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and shear sheep, in the thirteenth century it was done by women, who are called shepsters in the “ Vision” of Piers Plowman. The sheep were washed in the mill-pond. The miller at Ashbury, who held a yard-land with his mill, was required to wash the lord's sheep, and to be at the shearing, and to wind the lord's wool. Shearers were usually entitled to the wambelocks, or loose locks of wool under the belly of the sheep; at Weston, in Oxfordshire, a shearer had the wambelocks, or a penny instead of them.* The finest part of the fleece is the wool about the sheep's throat, called in Scotland the haslock or hawse-locks :
A tartan plaid, spun of good hawslock woo',
in the North, they call a sheep-shearing the clippingtime. To come in clipping-time is to come as opportunely as he who visits a farmer at sheep-shearing, when there is always mirth and good cheer. In 1279, the shearers at Swincombe, in Oxfordshire, had a new cheese in common, and each man had a loaf, and half a loaf instead of a lamb.t In the time of
a Henry Best, the middle of the seventeenth century, clippers always expected a joint of roasted mutton. There is an account of the good things usually furnished for a sheepshearing feast two or three hundred years ago, in Brand's “Popular Antiquities,” but there is no reference in Brand to an old drama called “ The Winter's Tale :"
* ad oves lavand' et tondend' unam mulierem inveniet. (2 Hundred Rolls, 759 bis.)
Debet invenire unam tonsatricem in tempore tonsionis. (Delisle's Norm. Agri. 82.)
Clipping is in the Channel Islands performed by women, slowly but neatly. (Report, 183.)
debet lavare oves domini et esse ad tonsionem vel involvere lanam domini. (Add. 17450, f. 172 b.)
tondere oves et habere Wambelokes. (Dom. S. P. 47, 91.)
adjuvabit tondere et lavare oves dicti Simonis et habebit wambelok scilicet quilibet eorum, vel quilibet habebit unum denar'. (2 H. R. 817.)
† debet et lavare et tondere oves cum i homine et habere caseum illius diei in communi et i panem et pro agno dim' panem. (2 H. R. 758 bis.)
“Let me see," ponders the clown," what am I to buy for our sheep-shearing feast? Three pounds of sugar, five pounds of currants, rice,—what will this sister of mine do with rice ? But
my father hath made her mistress of the feast, and she lays it on.
I must have saffron, to colour the warden pies; mace; dates,-none! That's out of my note. Nutmegs, seven ; a race or two of ginger,—but that I may beg; four pounds of prunes, and as many of raisins o'the sun.”
There is a good description of a modern sheep-shearing feast among the poems of Clare, whence we learn that the fanciful arguments in the Third Scene of the Fourth Act of “ The Winter's Tale " are not altogether unlike the things intended to be said on such an occasion. But festivals so gracefully conducted are uncommon, through the want of a disguised princess to do the honours.
The old customs of clipping-time were observed by Sir Moyle Finch, at Walton, near Wetherby, in the time of Charles the First, and are thus described by Henry Best:
“Hee hath usually fower severall keepinges shorne altogether in the Hall-garth. He hath had 49 clippers all at once, and their wage is, to each man 12d. a day, and when they have done, beere and bread and cheese; the traylers have 6d. a day, His tenants the graingers are tyed to come themselves, and winde the woll; they have a fatte weather and a fatte lambe killed, and a dinner provided for their paines; there will be usually three score or fower score poore folkes gatheringe up the lockes; to oversee whom standeth the steward and two or three of his friends or servants, with each of them a rodde in his hande; there are two to carry away the woll, and weigh the woll soe soone as it is wounde up, and another that setteth it downe ever as it is weighed; there is 6d. allowed to a piper for playing to the clippers all the day; the shepheards have each of them his bell-weather's fleece;"* -the “ belflys" allowed to the shepherd by the old Saxon Laws of Landright.*
* Best's Farming Book, 21, 97.
In the reign of Henry the Third, the ploughmen and other officers, at East Monkton, between Warminster and Shaftesbury, were allowed a ram for a feast on the Eye of St. John the Baptist, when they used to carry fire round the lord's corn. This form of the Beltane superstition was observed in the north of England and in Scotland about fifty years ago. The Beltane flourishes at the uttermost ends of Europe, in the Scilly Islands, and in Russia ; and even the man of Madagascar, who holds his head to other stars, is accustomed to kindle bonfires on the day which we have dedicated to St. John. We learn from the “ Popular Antiquities,” that, not long ago, in Gloucestershire and Herefordshire, on the eve of Twelfth-day, fires used to be lit at the end of the lands, in fields just sown with wheat. This seems to be the custom just now noticed
extant in Wiltshire under Henry the Third, slightly varied, and transferred from the summer to the winter solstice, or from the feast of St. John the Baptist to that of St. John the Evangelist.t
At Christmas, tenants and other dependants in many places received from the lord an allowance of firewood, called the Christmas-stock or Christmas-brand; and at this time their poultry rents and other donations were usually due: in the Hundred Rolls of Huntingdonshire, donations at Christmas
Sceap-hyrdes riht is thæt he hæbbe . . 1 bel-flys—i.e timpani vellus. (Laws of Landright.)
† Item Carucarii et alii Wykemanni debent habere i multonem et ferre ignem circa bladum domini in vigilia Nativitatis beati Johannis Baptiste. (Add. 17450, f. 215 b.)
In vigilia enim beati Johannis colligunt pueri in quibusdam regionibus ossa, et quædam alia immunda, et insimul cremant, et exinde producitur fumus in ære. Faciunt etiam' brandas et circuunt arva cum brandis. (Harl. 2345, f. 50. 1 Sax. in Eng. 361.)
Three Visits to Madagascar, 127. 1 Brand and Ellis, 33, 310, 337.
Die möglichkeit einer vermischung der beiden Johannes im Mittelalter, die Grimm, S. 358, andeutet, halte ich für gewiss. . . (Leo, Ortsnamen, 205.)
are called lok or loksilver. A tenant at Huntercombe, in Oxfordshire, on the feast of our Lord's Nativity, was bound to give to his lord a loaf, with a penny half-penny, a gallon and a half of ale, a cock and a hen; and then on the same day the said John and his wife, with another person-unus aliuswhom they might choose to bring with them, were to dine with the lord. In most of the manors of Glastonbury Abbey, the bailiffs and chief tenants dined in hall on Christmas day, receiving bread and beer, meat and pottage; some of the tenants could bring their wives and a third person with them; they were required to furnish their own cups and dishes, and a napkin or table-cloth if they wished to eat from a cloth; they brought likewise a bundle of wood to cook their pottage, unless they chose to have it undressed. This entertainment was called a Ghest; it was to be done liberally and in good style. The tenant of a yardland at Pennard, near Glastonbury, could have at his gest or revel on Christmas day ten loaves and ten pieces of meat-five of pork and five of beef -and he could have at the same gest ten men drinking after dinner in the lord's hall.* There was never more revelling and
* Debet habet Wdetale contra Natale scilicet unum truncum. (Add. 17450, f. 39.)
Debent præterea habere ii fagos contra Natale ad ignem extradicione tantum prepositi nostri. (Add. 6159, f. 160 b.) Isti debent habere cristemessestokkes contra natale domini. (Harl. 3977, f. 110 b.) Debent predicti tres habere truncum ligneum contra natale Domini, qui Anglice dicitur Christemesse brand. (Custumale Roffense.)
De dono ad lardar' ad natale xxviii sol. (Add. 17450, f. 27 b.) dat ad lok ad Nat Domini iii gallinas et unum panem prec' iiiia et prandebit cum domino. (2 H. R. 635.)
Lác-Ang. Sax. a gift, an offering:
cariabit boscum domini contra natale per ii dies ad cibum domini et dabit exenn' contra Natale vi panes precii iiie et vi lagen' cervisie precii iiio et iiii gallinas et ii gallos et veniet ad prandium pro predicto exennio sexta manu si voluerit. (2 H. R. 781.)
dabit exennium domino ad natale irii panes albos et iii gallones cervisie et i gallum et iii gallinas et debet comedere cum domino ipse et tota familia sua. (785.)
debet habere Ghestum suum ad natale in curia domini ipse et uxor sua scilicet ii albos panes et ii fercula carnis et cervisiam sufficienter et honorifice et clera et debet portare secum discum et cifum et mappam et debet portare ante natale i fascem de busca ad escam suam coquendam quod si non fecerit habebit olera sua cruda. (Add. 17450, f. 39, 45 b.) debet ipse
confusion in an ancient hall than at Christmas. Let us fancy the noise, and the smoke and steam :-cooks dressing meat as though they were mad; hounds lapping blood and fighting for bones ; men and women crowding, laughing, squabbling, talking all at once; lords and ladies gazing at the scene from the upper part of the hall; no wonder that they grew tired of it in time, and were glad to keep Christmas in their withdrawing rooms.
The “waits," who disturb our slumbers at Christmas, are the successors of certain old watchmen, who were bound by their tenure to keep watch in the lord's hall from Christmas until Twelfth-day. In the middle of the thirteenth century, a tenant at Winterborne was bound, with another of the same tenure, to watch the lord's court by night, whenever and as long as it should please the lord or the bailiff, and on the morrow was allowed a dishful of wheat. In one of the manors of St. Paul's Cathedral, a tenant was appointed to watch at the court from Christmas to Twelfth-day, to keep a good fire in the hall, and he received a white loaf, a cooked dish, and a gallon of ale. Sums paid on account of Yule-waiting are entered three or four times in Boldon-Book.f et uxor sua et garcio suus habere ghestum . . . debet habere ghestum ad natale se tercio. (f. 46 b.) Franciscus de Pennard tenet i virg' et i ferling
et debet habere gestum suum ad natale scilicet x panes et x frustra carnis scilicet v de porco et v de bove et debet habere ad idem gestum x homines bibentes post prandium in curia domini. (f. 57.)
* Dreary is the ball eche day in the weke,
Ther the lord ne the lady liketh noght to sitte;
And al to spare to spende that spille shal anotherAnd all from motives of economy, to save wealth that some one will be sure to scatter.
† Et si dominus voluerit vel ballivus debet ipse et alius de eadem tenura vigilando custodire curiam domini de nocte quando et quocienscunque dominus vel ballivus voluerit si necesse fuerit. Et in crastino habebit unum discum plenum de frumento. (Add. 17450, f. 180 b.)
Dom. S. P. lxxiii. vigilabit circa Curiam Domini una nocte Nath' ad cibum Domini. (34.)
In Hevedlega habet abbas üi Coterias . Isti debent vigilare in Curia Domini cum presens fuerit. (Tindall's Evesham, 59.)