Extracts from the old parish registers

The Rolleston Registers commence 1559. In the year 1597 it was ordered that Parish Registers, hitherto made on paper, must be transcribed on to parchment. Usually when this was done the original paper Register was destroyed, but in the case of Rolleston fortunately a large portion, some 37 leaves stitched together but unbound, has been preserved in fairly good condition. It can be seen that many leaves have been lost from the beginning, and a few from the body of the volume, but most of the years from 1584 to 1615 are covered, and it is these pages which are so unusually interesting owing to the large number of notes and comments written in them alongside the entries of Marriages and Burials by the Vicar at that time— Robert Leband, as previously noted. These include notes on the weather, local floods, corn prices, comments on the characters of parishioners, poetic verses and quotations in English, Latin and Greek, and current events, such as the passing through Newark of King James in 1603.

A few extracts from this Register, made by Robert Leband, are here given, together with any explanatory notes on them that may be of interest:

"Richard Walker aboute 23 or 24 yeares of age somewhat tall, slow of speech, a still, quiet & gentle younge man diligent in serving his maister dwellinge with John Guill since Martinmas last & keepinge his sheepe, was buried on Teusday in crosse weeke the xmith of may—1588."

"On Saturday the XXII of June such abundance of raine came that neither the Sunday nor midsom[er] day I could get to the church without boots (? boats) more abundance fell on weddnesday the tenth of Julie, but most abundance of raine fell on weddensday the xvn of Julie wch raised such a floud both by land & by meanes of the Trent that the new banke made the summer beefore wth great paines, beeinge a deare yeare with poore men, rie beeinge—Vs. IIIId.—barlie and peason IIIIs. VIIId. the strike & dearer, was the most of it taken away & all the hay & gras . . in the meadowes mowne, aboove a hundred akers I am sure . . . marshe Willowholme,

Smeethinge, Key, Withames........... (illegible) . . . fleet landes quite carried away, no hay to speake on gotten................. of continuall raine & unseasonable weather the medow so.............. that I feare it bee utterlie............................................. favour toward us againe that wee may finde grace when wee come to appeare beefore His iudgmt seat, that our saviour may receiue us into blisse from the miseries of this world. Rolston thy faire feeldes never more plentifullie enriched wth blessing from god ar now consumed, thy great, thy two great store of horses halfe pininge poore mens cattle, wth thy beaste & sheepe will now be pined to death & thou thy self wilt bee famished; beethinke thee therefore how thou maist obtaine godes favour settle thy harte aright, let mercie & faithfullnes alway p'serve thee, that god may bee thy god unto the end & in the end. Amen, &for ever & ever." (1588).

"Nicholas Darwin a tall ma[n] but crooked through age beeinge four-score &tenne at the least, a painefull labourer in ditchinge, mowinge, & other labourious woorkes, whom I have hard of him selfe report a thinge strange as mee thinke that he was never day sicke in his whole life to his remembrance, & in truth hee lay and sat up in his last sickenes as one that felte little or no paine for ought that could bee p'ceived. but by his forsakinge of meat etc., this said Nicholas Darwin deceased this life on Munday Decemb. 23, & was buried on Christmas eeven." (1588).

"Margret Scarbrough a maide XL yeares of age or aboove beeinge diseased wth a great swellinge in her whole bodie, wch gettinge issue at length in her legge was almost cured, whereupon the greese as might bee thought for want of issue strucke to her hart, so that shee died on Tuesday June XVIIth & was buried the same day."  (1589).

" Longe beardes hartles


painted coats witles daintie fare needles

the Scotchma[n] to the Englishe"

maketh England thriftles


"The last day of March the frost havinge continued fro[m] beefore Martinmas for the most part, was changed into fruitfull & vvarme showers for a plentifull springe so that a more seasonable Aprill till the xixth. day thereof wch was Easter day hath seldoome beene seene, almightie god bee praised for his blessing after his chasticement. who grant us his grace to please him that that this bodie (though punished) not perishinge may withe the soule all trouble & vexacion ov[er] past, bee received into foelicitie not subject to alteracion wch the enimie ca[n] not minishe."    (1590).

"Thomas Thorneton about threescore &twelve years of age or aboove a bonesetter, dwelling at Morton wthin this parishe was buried on Munday the seaventeenth of August." (1590) (Note:—Bonesetters are frequently mentioned earlier than Leband's time. "He ys allso a boone-setter" occurs in an author of 1470).

"Nicholas Nidde about 60 yeares of age a little fellow a smith & a horseleache for divers diseases, was buried on St. Bartholomewes day beeinge Munday" (1590). ("Horseleache"—i.e. he was a fore-runner of the modern veterinary surgeon).

"Since the beeginninge of Julie untill this day August 26 their hath beene sick in Rolston aboove fortie p'sons younge & ould, no house free, but one or moe sick.''

"Robert Bower aboove fortie years of age the swineheard at Fiskerton & a good thresher haveinge a gret swellinge on the one side of his necke face & head wch some thought came throughe cuttinge a swine for the murren thereon died on' Sunday at night & was buried the next day September] XXIIIth." (1590).

"Christopher Bettinsonne about threescore years of age a ma[n] of low stature a painefull woorkma[n] in ditchinge & mowinge, but beeinge in his last years weake throughe sicknes hee was the townes neatheard untill his death was buryed on Weddensday the fourth of Novemb[er].'' (1590).

"On Sunday at night decemb. 20. 1590 beeinge St. Thomas eeve a great snow fell, which insued such a frost especiallie on the morrow after St. Thomas day that bread & all moist things were frosen in extremitie. since wch time there hathe beene scarcelie aine moisture fallen untill the snowes in March."

Sometimes Mr. Leband would put any unfavourable comments on characters in Latin, as instance the following, where the portion in italics is in Latin in the original — "Will[ia]m Forrest about 60 years of age a cu[n]ninge fellow I will not say crafty, of little faith, or hope of eternal life, if it be permissible to regard words as an index to the mind, but in handie woorke as ditching, mowinge, sheip-clippinge & such like, skilfull. was buried december—XXVIIIth. Tuesday.'' (1591).

"On weddenesday September] the sixt a tempestuous winde from the north west blew down the middle pinnacle on the south side of this steeple, without other harme dooinge, thanks bee to god." (1592) (In 1714 and in 1912 also, are there records of the pinnacles being damaged by storms.)

"George Deconsonne an householder about 27 years of age fallinge out with Thomas Heifield at the boules, was by the said Thomas stricken upon the head with two boules in a bagge on Satday Septem IXth. at night, whereby havinge his brain pan broken as was supposed, dyed on Munday in the night. Septemb[er] XIth. & was buried the day followinge. 1592." (This refers to an incident in a bowling-alley).

After an entry of the burial of a woman appears a remark, written in Latin and afterwards crossed out, the translation of which is as follows —"A praisworthy woman whose honest manners certain survivers do not distain to imitate."

"In the month of June 1596, 38 Elizabeth, certain nobles under the Earl of Essex went to Spain and honourably carried off (if report does not lie) a very brilliant victory in naval and terrestrial warfare, and returned gloriously into England to their own people in the month of August." (This is a translation of the original, which is written in Latin and refers to the winning of Cadiz.)

A note in Latin in the margin is translated as follows :— "Do not trust a woman not even if she be dead."

"Joane Peele about lxx yeares of age the wife of John Peele was buried on Tuesday in Easter weeke. Aprill—18. Eliz. 40. So singular a huswife as Rolston could not match." (1598).

The following is a translation of an entry, again in Latin, "25 March 1603 Friday. The death of Elizabeth our most gracious Queen was suspected by many; it reached our ears on the 26th. and affected the minds of many among the rest myself with no slight grief. On 26th. March James King of Scotland was proclaimed at Nottingham King of England, France and Ireland, and at Newark on the 30th of the same month also publicly. Long live King James & may he study the prosperity of the English."

"This Thursday Aprill XXIth. 1603 came Kinge James toward eveninge to Newarke castell, where hee lodged that night & the next day beeinge good Friday departed towards Beaver castell."

On August 8th. 1604, the Great Plague, which had spread to Nottinghamshire, claimed its first victims in the parish, according to the following entries:—" filia Joh[ann]is Thorneton de Morton pestilentia mortua" and "John Thorneton was buried in Morton churchyard, peste." But it was not until the end of 1611 and early 1612 that this scourge took its chief toll from the village, for between Dec. 9th, 1611, and May 16th, 1612, no fewer than 19 entries of burials have marginal notes such as "pestis suspecta'', "pestis co[n]fessa , or "pestis" written against them. On April 8th, 1612, three victims were buried in the one day. There is an entry showing that a child was baptized in the churchvard instead of in the church owing to the risk of plague infection.

The following is a translation of an entry in Latin:—"On August 10th. the tenth year of his reign—1612 James King of England, Scotland, France & Ireland, defender of the faith, stays in the Castle of Newark with his son Henry now, as it is said, in the nineteenth year of his age. In the Parish Church of the said Newark Dom. Parker precentor of Lincoln, commonly called "Chaunter," preached a sermon before the said King & Prince. A crowd of noblemen, knights, esquires & commoners desiring to see the King and Prince flocked thither."

The following is a translation of an entry in Latin, in another and later volume of the Registers by John Twentiman, then Vicar:—"John Wise, a bachelor, a frequentor of the taverns rather than of the church and sacrament, attacked by raging fever, vomiting dreadful curses and blasphemies, died and was buried. In the hour of death Good Lord deliver us." (1687).

The next two extracts given are also by John Twentiman:— " Margaret, Wife to the Right Honoble Robert Lord Lexington dyed at London April 17. Aged 31 years, & was buryed in the Chancell here. She was of the Family of the Hungerford's of Farley Castle in Som[m]ersetshire. The sole Heiress of Sr Giles Hungerford of Colston in the County of Wilts."

"Robert Bush (a servant of Mr. Jalland's) was Buried— Nov. 20. He was bitten with a mad Dog Oct. 3, last. The changes & full of the Moon wr as followeth. New Oct 6. Full Oct. 21. New Nov. 5. Full Nov. 19. So that he was bitten in the wane; passed 2 Changes & almost 2 Fulls. He killed the Dog; eat pt of his Liver. Took the ... (a word here erased) . . . Milk in wch the Roots of the Flower-de-Luce was boiled, (The only Medicine given by the Keepers to their Hounds) wch vomited & purged him. He took Decoctions of Rue & other Alexipharmicks—was Blooded twice (wch p'haps he had better not have done) & took some other things from the Apothecary. But the Poisonous Quality prevailed. And some Symptoms thereof appeared by times, gt Heaviness or Oppression at his Ht, & difficulty of Breathing, etc. Nov. 16. He drank one Draught of Ale, but found himself so dissordered by it that he sd he wud never drink Ale more. Nov. (...) He thought himself very well, & went to the Barn to Thrash. Nov. 17. About 5 clock in the Evening He told us in my House He thought he shud leave off Small Beer as well as Ale, for that nothing but water agreed with him; that he was Dry but cared not to Drink. He went im[m]ediately home & sat down by the Fire, & within 4 or 5 minutes Start up very hastily & ran up to his Bed, crying he was struck with Death. And fm that time continued under great Agonys—sensible almost to the very last—yet rambling and Raging wh he had got any persons Name into his Head, Repeating over & over "O He or She's a good man " (woman, Lad, Lass, according as the p'son was that spoke to him) "Pray for me!" this was his request to all that spoke to him, & repeated the same 10 or 12 times together. He lay always on his Belly—vomited sometimes— sweat  exceedingly—Eyes  twinkling  fast & staring—mouth gaping & catching & foming—Breath full & steaming as gross as a boiling pot—All very ill-scented. If any one touch'd him he always avoided the Touch & struck; & wud not suffer his Mother (of whom he was very tender) to come near him, but always thrust & beat her off ; & always was in violent Agonys whilst she was in the Room & made Lamentation over him. He got Her Thumb in his mouth . . (something here erased) . . . not long before he dyed. Wrupon she call'd to him, "wt, will you bite your mother ''; & after some pausing. He sd, "No, no, my dear mother"; & let her go without drawing blood. They bound him at last. And on the 18 day, about 3 clock in the morning, he lift up himself as high as the Ropes wud give way, & then lay down. & after 2 or 3 sighs, he Died. Being (as I compute) about 34 Hours in the sharpe Agonys I have mentioned. A young man, piously disposed, well worded, & of a good Disposition. His wounds shud have been kept open, & the blood drawn out (while fresh) with Cuppings, & the sores fretted & made more sore with sharp washes, that the Poison might have been recalled back & drawn out of the Sores, befor it got into the Blood." (1705).

The following three extracts were written by William Benson, Vicar at the time.

"The Honble Wm George Sutton onely Son of the Rt Honble Robt Ld Lexington born at Vienna when his Lordship was Ambassador to the Emperor Leopold died at Madrid Sept 23d his Ldship being then Ambassador extraordinary to Philip the 5th Kg of Spain.  He was buried here Dec. 29th." (1713).

After an entry dated Feb. 1st, 1714, appears the following note:—"On wch day was such a violent tempest of wind as was never known in any man's memory, it struck down 2 pinnacles from the steeple & did great damage to the Ch: & a gt deal more in Town."

"The Honble Leonora Cordelia Margaretta Daughter of the Rt Honble Robt. Lrd Lexington aged 20 years buried here, Octobr 30th. (1715).