A totally excellent couple of hours on Ancestry...I found close ancestors who were felt-makers and woollen weavers...one who married his wife in a 'pub called the White Hart and another who was buried at seven o'clock in the evening.
Now, the 'pub marriage was one of those Clandestine marriages which took place just outside the prison walls by de-frocked priests...but sometimes they went to the nearest 'pub and booked a room for the night after the brief service...it became almost a tradition that the dodgy priest would conduct the marriage service in the 'pub itself.
The chap who was buried at seven in the evening was a Non-Conformist...and it was in the records I came across which said when each person was 'booked in' as it were... the day he was buried seemed to be quite a busy one, with people all afternoon awaiting their turn about every half an hour or so.
Back to the Clandestine marriages for a second though 'cos you might have forgotten me writing about them before...they were for people who for various reasons didn't want to marry in their own parish in the local church. Non-believers...under-age couples...perhaps people who were already married to someone else...and those whose families would have made a horrible scene because they didn't approve for whatever reason.
The priests who conducted these marriages were in prison...but they were allowed to live on the perimeter in small shacks or cottages...the marriages they conducted were perfectly legal and they were paid of course, so they could save up enough to get themselves free of the debts they'd accrued and be released.
If you chose to marry in this way, you didn't have to have the Banns read, or be a member of the Established Church.
I've found several ancestors who were married like this...they'd have had to travel from their home places to London which must have been quite an arduous trek in the late 1600's early 1700's.
When we were in England, we lived on the outskirts of a tiny village in Norfolk, there were a few thatched cottages around a village green but it was one of those, virtually unknown outside the area, places that you'd travel through and not bother to stop...one of the women who married an Uncle of mine...a many times Great Uncle...hailed from that same village way back in 1630...the cottages were certainly quaint...sort of leaning forward into the street and with their thatches in varying states of repair...I wonder what it'd have been like when Joane lived there so many years ago. And why did she travel all the way to Gloucester where she met her husband and became my Aunt by marriage...
Of course the more records and the more information I gain the more the questions begin to niggle...the weavers would have lost their livelihood once the Industrial Revolution really kicked in...exactly why did Joane travel all the way to Gloucester...why did some of my ancestors take the path less travelled and reject the Church...did the felt-maker have a workshop or did he make his felt in the main room of his cottage...how much did his apprentice have to pay him for his training...did he dye his felt I wonder...did he buy the wool from a local farmer or did he need to go to wool auctions.
Whatever happened to the intricate looms of the weavers...broken up I suppose, once the weaver himself had passed away and there was no-one to take his place. Did he sell his cloth to the general public or maybe he had a few dress makers who bought all he produced to make frocks and trousers and thick warm cloaks...did he dye his fabric...did he have a daughter who walked the lanes near his home gathering up the plant stuff...did she dig up the rhubarb roots to use as a mordant and keep a little book with her carefully written recipes for blues and reds and a perfect green.
It is these people...the weavers and the felt-makers and the dyers...the Non-Conformists and the quiet rebels against the norms of their time who I identify with.
I read their names in careful copperplate or scribbled in haste by someone barely literate and can almost feel their presence from three and four hundred years ago...whispering to me down the centuries.
We are your people, they say.