Skip Navigation
 
 

Welcome to Bedford Borough Council

Home > Community archives > Bedford > Death of a Saint Cuthberts Sexton

Death of a Saint Cuthberts Sexton

A Collection of the Sufferings of the People Called Quakers Volume I was published in 1753 and covers acts against Quakers from 1650 to 1689 throughout the country. Each county has a chapter and that for Bedfordshire notes the deaths, in the period, of two men who persecuted Friends in the county, one of them the sexton of Saint Cuthbert's.

"We shall close our Account of this County by taking Notice of the ermarkable End of two Informers, whose sudden Deaths were interpreted by many as a Token of divine Vengeance: Their Names were Fecknam and Swinton, both of Bedford. Fecknam, who had been an Apparitor [an official of the church court, he summoned witnesses to appear], turned Informer, and was observed to be very active and vigilant for his Part of the Spoil: He had not long followed his new Employment, before he was suddenly taken sick, having a Flux of Blood both upwards and downwards, which continued till he died, and the Smell of him was exceedingly offensive. Swinton was Sexton of Cuthbert's Parish in Bedford, and was found dead in the Steeple-house there, besmeared with Blood, and having a Rope and a Ladder by him. As their Practice of informing had render'd them odious to their Neighbours in general, the unusual manner of their Exit became a Subject of popular Remark".

There is no mention of a Swinton buried in Saint Cuthbert's in the 17th century unless he is actually the William Swinnshead buried on 6th August 1673. This is not surprising if he was an apparent suicide as he would not be allowed to be buried in consecrated ground. The only Fecknams listed are getting married at Bedford, Saint Paul. Perhaps Fecknam was taken somewhere else for burial.