom in this month for the passengers to give the waggoner at every inn a ribbon to adorn his team, she soon discovered the origin of the proverb, ‘as fine as a horse.'; for; before they got to the end of the journey, the poor beasts were almost blinded by the tawdry party-colored flowing honours of their heads."
The Sheffiled Daily Telegraph of May 2, 1889, says, : "Yesterday the annual parade of dray horses owned by the idland railroad Co. Took place. Of the 113 animals forming the sheffield stud no less than a hundred pu in an appearance at the Wicker Goods Station. The horses were, without exception, in splendid condition, and the decorations showed that the draymen had taken great pains in polishing the harness and general equipment. A dray horse at work is not expected a thing of beauty, but yesterday the horses attended the annual parade loked as gay as...with bright ribbons attached to their manes and tails... prizes are given for the best groomed horses...
On New May Day the cart, waggon, and brewer's horses are usually decorated with ribbons and rosettes, and in many cases now new reins and whips are provided. This happened in 1903.
It was long an article of popular faith in E&W Europe, that a maiden, washing herself with dew from the hawthorn on the first day of May at daybreak, would preserve her beauty forever, the operation being annually repeated. In the Morning Post , May 2nd, 1791, it was mentioned, ‘that yesterday, being the first of May, according to annual custom, a number of persons went into the fields and bathed their faces with the dew on the grass, under the idea that it would render them beautiful.' At a village in Sussex, about 1810, the lasses used to repair to the woods early on May morning, and gather the dew, which they sprinjkled over their faces as a preservative against freckles, and to secure their good looks until the next anniversary.
A writer in the Morning Post, May 2, 1791, says: "I remember that in walking that same morning between Hounslow and Brentford, I was met by two distinct parties of girls with garlands of flowers, who begged money of me, saying ‘Pray Sir, remember the garland."
In the n of England, they appear to have ahd a May gosling, equivilent to the April Fool. A coorespondent of the Gentleman's Magazine for April 1791, says ‘A May gosling, on the first day of May, is made with as much eagerness, in the North of England, as an April Noddy or Fool, on the first of April.
Much of this is very old and takes up no less than five pages! I've taken only a little bit, since most I think know of the Maypole. "The Mayings" says Strutt, "are in some sort yet kept up by the milk-maids at London, who go about the streets with their garlands and music, dancing; but this tracing is a very imperfect shadow of the original sports; for Maypoles were set up in the streets, with various martial shows, Morris dancing and other devices, with which, and revelling, and good cheer, the day was passed away. At night they rejoiced, and lighted up their bonfires." Manners & Customs, " Vol ii, pg.99. The Chimney-sweepers, some of whom are fantastically dressed in girls' clothes, with a grea profusion of brickdust by way of paint, gilt paper, &c, making noisa noise with their shovels and brushes, were long the most striking objects in the celebration of May Day in the streets of London. But the Maypole, and the May customs generally, are now almost quite neglected in London and other great centers.
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