Thank you very much for explaining excommunication in the 16th century for me. It seems it
wasn't such a "big thing" as I had imagined. It was all such a long time ago
that I will have to try to remember that people in those days had a very different way of
thinking from ours.
Once again, many thanks!
From: Theo & Anna Brueton <bruetons(a)anoeth.demon.co.uk>
To: Margaret Crouch <margaret.crouch23(a)yahoo.co.uk>; "dyfed(a)rootsweb.com"
Sent: Thursday, 22 November 2012, 11:07
Subject: Re: [Dyfed] John Garnons, MP for Haverfordwest, 1571
Strictly speaking, excommunication was not a punishment for any of the offences tried in
the ecclesiastial courts. Someone found guilty was required to perform an act of penance,
"involving a public confession of one's sin before the congregation in the parish
church whilst bare-legged, dressed in nothing more than a white sheet, and carrying a
white staff in one's hand." (see 'the Rise and Fall of the English
Ecclesiastical Courts, 1500-1860', by R.B. Outhwaite). Excommunication was used when
the defendant refused to comply with the court's procedures, and in its more severe
form could involve banning the community from having anything to do with the
excommunicate, which is presumably why your ancestor could not have stood for parliament.
The records of the Welsh dioceses are at the National Library in Aberystwyth;
unfortunately nothing has survived for the diocese of St David's before the 1590s.
Excommunication was not confined to the Catholic and Anglican churches. The nonconformist
denominations also expelled members, for example for sexual offences or drunkenness,
though of course unlike Anglican excommunication this had no force in the secular world.
At 22:09 21/11/2012, Margaret Crouch wrote:
I have discovered that one of my possible remote ancestors named
John Garnons, was MP for Haverfordwest in 1571. According to the website
"his enemies next claimed that as an excommunicate, he
was ineligible to sit".
This was during the reign of Elizabeth 1, who was a Protestant. I know from my history
lessons at school, a long time ago, that Roman Catholic popes excommunicated Protestants,
but how did a Protestant become excommunicated when the monarch was a Protestant
This is all very puzzling but its the sort of thing that makes researching one's
family history so fascinating, isn't it? iI gather it was a rigged election anyway!
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