head mass

1) Money given at a funeral or obit for attending mass.

The head mass is referred to in several wills: 1541 the churche wardons … to offer the heyd messe jd, Richmond

1543 foure power men to bere lighted … torches the day of my buriall, the tyme of my dirige and hede mese, Adel. Canon Purvis explained it as money given at a funeral or obit for attending mass and considered the first part of the word to be ‘heed’ not ‘head’. The ‘penny’ was usually given to the church wardens: 1519 Item for the heydmese penie, jd, York

1521 to the vicar ... for nyght wakes and for hedemasse pennys, Harrogate

1533 I will that the wardons take the said iiijs jd and offer it at the said messe … in the name of my hedmaspeny, Halifax.

spellings head mass penny
dates 1519 1521 1533 1541 1543

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Photo by Kreuzschnabel CC BY-SA 3.0