Do you have recusants in your surname study? A recusant was a person who didn’t go to church (in the 16th century!). At first, he was fined 12 pence (1 shilling) each time he missed services; you can gauge how much this was when you realise that most people earned about 8 pence a day – a shilling if they were skilled. In 1581 this fine was increased to about £20 per month (more than some people earned in a year) and even all your goods and two-thirds of your real property! Often, really poor people were not fined, as they could not afford it anyway, so it was not practical.
So who were these stubborn stay-aways? Many were Roman Catholics, but in some areas (especially the southwest of England) they were Protestant Dissenters or other nonconformists.
And what are Recusant Rolls? They are the records of the fines and forfeitures between 1592 and 1691. The Catholic Record Society has published a number of them.
© Ros Haywood
School of Surnames
Next week’s letter is ‘S’. Has anybody got any interesting snippets that marry up S with surname studies? If so, please send them to Ros Haywood at sos [at] surname-society.org
letter R courtesy of openclipart.org