Monday, 23 November 2015

The Family Pew

In New France Louis Guimont, the 6x great grandfather of my children, was a Marguillier (Churchwarden) and as such he was awarded a special pew for him and his family. Militia Captains, who were usually well respected and settled small disputes within their community, were also given a choice pew in their church.

It was common for churches to rent pews to individuals and families as a means of income for the church.  My ancestors John and Elizabeth Seale paid $15.25 a year for pew #21 and #32, each sitting six, at St Mark's Church in Barriefield.

In the Church of England one pew sitting six was free for the minister's family, and possibly a free pew (for a term or for life) went to those who subscribed to the building of the church. One may have purchased a deed for his pew and it could be passed down or sold. It was a common occurrence to see people have a brass plate on their pew with their family name on it.

Perhaps you will find your ancestor on a list of pew rents. Church Archives, Historical Societies and University Libraries may have pew registers in their holdings. You can do a search online using keywords: pew holders, pew lists, pew registers, pew deeds, etc. Also search for an annual report, a year book or a history of the church your ancestors attended.
I have seen some pew lists for Massachusetts and Victoria, AU on Ancestry.

Do a google search online, if you want to purchase your very own antique church pew for your home.

Relevant links

Year Book of St George's Cathedral, Kingston (w/ pew rents) 1923

The Ecclesiastical Law:  Vol 1. London 1842 pg 367a - protocol on Pews

St Francois-Xavier de Madawaska, NB

St Patrick's Church, Cambridge, NY - Pew Book 1864-1870

Names of resident members of Winslow Church (Taunton, Mass) and pew holders in congregation, Jan 1, 1874

Pew Deeds (3 different ones, US)

Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia Vol 5, St Mary's Pew Register 1787-1791

An historical sketch of the old church, Quincy, Mass (w/ pew holders) 

James St Methodist Church, Exeter Ontario (w/pew rents) 1918

Parish of St Mary Colechurch, London - Pew Lists 1613-1672

Llanbeblig Church, Carnarvon, Wales - Pew list 1832

The Parish register of Kingston Upper Canada 1785-1811

Yearbook of Emmanuel Church, Montreal w/ pew holders, 1877-1891

Locataires des bancs l’église St Norbert, Qc 

Related Posts:  Keep the Faith

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