John Aubrey's Remains of Gentilism and Judaism

BL: Lansdowne MS 231/3

ff 114–14v

Atthe Funeralls in Yorkeshire, to this day, they continue the custome of watching & sitting-up all night till the body is interred. In the interim some ‸⸢kneel downe and⸣ pray (by the corps) some play at cards, some drink & take Tobacco: they have also Mimicall ‸⸢playes⸣ and sports, e.g. they choose a simple young fellow to be a Iudge, then the Suppliants (having first blacked their hands by rubbing it under the bottome of the Pott) beseech his Lordship and smutt all his face.

"Esse aliquos manes, et subterranea regna,
"Et contum, & Stygio ranas in gurgite nigras,
"Atque unâ transire vadum tot millia cumbâ,

The beliefe in Yorkeshire was amongst the vulgar (& perhaps ⸢is⸣ in part still) that after the persons death, the Soule went over Whinnymoore, <...> and ‸⸢till⸣ about 1616⸢1624⸣ a Praefica ⸢at the Funerall⸣ a woman came [like a Praefica] and sang the following Song.

If hosen nor⸢#⸣ shunne thou never gave'st neane
every night and all awle
The Whin shall prick thee to the bare beane bene
and Christ recieve thy silly sawle.

This custome is ⸢still⸣ used in Wales; especially North-Wales.

This ean night, this ean night, every night and awle:
Fire and Fleet and Candle-light and Christ receive thy ⸤sawle.⸥

This not ye first verse

This ean night, this ean night,
every night and awle:
Fire and ⸢./⸣Fleet and Candle-light
and Christ recieve thy Sawle.
When thou from hence doest pass away
every night and awle
To Whinny-moor thou comest at last
and Christ recieve thy⸢thysilly poor⸣sawle.
If ever thou gave either hosen or shun
every night and awle.
Sitt thee downe and putt them on
and Christ recieve thy Sawle.
But if hosen nor shoon thou never gave nean
every night, &c:
The Whinnes shall prick thee to the bare be‸⸢a⸣ne
and Christ receive thy sawle./
From Whinny-moor that thou mayst pass
every night &c:
To Brig o' Dread thou comest at last
and Christ &c:


no brader than a thred
From Brig of Dread that thou mayest pass
every night &c:
To Purgatory fire thou com'st at last
and Christ &c:
If ever thou gave either Milke or drinke
every night &c:
The fire shall never make thee shrink
and Christ &c:
But if milk nor drink thou never gave nean
every night &c:
The Fire shall burn thee to the bare bene.
and Christ recive thy Sawle.


  • Marginalia
    • from Mr Mawtese, in whose fathers youth, scilicet about 60 years since [now ⸢1686⸣], at ⸢country vulgar⸣ Funeralls was sung this song. #
    • They play likewise at Hott-cockles.
    • Juvenal Satyr II.
    • Whin is a Furze
    • vide Iob. capitulum 31. versus 19
    • <....> Mr Mawtese to gett me the rest in fine she prays to send his Sawle well over the Brig of drede./
    • The
      <.....>ght a <...>ne
    • ./ water
    • Whin, is a Furze.
    • scilicet there will be hosen and shoon for them./
    • °Iob. cap. xxxi.
      19. If I have seen any perish for want of cloathing, or any poor without covering:
      20. If his loyns have not blessed me, and if he were not warmed with the fleece of my sheep. &c.°

      [Footnote: Iob … &c.: written sideways in margin from the foot of the leaf]

  • Footnotes
    • "Esse…cumbâ,: 'That there are some shades and subterranean kingdoms, and a pike, and black frogs in the Stygian abyss, and so many thousands cross over in a single boat.' Juvenal Satura II, ll. 149–151
    • <...>: as many as 25 characters cancelled
    • thy: for deletion
    • Iob … &c.: written sideways in margin from the foot of the leaf
    • no … thred: evidently the first of line of this verse is missing
  • Endnote

    Writing circa 1686, Aubrey notes that he had the description of the Lyke Wake ceremony from Mr Mawtese, who had the information from his father, describing a custom of approximately sixty years earlier. Mr Mawtese is likely Richard Mawtus, mayor of Ripon in 1640, fined by Parliament in 1646 for supporting the king. See John McKinnell, 'Pre- Christian Traces in British Ballads and Other Popular Poetry,' The Pre-Christian Religions of the North: Written Sources John McKinnell (ed) (Turnhout, projected publication 2021).

  • Document Description

    Record title: John Aubrey's Remains of Gentilism and Judaism
    Repository: BL
    Shelfmark: Lansdowne MS 231/3
    Repository location: London

    The Lyke Wake Walk is a pilgrimage route crossing the full extent of the North Yorkshire Moors from Osmotherley, northeast of Northallerton to Ravenscar, just south of Teesmouth. The antiquarian John Aubrey (1626–97) is best known for his biographical sketches, 'Brief Lives' (1680–93), but he was also an important archaeologist and folklorist. He assembled many of his researches on popular customs and folklore in the 'Remains of Gentilism and Judaism' (1686–7). The manuscript includes four miscellaneous items bound together: a letter of 25 August 1637, Scots gentry to privy council (ff 1–10); letters of Sir Francis Walsingham, 1570–1 (ff 11–100); John Aubrey's 'Remains of Gentilism and Judaism' (ff 101–243); and John Lesley, bishop of Ross' negotiations with Mary Queen of Scots (ff 244–322). The manuscript is from the collection of White Kennett (1660–1728), bishop of Peterborough, 1718–28, but not in his hand (Laird Okie, 'Kennett, White, (1660–1728), historian and bishop of Peterborough,' ODNB, accessed 7 January 2021). The scribe frequently uses square brackets to indicate parenthetical remarks and hashtags to indicate the position of marginalia.

    1568–1637; paper; English and Latin; ii + 322 + iii; 310mm x 185mm; foliated 1–322; maroon quarter leather binding, 'AUBREY'S | REMAINS OF | GENTILISM |&c | SERVICE BOOK. | WALSINGHAM | PAPERS | BRIT. MUS. |LANSDOWNE | 231.' on spine.

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