Policing Morality

When Henry VIII closed the monasteries, local parishes had to enforce not just criminal, but also moral codes, which could get a bit messy, and often involved women. Here’s a list of incidents dealt with by the churchwardens of St James’ parish in Bristol in the 17th century:

1627 Item. for a warrant for her that laid the child at Mr Sage’s doore 1s

To the woman that kept that child 1s

Spent at The Bell when we went about that child 1s

More in charge about that child 1s 8d

1672 Paid to Buck for hunting he whores out of the parish 6d

Paid for the crowner (coroner) when Ann White drowned her selfe 5s

1672 Received a person taken in misdemeanour 1s

Received a person taken drunk and sent to Bridewell 3s 4d

1677 Paid Mr Joyner at Bridewell for a fortnight’s diet of Ann Gait 8s

Do for 20 weeks keeping of Ann Gait £4

1697 Expended looking after ye woman that left her child at the Three Blackbirds 2s 9d

Expended when took her Marsh Street, and brought her to Bridewell and next day before the Mayor 3s 6d

July 4th Expended in finding out the mother of a child left at John Gifford’s: the same day whipt in Bridewell 4s 6d

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