Oral History, Oral records

This is some more from ‘Highways & Byways in Northumbria’ showing how records were kept before parish registers became compulsory in the 1753 Marriage act, demonstrating the importance of such matters being conducted in public, and the means that people had for remembering dates:

In the 14th century is a record of he proving of age of Walter Tailbois at Newcastle which did not rest on the word of any document, but on the evidence described in old law books as that which a man cannot deny before his neighbour:

Robert de Loather deposed that the said Walter was 21 years old on the Feast of the Purification last past; that he was born at Hephal and baptised  the church at routs-bury. He recollected he day because he was a godfather. John de Walington recollected the day because he had a son baptised here on the same day. John Lavson recollected the day because he had a son buried there the same day.

This heir, so quaint and well attested, was taken prisoner in a raid by the Scots when he was commissioner in defence of the Borders. He was exchanged for a Scottish prisoner called Peter of Crailing, evidently not a person of importance, as 40 quarters of malt were also required by the bargaining Scots.

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