Deed for a Pew

Deed for a Pew

      Deed for a pew for Theodore B. Talbot at the Chestnut Street Methodist Episcopal Church, Providence.  Signed by James Lewis. (1862)

In many churches, pews were purchased by congregants from the church itself, and became the congregant’s personal property.  The cost of purchase of pews went to fund the maintenance of the church.  This particular manuscript is a deed from one such purchase, and highlights the conditions and restrictions of owing a pew.

This pew (number 38) cost $1.00.

Conditions and restrictions:

“FIRST. – The Pulpit belonging to said Meeting House, shall forever be supplied with Ministers duly authorized to preach, who shall be stationed and changed according to the discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States.

SECOND. – The Ministers so stationed, shall have the right to administer the discipline of said Church, in said House, and hold Love-Feasts, Society Meetings, or any private meetings which may be necessary for the benefit of said Church. 

THIRD. – This deed shall entitle no one to any privileges in any private meetings which are designed for the benefit of the members of said Church exclusively. 

FOURTH. -  No person holding a Pew by virtue of this deed, shall have the right or privilege of altering said Pew without permission of the Trustees of said Corporation, or injuring or destroying the same.

FIFTH. – The above-mentioned Pews shall be subject to no taxation except when the Corporation shall direct the same for the purpose of repairs on and in the said Meeting House, or improvement of the lot on which said Meeting House stands, or for repairing or purchasing anew, the Carpets, Stoves, Lamps, Gas fixtures or burners, Chairs, Tables, and Bell, or any other appurtenances belonging to said house, and also to defray the expense of insurance against fire on said house, furniture , and bell, and to pay the amount of any loss that may result from the said insurance; and now owner of any Pew shall be permitted to interfere with the directions of the Trustees aforesaid, or their successors in said trust, but the same shall be subject at all times to the exclusive direction and control of said Trustees; and the expense of all repairs, and of painting, shall be subject to a tax to be assessed upon, and paid by the owners of said Pews, rateably, according to the valuation before the sale thereof.

SIXTH. – All alterations in the Pews of said Meeting House, shall be subject to the exclusive control of said Corporation, at the legal meetings of the same.

SEVENTH. – The said Meeting House shall be at all times under the immediate care af [sic] the Trustees for the time being, by whose direction the same shall be opened and closed, at all meetings of public or private worship, or the meetings of business of the Church or Trustees; and no sale or disposition of said Pews shall hereafter be valid, unless the same be duly entered on the Records of the Corporation, for recording deeds of Pews in said Meeting House.”

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