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Digital Subscriptions > Family Tree > Family Tree February 2018 > Pew palaver

Pew palaver

Explore the serious, sublime and the ridiculous facets of family history in this genealogical miscellany. This issue, Tom Wood reads up on some fascinating family tales gleaned from historical newspapers…

Genealogical miscellany

Dear Tom

T his issue I’m grateful to Kathleen Hollingsbee, from Kent, who tells me she came across the following shenanigans in the Kentish Gazette, dated 4 May 1847.

‘RYE – In our church, on Sunday, an occurrence took place which was as painful as it was disgraceful, originating in a dispute as to the right of a pew. It appears from what we can learn that the pew in question has been occupied by a family by the name of Edwards for upwards of a century and was originally built by them. ‘On Sunday 11 ult, that part of the family who constantly occupy the pew, on coming to church found that a lock had been put on the door and they were prevented from entering. Before the commencement of the evening service, the lock was taken off quietly, and they occupied the pew without books or cushions, these having been taken away,

‘On the following Sunday they found the seats had been removed and nothing remained but the bare shell; and the family had consequently to stand. On Sunday morning, Mr Thomas Edwards went to the church with his wife, two sisters, and a female cousin. On arriving at the pew they found the churchwardens standing at the door to prevent them from entering. A scuffle took place between Mr Chatterton (one of the churchwardens) and Mr Edwards, and the latter effected an entrance into the pew. The police were sent for and they removed Mr Edwards out of the church just as the service commenced. The females then entered the pew, but they were immediately put out by Mr Chatterton, and they remained standing in the aisle at the door of the pew, the churchwardens placing themselves in an adjacent pew to prevent them again entering. Great and painful sensation was evidenced among the congregation, but the service proceeded. In the communion service the Revd Mr Tatam became so agitated that he was scarcely audible and the Clerk and congregation ceased responding to him. At this time Mrs Edwards was seized with a fit and fell prostrate in the aisle.

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