On Keeping Records
Posted on January 20, 2014

One can discover the greatest little tidbits in books!

I recently came upon the record of a decree from Thomas Cromwell dating from 1537 in which he ordered every parish in England to keep a record of each wedding, christening and burial. These registers were to be placed in a coffer fastened with two locks.

Whatever is one to infer from that? Did he fear surreptitious attempts to change names or dates? Was this the beginning of government surveillance?

Knowing human nature, we should not be surprised that not every vicar complied. Some saw the decree as having no purpose except taxation and they refused to aid the king in that onerous enterprise.

While "writing it down" was once the equivalent of creating a permanent record, our newer electronic records have made the written word obsolete.

Witness the recent wholesale indictment of scores of police officers and former firefighters who are accused of duping the Social Security Administration by pretending physical and mental disability and claiming benefits.

How were they unmasked? These supposedly "disabled" foolishly documented their current activities on Facebook where they are shown riding water scooters, working as a baker and as a martial arts instructor etc. They created their own downfalls by begging "Look at me!"

How the courts will eventually view all this, I do not know. We do seem, however, to have come a long way from the double-locked church coffers. Wouldn't Cromwell be jealous!


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