Burying in Woollen Acts

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Burying in Woollen Acts 1666–80 were Acts of the Parliament of England (citation 18 & 19 Cha. II c. 4 (1666),[1][2] 30 Cha. II c. 3 (1678) [3] and 32 Cha. II c. 1 (1680) [4]) which required the dead, except plague victims and the destitute, to be buried in pure English woollen shrouds to the exclusion of any foreign textiles.[5]


It was a requirement that an affidavit be sworn in front of a Justice of the Peace (usually by a relative of the deceased), confirming burial in wool, with the punishment of a £5 fee for noncompliance. Burial entries in parish registers were marked with the word "affidavit" or its equivalent to confirm that affidavit had been sworn; it would be marked "naked" for those too poor to afford the woollen shroud.

The legislation was in force until 1814, but was generally ignored after 1770.[6] The 1666 Act was repealed by the Statute Law Revision Act 1863.[7]

Use in genealogy[edit]

Burial records so annotated can be a source of genealogical information, providing evidence of economic status and relationships that may be otherwise unavailable or ambiguous.[8][9]


  1. ^ "National Patterns, 1648–1815 > England, Scotland, and Ireland > England and Scotland > July 1664". The Encyclopedia of World History. bartleby.com. 2001. Archived from the original on 2 November 2002. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
  2. ^ 'Charles II, 1666: An Act for Burying in Woollen only.', Statutes of the Realm: volume 5: 1628-80 (1819), p. 598. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=47386. Date accessed: 6 March 2007.
  3. ^ 'Charles II, 1677 & 1678: An Act for burying in Woollen.', Statutes of the Realm: volume 5: 1628–80 (1819), pp. 885–886. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=47475. Date accessed: 6 March 2007.
  4. ^ 'Charles II, 1680: An Additional Act for burying in Woollen.', Statutes of the Realm: volume 5: 1628–80 (1819), p. 940. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=47486. Date accessed: 6 March 2007.
  5. ^ Rivoli, Pietra (2005). The Travels of a T-Shirt in The Global Economy (first ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons. p. 155. ISBN 0-471-64849-3.
  6. ^ Dolan, Alice. "The Fabric of Life: Linen and Life Cycle in England, 1678–1810" (PDF). University of Hertfordshire Research Archive. p. 274. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  7. ^ Statute Law Revision Act 1863 (26 & 27 Vict c 125) from Google Books
  8. ^ Ancestral Trails: The Complete Guide to British Genealogy and Family History, Second Edition, by Mark Herber in association with the Society of Genealogists, Sutton Publishing Limited, Baltimore, MD 2004 pp 362–363.[ISBN missing]
  9. ^ Burial In Woollen Act 1666–1680 Archived 29 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine from traceyourpast.co.uk