Tuesday, January 21

The Sin Eater

In the County of Hereford was an old custom at funerals to hire poor people, who were to take upon them all the sins of the party deceased. One of them lived in a cottage on Ross-High way. (He was a long, lean, ugly, lamentable poor rascal.) The manner was that when the corpse was brought out of the house and laid on the bier, a loaf of bread was brought out, and delivered to the sin-eater over the corpse, as also a mazer-bowl of maple (Gossips bowl) full of beer, which he was to drink up, and sixpence in money, in consideration whereof he took upon him (ipso facto) all the sins of the defunct, and freed him (or her) from walking after they were dead.

Remaines (1686)

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