the myddle people

for those of you out there who are interested in the origins of the quakers (i know you’re out there! (^_^) ), i can’t recommend highly enough barry levy’s Quakers and the American Family: British Settlement in the Delaware Valley. i haven’t quite finished it yet, but the overall impression that i’ve got so far is that the quakers of nw england (cheshire) and northern wales of the 1600s were juuust on a cusp of a transition from clannishness to non-clannishness (or less clannishness anyway). the population of the region was, and presumably had been for a very long time, based on extended families, feuds, and kin connections. the quakers made a conscious choice to break with that and focus on the nuclear family, but they were still clannish in many ways. imo, the seventeenth century quakers of nw england/ne wales were some of my “in-betweeners” — not extremely clannish anymore, but not fully individualistic/universalistic by that point, either — somewhere in the middle. (see also jayman’s A Tentative Ranking of the Clannishness of the “Founding Fathers.”)

i’ll work up a post on the quakers outlining more completely the history of their mating patterns and family structures (as far as i know them) hopefully within the next week. until then, below is an excerpt from levy related to the clannish behaviors of the non-quaker, base population in this nw region of england — specifically in myddle which is in shropshire (which lies beyond the tees-exe line). levy’s source on these obviously clannish folks from myddle is one richard gough who, in 1700, wrote Human Nature Displayed in the History of Myddle. i’m almost certainly going to have to read that!

but for now, from Quakers and the American Family, some bits about the tyler “clan” [kindle locations 586-600]:

“Though being routinely and often happily subverted by middling love, Myddle’s regime of honor and shame was occasionally and less attractively tarnished by clan bullying, as the story of the Tyler clan shows. Richard Gough rightly believed William Tyler ‘of the most debauched morals of any in this parish.’ Tyler had fornicated with the estranged wife of Richard Hussey. He had a child by her. Tyler took this child, Nell Hussey, as his house-maid and he committed incest with her, producing a second ‘bastard’. Tyler also stole sheep and assaulted people. Some of his daughters were ‘lewd’ women. However, the Tyler clan sat relatively undisturbed in their pews in Myddle Church and kept their honor unblemished.

“Tyler and his clan simply stopped people from humiliating them publicly. When Tyler’s nephew, Richard Challoner, ‘was bound over to appear at the Assizes for stealing a cow,’ William Tyler prevented the shameful hanging by telling the prosecutor ‘that this Challoner was his kinsman, and it would be a disgrace to me as well as to the rest of his friends to have him hanged, and that his friends would raise £5 among them to pay for the cow in case he would forbear the prosecution.’ Sympathizing with Tyler’s interest, the prosecutor accepted the bribe and Challoner was freed. The Tyler clan defended their honor violently, if necessary. Hoping to jail Tyler for debt, Mr. Thomas Braddock ’employed Rees Wenlock to serve William Tyler with a writ.’ Tyler persuaded Wenlock to stop on the way to court at Tyler’s sister’s house where Tyler’s kin assaulted Wenlock and freed Tyler. Mr. Braddock then got a more muscular group of tenants to serve Tyler in church. Again, ‘many of Tyler’s companions, and some women of his relations came to rescue Tyler.” After a fight, “Tyler was set on horseback, and … went toward the gaol.’ The Tyler clan was inconsolable, although they faced, particularly in relation to their greater sins, a relatively minor public humiliation, a temporary jailing for debt. ‘The consternation and lamentation of Tyler’s friends,’ noted Gough, ‘especially the women, was such as I cannot easily demonstrate.’

“Because of their ethical priorities, even unrelated local people helped unwittingly to keep the sinister Tyler clan’s banner riding high. Tyler in old age finally faced the gallows for stealing some sheep. Tyler’s virtuous grandson, Thomas Tyler, was the chief witness against him. The jury refused to believe the youth, however. As Gough noted, ‘the jury conceived it malicious and blamed him for offering to hang his grandfather, and soe old Tyler was acquitted.’ The northwestern jury raised kinship loyalty above property rights and above the choice to witness justly against a brutish life.”

and here’s a little bit about notions of honor in seventeenth century myddle [kindle location 521]:

“Though placed toward the back of the church, tenant farmers, particularly those who boasted generations of ancestors in the parish, held much honor. They lost this honor, however, if they suffered rituals of public humiliation. So while often ignoring private vices, tenant farmers always made an effort to prevent overt mortifications. Worried middling parents sent their juvenile delinquents far from the surrounding countryside, not to rehabilitate them spiritually or even to save their skins, but to remove their likely and shameful jailings and hangings from the sight and recording of neighbors. A Myddle tavern-keeper, Thomas Jukes, exiled a larcenous son by placing him into apprenticeship with a roving juggler who happened to pass through the village.” Michael Brame, of a long-standing Myddle family, came to Myddle following the death of his brother and brother’s wife in order to preserve the family’s leasehold and also to raise his brother’s son William. William robbed meat from several neighbors’ houses. The Braine clan took the only possible action: ‘at last he was sent away,’ noted Gough, ‘I know not whither.'”

edit: i meant to say and i forgot — getting rid of dishonorable children in this clannish society is (was), of course, a parallel to the killing of dishonorable children in much more clannish/tribal societies, just with less homicide. /edit

and, then, on notions of honor amongst the quaker settlers in pennsylvania [kindle locations 649-651]:

“The Quaker settlers were also as fascinated by honor, though they replaced clan honor with the Deity’s honor as revealed in their lives — ‘the honor of Truth.’ Their meetings would try to erase considerations of honor within households by insisting that such households uphold the honor of God’s revelations. The settlers were as pugnacious, though they replaced violent clan feuds and lawsuits with a spiritual feud against the ‘world’ — the ‘Lamb’s War.'”

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random notes: 08/05/13

a few more random notes from poolside … trying to do a little reading between mimosas at brunch and happy hour. (~_^)

from Incest and Influence: The Private Life of Bourgeois England (2009) [pgs. 97-98]:

“The level of cousin marriage in country districts seemed surprisingly low. George Darwin‘s cousin, Clement Wedgwood, made an inquiry on his behalf among skilled artisans in the Potteries [presumably those @ etruria in staffordshire in the west midlands]. In a sample of 149, he did not find a single case of first-cousin marriage. ‘He was further assured that such marriages never take place amongst them,’ George Darwin noted…. Except in very isolated districts, like those [in ne scotland] investiaged by Arthur Mitchell, rural people were not inclined to marry cousins. This conclusion is supported by the findings of Alan Macfarlane, who studied the marriage records of 800 people in East Colne, Essex [in se england], for the sixteenth to the eighteenth century and found only one first-cousin marriage and two marriages with more distant cousins.”

previously: more on consanguinity in england (and scotland)
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from The History of English Law Before the Time of Edward I (2008, orig. pub. 1898) [pg. 387] — i have to admit that i haven’t read of this before:

“The rule to which the church ultimately came was that defined by Innocent III. at the Lateran council of 1215, namely that marriages within the fourth degree of consanguinity are null. Before that decree, the received doctrine was — and it was received in England as well as elsewhere — that marriage within the seventh degree of the canonical computation was forbidden, but that kinship in the sixth or seventh degree was only *impedimentum impediens*, a cause which would render a marriage sinful, not *impedimentum dirimens*, a cause which would render a marriage null. Laxer rules had for a while been accepted; but to this result the canonists had slowly come.”

so even when the church had banned cousin marriage to a ridiculous degree (out to sixth cousins), fourth- through sixth-cousin marriages were never actually null and void. that would presumably affect things like inheritance — illegitimate children often not being allowed to inherit — and might influence people’s decisions to marry a distant cousin or not (if they could work out who they were!). the children of fourth- through sixth-cousin spouses would not have been illegitimate.
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from The Oxford History of the Laws of England: The Canon Law and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction from 597 to the 1640s (2004) [pgs. 46-48]:

“The Prohibited Degrees

“If one had to judge by the quantity of remaining evidence alone, one might say that the leaders of the Anglo-Saxon church cared more about the prohibited degrees of affinity and consanguinity than they did about the principle of marriage as a lifelong union…. The Laws of Wihtred (693 X 731) prohibited ‘living in unlawful intercourse’, and the legatine synods later in the eighth century prohibited all ‘unlawful and incestuous unions’, although the exact definition of the unlawful degrees of kinship was assumed rather than stated explicitly. However, the ‘Northumbrian Priests’ Law’ stated the prohibition in the terms that would later be the norm: spiritual affinity and a relationship closer than the fourth degree. It denied ‘Christian burial and God’s mercy’ to those who violated the prohibition; apparently the concept of nullity of marriage had not been fully assimilated.

the northumbrian priests’ law was written by wulfstan (d.1023), archbishop of york. interesting punishment for those who married close cousins — you wouldn’t get a christian burial. that might’ve been important to a lot of people (especially if they wanted to be buried with their family). who knows how well, or for how long, this was enforced.

continuing on…

“Most historians who have looked at the question have concluded that compliance with this aspect of the law of the church was slow to come. Strong evidence supports that view. In part, the slowness was the fruit of ignorance. St Boniface [d.754] expressed surprise when he learned that ‘spiritual kinship’ was created by lifting a child from the baptismal font and was being treated as an impediment to marriage among the Franks. But it was the law. Slowness also came from attachment to old ways. Letters from the archbiship of Reims to King Alfred (c.890) reproached him for permitting the continuation of pagan habits in contracting marriages between kin. Change in such habits was difficult to effect. The laws of King Aethelred issued in 1014 and drawn up by Archbishop Wulfstan, bemoaned the existence of so many breaches of the marriage law in England. Of course, the church itself had not always been entirely of one mind on the prohibited degree. Some of the rules against marriage between those related by blood or marriage were stated in quite vague terms. Archbishop Oda’s [of canterbury, d.958] ‘Constitutions’, as already mentioned, forbade marrying ‘cognates or other unlawful persons’. Papal letters exhorted their English recipients not to marry ‘within their own kindred’. They said nothing about how near the kinship had to be or how unlawfulness was to be defined.

“Precision would have been hard to reach. A different method of reckoning degrees of affinity and consanguinity prevailed among Germanic peoples than that which obtained in Rome, and it is not always clear in the Anglo-Saxon sources which of the two was intended. Even Theodore’s [archbishop of canterbury, d.690] Penitential set them out uncertainly. Among the Greeks, it stated, it was lawful to be joined in the third degree, among the Romans in the fifth. The laws of Aethelred [d.1016], by contrast, stated that ‘six degrees of relationship [meant] within the fourth knee’. But the easily used and detailed *Arbores consanguinitatis* and *Arbores affinitiatis* that permitted accurate and easy computation of the prohibited degrees would only appear once the law of the church was stabilized in the thirteenth century.

previously: anglo-saxon mating patterns and more on anglo-saxon mating patterns

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random notes: 07/30/13

from A Brief History of Great Britain (2010) [pages xiv-xvi]:

“Britain is marked by pronounced regional differences. The most basic division is that between highland areas and lowland areas. The ‘highland zone’ is defined by being over 200 meters (656 feet) above sea level. Highland zones are found in Wales, much of Scotland, northern England, and parts of southwestern England, although lowland pockets exist in highland territories. The British highland zone is not really mountainous, as the highest mountains reach the mode height of roughly 4000 feet (1,129 meters). There is a much higher proportion of highland land in Scotland than in England, and the difference between the highlands and the lowlands and their inhabitants plays a central role in Scottish history and culture.

The highlands are marked by a greater emphasis on pastoralism, as they have mostly chalky soil and are too wet and cold for successful agriculture. The highlands are also much less densely populated than the lowlands, as it requires much more land to support a human being through pastoralism than through agriculture. Lowland areas are usually more fertile. The most fertile lowlands are in the south and southeast of Britain, where there is rich, heavy soil more suited to agriculture. Lowlanders can engage in raising either grains or livestock, depending on circumstances. In the Middle Ages much of the lowlands was truned over to the highly profitable production of wool. Lowlanders tended to live in villages, highlanders in small hamlets or isolated farmsteads, or to be nomadic.

“Invasions of Britain had much less effect on the highlands than on the lowlands, which constituted the really valuable prize due to their greater agricultural productivity. Those regimes exercising power throughout Britain or the British Isles were usually based in lowland England, the only place capable of supporting tehm. The extension of power from the lowlands to the highlands was a difficult challenge due to the difficulty of the terrain. Mountainous Wales preserved its independence for centuries despite its poverty and its inability to unite politically. The only invaders to subdue Wales before the 13th century were the well-organized and disciplined Roman legions, and it took them years after the conquest of England. The less-organized Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, and Normans had a much harder time, and Wales was only permanently annexed to England in 1284.

“The greater poverty of the highlands meant that highlanders often raided lowlanders, creating hostility between the two. The highlands were also more culturally and linguistically conservative. Cultural innovations usually originated in the lowlands and spread to the highlands. The highlands were where the Celtic languages lasted the longest, as English and its offshoots, originally the language of Anglo-Saxon invaders, became the dominant tongue of the lowlands in the early Middle Ages. This cultural division further added to the hostility between highland and lowland peoples.”
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from The Environment of Early Man in the British Isles (1975) [pgs. 147-149]:

“The Highland Zone/Lowland Zone division

“It is from this time [late bronze/early iron age] onwards that the division of the British Isles into Highland and Lowland Zones becomes relevant. The division has been used by geographers to explain differences in settlement patterns, farming practices and the quality of material culture between the two zones, and Cyril Fox exploited it to a considerable extent in ‘The Personality of Britain’.

“In brief, the Highland Zone (Fig. 62) is that part of the British Isles which is made up of the most ancient group of rocks, those formed in the Paleozoic Era. They lie in the north and west and the division with the later Mesozoic and Tertiary rocks of the Lowland Zone falls roughly on a line from the mouth of the Tees to the mouth of the Exe. The Palaeozoic rocks are generally hard, forming mountainous regions, with continuous streches over 300 metres above sea level. Plains and vales are not extensive. There are steep slopes and crags making cultivation difficult or impossible, and soils are often thin, stony and impoverished. Rainfall is high and there is a strong correspondence between the chief moorland areas and mean annual rainfall.

“Lowland Britain, on the other hand, is made up of geologically younger rocks which are softer, and which have given rise to a series of low-lying, rolling hills and intervening extensive vales and plains. Slopes are gentle, crags few and almost all the land is available for tillage, pasture or settlement. Soils are generally fertile and there is little evidence of erosion. Rainfall is light and there is little waste ground.

“But there are many topographical exceptions, in particular various lowland areas within the Highland Zone. Some of these are relatively small — the Vale of Glamorgan, the Hebridean machair and certain fertile river valleys such as Strath Tay. Others are of much greater extent, including the Central Scottish Lowlands, East Banff and Aberdeen, and the Orkney Islands. Ireland can be divided topographically into its own Highland and Lowland Zoens, and presents an anomaly in that approximately half the country is essentially lowland but situated in a high rainfall area….

“Indeed, the key distinction between the Highland and Lowland Zones is not so much elevation and topography as rainfall which is greatest in the west (Fig. 62) since this is the direction from which the main rain-bearing winds blow….

britain - lowland-highland zones

“[F]or a variety of economic and environmental reasons, the first millennium bc represents a period of significant change in the Highland Zone. Fields were abandoned and either reverted to pasture or waste ground, or became covered by peat. In low-lying areas communications became difficult because of mire formation or flooding. The importance of stone and Highland Zone metal deposits dwindled. And there was no great exploitation of timber for iron smelting as occurred in the Lowland Zone. Indeed, it is from the beginning of the Iron Age that the Highland Zone as a whole assumes the pastoral character which it has retained ever since.

“‘It is generally understood that…the remains of the monuments and material costructed or used throughout Britain reveal no noticeable differences in quality between the lowland and highland areas until well into the first millennium bc, but that thereafter a contrast developed between the two areas, comprising a falling-off of the material culture of the highland in comparison with that of the lowland — a contrast which has lasted to the present day.'”
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look! another line – the tees-exe line (the red one):

tees-exe line
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from The British Isles: A History of Four Nations (1989, 2006) [pgs. 18-19]:

“To draw attention to this fact [i.e. that much of the pre-roman british isles was a part of a broader european celtic culture] is not to say that there was political and social uniformity throughout the area. The existence of tribal groupings in both Britain and Ireland is an indication of political differences at the local level. The Romans, to whom we are indebted for Latin versions of tribal names in the absence of their original Celtic forms, distinguished over twenty tribes in Britain south of the Forth. In Ireland, where politcal aggregation had not gone as far as it had elsewhere, the number of tribes seems to have been much larger.

“One powerful cause of variety was geography, in particular the contrast between Highland and Lowland Zones. It was Sir Cyril Fox who argued in his book ‘The Personality of Britain’ (1932) that the Lowlands would usually be exposed to forces of change before the Highlands. The Highland/Lowland contrast certainly makes good sense when applied to Britain, where north and west form a distinctive geographical area, including a good deal of land over 400 metres above sea-level. Poorer soil and climatic conditions made agriculture more of a challenge in the Highland Zone than it was in the south and east. In a British Isles context, however, the Highland/Lowland contrast is not quite so clear. Ireland, which has been compared to a saucer in which the rim represents the hills and the flat base the central plain, is not, geologically speaking, a Highland Zone. There is no doubt, however, that the narrow seas between north-west Ireland and south-west Scotland linked rather than divided them. At this particular period, however, it may be seen as forming part of a ‘cultural Highland Zone’, cut off, for better or worse, from the influence of the rising military power of Rome.

“Geographical determinism should not be pressed too far, however. It can also be argued that, under certain conditions, the Irish Sea provided a channel of communication…. It also seems to have been the case during the fifth and sixth centuries AD when Christian communities on both sides of the Irish Sea retained their links with Christian Europe at a time when the eastern half of Britain was being overrun by Germanic settlers. The Irish presence in Scotland in the sixth century AD and in parts of Wales illustrates the same point….

Another contrast between the Highland and Lowland Zones was almost certainly demographic. No firm statistical evidence exists but several strong indicators suggest that there was a considerable increase of population in the Lowlands from the fifth century onwards, well before the Belgic invasions. A good deal of internal colonisation seems to have taken place during this period….”
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from The Culture of the English People: Iron Age to the Industrial Revolution (1994) [pgs. 5-7]:

“Some fifty years ago Sir Cyril Fox published one of the most seminal books in the history of British archaeology and culture, ‘The Personality of Britain’. In it he distinguished two parts of these islands, a ‘highland’ zone and a ‘lowland’ zone, with a boundary between them which ran from County Durham to Lyme Bay on the south coast (Fig. 1.1). This line separated a predominantly hilly region of Paleozoic rocks from a gentler region of Secondary and later rocks. These two regions, he argued, corresponded with two differing modes of cultural evolution. Simply expressed, his argument was that the bearers of outside cultural influences reached the Highland Zone often by sea and almost always in small numbers. Their impact was never sufficient to blanket or submerge the indigenous cultures. Instead they became assimilated. Elements of older cultures are today not only present, but conspicuously so in Highland Britain. Lowland Britain, by contrast, lay at the receiving end of a long series of invasions, from those who walked across the landbridge which once existed with Europe to the more recent invasions of Anglo-Saxons, Vikings and Normans. Each wave was powerful enough to impress its own culture, and thus to mask or to destroy pre-existing cultures. Fox commented on the relative ease with which new civilizations are established in the Lowland Zone, repressing without necessarily obliterating those which had prevailed before. ‘There is [thus] greater unity of culture in the Lowland Zone, but greater continuity in the Highland Zone.’

“The Fox model has not been without its critics. Some, including the present writer, would interpose a third zone covering the basically claylands of the English Midlands, between the Highland and the Lowland, with its own distinctive cultural history. But, however modified, the Fox model has been of incalculable imortance to a cultural history of these islands. It gives a rational explanation for a phenomenon which will recur in the pages of this book, namely the persistence of early cultural traits in the Celtic west and north, and the greater degree of cultural traits in the Celtic west and north, and the greater degree of cultural homogeneity in the lowlands of the south and east.”

england - lowland-midland-highland zones
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previously: this one’s for g.w. and the flatlanders vs. the mountain people

(note: comments do not require an email. lemur alert!)