October the 30. 1742
At a Meeting of the Parishioners the following Allotment of the Seats in the Body of the Church was made & Unanimously agreed to. Viz~
|Of those on the North Side||Of those on the South Side|
|reckoning from East to West||reckoning from East to West|
|The||1st. To John Adcocks
of the Hermitage
|The||lst. To the Widow Adcocks
of The Moat
|2d. To John Twist||2d. To William Burbidge|
|3d. To Mr. Shakespear [Thomas]||3d. To Robert Smith|
|4th. To William Beck||4th. To the Widow Bisaker|
|5th. To William Baxter||5th. To George Masters|
|6th. To John Smout||6th. To John Smith|
|7th. To John Keatley||7th. To Rutlidge|
|8th. To George Butler||8th. To Thos. Phillips and|
|the Widow Overton|
and the Successors of the persons above mentiond in the Respective Farms are to enjoy the same Seats as are now allotted to the present Occupiers of them
Octo.10.1742, At a meeting of the Parishioners it was Unanimously agreed that The Ninth Seat - on the South Side should belong to the Widow Overton & William Allen and the Tenth Seat on the same side to the Cottagers in the Parish.
- from the parish register, courtesy Warwickshire County Record Office
Does this entry record the resolution of some jealousies, or perhaps an upheaval or consolidation in tenancies? There are some signs of the social hierarchy of the village in the allotment, so it is unlikely that this was a drawing of lots. There are many instances of the rent of pews or their sale to the highest bidder (W.E. Tate, The Parish Chest, third edition 1969). At some places, including Bury St Edmunds, elections were held for the allocation of pews, with the bribery of electors that often attended eighteenth-century elections. Several records relating to pews and pew-rents occur in Somerset. There is 'The ordering of seats in Fitzhead Church 1607', while Bath St James has a seat rent book of 1717. Aller has the 'Appointment of Seats in Church, 1747', and Langport has records of the sales of seats for lives, 1812. Heswall, Cheshire, has a pew allocation of 1740. The parish books of St Mary's, Dover, contain a commission for seating parishioners, dated 2 May 1639:
forasmuch as there hath been lately a petition made unto me on behalf of yourselves and the rest of the said parish that I would grant unto you a comission to place and dispose of every parishioner respectively of yor said parish in the seates of yor. church according to their severall condition qualities, and estates... And for the preventing and taking away of all strife and contentions...
In Borrow's early nineteenth century novel The Romany Rye, chapter 8, Mrs Petulengro had a strong objection to sitting on the poor benches at the back of the church of Bushbury, Staffordshire.
Did the farm servants sit with the farmer's family, or at the back?