Miserable sinners, a vile crew, rakes, and a pack of idle sparks: just some of the descriptions of people in eighteenth century Hexham used by the Northumberland town's clergy. The moral conduct of the people was subject to the church courts, presided over in Hexham by the Reverend George Ritschel and his successor Thomas Andrewes. Their letters to the church authorities in York, dating from between 1699 and 1740, discuss the misdemeaurs of parishioners and clergy, marriages and wills, the constant scramble for money, petty feuds and corruption, the perilous state of the church fabric and many other aspects of church business. Having lain in the archives at York ever since, this fascinating but little kwn collection is w published for the first time, thanks to the work of members of the Hexham Local History Society. Accompanied by other relevant letters, explanatory foottes, a full introduction, and biographies of the main correspondents and their subjects, this fully indexed book sheds new light on the social history of eighteenth century Northumberland. It will be of great interest to social, family, local historians, and the general reader, and provide new material for researchers for years to come.