Ewell in the Bishops’ Visitations of 1725 and 1788
In the eighteenth century the Church was still coming to terms with the effects of the turmoil of a previous century that had seen a period of Puritan ascendancy followed by two kings with Catholic sympathies and then the Glorious Revolution of 1688. The Revolution might have put a Protestant king and queen firmly on the throne, but there was still a danger of trouble from Catholics and Dissenters, and bishops needed to keep an eye on their parishes. They therefore made visitations at intervals, preceded by a questionnaire in which the incumbent was asked to give information about his parish.
The forward to the questionnaire from Richard Willis, bishop of Winchester, prior to his visitations of 1725, stressed the importance of the bishop being informed on the state of his diocese, and went on ‘I am sorry to say, how little of this I have been able to find among the papers left me by my predecessors; and therefore I have judged it necessary to send a paper of queries to every parish in the diocese’.
The reply to the questionnaire made by Samuel Shenton, vicar of Ewell, was as follows:
1. Area: The number of acres contained in the parish has been found upon a survey to be 2300, besides a small hamlet (Kingswood) lying about 4 miles distant.
2. Population: Upon a middle computation, there are 583 souls.
3. Marriages etc: On average 3 marriages, 28 births, 24 burials.
4. Patron: The Lord Chancellor.
5. Chapels: None
6. Lecturer: No Lecturer. Curate – Francis Walbron.
7. Papists: There are no Papists.
8. Dissenters: No meetings of protestant dissenters of any sort but about 50 Presbyterian dissenters.
9. Gentry etc: George Lewen Glyn Esqr. (nephew and heir of Sir William Lewen, formerly Lord Mayor of London) who is impropriator of the parish; Henry Fendal Esqr. Formerly General Receiver of the Land Tax for the county of Surry; Thomas Williams Esqr. a private gentleman of a plentifull estate; Sir William Jolliffe, kt., one of his Majesties Justices of the Peace and Director of the Bank of England, formerly a Turkey Merchant.
10. Schools: None.
11. Charities: 2 Charities. (1) £8 pa. from Henry Smith for putting out poor apprentices etc. (2) £2 pa. given by Thomas Dickenson, gent., to be disposed of as the officers of the parish see fit.
12. Post-town: Epsom
The situation in 1788 prior to the visit of Bishop Brownlow North was set out in the replies presumably of the vicar, John Lewes, although they are unsigned and undated:
1. Area: About 3000 acres.
2. Population: About 500.
3. Marriages etc: Marriages 9, births 43, burials 33.
4. Patron: Sir George Glyn, bart.
5. Chapels: No Chapels.
6. Lecturer: A curate nominated by the vicar, not licensed.
7. Dissenters: About 5 or 6 papists. No meetings held by protestant dissenters.
8. Schools: One academy not endowed, about 40 scholars. One school endowed, about 16 scholars.
9. Charities: No Hospitals, 2 fields – £13 5s. pa. Other donations to the amount of £59 pa. for the benefit of the poor. This was the substance of the return made to parliament.
This information is taken from Surrey Record Society 34, Parson and Parish in Eighteenth-Century Surrey. Replies to Bishops’ Visitations.