British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

A calendar of the traditional customs, practices & rituals of the British Isles.

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Feb. 3.]                        shrove Tuesday.                                 79
Part of the income of the head-master and usher of the grammar-school at Lancaster arises from a gratuity called a cock-penny, paid at Shrovetide by the scholars, who are sons of freemen; of this money the head-master has seven-twelfths, the usher five-twelfths. It is also paid at the schools at Hawkshead and Clithero, in Lancashire; and formerly was paid, also at Burnley, and at Whiteham and Millom, in Cumberland, near Bootle.— Brand, Pop. Antiq., 1849, vol. i. p. 72.
The tossing of pancakes (and in some places fritters) on this day was a source of harmless mirth, and is still practised in the rural parts of Lancashire and Cheshire, with its ancient accompaniments :
" It is the day whereon both rich and poor, Are chiefly feasted on the self-sime dish; When every paunch, till it can hold no more, la fritter fiil'd, as well as heart can wish; And every man and maide doe take their turne, And tosse their pancakes up for feare they burne And all the kitchen doth with laughter sound, To see the pancakes fall upon the ground."
PasquiPs Falinodia. Harland and Wilkinson,
Lancashire Folk Lore, 1867, p. 218.
In the Newark, says Throsby (History of Leicester 1791, p. 356), on Shrove Tuesday is held the annual fair, chiefly for the amusement of the young. Formerly, there was practised in its full extent the barbarous custom of throwing at cocks, but now the amusement is confined to the purchase of oranges, ginger-bread, &c, and to a custom known by the name of <; Whipping-Toms;" a practice no doubt instituted by the dwellers in the Newark to drive away the rabble, after a certain hour, from the fair. Two, three, or more men, armed with cart-whips, and with a hand­kerchief tied over one eye, are let loose upon the people to flog them, who are generally guarded with boots on
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