Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 9, 1898.djvu/310
At Hungerford, in Berkshire (writes a correspondent), one of the two remaining unreformed boroughs, kissing-day, or Hock- tide, as it is locally called, was celebrated yesterday. This custom, the origin of which is lost in obscurity, is performed every year on the occasion of the re-election of the officers of the borough. As an unreformed borough, Hungerford has still the old-time custom of appointing, in the place of mayor and corporation, a constable, portreeve, bailiff, tithing-men, keepers of the keys of the coffers, water-bailiffs, ale-tasters, and bellman.
The ceremonies began last Friday with the " macaroni supper and punchbowl," and were held at the "John of Gaunt." But the most important day was yesterday, when at an early hour the bellman went round the borough commanding all those who held land or dwelling within the confines of the town to appear at the Hockney, under pain of a poll-tax of one penny, called the " head- penny." Lest this warning should be insufficient, he again mounted to the balcony of the Town Hall, where he blew a blast upon an ancient trumpet. Those who do not obey the summons, and refuse the payment of the head-penny, are liable to lose their rights to the privileges of the borough.
By nine o'clock the jury assembled in the Town Hall for tran- saction of their annual business, and immediately after they were sworn in the two tithing-men started on their round of the town. It was in this part of the proceedings that most interest was taken, for the business of the tithing-men is to take a poll-tax from every male inhabitant and a kiss from the wives and daughters of the burgesses- The tithing-men are known as tuttymen, tutty being the local word for pretty. As usual, they carried as insignia of office, short poles, gaily bedecked with blue ribbon and choice flowers, known as tutty-poles ; while behind them walked a man groaning under the weight of the tutty oranges, it being the custom to bestow an orange upon every person who is kissed, as well as upon the school and workhouse children. This year the tutty- men were the respective managers of the two banks, the Capital and Counties and the London and County. The rights of office having been duly invested in them by means of strange customs and exhortation, the two favoured ones started off down the High Street on their kissing mission, followed by the orange-bearers and greeted with the cheers of the assembled people. One by one the houses were entered, and the custom observed both in