The Parish and the Dead

Andrew D. Brown

in Popular Piety in Late Medieval England

Published in print March 1995 | ISBN: 9780198205210
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191676550 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Historical Monographs

The Parish and the Dead

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)
  • History of Religion


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In 1484, the day before the feast of St. Edward, an eclipse of the sun was considered worthy of mention. Equally worthy were the deaths of important people within the parish, notably eleven members of the Hyde family. Names were noted down retrospectively, as far back as that of John Hyde, ‘armiger’, and they continued to be added until 1557, with William Hyde's name. Some of the entries noted that a dirige and mass were to be said for the deceased. This chapter focuses on the obligations that living parishioners owed the dead, indeed the whole range of services performed for souls in purgatory — burials, chantries, lights, and anniversaries. It examines how these obligations were accumulated and what impact they had on parish life in areas ranging from populous, wealthy cloth towns to smaller villages in chalkland regions.

Keywords: parish; living parishioners; obligations; dead; souls; purgatory; burials; chantries; lights; anniversaries

Chapter.  7660 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500) ; History of Religion

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