Dancing and dissolute music, 1583

From the Recueil d'Ordonnances de la Cour Royale, Vol. I, 1852, ed. R. MacCulloch. This seemingly repressive edict in fact represents the desperation felt by the authorities, who were unable to control the excesses of Guernsey youth, no matter how hard they tried.

Chief Pleas after Michaelmas, Thomas Wigmore, Bailiff, presiding. Present: Jean Blondel, Nicolas Carey, William Beauvoir, Thomas Blondel, Edward Le Feuvre, Thomas Le Marchant, Jean Andros, and Jean Saumarez, Jurats. 7th October, 1583.

Inasmuch as God is offended by the vulgar and detestable abuses committed at dances and illegal gambling, where it would seem the Law is flouted, it is ordered by the Court that anyone who allows or tolerates dancing, gambling, or unlawful assembly to take place in their houseā€”or who plays any instrument or sings dissolute songs at such dances and such like, will be thus punished: that in church on a Sunday, before the whole congregation, in front of the pulpit, with head, legs and feet bared, wrapped in a white shroud, and holding a lighted torch, they will publicly admit their offence. Anyone who dances or is present at a dance will be flogged, as ordered by law. [In 1567, the Courts had only imposed a fine.]

For a discussion of the authorities' attempts to control immorality, see Darryl Ogier's comprehensive Reformation and Society in Guernsey, 1986, in the Library.