NOTES AND QUERIES. . [9 th s. x. NOV. 15, 1902.
"In the West Indies donkey drivers, mostly boys of fourteen or fifteen, are in the habit of removing a small portion of the hide of their beasts in order to be able to punish them more severely. A thin skin soon grows over the part denuded of the hide, and being intensely sensitive responds to the stroke of the whip far more quickly than the coat with which nature has provided that patient animal," &c.
I am told that the same custom also pre- vailed some years since in Mexico, where the half-breeds are, or at least were then, addicted to the most cruel methods of compelling their donkeys to draw extraordinarily heavy loads. Even in England the records of the S.P.C. A. would, I am afraid, show that such customs are not entirely extinct amongst the lowest classes of donkey drivers, and I well recollect at a certain seaside resort being shown a spot on the donkey's back purposely made to quicken its pace, and carefully concealed from view by a portion of the harness.
FREDERICK T. HIBGAME. 1, Rodney Place, Clifton, Bristol.
ROUND ROBIN (9 th S. x. 267). When a man does a thing in a circuitous, involved manner he is sometimes said " to go all round Robin Hood's barn to do it." Perhaps a paper sur- rounded by signatures in a circle was formerly spoken of as signed "round Robin Hood's barn." This would soon be shortened into
M. N. G.
FEES FOR SEARCHING PARISH REGISTERS
(9 th S. x. 148). The question raised by your correspondent as to the fees demandable for extracts from old parish registers is of im- portance for all genealogists. The most satis- factory plan, assuredly, would be to have exact transcripts of every parish register in England lodged in a central depository, such as the British Museum or Record Office, as also at the registry of its particular diocese, and a certain fee for inspection might be de- manded until the expenses of such transcrip- tion had been recovered, on the same principle as the levying of tolls to pay for the construc- tion of roads and bridges. The more promptly such an undertaking could be set about the better, for in many cases the originals are in a very dilapidated condition. I have often noticed entries so faded and crumbling that with a few more handlings they must dis- appear, and unless copies be preserved the facts recorded in them must be lost to the genealogist for ever.
Another trouble is that those who are in charge of the old books are often unable to decipher the sixteenth and seventeenth cen- tury handwritings, and I suspect that a reluctance to avow this inability may account
for the fact that inquiries as to whether cer- tain family names occur in certain registers are frequently left unanswered. Indeed, I have heard one rector boast that he had a pile" of letters of this nature some from America to which he had never replied, and that he did not intend to " bother nis head " about them. I may add that in two instances where I had enclosed 2s. 6d. _with a pre- liminary inquiry neither the desired informa- tion nor the P.O. was returned, though, on the other hand, I have sometimes received very generous budgets of interesting matter. For those, then, who depend upon corre- spondence for their enlightenment it may at least be said that uncertainty, if not hopeless- ness, must be their portion : but for those who can travel about and examine the originals for themselves, the chief considera- tion and it may be not a slight one is that of expense. The legal fee is, I am told, 6d. for every year referred to ; but I have never paid so much, except at St. Giles's, Cripple- gate, where, although I had represented to the vicar that my researches were for a literary and not a legal purpose a distinc- tion which almost invariably induces a con- cession the full charge was made of Qd. for every year and for each of the separate head- ingschristenings, marriages, and burials under which I looked, a vergeress (?) sitting by, with one eye on her open prayer-book and the other on me, to make sure, I suppose, that my glance did not chance to light upon any treasure in the pages that I had to turn over to find my place or in contiguous columns to those that I was entitled to scan ! After running through five years on one occasion, and five or six more on another, for a clue that I had hoped these books might contain, I gave it up as too speculative a pursuit ; and one can see that where the object is to collect all data concerning some family known or surmised to have been settled in some particular county or parish and of the families intermarrying with them, such a rate of payment would be often posi- tively prohibitive.
However, in practice I have usually found the "legal" rate to be "more honoured in the breach than in the observance." Having had occasion last spring to consult the registers in a number of Wiltshire parishes, I was in two or three instances asked 2s. 6d. for an hour's indiscriminate examination of their contents, and I generally found that this offering, or a little more for a more protracted search, met the requirements ; this apart from the many cases where the courtesy was extended to me of an unlimited