British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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318                                      MIDSUMMER EVE.                          [JUNE 23.
then Lord Mayor, in the second year of Edward the Sixth's reign.—Stow's Survey of London; Jupp, History of the Carpenter's Company, 1848, pp. 40-44.
In the ordinary of the Company of Cooks at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1575, quoted by Brand (Pop. Antiq. 1849. vol. i. p. 318), is the following clause:—"And alsoe that the said fellowship of Cookes, shall yearelie of theire owne cost and charge mainteigne and keep the bonefires, according to the auntient custome of the said towne on the Sand-hill; that is to say, one bone-fire on the even of the Feast of the Nativitie of St. John Baptist, commonly called Midsomer Even, and the other on the even of the Feast of St. Peter the Apostle, if it shall please the Maior and Aldermen of the said towne for the time being to have the same bone-fires."
Deering, in his Nottinghamia Vetus et Nova (1751, p. 123), quoting from an old authority, gives the following curious account of the watch once held at Nottingham. He says: " Every inhabitant of any ability sets forth a man, as well voluntaries as those who are charged with arms, with such munition as they have ; some pikes, some muskets, calivers, or other guns; some partisans, or halberts ; and such as have armour send their servants in their armour. The number of these are yearly about two hundred, who at sun-setting meet on the Row, the most open part of the town, where the Mayor's serjeant-at-mace gives them an oath, the tenor wherof followeth in these words : ' You shall well and truly keep this town till to-morrow at the sun-rising; you shall come into no house without license or cause reasonable. Of all manner of casualties, of fire, of crying of children, you shall due warning make to the parties, as the case shall require. You shall due search make of all manner of affrays, bloudsheds, outcrys, and all other things that be suspected,' &c. Which done, they all march in orderly array through the principal streets of the town, and then they are sorted into several
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