Auld Lang Syne

If you’re having trouble focusing on your work after all those New Year’s “cups of kindness”, ease your way back with a virtual historical journey. Thank you to Hull & Hull LLP’s Toronto Estate Law Blog for reporting that the York Cause Papers are now online. These document the Ecclesiastical Courts of York from 1300 to 1858, detailing accounts of disputes relating to church taxes, marriage, wills and inheritance. (the main series of “Cause papers” dates from 1500).

The Cause documents are read microfiche-style, some better than others, owing to your facility in Middle and Olde English and the florid penmanship of the time.

Proponents suggest that having these documents online will yield manifold socio-legal research. Having said that, speakers at a recent Cause Paper Colloquium included Dr Philippa Hoskin who took the theme ‘Too Much Information?’ while Sara Slinn took the theme ‘Too Little Time?’.

In any event, if you’re still not ready to hit your Inbox, pop over to the Cause Papers site itself.

There are many files where the Cause is divorce and/or “separation from bed and board”. Moreover, there are Causes of dispute such as:

  • violation of church rights, monk accused of fornication, wearing of secular clothes, abscondment from monastery and misappropriation of funds and goods
  • Immorality (fornication and adultery / acknowledgement of illegitimate child)
  • tithes of fish from the King’s Pool in the River Eden

Jean Cumming

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