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The Shakespeare Family History Site



Little Packington

St Bartholomew

Church Seating

Allotment of Seats

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?

Alotment of seats (21k)