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A Midwife's Oath 1567

A licence the archbishop of Canterbury granted to Eleonor Pead, to be a midwife, with the oath she took. Whereby it may be perceived what were sometimes the disorderly practices of midwives in those days... But behold the oath this woman took:

A Lting-in Chamber

I, Eleonor Pead, admitted to the office and occupation of a midwife, will faithfully and diligently exercise the said office according to such cunning and knowledge as God hath given me.

And that I will be ready to help and aid as well poor as rich women being in labour and travail of child, and will always be ready both to poor and rich, in exercising and executing of my said office.

Also, I will not permit or suffer that any woman being in labour or travail shall name any other to be the father of her child, than only he who is the right and true father thereof.

And that I will not suffer any other body's child to be set, brought, or laid before any woman delivered of child in the place of her natural child, so far forth as I can know and understand.

Also, I will not use any kind of sorcery or incantation in the time of the travail of any woman.

And that I will not destroy the child born of any woman, nor cut, nor pull off the head thereof, or otherwise dismember or hurt the same, or suffer it to be so hurt or dismembered by any manner of ways or means.

Also, that in the ministration of the sacrament of baptism in the time of necessity, I will use apt and the accustomed words of the same sacrament, that is to say, these words following, or the like in effect:

I christen thee in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and none other profane words.

And that in such time of necessity, in baptizing any infant born, and pouring water upon the head of the same infant, I will use pure and clean water, and not any rose or damask water, or water made of any confection or mixture: and that I will certify the curate of the parish church of every such baptizing.

Source: Collected in Strype's Annals of the Reformation (1824 ed.)

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MaggiRos
13 March 2010 mps