things not generally known…..

According to the 19th century book,  Popular Errors Explained, the English are not a suicidal people. 

“It has been clearly established, where there is but one suicide in London there are 5 in Paris. The Irish are stated to be the least disposed to suicide. Dr Graves observed that an Irishman often murdered his neighbour, but his high sense of propriety would not allow him to think of killing himself. The fact was, the prevalence of murder prevented the necessity for suicide”


image found at Pharyngula

The Seventh Son of a Seventh Son is supposedly very lucky. They can cure diseases by their touch, especially if there are only boy children in the family, that is, no girls are born between the seven brothers.  In 1828, the mother of such a boy said “Many folk do come to touch my son”

boys playing touch football

Yet another superstition pertained to marriage. It was said that if a man intended to marry a womanwho was in debt, yet took her from the hands of the priest whilst clad only in her shift, he would not be liable for her owings. Also a woman might clear herself of all debts by crossing the road whilst wearing just a shift.


Before the passing of the Marriage Act of 1754, there arose the scandal and indecency of Fleet Marriages. These were performed in Fleet Prison by a set of drunken swearing parsons and their black coated myrmidons. 


image of Charlton Heston found at TMBCHR

Published in: on February 7, 2009 at 9:23 am  Comments (28)  

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28 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Oh those dastardly ruffians! Totally ignoring the poor lad who has fallen over. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if one of those nasty men in red had pushed him into the mud.

    How totally uncouth.

  2. totally agree Archie. Boys and their balls *tut tut*

  3. “Also a woman might clear herself of all debts by crossing the road whilst wearing just a shift.” – probably involves some shift lifting ……..

  4. I know a woman who uses more or less this method to try to get men to pay her debts. It seems to be less effective with time.

  5. thanks for the warning about Irishmen… i’ll sleep closer to the blade…

  6. Charlton Heston now proclaims you man and wife. You may now load your guns.

    I would think the Irish suicide rates are so low because drinking yourself to death isn’t counted as a suicide.

  7. wow, nurse myra, you went from suicide to indecent marriage in one posting! and somehow, it all made sense.
    your patients must love you.
    and it answers the old question ‘why did the woman cross the road.’
    at least she wasn’t shiftless.

  8. I think I’d like to act a little “shiftless” from time to time – sounds rather fun.

  9. I can vouch for that 🙂

  10. Now where did I put my shift???

  11. It’s on the other side of the road, 70s

  12. I seem to be surrounded by shiftless people these days. Unfortunately, they are politicians, not women. Of course, we all know the problem with political jokes is that they get elected.

  13. Doesn’t the latest electee give you hope for change?

  14. I was referring to San Francisco politicians, many of whom I must deal with in one way or another. Although I’ve tried to remain outside of the local political arena (now there is an apt metaphor, if ever there was one) as much as possible, my involvement in architectural preservation and housing issues unfortunately makes non-involvement with politics and politicians an impossibility for me.

    As Ambrose Bierce so well stated (and I paraphrase): politics is a strife of personal interests masquerading as a contest of principles.

  15. Have you seen “Milk”?

  16. Well, thankfully I don’t live next to an Irish man.

    ‘The Seventh Son of a Seventh Son is supposedly very lucky’ Yes not everyone gets an Iron Maiden song named after them.

  17. Iron Maiden? bleh…

  18. BLASPHEMY!!!!

  19. I assume that the root of the superstition that a woman may clear herself of debt by wandering about in her nightie must be lost somewhere in the mists of murky time.

  20. I haven’t seen Milk, nor do I intend to. I lived through all of that and remember quite well what went on. People I know who have seen it, and who also were here during that time, have said the film is full of inaccuracies (big surprise) and distortions. Hooray for Hollywood? Feh!

  21. With the economy the way it is perhaps they will bring this tradition back for women.

    I hear that there are terrible fires in the land of OZ. I hope you are not near them and all is safe.

  22. One of my elderly neighbours has taken to parading around in her shift. I had no idea she was in financial difficulty.

  23. Ricardo: The major fires are in Victoria, I live in Sydney which is in NSW. They are horrific, the worst the Victorians have experienced since Black Friday in 1939. The death toll is anticipated to be even higher, very very sad.

    Kyk: oh god I hope that doesn’t happen to me when I’m old. all my shifts are see-through babydolls……

  24. It was said that if a man intended to marry a womanwho was in debt, yet took her from the hands of the priest whilst clad only in her shift, he would not be liable for her owings.

    That’s because the priest got to her first!

  25. I found the suicide thing pretty interesting.

    Emile Durkheim is the father of modern sociology and the work that defined his career was comprehensive study of suicide in Europe.

    I only mention this because the name of my band, Society of Saints, is taken from the work of Durkheim.

  26. Joe Blow: interesting perspective 🙂

    Thomas: I didn’t realise you were in a band. What do you play?

  27. Wow, someone photoshopped the gun out of that picture of Charlton!

  28. Clever huh?


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