Early handbell ringing

Richard Smith richard at ynrnyQrgAWgHajiUz_4ie1WZoQCZRtNtHIXK0UvcPdAvINGHNePRSa26yhoJSx6VaQ0ia3Ic1bCT47jAbw.yahoo.invalid
Sun Mar 8 11:44:14 GMT 2009

Is anything much known about when people started change 
ringing on handbells?  I had always believe (evidently 
incorrectly) that handbell ringing had only really begun in 
the 19th century.  However, browsing some of the early 
Cambridge Youths account books, I've found a few
references to the handbells as early as 1725:

   August ye 17 spent at the Nags Head for
   The hand Bells ----------------------------    0  2  0

   August ye 19 pd mr Brannigain his Expence
   For the hand Bells ------------------------    1  4  0

   August ye 23d delivered to Hewes Carter
   Steward the Book the Box and the Handbells

(It's worth noting that this was only a couple of months 
before the first peal on the bells.  Perhaps they were 
practicing?)  Although no mention is actually made to the 
fact that they were change ringing, I think it can safely be 

Are there other records of handbells being rung this early?



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