How To Excommunicate Vermin

Sabine Baring-Gould Week continues with some extremely useful information imparted in his book Curiosities Of Olden Times (1869), written when our hero was living in the abundant mud of Dalton i’t Muck. Examining legal proceedings taken against “snails, flies, mice, moles, ants, caterpillars, &c.”, Baring-Gould gives us the precise wording recommended when one wishes to excommunicate such vile creatures. This was drawn up by Bartholomew de Chasseneux, “a noted lawyer of the sixteenth century”. Please note that you should always bring your case against creepy-crawlies and vermin before the ecclesiastical rather than the civil courts.

The correct form of excommunication is as follows: “O snails, caterpillars, and other obscene creatures, which destroy the food of our neighbours, depart hence! Leave these cantons which you are devastating, and take refuge in those localities where you can injure no one. I.N.P., &c.”

It is unclear to me whether that “&c.” indicates simply the reading of the Lord’s Prayer – “I.N.P.” standing for “In Nomine Patris” – or whether there are further animadversions and anathemas to follow. In the absence of any clear guidance I suppose you shall have to get the presiding excommunicator to improvise.

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