Burial In Woollen Act 1666

Burying in Woollen Acts

The Burial in Woollen Acts 1666-80 were Acts of the Parliament of England (citation 18 & 19 Cha. II c. 4 (1666) , 30 Cha. II c. 3 (1678) and 32 Cha. II c. 1 (1680) ) which required the dead, except plague victims, to be buried in pure English woollen shrouds to the exclusion of any foreign textiles. It was a requirement that an affidavit be sworn in front of a Justice of the Peace (usually by a relative of the deceased or some other credible person) confirming burial in wool, with the punishment of a £5 fee for noncompliance. Parish registers were marked with the word affidavit or with a note A or Aff against the burial entries to confirm that affidavit had been sworn, or marked "naked" for those too poor to afford the woollen shroud. Some affidavits survive. In many parishes the affidavits were copied into parish registers and these may survive even if the affidavits have been lost. In some Churchwardens' Accounts, which were kept in the Parish Chest, for example St. Elphin's Parish in Warrington, then in Lancashire, I have read accounts of poor families being given wool by the parish in which to bury their deceased family member. These records name the family member to whom the wool was given and the deceased person's name. This legislation was in force until 1814, but was generally ignored after 1770. These related records are generally regarded as a source of genealogical information, and can help provide evidence of economic status and relationships that may be unavailable elsewhere or ambiguous.

References

Ancestral Trails: The Complete Guide to British Genealogy and Family History, Second Edition, by Mark Herber in association with the Society of Genealogists, Sutton Publishing Limited, Baltimore, MD 2004 p 362-3.

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