British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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152                                           GOOD FRIDAY.                        [MARCH 20.
John Blagrave, by will dated 30th June, 1611, devised to Joseph Blagrave and his heirs a mansion-house in Swallow-field, and all his lands and messuages in Swallowfield, Eversley, and Reading, on condition that they should yearly, for ever, upon Good Friday, between the hours of six and nine in the morning, pay 101., in a new purse of leather, to the mayor and burgesses, to the intent that they should pro­vide that the same should yearly be bestowed in the forenoon of the same day in the following manner, viz., twenty nobles to one poor maiden servant who should have served, dwelt, and continued in any one service within any of the three parishes of Reading, in good name and fame, five years at the least, for her preferment in marriage; and to avoid partiality in the choice, he ordered that there should be every Good Friday three such maidens in election, to cast and try by lot whose the fortune should be, and that of those three one should be taken out of each parish, if it could be, and that every fifth year one of the three should be chosen from Southcote, if any there should have lived so long; and that there should be special choice of such maids as had served longest in any one place, and whose friends were of least ability to help them. That ten shillings should be given on the same day to the preacher of St. Laurence for a sermon; and that afterwards there should be twenty shillings given to threescore of the poorest householders of the same parish who should accompany the maiden to whom the lot bad fallen home to her dwelling-place, and there leave her with her purse of twenty nobles. That the ringer should have three shillings and fourpence to ring a peal till the same maiden reached home.—Old English Customs and Charities, p. 147.
In some parishes in these counties the clerk carries round to every house a few white cakes as an Easter offering ; these cakes, which are about the eighth of an inch thick, and of two sizes—the larger being seven or eight inches, the smaller
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