It is always a pleasant thing in January to find the bank account swelled by some unidentified, large financial windfall, is it not? I find myself dreaming with a certain amount of wistful longing of a happening just such as that.
And todays post concerns unidentified financial windfalls in January.
Allowedly, they are unidentified windfalls in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, whilst we would all prefer them to be imminent, up close, timely and financially personal.
But they are, nevertheless, financial windfalls: made more mysterious by the names of their protagonists.
Accounts in Tudor times are peppered with references to them: they are the Hogglers, the Hogans, the Hognells, the Hogners or indeed the Hoggels.
Because of the activities of these people, large sums of money appeared in the accounts of parishes all over Southern England and also in Lincolnshire. In fact, wherever Tudor accounts survive, in all but a very few cases, you will find references to these enigmatic beneficers.
But no-one knows what they did to put it there.
In some Devon and Somerset parishes, their payments were the lion’s share of the income for the parish. And there are all sorts of fascinating trivia about hogglers which appears in ancient records, though they manage, unbelievably, to skirt around what they actually did.
So in Lincolnshire parishes, lights were kept burning in churches by the hogglers. At others elsewhere in the country there were guilds of hogglers. Tintinhull had a hogglers’ steward, and Chagford on the edge of Dartford had hoggling wardens. And it was highly likely that if a hoggler came to you, collecting money for whatever it was exactly that they did, it was unwise to refuse: for hogglers were often some of the most powerful people in the area.
Most hoggling happened during the Christmas holidays, but in some parts of the country it carried on until February 2nd.
And according to the size of some of the windfalls, whatever hoggling was, it was most efficient at collecting large sums of money.
And that is all there is. We’ll never know now, I suppose: though chance may bring some academic to us, to enlighten us.
And I am left wishing fruitlessly that a hoggler might arrive at my door with a post-Christmas windfall.
How welcome he (or she) might be.
Source: Stations of the Sun: A History Of The Ritual Year In Britain, by Roger Hutton.