Friday, June 1, 2012

Churchwarden's Accounts

The vestry, a form of local government dating back to the Tudor period, performed much the same function as today’s local government authority.  It was responsible for collecting taxes, administering public spending, keeping law and order in the parish and looking after the poor.

The parish officers were elected annually, two Churchwardens, an Overseer of the Poor, a Waywarden or Surveyor of the Highways whose duty it was to look after the roads, and a Parish Constable.  Regular meetings were held, usually in a room in the parish church.  Some vestries, particularly small rural ones, were open to any ratepayer who could attend meetings and vote. 

The main responsibly of the 19th century churchwarden was to keep the fabric of the church in good repair.  The office dates back to the 12th century but following Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries the role became more complex and included the relief of wayfaring Irish, the repairs of pounds, stocks and whipping posts and the destruction of vermin.

In 1851 Lydiard Tregoze Churchwardens Cornelius Bradford, Mayor of Wootton Bassett and farmer at Midgehall, and George Busson, farmer at Upper Studley, handed over their books for examination.

The accounts run from Lady Day 1850 until the same date in 1851 and are settled from money raised from the church rate.
April 6     Mr Wallice masons bill   17s  9d
       12     Mr Gardeners bill for coals    17s  9d
       17     Mr Habgood blacksmiths bill   7s  6d
       23     Mr Westall repairing organ 10s

May 11    Rev Mr Daubeney 2 year visitation and Register fees up to June 1849 £3 3s
June 11    A stamp for the Railroad rate   2s  6d

July 10     App visitors fees & Pentecostals Visitation fees articles of enquiry & presentments £1 2s 7d
                Expenses Churchwardens at Visitation  £1

Nov  12    Mr Franklin bill for 6 bottles of Tent wine for sacramental part.   £2 2s
         15    Expenses with churchwardens horse and gig at the station  4s 6d
         16    Leighfield boys and others with sparrows 54 heads  2s 3d

1851  Brought forward  £36 16s 3¼d

Jan   11    Jos. Loves boy 21 sparrows  5½d

        18    Ringers to Christmas last £1
        25    Jos. Loves boy 16 sparrows 4d
        25    Postage for letters 8d
        31    Richard Wallice masons bill 2½ day work himself & 1 man each mending paths in the churchyard 11s

March 20 Mr Tellings bill for 5 new bell ropes £2 18s 6d
                Mr Edmunds organist salary for a year to March 25th 1851 £12
                Mr Edmunds clerks salary 15a 6d
                and his bill for expenses at the church 15s 6d
                Edwin Edmunds bill glazier for work done on the church £2 1s 3d
                Mr Habgood blacksmith 6d
                Miss Franklin 6 bottles of Tent wine for the Sacrament   £2 2s

Expenses totalled £41 0s ¼d

Church rate of 2d in the pound had raised £58 13s 5d and the churchwardens had £10 10s 7½d cash in hand from the previous year.  After payments had been deducted it left the parish with £28 4s 0¼d to carry forward.

The accounts were examined and allowed by Captain Bartholomew Horsell who farmed 203 acres in Lydiard Tregoze and was a magistrate at Wotton Bassett, and William Kinchin, tenant at Windmill Leaze Farm.

And if readers find any discrepancies, take it up with those Victorian churchwardens!

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