The Act of Parliament passed in Charles II's time (to bolster the English wool trade) required every man, woman and child that died to be buried in woolen. At first the names of two witnesses were required to be entered after the notice of the burial in the parish register. So the first entry
John Porter, sonn of Soloman Porter, buried 11th day of August 1678 in nothing but what was made of sheepes wooll onely
is witnessed by Soloman Porter and Alice Porter, and reported by Joshua Miller before Robert Ashton, Justice.
Then it was made enough for a witness to testify to a justice of the peace, or to a clergyman of another parish thet the Act had been observed. So in 1714, June 1st, it is noted in the register:
Mary Couley, buried in woollen, as appeared on oath before Sir William Buck, Baronet, one of Her Ma'ties Justices of the Peace.
And in the next year:
Dame Anne Raimond, buried in woollen, as appeared upon oath before Mr Rerdmore, vicar of Watford, March 10th 1715.
There were penalties to be paid if the law was broken, as everyone well knew, and they were to be paid more than once at Abbots Langley, as the register shows: In 1684, for example:
Martha Turner was buried in Linen contrary to ye Act of Parliament, for which 50 shillings was paid to Anne Smith ye informer, other fifty to ye poor of the parish ...
And fifteen years later:
Ane infant child of a travelling woman was buried July 31st, 1699, for which no affidavit was brought
but whether the gypsy was liable for the fine it is impossible to say. But in the same year some people called Bab certainly had to pay for:
Elizabeth Bab was buried in Linnen, and the forfeiture was payed, as will appear by the churchwarden's account for July 4th.
The law was to be on the statute book (if not enforced) from 1678 to 1798, a period of 120 years ...
If you can add to the information given above tell me.
Page updated June 2006