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Barwick Recusants of 1679

from The Barwicker No.52

On the l4th January 1679 a number of inhabitants of Barwick were indicted at the Quarter Sessions at Wetherby for recusancy. The offence of recusancy derived from the Act of Uniformity of 1559 and subsequent extensions, which commanded all and every person, "having no lawful and reasonable excuse to be absent, endeavour themselves to resort to their parish church or chapel . . . . upon every Sunday and other days ordained . . . . and then and there abide, orderly and soberly during the time of Common Prayer".

Those who refused to observe the law in this matter were known as recusants, from the latin word 'recusare'. to refuse, and they could be fined. For the most part, these were followers of the 'old religion' and so became known in law as 'papist recusants', though by the second hall of the seventeenth century Quakers could also be presented lor recusancy. The main centre of papist recusants around Barwick was the house of Sir Thomas Gascoigne at Barnbow Hall, and in 1679, he and sixteen of his family and retainers were indicted. These included Thomas Gascoigne, the eldest surviving son of Sir Thomas, and he is described as 'armiger', ie one entitled to a coat of arms, an esquire, and John Gascoigne, who was probably the nephew of Sir Thomas.
The rest of the list is; Thomas Prestwick, Anne Tinsdale, George Tinsdale, Anne Tinsdale, his wife, William Butcher, Elizabeth Butcher, his wife, Nicholas Shippen. Elizaheth Shippen, his wife, Mary Shippen. widow. Abraham Shippen, Elizabeth Shippen, his wife, Katherine. widow of Richard Shippen, John Shippen, Ellen Shippen his wife. In addition, those listed for Barwick itself were John Hardcastle, Elizabeth Wright and Thomas and Anne Popplewell, whilst at Whinmoor were William and Agatha Hardwick, and John and Mary Shippen.

William Hardwick, who entered into a recognisance (or admission) at the same session, is there listed as of Grimsdyke in the parish of Barwick in Elmet. and he and his wife Agatha were again presented by the constable of Skyrack at Wakefield in January 1681, as were more of the Shippens. who were still being presented ten years later in 1691 with other Gascoigne retainers.

The proceeding against local papist recusants in 1679 was no doubt occasioned by the so-called Popish Plot and its particular local manifestations which led lo the trial of Sir Thomas Gascoigne and the other Catholic gentry in January 1680.

(Source-the West Riding Quarter Sessions Indictment Book, l678/9.)


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