Buried in Woollen

This post arises from an irritation with family historians recording the “burial place” of an ancestor as being “Woollen” in, for example, Dorset. With many of my Vine and Crumpler(e) families from Dorset I struggled for some time not being able to locate an ancient town of this name, having come across many records with the “buried in Woollen” notation.

After much searching I did what I should have done in the very first instance and that was to fall back on the “resolves all” solution, “Google it”. Here is what I found in Wikipedia:
The Burial in Woollen Acts 1666-80 were Acts of the Parliament of England (citation 18 & 19 Cha. II c. 4 (1666) [1], 30 Cha. II c. 3 (1678) [2] and 32 Cha. II c. 1 (1680) [3]) which required the dead, except plague victims, to be buried in pure English woollen shrouds to the exclusion of any foreign textiles[4]. It was a requirement that an affidavit be sworn in front of a Justice of the Peace (usually by a relative of the deceased or some other credible person) confirming burial in wool, with the punishment of a £5 fee for noncompliance. Parish registers were marked with the word affidavit or with a note A or Aff against the burial entries to confirm that affidavit had been sworn, or marked “naked” for those too poor to afford the woollen shroud. Some affidavits survive. This legislation was in force until 1814, but was generally ignored after 1770. These related records are generally regarded as a source of genealogical information, and can help provide evidence of economic status and relationships that may be unavailable elsewhere or ambiguous.

I would have saved many hours if I had known this earlier and so also had other followers of the Vine and Crumplere families. With knowledge now of the significance of these words I am able to work with and find actual burial locations that will assist my research and resolve some of the many conundrums that arise from large families with many cousins sharing a first name. It also allows me to make an assessment of the level of veracity of other recordings within public Trees such as those within Ancestry which quite often are jobs “half done”.

I trust this will be of assistance to others.

One thought on “Buried in Woollen”

  1. Thank you so much for showing me the confusing web of Crumplers in Dorset with so many WIlliams and Johns as to make my head spin. One William came to the Virginia Colony in 1704, another William [ or maybe the same one went back to Dorset, then returned] is listed as arriving in 1724 and marries Elizabeth Wrayford/Raiford in 1724 in Isle of Wight County, Virginia. Their son, also William, married Elizabeth Arrington . It’s from that branch of the Crumplers [later the name was changed to Crumpley in a North Carolina/Tennessee branch of the family that I am descended.

    I will carefully study your update to the Crumplers of Dorset, then will be visiting the Dorset History and Records Office in Dorchester in a few weeks with my historian daughter.

    Carole Crumpley Erickson

Replies and comment most welcome