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Dick Turpin

drawing of Dick Turpin

Richard (Dick) Turpin (1705�1739) is a legendary English rogue and the most famous historical highwayman. In life Richard Turpin was a violent man who progressively went from deer stealing to burglary to highway robbery and even murder, for which he was executed in York on 7 April 1739. After his death, as �Dick� Turpin, he became the subject of legend, romanticised in English ballads and popular theatre of the 18th and 19th centuries, and later in film and television of the 20th century as the dashing and heroic highwayman. There is considerable divergence between the history and the legend of Turpin.

Turning the screw

In Victorian Britain, with transportation no longer an option, prisons were intended to encourage criminals not to offend again and as a punishment. Prisoners were subjected to endless hours of treadmills and pointlessly turning a crank-handle as the moralistic Victorians believed that any kind of work was good for the inmates. The jailers could, of course, make turning the crank-handle harder by tightening a screw � the phrase �turning the screw� originates from this, as does the slang term of �screw� for a prison warder.

Burial in Woollen Acts

The Burial in Woollen Acts 1666-80 required the dead, except plague victims, to be buried in pure English woollen shrouds to the exclusion of any foreign textiles. An affidavit was sworn in front of a JP (usually by a relative of the deceased) confirming burial in wool, with the punishment of a �5 fee for non-compliance. Parish registers were marked with the word affidavit or with a note A or Aff against the burial entries to confirm that an affidavit had been sworn, or marked "naked" for those too poor to afford the woollen shroud. Sometimes poor families were given wool by the parish in which to bury their deceased family member.

Meeting Houses

After 1660, Protestant believers who formed congregations outside the Church of England were commonly referred to as Dissenters or Non-conformists. They could be Quakers, Baptists, Presbyterians or Congregationalists. They and the Methodists who came later would gather in Meeting Houses. The Act of Toleration (1689) permitted freedom of worship to Dissenters, but required them to register their meeting houses with the local Quarter Sessions, the bishops or the archdeacons.