Will of Thomas Barbur, 3 August 1529. Contemporary
Folger Shelf Mark: X.d. 428 (202), recto.
This will, which predates the English Reformation, is a short version of the many examples Eamon Duffy describes in The Stripping of the Altars. Duffy suggests that before the government or clergy began imposing constraints on the laity's piety in the late 1530s, testators composed wills much like Barbur's "in maner & forme, " bequeathing, as he did, "my sowle to Almyghty god & to howre lady seynte mare & to all' ye cumpany off heyuen." Moreover, testators also revealed their devotion to the cult of the dead by bequeathing money to clerics to say prayers for them or their loved ones. Thomas Barbur left money for such prayers to the Church of Our Lady in Coventry, to the Church of Saint Peter in Hope, and to the Church of Saint Chad in Lichfield.
For further information, consult Eamon Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars:Traditional Religion in England c. 1400. c. 1580 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992). For additional examples of pre-Reformation wills, consult R. N. Swanson, Catholic England: Faith, Religion, and Observance before the Reformation (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1993).
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