If you’ve been here before, you might have read on a post or two that my family was involved in living history for decades. Just about every weekend when our kids were young, we’d pack up our gear and go live rough in recreated time periods. For us this included museums, historical societies, assorted dedications, and history fairs, and other events that spanned the years 1670 to 1850. If you’re familiar with the living history presentations at Colonial Williamsburg, this was us.
Some of the events were juried, meaning, your camp was scrutinized and determined to be authentic-looking or not. Only the approved camps got in. Of these events most were sticklers to detail, and you’d be weighed and measured for things like visible stitches in your clothing and the material that made up the ropes you used for your tent. Some people complained about these rules, but I personally loved the challenge. Needless to say, we did a lot of research back in the day. And that’s another love of mine. I’m a ferret for details.
Of these stickler events, a few even had town criers to announce the schedule of acts that performed throughout the day such as jugglers, Punch and Judy and puppet shows, musical performances, medicine shows, as well as announcing when the parade or various ceremonies would begin. These criers often walked the aisles with placard and bell shouting the news across the grounds.
Don’t kill the messenger
The town crier, a.k.a. the bellman, was a noble job– the primary means of relaying news to an illiterate populace. There were certain requirements to land such an important role, like being literate and possessing a loud voice that could shout the news with an air of authority. As far as authority goes, it’s interesting to note that the town crier often stood in for police before police came to be.
All newsworthy events were proclaimed by the town crier. They walked through the streets ringing their belles for attention and read the ever important things of the day such as royal proclamations. They also told of what’s what on market days, and reminded people of laws and bylaws. Aside from advertisements, they announced public executions as well. In the 16th century, they even delivered the news in rhyme. I have no idea why, but I just wrote that and rap music came to mind. lol
If you’re up on your Samuel Pepys you might find this tidbit interesting: It is believed the fact the Great Fire of London in 1666 had so few fatalities was because London’s town criers spread the word about the disaster in real time. People fled when they got the news.
Other interesting tidbits~
They posted notices — literally tacking a paper to a post. This is how we come to use the word post to say we’ve put something up. As in this is my blog post today.
Typically, the words Oyez Oyez Oyez are shouted prior to the delivery of the news. From the French ouïr for to hear. It is pronounced Oh Yay, Oh Yay, Oh Yay.
Even today in England, the traditional news cry is between 100 to 200 words long and it always ends with God Save The Queen!
I came across a reference stating the first town criers were the Spartan Runners who carried news to the ancients. That’s more of a messenger’s job to me.
As the concept of this useful job spread across Europe, the town crier/bellman became a court-appointed position.
The same article says the town criers were protected by law and Don’t shoot the messenger was a very real command. Harming the bellman was tantamount to harming the King, and that made it a treasonable offense.
Here’s a recent announcement~
Being a town crier is still a big deal. This site is fun.
My 100 things will focus on malapropisms and I’ll stick with it until I can’t find any more. From the French mal a propos (meaning inappropriate). Dictionary.com defines malapropisms as an act or habit of misusing words ridiculously, especially by the confusion of words that are similar in sound.
Here’s one for today:
Just a pigment of my imagination
Today is Author Marianne Stephens’ blog day
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