Family Pews

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murf
Posts: 349
Joined: Fri Mar 20, 2009 12:58 am
Location: Qld Australia

Family Pews

Post by murf » Wed Oct 28, 2009 4:44 am

On my recent trip to Ireland I uncovered the will of my great grandfather Michael Murphy of Ballycorick. One of the bequests in the will was to one of his sons in the form of his ownership of a pew in the Ballycorick Church.
Can anyone tell me was (is) this common practice in Ireland, i.e. that families (presumably those who can afford it) could purchase a pew in their local parish church?
Or was this just one method that the entrepreneurial Fr Dinan who built the Ballycorick Church, used to offset constructional costs.
I can well imagine that in their heyday the Murphys would have required considerably more than one pew to accomodate them !

Murf

sadhbh
Posts: 36
Joined: Tue Jun 12, 2007 2:56 pm
Location: Clare

Re: Family Pews

Post by sadhbh » Wed Oct 28, 2009 11:22 am

Pews were often sponsered by individuals or families when a new church was being built. In many churches the seats have brass plates on them giving the sponser's name. Usually, the seats would have been for general use rather than for the use of the sponsers. I've never heard of a seat being 'passed on' to the next generation but maybe this was the case in some places.

Polycarp
Posts: 77
Joined: Thu Dec 04, 2008 11:50 am

Re: Family Pews

Post by Polycarp » Wed Oct 28, 2009 3:26 pm

The new church at Kilshanny of 1894 was provided with a full complement of pitch pine seats. These seats were auctioned by Fr McGurran, the parish priest, who allocated pews positionally - according to amounts bid. The families who purchased seats were obliged to pay a yearly retention fee. This whole pew arrangement was later abolished by Bishop Thomas O'Dea, bishop of the diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora. See Thomas May's book (published in 2000) on the churches of the diocese.

murf
Posts: 349
Joined: Fri Mar 20, 2009 12:58 am
Location: Qld Australia

Re: Family Pews

Post by murf » Fri Oct 30, 2009 9:33 pm

Thanks for those comments.
Iwill look up that reference.
Murf

M. McNamara
Posts: 52
Joined: Sun Nov 04, 2007 12:56 pm
Location: Sixmilebridge, Co. Clare

Re: Family Pews

Post by M. McNamara » Mon Nov 02, 2009 1:13 pm

An amusing anecdote about pews, told to me by Mildred Ievers (now deceased) of Mount Ievers.
In the Kilfinaghty parish church (Cof I) in Sixmilebridge, box pews were allocated by the parish vestry. The vestry decided on the basis of the size of the contribution a family gave to the church. The result was that the larger landowners occupied the pews to the front, e.g. Butlers, Ievers, Stafford-O'Briens, with a downward gradient towards the rear. At the rear of the church were the RIC men and servants working in the estates. Immediately above the latter was a balcony with a harmonium which was played by an aging Miss Butler. Miss Butler used to place candles on the rail of the balcony to help her see the keys she was playing.
Mildred Ievers (then a young woman) said that the tedium of Sunday service was broken by muffled screams from the rear as hot candle wax dropped onto the necks and heads of the unfortunates under the balcony rails.

murf
Posts: 349
Joined: Fri Mar 20, 2009 12:58 am
Location: Qld Australia

Re: Family Pews

Post by murf » Sat Jul 22, 2017 4:19 am

With the Limerick Chronicle now available on the British Newspaper Archive (ref. http://www.irishgenealogynews.com/ )
I managed to piece together portion of an article from the Chronicle in July 1853 which indicates that family pews had become a focus of protests between Liberal and Conservative supporters in the 1853 election. My attention was drawn to this by the involvment of the Murphys of Ballycorick.
For background see:
The changing ruling class in Sixmilebridge and the impact they left on the community, 1650-1900 by Jayme Keogh
http://www.clarelibrary.ie/eolas/coclar ... ssacre.htm
In the village of Bearfield, within a few miles of Ennis the conduct of Mr. John Curtin of Cappa, Michl. Arthur and &field. Moran, was made the subject of an altar harangue, in consequence of having supported Col. Vandeleur. The response made to the strictures of the priest by some of the devout ones in the chapel was, that they would break up the pews of the parties mentioned, Oh, boys, replied his reverence, (who was then taking off his vestments), don't do anything while I'm here. This approving hint being taken, the priest was no sooner out than the rioting began in right earnest. The individuals thus held up to public fury made a noble resistance, but they were overpowered by numbers and maltreated, while their pews were broken into fragments, and thrown out on the public road. We understand that in this case the aggrieved parties are resolved to bring the matter before a court of justice, as they know some of the rioters. One of the voters thus treated has stated his determination never to enter a chapel again during his life.

We now proceed to a different district of the County, where the Rev. Cornelius O'Gorman, P.P. carries on his labours. The Rev. gentleman was also very active at the late contest, and in his parish chapel five or six pews were broken. On Saturday night last, the pews of Messrs. John Breen, Edmund Murphy, sen. Edmund Murphy, jun. Thomas Flynn, of Deer Island, and Thomas Moylan, of Ballycorick, were broken to pieces in their parish chapel which lies between Ennis and Kildysart, in consequence of their having voted for Col. Vandeleur.

At Kilshanny chapel, in another extremity of the county, the pew of Mr. Kerin, a respectable freeholder, was also broken, thrown out on the road and burned. We regret to add that this outrage alarmed Mrs. Kerin so much, she has been taken seriously ill. We may notice one affecting incident which occurred in Tulla, where a
poor man, Michael Nugent of Coolreacastle, was forced up to the booth by the priests. He was evidently trembling from head to foot, and when asked for whom he would vote, he most reluctantly, and with tears in his eyes, voted for the priest's candidates; and then, as if unable longer to repress his feelings—he turned round in the booth, and publicly addressing the priest—exclaimed Now, I suppose I will be allowed to enter my chapel after you have forced me to go against the best landlord in Ireland.
Published: Wednesday 13 July 1853
Newspaper: Limerick Chronicle
County: Limerick, Republic of Ireland

Polycarp
Posts: 77
Joined: Thu Dec 04, 2008 11:50 am

Re: Family Pews

Post by Polycarp » Sat Jul 22, 2017 11:21 am

With reference to M. McNamara's post and Miss Butler of Kilfinaghty, I came across this paragraph in the Church of Ireland Gazette (30 August 1907) concerning the State Inebriate Reformatory in Ennis, a form of custodial detention for 'habitual drunkards'; there were many female drunkards detained in the Reformatory at that time.

The Gazette writes:

One of the brightest features in connexion with the women's department is the interest taken in some of them by the Hon. Miss L. Butler, the youngest daughter of Lord Dunboyne, of Knoppogue Castle, Newmarket-on-Fergus. She attends, at least, once a week, and personally teaches them many useful things. The advice and instruction that she gives to those of her own faith cannot be excelled. She has, indeed, struck the right keynote in her methods of working. Work through societies and agencies we know to be greatly a failure. Personal service, and without any show of condescension, is what is required. This is what Miss Butler ungrudgingly gives. That she travels a long distance each week, often cycles by bad roads and in a humid climate, is only part of a noble, unselfish character. To remain long hours in the company of criminal inebriates would try the best of us, but for Miss Butler, it is a labour of love.

Polycarp

Sduddy
Posts: 1159
Joined: Sun Sep 26, 2010 10:07 am

Re: Family Pews

Post by Sduddy » Sun Feb 07, 2021 4:06 pm

A report in the Clare Journal, Thur 20 Apr 1865, shows that the allocation of pews in Drumcliff parish church (Church of Ireland) was decided by the church wardens:
Vestry Meeting. The annual vestry meeting for this parish was held in the church on Easter Monday. In the absence of the worthy Vicar who, we regret to say, was unable to attend from illness, the chair was taken by the Rev S L Breakey.
The parishioners present were – Dr Wm Cullinan, Messrs C B Molony, John Macbeth, H B Harris, John Parsons, Daniel Macdonnell, George Carson, &c
Mr J H Harvey acted as honorary secretary. [here an account of the appointment of two churchwardens for the parish for the ensuing year].
Church Accommodation – distribution of seats. Mr Carson applied for the use of the pew lately held by his predecessor, Mr Day, of the firm of Revington and Co, of Limerick, who have a branch establishment in this town. Mr Carson said the pew had been originally given to Mr Day, and he occupied it for some time previous to his death. When he, Mr Carson, came to town, he attempted to enter the pew, but he found it shut against him by Mr Adams Brew, who generally occupied it alone by himself. There were seven persons in the establishment of Messrs Revington who would attend Divine Service regularly if they were provided with seats, but at present not one of them could go, as they were not sure of getting a seat. He himself was frequently sent from pew to pew, till finally he had to give up going at all.
The chairman thought such a state of things really too bad, but he hoped that in a short time they would have plenty of seats provided in the church. If there were any pews now vacant he should get one.
On enquiry it was found that the only pew left vacant since the last vestry was held, was that occupied by the late Major Campbell, under the pulpit, and Mr Carson refused to take that as it was too prominent.
Mr Macbeth said Mr Carson was under a mistake in thinking that Mr Brew took possession of Mr Day’s pew. It was for some time vacant after Mr Day’s death, when it was formally handed over by the church wardens to Mr Brew, at the last vestry meeting.
Mr Harvey remarked that Mr Brew’s pew was generally filled every Sunday.
Mr Macbeth said he knew Mr Parsons to be a long time looking for a pew for himself and his family, but was unable to obtain it.
On reference to the book it was found he was allocated a pew last year.
Mr Parsons said it was public property, inasmuch as he never could get into it himself. There were pews held in the church by some parties who did not reside in the parish, and who seldom or never attended prayers in the church. He instanced where Mrs. O’Brien, of Durra, held a pew although she resided out of the parish, and had a pew in Quin church with her name on it.
Mr Harris complained of persons being so selfish as to try to prevent parties entering their pews although there might be plenty of room in them. The door of a pew was closed against him by a lady although there was room enough in it for him. He did not think it was right to act so in any public place of worship.
The chairman said that no doubt these matters all arose from the fact that the present accommodation was not sufficient. The churchwardens, he said, had the whole power of allotting seats in the church, and from their decision there was no appeal. Their word was law, and the law of the land. It should be also borne in mind that after the service had commenced every unoccupied seat should be considered vacant, and everyone attending prayers had a perfect right to it. That was the law, as laid down by the Vicar General. Of course courtesy and an unwillingness to be disagreeable would prevent any person from intruding on seats they knew were to be occupied by families. It was too bad to have this state of things existing but he was sure they would endeavour in the best manner possible to make the present accommodation as suitable as it was possible.
Mr Molony said as long as he had a pew in the church it was always at the disposal of those who required it.
Every person present bore testimony to Mr Molony’s willingness on all occasions to accommodate strangers with seats in his pew.
After some further discussion it was resolved to give Mr Parsons No 10 pew, lately held by Mrs O’Brien, and to allocate No 32 pew, lately know as the strangers’, to Mr H B Harris and Mr Carson jointly. The late Major Cambell’s pew was made the strangers’ pew, and the sexton got directions to show strangers thereto.
The meeting came to a conclusion by a warm note of thanks being passed to the chairman.
Sheila

Sduddy
Posts: 1159
Joined: Sun Sep 26, 2010 10:07 am

Re: Family Pews

Post by Sduddy » Tue Mar 16, 2021 7:37 pm

Clare Journal, Mon 6 Nov 1871:
The sale of 22 pews in the gallery of the New Roman Catholic Church of Clonlara, in this County, and of which the Rev Francis McMahon is P.P., realized, last week, over £400.
Sheila

Sduddy
Posts: 1159
Joined: Sun Sep 26, 2010 10:07 am

Re: Family Pews

Post by Sduddy » Thu Apr 08, 2021 2:41 pm

Clare Freeman, Wed 23 Jun 1875:
To the Editor of the Clare Freeman. Miltown Malbay, 22nd June, 1875. Dear Sir, I wish to bring under your notice a most strange circumstance which occurred in the parish church here on Sunday last. I was always under the impression that the pews in parish churches were open to all comers till the following circumstance came under my notice on the day in question. As the congregation were assembling for Divine Service, two ladies entered a pew. They were not long in occupation when a third lady came in and walked to the same pew, and ‘looked daggers’ at the ladies already in possession. The younger of the ladies stood up and left it, but the other remained. The good-natured dowager entered the pew, and stooping down, pulled the cushion from under the lady and placed it under herself! Such a occurrence in a house of prayer could not but excite astonishment, and I thought to myself that something more than silk and satin is needed to make a lady and something more than outward form and show to obtain the title of a christian.
I am, sir, yours, Courtesy.
Sheila

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