Another Betty, whose surname was Finch, was employed at the beginning of the last century at Holy Trinity Church, Warrington, as a “bobber,” or sluggard-waker. She was the wife of the clerk, and was well fitted on account of her masculine form to perform this duty which usually fell to the lot of the parish clerk. She used to perambulate the church armed with a long rod, like a fishing-rod, which had a “bob” fastened to the end of it. With this instrument she effectually disturbed the peaceful slumbers of any one who was overcome with drowsiness. The whole family of Betty was ecclesiastically employed, as her son used to sing:
My sister’s a singer,
My mother’s a bobber,
And I am a ringer.”
[Footnote 81: W. Andrews, Curiosities of the Church, p. 176.]
One of my correspondents tells of another female clerk who officiated in a dilapidated old church with a defective roof, and who held an umbrella over the unfortunate clergyman when he was reading the service, in order to protect him from the drops of rain that poured down upon him.
Doubtless in country places there are many other churches where female clerks have discharged the duties of the office, but history has not, as far as I am aware, recorded their names or their services. Perhaps in an age in which women have taken upon themselves to perform all kinds of work and professional duties formerly confined to men alone, we may expect an increase in the number of female parish clerks, in spite of legal enactments and other absurd restrictions. Since women can be churchwardens, and have been so long ago as 1672, sextons, overseers and registrars of births, and much else, and even at one time were parish constables, it seems that the pleasant duties of a parish clerk might not be uncongenial to them, though they be debarred by law from receiving the title and rank of the office.
SOME YORKSHIRE CLERKS
During many years of the time that the Rev. John Torre occupied the rectory of Catwick, Thomas Dixon was associated with him as parish clerk. He is described as a little man, old-looking for his age, and in the later years of his life able to walk only with difficulty. These peculiarities, however, did not prevent his winning a young woman for his wife. Possibly she saw the sterling character of the man, and admired and loved him for it.
[Footnote 82: This account of the clerks Dixon and Fewson was sent by the Rev. J. Gaskell Exton, and is published by the permission of the editor of the Yorkshire Weekly Post.]