The race of parish clerks is gradually becoming extinct. Before the recollection of their quaint ways, their curious manners and customs, has quite passed away, it has been thought advisable to collect all that can be gathered together concerning them. Much light has in recent years been thrown upon the history of the office. The learned notes appended to Dr. Wickham Legg’s edition of The Parish Clerk’s Book, published by the Henry Bradshaw Society, Dr. Atchley’s Parish Clerk and his Right to Read the Liturgical Epistle (Alcuin Club Tracts), and other works, give much information with regard to the antiquity of the office, and to the duties of the clerk of mediaeval times; and from these books I have derived much information. By the kindness of many friends and of many correspondents who are personally unknown to me, I have been enabled to collect a large number of anecdotes, recollections, facts, and biographical sketches of many clerks in different parts of England, and I am greatly indebted to those who have so kindly supplied me with so much valuable information. Many of the writers are far advanced in years, when the labour of putting pen to paper is a sore burden. I am deeply grateful to them for the trouble which they kindly took in recording their recollections of the scenes of their youth. I have been much amused by the humorous stories of old clerkly ways, by the facetiae which have been sent to me, and I have been much impressed by the records of faithful service and devotion to duty shown by many holders of the office who won the esteem and affectionate regard of both priest and people. It is impossible for me to publish the names of all those who have kindly written to me, but I wish especially to thank the Rev. Canon Venables, who first suggested the idea of this work, and to whom it owes its conception and initiation; to the Rev. B.D. Blyn-Stoyle, to Mr. F.W. Hackwood, the Rev. W.V. Vickers, the Rev. W. Selwyn, the Rev. E.H. L. Reeve, the Rev. W.H. Langhorne, Mr. E.J. Lupson, Mr. Charles Wise, and many others, who have taken a kindly interest in the writing of this book. I have also to express my thanks to the editors of the Treasury and of Pearson’s Magazine for permission to reproduce portions of some of the articles which I contributed to their periodicals, to the editor of Chambers’s Journal for the use of an article on some north-country clerics and their clerks by a writer whose name is unknown to me, and to the Rev. J. Gaskell Exton for sending to me an account of a Yorkshire clerk which, by the kindness of the editor of the Yorkshire Weekly Post, I am enabled to reproduce.
[Footnote 1: Since the above was written, and while this book has been passing through the press, the venerable clergyman, Canon Venables, has been called away from earth. A zealous parish priest, a voluminous writer, a true friend, he will be much missed by all who knew him. Some months ago he sent me some recollections of his early days, of the clerks he had known, and his reflections on his long ministry, and these have been recorded in this book, and will now have a pathetic interest for his many friends and for all who admired his noble, earnest, and strenuous life.]