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Amazing detail in parish register - but what was a Jacobin?

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Amazing detail in parish register - but what was a Jacobin?

Postby chipmunk1953 » Fri Jul 01, 2016 10:30 pm

Quite by chance I've just found a parish register where the curate had taken it upon himself to go into much more detail than was actually required. It's the burial register for St. Lawrence's Church, Biddulph, Staffordshire, for 1841. The pages seemed to have a lot more writing on them than usual, then I noticed that extra columns had been ruled on the inside edges of each page and headed up Cause of Death. Not only that, he had added the date of death as well as that of burial, and to cap it all his handwriting was perfect!
Apart from that, in the first column which is headed up simply "Name", he decided that wasn't enough, and added details of the deceased person's immediate family, for instance the parents (if a child) or the spouse, and also included the men's occupations. This one is my favourite (for the burial of 4 year old Rachael Machin):
"Illegitimate daughter of Hannah Machin by John Bradley; since married to Joseph Brocklehurst"
What a goldmine of information!

I had landed on that page originally when looking for the burial of my 4 x Gt.Grandfather Paul Bayley, and his entry is perhaps the most unusual of all of them. Under his name and occupation, in very small but quite legible writing, it says "An old Jacobin of A.D. 1792". My immediate reaction was "What???" Some quick research on Wikipedia revealed that the Jacobins were left-wing radicals during the French Revolution, and that in Britain the name was used for those who supported the Revolution. Fair enough, but why might the name be applied to my ancestor, who was a shoemaker in a semi-rural village in North Staffordshire? (He was 77 when he died but would have been 28 in 1792). Any ideas?
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Re: Amazing detail in parish register - but what was a Jacob

Postby AdrianB38 » Fri Jul 01, 2016 11:11 pm

How about because he *was* a left wing radical? (I'm not certain that those terms are contemporary). The establishment of the time was prone to regard lots of people as dangerous revolutionaries when, from today's perspective, we would simply think of them as justifiably wanting to form a union. Equally, there were those who were genuinely wanting a violent revolution. And to mess our concepts up, the supposedly innocent (from today's point of view) union members could well be using procedures from the revolutionaries. For instance, I read part of a journal from a boot maker in Nantwich (slightly later period I think). Some of them wanted to form a union but due to the opposition of the establishment, ran into all sorts of issues. One meeting was raided by the police and they were charged with illegally administering an oath. This was a serious charge - virtually the only oaths taken in those days were by the military so the authorities feared that oath takers were intent on violence. For various reasons the case fell apart - but the writer admitted in his journal many years later that they had indeed administered an oath.

So I see no reason not to take the description at face value - the question is where on the continuum of trade unionist to revolutionary, he sat. I would suggest following up on early attempts to form trade unions in boot and shoe making in Staffs - history journals for the county might help - I found my story above published in one of the journals for local history in Cheshire and/or Lancashire.

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Re: Amazing detail in parish register - but what was a Jacob

Postby MysticDave » Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:31 pm

The Jacobins were the real revolutionaries, engaged in various struggles with more moderate revolutionaries in the 1790s until Napoleon seized power in 1800.

It would be the equivalent of being in the Socialist Party or communist now. There was a lot of surveillance of the population at the time as there was a genuine fear of the French revolution spreading. So, I suppose, he might have been one of the firebrands or ringleaders under watch by the authorities.
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