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Terry Foreman  •  Link


The importance of paying due honour to the deceased is clear enough in the diary. The first and apparently the easiest duty of the bereaved was to ensure that as many relatives and friends as possible would attend. Tickets would be issued, but do not seem to have succeeded in limiting the numbers -- to gatecrash might be a mark of respect. Public assembly rooms might be hired for the gathering -- two city halls were required at the funeral of the goldsmith Sir Thomas Vyner -- but even so, they were often, in Pepys's experience, uncomfortably crowded. According to his estimates, four or five hundred people attended the funeral of Anthony Joyce, and roughly two hundred coaches were required to carry Sir Wiliam Batten's mourners from London to his burial at Walthamstow. The numbers in the funeral procession might, in the case of an important person, be swollen by the hiring of professional mourners -- old men or women (according to thesex of thedeceased) who walked in couples ahead of the hearse, their numbercorresponding to his or her age.

The second duty of the deceased's family was to provide the proper habiliments of mourning. Black cloth would be given beforehand to near relatives and servants. At the funeral, scarves and hatbands would be distributed, together with mourning rings that were graded to the rank and degree of relationship of the recipient. The rings, of gold and black enamel, would often be providedfor in the will of the deceased. The house and church would be draped in black for days on end, and mourning coaches would be hired for the funeral and for the customary month's mourning afterwards. At Pepys's own funeral in 1703 mourning was presented to 40 people and 123 rings (of three grades costing 20s., 15s. and 10s.) were distributed. In the case of men of gentle birth (Edward Pepys of Broomthorpe for example), hatchments displaying their arms would be hung from the windows of the house and placed on the hearse. Afternoon was the usual time for the ceremony, but the upper classes preferred to be buried at night. Pepys himself was buried at 9 p.m. The rich spent lavishly on these occasions -- there are records of funerals at about this time costing over £1000, and a state funeral (like Albemarle's) cost £6000 -- and humbler folk probably overspent. The wine and biscuit, the hire of a hall and undertaker, the charges for parson, sexton and ringers were all expenses that could hardly be avoided.

(L&M, Vol. X, Companion)

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

A helpful post. Thanks.

But it does make the Pepys's behavior when his mother died all the more puzzling. But I note all the examples you give are of men who died in London.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Entrepreneurism was alive and well in the 1660's. This article is about a silversmith in York who produced funeral spoons, with a skull on one side, and the crest of the bereaved family on the reverse.

With the losses of the Civil War, followed so soon by the plague, by 1665-1667 he must have done quite a trade. Few survive; it's thought people threw them away.


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