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Death, Religion, and the Family in England,

Ralph Houlbrooke

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198208761

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198208761.001.0001

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(p.386) Appendix 2: Numbers of Funeral Sermons Published

(p.386) Appendix 2: Numbers of Funeral Sermons Published

Death, Religion, and the Family in England, 1480–1750
Oxford University Press

In 1989–90 I made provisional estimates of the numbers of funeral sermons published between 1600 and 1749 based on a count of entries in the following sources: (1) A. F. Herr, The Elizabethan Sermon: A Survey and a Bibliography (Philadelphia, 1940); (2) W. Crowe,The catalogue of our English Writers on the Old and new Testament, Either in Whole, or in Part: Whether Commentators, Elucidators, Adnotators, Expositors, At large, or in Single Sermons. Corrected and Enlarged with three or four thousand Additionals (2nd impression, 1668); (3) S. Letsome, An Index to the Sermons published since the Restoration, pointing out the texts in the order they lie in the Bible, shewing the Occasion on which they were preached, and directing to the Volume and Page where they occur (1751); (4) J. Cooke. The Preacher’s Assistant, (After the Manner of Mr. LETSOME), containing a Series of the Texts of Sermons and Discourses published either singly, or in volumes, by Divines of the Church England, and by the Dissenting Clergy, since the Restoration to the present Time (2 vols., Oxford, 1783); (5) The catalogue of sermons in Dr Williams’s Library; (6) The list of sermons in the bibliography of J. L. McIntosh, ‘English Funeral Sermons 1560–1640: The Relationship between Gender and Death, Dying, and the Afterlife’, M.Litt. thesis (Oxford, 1990). Certain categories of sermon, including funeral sermons, are distinguished by letters or abbreviations in (2), (3), and (4). The Dissenting clergy are distinguished by italics in (4). Of these three indexes, (4) is much the best, and (2) the least reliable.

The advent of computerized catalogues has made it possible to improve on my earlier statistics. For the period 1650–99 I have relied on the Eureka online English Short Title Catalogue, using the search term ‘funeral sermons’. However, at present this means of exploiting the Eureka on-line ESTC seems to be quite inadequate for the years before 164l and after 1699, yielding very meagre results. For the years after 1699 I have relied almost entirely on the Eighteenth-Century Short Title Catalogue on CD-Rom, using the key words ‘sermon and funeral’ and ‘sermon and death’. For the period before 1641 I have drawn on (1), (2) and (3) as well as the ESTC. I have tried to exclude reprints and sermons printed outside England, but some will undoubtedly have escaped notice.

The resulting totals are: 1600s 10, 1610s 38, 1620s 38, 1630s 32, 1649s 50 (or 96 if all the sermons in the 1640 collection Threnoikos are counted individually), 1650s 119, 1660s 61, 1660s 83, 1680s 110, 1690s 161, 1700s 150, 1710s 132, 1720s 121, 1730s 85, 1740s 76.

The figures for 1700–49 are somewhat lower than my own earlier estimates (p.387) but close to them, those for 1640–99 substantially higher. Most of my decadal totals for 1600–99 are lower than the corresponding figures published by Professor David Cressy in his Birth, Marriage and Death: Ritual, Religion, and the Life-Cycle in Tudor and Stuart England (Oxford, 1997), 572 n. 39. This is largely because his statistics include reprints as well as some ‘related’ publications which are not funeral sermons. The proportional differences are biggest in the case of the years 1600–40, suggesting that my own figures for those decades are too low.

Professor F. B. Tromly estimated that ‘fewer than twenty’ funeral sermons were printed during Elizabeth I’s reign: see ‘“Accordinge to Sounde Religion”: The Elizabethan Controversy over the Funeral Sermon’, Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 13 (1983), 306. Professor Cressy’s note refers to twenty-four items for the years 1560–99.

I am very grateful to Dr Stephen Taylor for introducing me to the Eighteenth-Century Short Title Catalogue on CD-Rom, as well as to Cooke’s invaluable Preacher’s Assistant, and to Professor Cressy for discussing with me his use of the on-line ESTC. He has pointed out that the amount of information retrievable from that catalogue is growing all the time. Certainly none of the figures here presented should be regarded as anything but provisional. They appear to establish certain long-term trends, but they will no doubt be superseded by more precise statistics before long. (p.388)