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definitions - town crier

town crier (n.)

1.(formerly) an official who made public announcements

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Merriam Webster

Town-crierTown"-cri`er (?), n. A town officer who makes proclamations to the people; the public crier of a town.

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definition (more)

definition of Wikipedia

synonyms - town crier

town crier (n.)

crier

analogical dictionary

Wikipedia

Town crier

                   
  Town crier of Provincetown, Massachusetts, in 1909

A town crier, or bellman, is an officer of the court who makes public pronouncements as required by the court (cf. Black's Law Dictionary). The crier can also be used to make public announcements in the streets. Criers often dress elaborately, by a tradition dating to the 18th century, in a red and gold robe, white breeches, black boots and a tricorne hat.

They carry a handbell to attract people's attention, as they shout the words "Oyez, Oyez, Oyez!" before making their announcements. The word "Oyez" means "hear ye," which is a call for silence and attention. Oyez derives from the Anglo-Norman word for listen. The proclamations book in Chester from the early 19th century records this as O Yes, O Yes!

Contents

  History

  England

In order to gain the attention of the crowd, the crier would yell, "Hear ye" - "Oyez".

  Peter Moore, the late Town crier to the Mayor of London and The Greater London Authority.

In Medieval England, town criers were the chief means of news communication with the townspeople, since many were illiterate in a period before the moveable type was invented. Royal proclamations, local bylaws, market days, adverts, even selling loaves of sugar were all proclaimed by a bellman or crier throughout the centuries—at Christmas 1798, the Chester Canal Co. sold some sugar damaged in their packet boat and this was to be advertised by the bellman.

Chester records of 1540 show fees due to the bellman included 'of every worshipful gentyllman that goyth onye gounes at ther buryall ...one goune [at funerals gowns would be given to mourners]. when he gythe or aneything that is lost ...jd [one penny]. for every bote lode with powder mellwylle [salted fish] ...one fyshe, for every boute lode with fresh fyshe that he goeth for ...jd [one penny].' In 1556 a record shows 'To ye belman for p'claimyng ye Founder's dyryge 27 Januarij ...ijd [two pence on Henry VIII's death, the founder of the King's School].

A 1701 will of the vicar at Waverton stated that notice was to be given 'by the Belman to the People of Chester, of the time when, and the place where my Corpse is to be buried'

In 1620, there was a fight at the Chester cross between the butchers and the bakers where the 'Cryer brake his Mace in peeces Amonge them'. In 1607, one public notice read by George Tunnall, the bellman, forbade tipping rubbish in the river. In 1715, a local man recorded that the 'Belman at the Cross ... Reads publicly a proclamation in the Mayor's name, commanding all persons in the City to be of peaceable and civil behaviour, not to walk around the Streets or Rows at unreasonable hours of night'. Chester once had a crier, a day bellman and a night bellman but in 1734, John Posnitt took over as 'Day and Night Bellman'.

Salmon fishing season was also closed by the bellman, four newspaper articles of the late 18th century refer to this practice:

Courant 17 April 1792 A few days ago some persons were brought before our magistrates, charged with angling and catching salmon fry in the River Dee, As the law expressly forbids the young salmon to be taken, either with nets or other engines, the bellman had orders to give notice to the inhabitants, that prosecutions would be commenced against any persons offending in the like manner.

Courant 8 September 1852 Close of the Dee Salmon Fishery THE 'fence time' for taking salmon in the Dee was 'called' according to custom on Wednesday last, the 1st September. It is now unlawful to take salmon in the river by any means whatsoever. Fishermen and dealers, therefore, will not fail to remember that a heavy penalty now attaches to the taking of salmon.

Chronicle 29 March 1862 The Dee Salmon Fishery FISHING commences in March, and the close season on the 1st September, but little attention has been paid to the latter, except in the immediate vicinity of Chester, where the [fisher]men were exposed to the observation of the Dee [Salmon Conservanct]Association. When the bellman was sent by that body to the fishing villages in the neighbourhood to cry the close season, the fishermen dropped down with the tide [as far as the Estuary], and set to work again, beyond the sound of the bell and the surveillance of the association.

Handbridge was one of these fishing villages of course:

Chronicle 12 December 1845 Illegal Fishing ON Saturday last, four fishermen, named William Gibson, William Hand, Robert Barlow, and William Banks, appeared at Chester Police Court, to answer an information preferred against them by Buckley, the constable appointed by the River Dee Conservancy, for being out night fishing with illegal nets (less than 2 1/2 inches in the mesh), and also for taking unsizeable fish, The information was laid under the 1st George 1. c. 18, s.4. Immediately upon being placedbefore the Bench, a somewhat noisy colloquy commenced between the Supt. of Police, the court and the defendants; the latter stoutly denying that to use small nets would be to ensure the escape of all other fish. On being told that at this season of the year they could catch nothing but salmon, Barlow stated that the other night they had caught nine shillings worth of flukes, and we have good authority for saying that this statement was correct. Gibson, striking his fist on the table, solemnly swore that, " he had not killed a salmon since they were cried down {emphasis added} and another affirmed that it would be no use killing them. as "they were not fit for pigs, much less Christians." After a long debate between the Court and the defendants, in which the latter seemed strongly disposed to try elsewhere the right of the Magistrates to prevent them fishing with nets of any size, providing they took no salmon, a reluctant promise was wrung from them, that they would not offend in a similar way in the future and they were discharged.

The Chester Chronicle of 9th August 1793 records a cry from the Cheshire town of Northwich: 'A town-crier of Northwich (one of the fair-sex, who has filled that office audibly and laudably more than 20 years) lately proclaim'd as follows:- "This is to gi' notice that there's two pigs lost an hooaver brings um to me shall be well rewarded for ther truble, so God save the King an' the Lord of our Manner - ton's a red on, and t' other's a black on."'

The term "Posting A Notice" comes from the act of the town crier, who having read his message to the townspeople, would attach it to the door post of the local inn. Some newspapers took the name "The Post" for this reason.

Town criers were protected by law, as they sometimes brought bad news such as tax increases. Anything done by the town crier was done in the name of the ruling monarch and harming a town crier was considered to be treason.[1] The phrase "don't shoot the messenger" was a real command.[1]

There is a body of town criers called the Loyal Company of Town Criers. This is a group of like minded men and women who are proud to represent their towns/cities/villages as the town crier/bellman. Any 'official' town crier can apply to join, and they perform the art of town crying at competitions around the United Kingdom all year round.

  Europe

As in England, town criers were the means of communication with the people of the town since many people could not read or write. Proclamations, local bylaws, market days, adverts, were all proclaimed by a bellman or crier.

Criers were not always men, many town criers were women. Bells were not the only attention getting device - in Holland, a gong was the instrument of choice for many, and in France a drum was used, or a hunting horn.

  North America

The office of town crier persisted into the early 20th century in some places. At least as recently as 1904, Los Angeles and several adjacent towns had official town criers.[2] Even to the current day, the village of Mariemont located within Cincinnati still employs a town crier].

  Modern town criers

When need for a town crier disappeared, the position passed into local folklore. Informal and later formal town crier competitions were held from the late 20th century. Subsequently some cities and towns reinstated the post purely for ceremonial purposes.

  United Kingdom

Many local councils in England and Wales reinstated the post of town crier from the mid 1990s onwards (e.g. Chester).[3] Many are honorary appointments or employed part time by the council. As of October 2010, there were 144 towns in England and Wales with town criers registered with the Ancient and Honourable Guild of Town Criers.[4] They mainly perform ceremonial duties at civic functions. Local councils with a paid town crier often make them available for charity events.

In some cases, such as in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, the town crier is also the Tipstaff.[5]

  North America

There are several town crier guilds in both Canada and the United States. Theses include the Ontario Guild of Town Criers, the Nova Scotia Criers' Guild and the American Guild of Town Criers.[6][7][8]Since 1981, The Rocky Mountain Town Crier, presently based out of Calgary Alberta CANADA, has represented Invermere, British Columbia at Buckingham Palace & the Mansion House & the House of Commons in London England. Nelson Phillips, the Rocky Mountain Town Crier has been Proclaimed the Honourary Town Crier of Banff, Scotland, Calgary, Scotland, & Airdrie, Scotland. He visited these 3 locations and read Proclamations from the Mayors or Government Officials, of the communities with the same name, in Alberta CANADA. In competition, Nelson has placed 2nd @ Lytham St. Anne, for best shout and 3rd @ Kingsbridge Devon, for best dressed. On November 7, 1984, The Rocky Mountain Town Crier was made a member of Calgary's "Walkway of Fame" when he read Proclamations from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney & Mayor Ralph Klein acknowledging the 100 Anniversary of Calgary Alberta as a Town. Nelson's footprints and Hand prints were placed in cement.

  Australia

As of October 2010, the City of Sydney, City of Hobart, City of Greater Geelong, City of Portland, City of Ipswich, City of Gosford, City of Salisbury, Gold Coast City and 22 other local councils have an official town crier.[9]

  New Zealand

As of October 2010, 15 cities have an official town crier.[1]

  Competitions and records

European, Canadian, American. North American and Australian championships are held in alternating years with the World Championships. The current world champion is Chris Whyman, the town crier of Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

  St. George's, Bermuda town crier, Major D.H. "Bob" Burns, MC, the Guinness World Record holder for the loudest human speaking voice, recorded on a film set, of 113 decibels, [10][11] at the Mitchell House, where he was Curator of the Featherbed Alley Printshop.

The best dressed town crier at the World Championships in 2008 was Daniel Richer dit La Flêche representing the cities of Ottawa and Gatineau, in Canada.[12] He also won the titles of Best Dressed International Town Crier at the Bermuda competition in 2009 and Best Dressed in North America.The Best Dressed Couple were Peter and Maureen Taunton[13] from the county town of Stafford, England. They also won the title of Best Dressed Town Criers in Britain in 2008 at the Alnwick competition for the Loyal Company of Town Criers. They had been chosen the Best Dressed Criers at the National Town Crier Competition in Hastings in 2007. Richard Riddell of Anacortes, WA, USA, the current American Champion(2008) as well as winner of the Bermuda International Town Crier Competition(2009) was awarded Best Dressed as well as tied for First Runner-up at the Chester, England World Tournament(2010).

  Alan Myatt

Peter Moore, the London Town Crier,[14][15] held the position for more than 30 years. He was Town Crier to the Mayor of London[clarification needed], the City of Westminster, and London boroughs, and was also a Freeman and Liveryman of The City of London. He died on 20 December 2009[14] and is yet to be succeeded.

Alan Myatt holds two Guinness World Records. As well as being the loudest crier, recording a cry of 112.8 decibels, he also set the record for vocal endurance, issuing a one-hundred word proclamation every 15 minutes for a period of 48 hours.

Daniel Richer dit La Flêche, who is a member of the First Nations Abenaki tribe, is a full-time bilingual town crier.[12] Lloyd Smith, town crier for Windsor, Nova Scotia is the senior town crier in North America, with 31 years of service to his communities.

Eliza Mowe, Town Cryer for Barnoldswick, Lancashire became the first female European town crying champion in 2007, retaining her title in the following year.

Martin Wood from the medieval town of Shrewsbury, Shropshire currently holds the record for being the worlds tallest Town Crier, standing at 7 ft 2 in (2.18 m) He has been the Town Crier for 25 years and is the official body double for the character of Hagrid in the Harry Potter movies. He also appeared as the body double for the late Edward Woodward in the 1984 movie, A Christmas Carol, also set on location in the town of Shrewsbury.

Currently Haslemere in Surrey is hosting the newest competition for Town Criers. The competition will be held on Bank holiday Monday the 7th May 2012 and Criers will compete for the Tennyson Trophy.

  See also

  • Herald, another type of messenger sent by a monarch or noble.
  • Vic Garth, reputed in 2005 to be the oldest town crier in the world.
  • Dead bell used to announce deaths and funerals.
  • Vic Watson, Huddersfield Town Crier, Yorkshire is the first Town Crier

for 266 years now in his 13th Year

  References

  Further reading

  External links

   
               

 

All translations of town crier


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