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ON THE ERECTION AND ALLOTMENT OF ADDITIONAL PEWS IN CHURCHES.
WE have received a communication upon the subject of increasing the means of accommodation in Churches, by erecting additional pews chiefly at the expense of such persons as may require them, and of appropriating to such individuals, under a faculty from the Ordinary, the right of possession to the pews so erected; and also detailing the particular means by which, in a recent case, these objects have been obtained. The following is the communication alluded to, and we have great pleasure in inserting it:
To the Editor of the Christian Remembrancer.
SIR,-In your April and May numbers, under the head "Law Report," you presented your readers with an interesting discussion upon the legality and propriety of annexing, in perpetuity to parochial tenements, pews, to be erected in our Churches and Chapels at the expense of their proprietors. A correspondent contended, that, if persons of competent means, and desirous of attaching themselves to our Church, offered to bear the charges of additional accommodations, upon condition of appropriating them to their own houses by faculty, and, therefore, with no disregard of due legal sanctions, it was both hard upon them, and highly prejudicial to the interests of the establishment, not to permit it. He urged the unfairness of rating a whole parish for the benefit of a small part: in other words, taxing people already supplied with Church room, and many of them little able to bear even their ordinary burthens, with fresh ones; whilst others, who would be the gainers, were anxious to be at the sole cost. And he adverted to the facilities of dissenters, to add to their places of worship to any extent, and in any manner.
Without concurring in all his reasonings, the Editor made the following admission :"Although it is clearly expedient that the Ordinary should very rarely exercise his power of annexing certain seats or pews to particular houses for ever; yet, we apprehend, if the circumstances of the parish rendered it advisable not to have recourse to a rate, and individuals proposed to build and maintain a gallery, or enlarge a Church at their own expense, the Ordinary would grant seats or pews to such individuals, and
assure them for ever to the possessors of their respective houses for the time being."
This was satisfactory enough; and, if I add one circumstance more to which your correspondent did not advert, the propriety and probability of the Ordinary's sanctioning such a proposal become greater. That circumstance is, that the case supposed is not one of election between different modes of increasing or appropriating accommodation, but between having, and not having it.
It does not relate to the disposal of existing pews; that is a consideration totally distinct; but to the creation of fresh ones: and the point at issue really is, whether the offer of a number of respectable individuals, now actually banished from your Church by the scantiness of its room, to become permanent adherents upon terms which place them, practically, only upon an equality with others, shall be accepted; or whether, by refusal, they shall be still kept out, and driven to seek their public spiritual instruction in the Meeting-house.
This appears to be the real alternative: for, as to accomplishing the proposed end by a rate, it is positively certain that the very mention of it would, in very many parishes, crush the project altogether; and that, even in such as were more favourably disposed, its proposers would feel that they had not that fair and equitable cause, which could give either strength to their movements, or produce cordial unanimity in behalf of the measure.
The Editor of the Christian Remembrancer truly averred that the principle of pew-enclosure in the body of a Church was convenience, not appropriation; and that the Ordinary might, of his own authority, partition out afresh.
There can be no doubt that he might; whilst, however, it cannot be denied that the exercise of this authority, though not entirely obsolete, is so generally fallen into disuse, as to have well nigh destroyed all traces of its existence; and that the notion of property, in the obvious sense of the word, attaches to pews-(and, indeed, its incidents)-annexing them, in perpetuity, appears to be little more, in fact, than conferring an usual well-known property.
But, to the point. Application was recently made to the Bishop of St. David's for leave to restore an aisle, under the precise circumstances described by your
correspondent; and, I am truly happy to add, successfully. Now as it appears, no less from concurring statements incidentally made, than from inquiries and applications forwarded to the parties interested, during the progress of the business, that other parishes would willingly go to work upon the same system, if they knew how; it may be rendering an useful service to detail the proceedings.
First, two or three gentlemen, after conference with the churchwardens, met in private, from time to time, to consider, and, with the help of an intelligent carpenter, describe plans and models, and make estimates.
These preliminary matters being satisfactorily arranged, the churchwardens called by specific notice a parish meeting; at which a resolution was unanimously passed, that it was desirable to add to the Church in the form proposed:-the funds to be derived from private contribution, gross payments for pews, and, if it could be obtained, a grant from the Church Building Society, upon the usual terms of assigning not less than half the added sittings to the poor. A numerous Committee (five of whom were constituted a quorum) was at the same time nominated to act in conjunction with the churchwardens, in effecting the proposed object.
The Committee met every Monday, and the objects to which it attended were these: they are pretty much in the following order: To ascertain what persons wanted pews, and how much they would be willing to pay for them;-to solicit provisional donations; to obtain leave from the diocesan, patron, and incumbent, to make the purposed alterations and additions ;-to apply, upon as accurate a statement as could be made of expense on the one hand, and of funds on the other, for aid from the Church Building Society;-upon receiving its favourable answer, to advertise for tenders ;-to prepare, under legal advice, a joint or mutual agreement, by which persons desirous of having, should bind themselves to take pews, the choice to be determined by lot; and under a guarantee of paying only a certain price, at the utmost,
The scheme for this purpose was as follows:
Mode of casting Lots.
1. Pews to be all numbered on plan. As many numbers, on separate papers, to be put into a hat.
2. Persons to be put on the list of applicants according to priority of application, when ascertained.
3. Priority of choice to be according to priority of numbers drawn.
and as much less, as the whole expenditure should be diminished by subsequent subscriptions; the stipulated (utmost) price to be paid upon drawing lots; to fix the pews by lot;-to obtain the faculties-(of the nature and extent of which, information had previously been obtained by communications from the Chancellor of the diocese);—and, finally, to contract, by written agreement, and under a bond, with sureties for the performance of the work. Of course, the pews were disposed of only to parishioners and parochial houses. They were of two classes :-the largest holding six persons, and charged 201.; the smallest holding five, and averaging 151. Besides this, a full half of the new sittings, namely, seventy-eight, was appropriated, in the shape of backed, elbowed, and fixed benches, for the poor. A respectable master carpenter was employed, at a salary of about a guinea a week, to draw, plan, estimate, and superintend. And it was ascertained, that if the state of the funds and other circumstances should require it, a drawback from the duty upon the timber used in the work, might be expected upon memorializing the Lords of the Treasury.
Should these particulars induce any other parish, similarly circumstanced, to "go and do likewise," it will be no trifling gratification to your faithful servant,
The plan detailed in the above letter was, doubtless, found very convenient in the case in question; and we should think that the general character of it is such that it might be applied, or at least be attempted, with every probability of success in all parishes where an increase of accommodation is required, and the parties requiring such accommodation are willing to pay for it. As the plan of entrusting the allotment of the pews to the Committee appointed by the Vestry for superintending the enlargement of the Church, appears to have been, as far we are aware, hitherto unpractised, we subjoin for the benefit of the public an abstract of the faculty
4. A "house" not to draw for a second pew, until applicants for single pews have first drawn.
5. No person compellable to take any other than one of the ten smaller pews.
6. As soon as a pew is chosen, the chooser to write his name in the place on the plan.
7. When all applicants present have drawn, and there still remain numbers undrawn; those undrawn numbers alone to be used at any future drawing.
under which these purposes were ef fected. The faculty is directed to the Committee of Superintendance before alluded to, and states, by way of recital, that a citation, founded upon the resolutions of the Vestry, and the facts alleged by them, had, at their request, been decreed to the vicar, churchwardens, parishioners, and inhabitants of the parish in special, and all others in general whom it might concern, requiring them to shew cause, why the Church should not be enlarged, and the seats allotted in the manner proposed under the directions of the Committee, and appointing a time and place for appearing and shewing such cause, if any could be shewn; and that no cause having been shewn, a faculty for these purposes had been granted, and then proceeds in these words:
"We therefore, by these presents, authorize, empower, and appoint you the said George Jones Bevan, the said Vicar of the said parish of Crickhowell; the said John Herbert and Thomas Gratrex, the said churchwardens; the said Joseph Latham, Edward William Seymour, the Rev. Richard Davies, Charles Gabell, George Davies, Touchet Davies, John West, Joseph Bailey, John Hotchkis, William Bevan, Charles Price, and John Lewis, being all substantial parishioners and inhabitants of the said parish of Crickhowell aforesaid, or any five or more of you, to restore, or cause to be restored, the southern aisle of the said parish church of Crickhowell as aforesaid, and to erect, or cause to be erected, new pews and free sittings therein, according to the general plan of the model and scale produced at the vestry held as aforesaid, on the said 30th day of May last, in the vestry room of the said parish church of Crickhowell; and when the southern aisle of the said parish church of Crickhowell aforesaid shall be restored, and new pews and free sittings erected therein, in pursuance of and according to our said faculty so decreed, and grant for that purpose as hereinbefore mentioned. Then we further authorize and empower you, the said George Jones Bevan, John Herbert, Thomas Gratrex, Joseph Latham, Edward William Seymour, Richard Davies, Charles Gabell, George Davies, Touchet Davies, John West, Joseph Bailey, John Hotchkis, William Bevan, Charles Price, and John Lewis, or any five or more of you as aforesaid, with all convenient speed to allot,
settle, and dispose of the said new erected pews or seats, to and amongst the several parishioners and inhabitants of the parish of Crickhowell aforesaid, and to place them therein according to the best of your skill and judgment, and as to you shall seem just, proper, and equitable, with reference, and taking into consideration, the ranks, dignity, quality, and circumstances of the said parishioners of the said parish, and also the value of the estates they respectively have, occupy, or possess therein. And to the end that all persons interested may have notice to or making application to you, in order that they may be duly and properly seated, We do order and direct this our commission or licence shall be openly read and published in the said church of the said parish of Crickhowell, upon some Sunday during the time or immediately after divine service. And, that the time or times of your meeting or meetings, in order to or for the purpose of allotting, settling, and disposing of the said pews or seats, or placing the parishioners or inhabitants therein, to be then openly declared and mentioned, and of all you shall do in the premises We require you to certify under your hands and seals, as we may judge of as justice shall direct, and ratify, and confirm the same.-Given under our seal of office this 10th day of November, in the year of our Lord 1828."
Upon the sufficiency, in a legal point of view, of the faculty to effectuate the intentions of the parties in this case, there cannot be the slightest doubt. But the pews, when allotted by the Committee and confirmed by the Ordinary, will not become, in any point of view, property; they will be annexed to the particular houses in such a manner that they cannot be severed at the option of the owners; and the right to their possession will pass as strictly appurtenant to the houses to which they are originally annexed. The parties who now pay for the pews will gain a title to possess them, while they remain parishioners and occupiers of the houses to which such pews are annexed; and also a right to retain possession without being subject to the interference of the churchwardens; but we apprehend they will still remain, of course, subject to the superintendance of the Ordinary, if at any future time its interference should be called for.
SOME FACTS RELATING to the PRESENT STATE of the SLAVE POPULATION in CERTAIN PARTS of the WEST INDIES.
IN our last Number we took an apportunity of expressing our conviction of the beneficial influence which had resulted to the character of the negro, from extending to him the benefits of a moral and religious education. The observations we then made had more immediate reference to the result of the labours of those persons who were connected with the establishment in the Island of Barbados, called Codrington College, and were founded upon the evidence of such a result, which was furnished by the annual reports of the Parent Society, commencing in the year 1709, and continued with but slight intermissions down to the present time. We have now, however, in our possession a body of evidence relating to the present state of a considerable portion of the slave population in the West Indies, which shows at once the measures that are in operation, tending to the social and religious improvement of the slaves, and also the beneficial effects which are now resulting from the judicious and persevering application of such measures.
And we may,
perhaps, be permitted to observe, that in bringing forward this statement of facts, our object is merely circulation of truth; and not to throw down the gauntlet of discussion to any speculator upon the subject of slave emancipation.
To slavery, considered in the abstract, it is impossible, if our opinions are formed upon the principles of Christianity (as we hope they are), that we should be otherwise than the most stern and uncompromising enemies. These sentiments we have before expressed; and they are sentiments which can never change. But we apprehend, that as the system of slavery in the West Indies was an evil not of our own establishing, but one which descended to us, -a monster matured by the growth of years, and strengthened in its existence by the supporting influence of interest and property, the present generation of Christians will have
discharged their duty, if to the extent of their ability they have proceeded in wisdom to labour for its overthrow. Upon the means which should be resorted to for attaining this important object, differences of opinion will, nay, must exist. It cannot but be expected that the dreary waste of the human heart should exhibit different appearances; when, on the one hand, it is illumined by the pure rays of religion penetrating its darkness, and enlivening its impulses; and, on the other hand, when the "tiny beam" of self interest and mere human speculation is thrown upon a void, which it serves to reveal, but is powerless to invigorate. Upon the merits or demerits of the different grounds taken by the disputants upon this question, we express no opinion. It is admitted on all hands, that the system should be abolished; the differences that exist extend merely to the means by which such abolition should be effected. The expediency of this or that measure of abolition must be discussed and determined upon principles purely political; and, therefore, we regard such a discussion as inconsistent with the principles, and unsuited to the object, upon and for which our labours for the public are directed. At the same time, however, that we deprecate political discussion in a Christian miscellany, it cannot with justice be charged upon us, that we tread upon the heels of our own proposition, while we make use of the influence of our pages in aiding the dissemination of facts connected with the proper understanding of this vitally important question. Leaving to others, whose more immediate concern it is, to settle the measures by which the overthrow of this giant-error shall be secured; and cherishing also a hope that the hour of destruction will not be delayed; theChristian is still concerned to know what is the present condition of that unhappy portion of his brethren, around whom the fetters of slavery
have been bound too closely to be immediately loosened by the hand of philanthropy. This information we are endeavouring to supply; and we are urged to it by a consideration of duty— of duty to that cause which we serve, though but imperfectly; and of duty to the public, to whom we are bound, both for the circulation of truth, and the dispersion of error. And while we cannot but perceive that the supporters and advocates of slave emancipation, whose title to that distinctive appellation lies not in their steady endeavours to establish the expediency of any particular measure of abolition, and in lending to the slave some support, to enable him the better to bear the galling load of his fetters, until by the hand of legitimate power they are struck off; but rather in the fervid zeal and injudicious boldness with which they labour to brand the opponents of their schemes with the obloquy of oppressors, and to irritate the passions of the slave by pointing to the chain which he feels he cannot remove; while these persons use their utmost endeavours, both by their printed reports, and in their speeches, to misrepresent the present state of the slave population, both by presenting an overwrought picture of the hardships under which they labour, and by denying or unjustifiably concealing the temperate and well-considered measures of relief, which, under the sanction of our venerable Church and its consistent supporters, aided by the co-operation of the colonists, have been adopted and are now in progress; surely our duty of circulating the truth, in order to stop the progress of error, is rendered most imperative.
To detail the numerous provisions which are made for the temporal wants of the slave, and for securing his right to the protection of the laws, would be beyond the compass of our limits. These facts have been admirably stated in a recent publication, the author of which was well competent to give the information contained in his work, and to whom the public are indebted both for the ability with which he has stated the truth, and the firmness with which he has laid open the errors of those, who, under the name of "supporters of slave emancipation," abuse a title
which they usurp. We must, however, make one extract from this work. When the public are told that the slave drags out a miserable existence, and sinks like refuse into the earth, (not into his grave,) under the agony of accumulated suffering, and under the privation of that pittance of alleviation which the beast of the forest might chance to get from his fellowbeast, let the following statement of facts be read, and then let it be contemplated, whether, if slavery under such circumstances be so dreadful a state of existence, civilized society under some circumstances is much better.
Plantation Hospitals and Nurseries-Besides the regular Physician, who visits the hospital two or three times a week, or oftener if there is occasion, and examines all the patients individually, there is on every estate an 'hospital doctor' and a sick nurse. The former is an intelligent man (most commonly of colour), who, acting for years under the directions of the white doctor, acquires a sufficient knowledge of the common complaints of the negroes, to be capable of administering some simple medicines in cases of slight indisposition. In more serious cases, the physician, if not present, is sent for immediately, and must give prompt attendance, or his office is soon filled by some other person: the interest of the proprietor and character of the overseer, are too deeply concerned, even putting humanity out of the question, to excuse any degree of negligence on the part of the medical attendant. But it would be doing injustice to the gentlemen of the faculty merely to say that they are not negligent in their attendance on the negroes: some of them, as in other countries, are more zealous than others in the discharge of their duties, both to whites and blacks; but it is rare to see them wanting in a proper feeling for, and interest in their patients; and I have myself witnessed many instances where a medical gentleman has paid all the attention to a sick negro that he could have done to his master, sitting up with him for nights, or, if he left him to take a few hours' sleep, giving injunctions
"A Practical View of the Present State of Slavery in the West Indies: by Alexander Barclay, lately and for Twenty-one Years resident in Jamaica." 3d Edit. 1828. We recommend the perusal of this work to all who wish to get correct notions upo the question of slave emancipation.-Ed.