18th-century Churchwardens’ Accounts, Ewell Parish

1970/2 pp2–3

The Documentary Group is hoping to study the Churchwardens’ Accounts and the Vestry Meeting Minutes in detail; a preliminary glance at a transcript of the first volume of the Account Book, which dates from 1759, has produced some fascinating entries.

 

At this period the meetings appear to have been frequent, they started in the Church then adjourned to a public house to finish the business. There are records of meetings at the Bulls Head, the George, the Kings Head, the Queens Head. Parish officers responsible to the Churchwardens were the Beadle, the Constable, the Headborough, the Overseers of the Poor.

 

The Workhouse and the Pesthouse

The Workhouse seems to have been rebuilt in 1763. In 1760/61 work was done to make the old building and its surroundings more bearable. There are entries for:

 

Thomas Bradford for hedging           1.11.0

       Mr. Steward for bushes           14.0.

3 men & 6 horses 2 days fetching the same           1. 0.0.

Carriage of loam for floors           1. 0.0.

3 men 2 days each digging up the apple trees and planting

       the same. Making the walks and digging the pond            8.0.

       A hundred of furze            7.0.

 

The pesthouse was apparently only in use when there was an epidemic, as in the winter of 1762/63, when there was an outbreak of smallpox. During that winter there are entries of payments for cheese, bread, meat and beer supplied to the Pesthouse.

 

The Poor

Payments were frequently sanctioned for the clothing of children going into service for the first time, and for the clothing of apprentices. Typical entries are:

 

1760 July 18. Clothing Elizabeth Smith when she went

to Service, vizt. 2 Gowns, 2 pair of Hose, 2 Hand Kerchiefs,

2 Aprons, 2 Caps, a pair of Shoes and Buckles, a Hat and

Ribbands.            1.13.6.

 

1760 December 12. A pair of Shoes, Stockings, Coat,

Waistcoat, Breeches and Hat for Tom Corbet when he

went to Service, and gave him the Carriers 1/-.            15.7.

 

Help was given to needy families and a certain amount of imagination seems to have been used at the Meetings; for instance, on April 3, 1761, 5/- was paid to John Price ‘for fish to support his family’. On June 21 there was a payment of 10/6, and in 1762 various small payments were made to John or Mary Price. In the May of that year John was given 1/-, ‘he being blind’, and he was also given six half-peck loaves, costing 4/8. A little later he had a further grant of 10/6, ‘to buy fish’. Presumably he was trying to support himself and his family by selling fish.

 

There are several entries of payments to Thomas Kingstone’s wife, ‘he being in the Militia’.

 

The Sick

There are a number of intriguing entries concerning the treatment of the sick, and one would like to know how effective the remedies proved:

 

1759

December 13 Miller’s Child Cold Head        6.

           Richard Lovell for Curing Cold Head                    6.0.

December 22 Shaving and Physick for Miller’s Child              1.0.

 

1760

September 13 Half a Pound of Fresh Butter for Miller’s Child.        1.0.

                       Miller’s Child’s Head                    4.

1762

February 24            Shaving Betty Jenkins Head 3 Times        1.6.

           A Sheepskin and 3 lbs of Mutton for Jenkins

           Girl’s Head and 1 lb of Pitch        2.1.

March 6            Sheepskin and Pitch for Betty Jenkins                    1.0.

September 30 William Smith for Curing him of the Ague        3.6.

 

Village Life

Many of the entries throw light on village life in the 18th century:

 

1759

June 25       Expended taking William Bundy to the

     Justice          2.0.

     To John Puplet Family                      3.0.

     Coffin and Shroud etc. for Puplet’s Wife                      10.0

     To Parson and Clerk for do:                      4.0.

     For Carrying her to Church and Beer (sic)                      4.0.

September 25   To Expence at Watsons with a Great Belly Woman             4.0.

December 13    The Poor Woman that was found Dead Agoing to

     Epsom and Buriel of Her                      15.4.

1760

July 2                  Thomas Richardson. Oiling the Weather Cock of the

     Market House.          6.

December 15   To a poor Woman thought to be in Labour, to get

     her away                      1.0.

1761

June 20     10 Bavins, a pound of Candles and 2 Trusses of

    straw for the Soldier and Carrying them                      4.2½

July 12     8 Bavins to the Soldiers at the Alms House          1.2.

 

(A bavin is ‘a stick like those bound up in faggots; a piece of waste wood, brush, faggots’).

 

Fire Engine

The Fire Engine appears in the Accounts over a long period:

 

1770 To a new Fire Engine          24.16.0.

1777 Mending the Engine House                      2.6.

1779 Working and Oiling Engine                      5.0.

1786 Paid Jackman for Liqer, for playing the Engine                      3.6.

1794 Playing the Engine twice                      10.0

 

As the Documentary Group gets increasingly familiar with the various sources of information it is hoped to throw more light on conditions in Ewell in the 18th and 19th centuries.

 

We would like to thank Martin Morris for the use of his transcript, we hope to continue our researches from where he left off.