The Dogwhipper in Nottinghamshire

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A curious job

By R B Parish

In Baslow, Derbyshire, there appears to be encased in a long glass case, a rather strange object for a church-a whip. However this no ordinary whip but a dog-whippers whip. Although no such whip survives in Nottinghamshire, there are a number of accounts in church records of the position of dog whipper.

What did they do?

In simple terms, they were employed by the parish to remove unruly dogs from the church or its grounds during services. This was because it was common practice for parishioners to bring their dogs to church, these dogs would often fight each other and so it was necessary to have them removed. In some places, land was given, such as Dogwhipper’s Marsh in Chislet (Kent) to pay for their services.

Nottinghamshire examples

One of the earliest records of the position is at Worksop and interesting the church records his name. The record states:

“1597 Paid to Old Verde, for whipping of dogs, 9d.”

The position was obviously thought of as worth the money for by 1616 the price had risen by 3d for it records:

“For whipping dogges out of ye church one whole year 12d”

Mansfield a record of 1689 notes:

“ Sept 3rd P’d Will Bafuly ye dog whipper 2s 6d”

The loss of the dog whipper

When the positions became obsolete is unclear, by most of the positions appear to die out by the 1800s. In Southwell, Dickinson (1803) and Shilton (1813) mention the position, but it was clear that the job became incorporated in the general duties of the sexton, although the job certainly existed as a separate role in 1673. Shilton (1813) notes:

“Mr. William Cook, Dog-Whipper and Sexton”

 It is interesting that in West Leake:

“ 2s paid every year for whipping dogs”

And that this was in 1842 still being paid. It is probable that the title remains at Southwell for it was remembered that in the 1950s, a George Paling was the official gravedigger and dog whipper.

The author is preparing a book on Nottinghamshire folklore. Any correspondence on this matter is greatly received.

This page was added by R B Parish on 04/03/2013.

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