Churchwardens

Churchwardens

From 1516 to 1875

 

 

The role of Churchwarden was an ancient position whose role in parochial life from the late middle ages until the separation of the ecclesiastical and civil components of vestral authority, was greater than the incumbent. Generally two Churchwardens were elected at Easter, a vicar's warden and a people's warden. The Churchwardens wielded considerable power and were the people's representatives in all parochial matters. The Churchwardens, along with the Overseers, administered local relief and education. They were responsible for the fabric of the nave and setting and collecting the church rate, the Constable, Surveyor and Verger reported directly to them. All bequests and gifts to the parish were collected by them and they presided over the distribution annually of income from church gifts and were bound by law to keep detailed accounts.

Other parochial duties were to ensure children were baptised, that the parishioners attended church regularly and they would also keep an eye on the morals of the parish. Transgressions were reported to the Archdeacons courts and the Churchwardens were responsible for ensuring that the penances were carried out. They were expected to lead the parishioners by setting a good example and encouraging unity and peace and had a particular duty to maintain order and peace in the church and churchyard at all times, especially during services, although this task tended to be devolved to sidesmen.

In the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries the Churchwarden was a lay official in the parish church of St John the Baptist, usually working as a part-time volunteer. Holders of these positions were ex-officio members of the parish board, called the Vestry, and usually chaired the Vestry meetings. Yeovil invariably had two Churchwardens and they tended to invariably come from the 'better' class of well-to-do local gentry such as glove manufacturers, brewers, merchants, etc. The post of Churchwarden was usually held for three years, although notable exceptions stand out in the list below.

Churchwardens were legally responsible for all the property and movable goods belonging to the parish church, with a duty under ecclesiastical law to keep an up to date terrier of the properties and an inventory of the valuables. Day-to-day maintenance of church buildings, grounds and contents was devolved to the Churchwardens. Whenever the Churchwardens spent money to pay tradespeople for repairs etc., they had to record the transaction in an accounts book which was audited annually by the Vestry.

In 1804 the following entry was made in the Churchwardens' Accounts Book and caused some controversy "I Wm Phelips Vicar of Yeovil do nominate & appoint Mr Gabriel Baker as My Church Warden of the Town of Yeovil for the year ensuing. April 3rd 1804" signed Wm Phelips. To which, on the same date, the Vestry members replied "The Town do appoint the same time George Watts and Henry Collins and Consider the Above Nothing As there never was such Entry before." and they later continued "There never was any such entry in any of Yeovil Church Books before therefore its Considered as Nothing for the Vicar Has No Right Whatever to choose a Churchwarden."

It would appear that George, in his role as Churchwarden, had stirred up something of a hornet's nest by investigating funds that had apparently gone missing from church charities and had actually started legal proceedings with, it would seem from the following, the support of the Vestry or Church Council. "At a Vestry held this day April 16, 1805 .... We do nominate and appoint Mr Henry Collins and George Watts to be churchwardens for the year ensuing And we hereby protest against the Appointment made by the Rev Wm Phelips the 3rd day of April 1804, And we declare the same to be null and void, and that he had no right whatever to Choose any Churchwarden for himself it being contrary to the Custom of this Parish time immemorial And we still Authorise the Churchwardens to look into the rights of this Town and to prosecute any suit or suits as they may think proper for the maintaining and re-establishing them..."

"At a Vestry duly called and held this day 8th Day of April 1806... And we hereby appoint the said George Watts and Henry Collins for the year ensuing Churchwardens for the Town and we hereby authorize them to continue the suits in Chancery commenced for establishing the rights of the Church and Charities of this Town and do protest against any appointment of any Churchwarden unless it be at a Vestry duly called and by the Majority of Inhabitants then present."

Indeed, suits were brought and Daniel Vickery states "The parish authorities, it would seem, were in the wrong; for the only power given to the churchwardens was that of nominating new trustees, when the number should be reduced to two." In fact there had always been two Churchwardens.

In 1813 there were objections to George Watts continuing as Churchwarden, a post he had unusually held for twelve years, and in October 1813 the Vestry noted that he had refused to hand over the Churchwardens' Account Books to the new Churchwardens. The books had not been handed over by 1815, causing the Vestry to remark that the Customs and Charities could not be paid as a consequence.

The next occasion the suit is mentioned is in the Churchwardens' Accounts Book for 1837 in which is recorded "... Mr White's Bills for defending the Feoffees in several suits against them in the Court of Chancery by the Attorney General in the relation of Mr George Watts and others. The first bill commencing in 1805 and ending in 1823 and amounting to £148 9s 2d." (in excess of £121,000 in 2017's value).

The Churchwardens' Accounts Book ended in 1856 and from 1857 the Vestry Minute book took over. From this point onwards the Town nominated one Churchwarden (noted as Town's in the list below) and the Vicar nominated the other (noted as Vicar's in the list below).

Another fracas took place in 1845 when the accounts of Churchwarden Thomas Cole were questioned by a Vestry committee even though Cole was in the Chair. Cole refused to put a resolution to the meeting and it was later stated "That in the opinion of this Vestry Mr Cole has forfeited the confidence of the Parish and incapacitated himself from holding any place of trust in the Parish hereafter, and that he be requested to deliver over the monies and the several rates and the books now in his possession to Mr Wadman (the other Churchwarden)."

 

List of Churchwardens for the Parish of Yeovil

1515

James Dyrdo

 

1516

Thomas Wicket

Thomas Lane

1519-20

Thomas Yerlych

William Marchaunt

1539

William Hayne

1540

Henry Bockyng

John Hacker

1541

John Hacker

John Parker

1542

John Parker

John Phelypps

1544

William Stone

John Dyrdo

1545

John Dyrdo

John Hacker the Younger

1546

John Hacker the Younger

William Rugge

1548

William Short

John Clothier

1549

John Clothier

Nicholas Donne

1550

Nicholas Donne

Thomas Grange

1551

John Gray / Raynold Hardyng

John Langdonne

1552

John Marchaunt

John Quarrel

1553

John Quarrel

John Gaylord

1554

John Gaylord

James Gapper

1557

Richard Jacob

Harri Fathers

1558

Harri Fawther

William Longe

1560

Raynold Hardyng

1561

John Langdon

Gyles Hayne

1562

Giles Hayne

Robert Ryche

1563

Robert Ryche

Edmund Sheppard

1564

Edmund Shepparde

Tristram Brooke

1565

Tristram Brooke

Giles Hacker

1566

Gyles Hacker

John Toker

1567

John Tucker

1568

Richard Bradley

James Everdone

1569

James Everdon

Andrew Ffanstone

1570

Giles Salmon

1572

John Phelpes

William Forde

1573

William Forde

Thomas Phelpes

1575

Thomas Pitman

Richard Lowcocke

1577

John Dyer

William Becke

1578

William Beck

William Jennyngs

1579

John Marchant

1580

John Marchant the Younger

Matthew Hacker

1581

John Crocker

John Tor

1582

Thomas Williams

Edward Harris

1583

Edward Harris

Thomas Clare

1584

Thomas Clare

John Crocker

1586

John Torre

William Jennyngs

1587

William Jennyngs of Henford

 

Gyles Hayne

1607*

Thomas Marshe

Roger Traske

 

1638

 

Thomas Marsh

Bartholomew Jacob

1693

John Godsall

Edward Boucher

1694

John Godsall

Edward Boucher

1695

John Godsall

Edward Boucher

1696

Samuel Whittock

John Chaffey

1697

William Row

Thomas Wills

1698

John Clarke

1699

John Clarke

William fforbes

1700

John Kitson

William fforbes

1701

John Kitson

William Bosey

1702

William Hambridge

Edward Perry

1703

Edward Mines

Edward Perry

1704

John Jeanes

Edward Perry

1705

John Winsor

John Marks

1706

Ambrose Seward

Christopher Allumbridge

1707

Ambrose Seward

Christopher Allumbridge

1708

Ambrose Seward

Christopher Allumbridge

1709

George Cary

William Glover

1710

George Cary

William Glover

1711

George Cary

William Glover

1712

William Tinney

William Newman

1713

William Tinney

William Newman

1714

John Hodges

John Dyer

1715

John Hodges

John Dyer

1716

John Perry

John Darley

1717

Richard Elett

John Darley

1718

Richard Elliott

John Darley

1719

Richard Elliott

John Darley

1720

John Chant

Thomas Chrismand

1721

Thomas Cheeseman

William Avoke

1722

Thomas Cheeseman

William Avoke

1723

Onesipherus Penny

William Avoke

1724

Onesipherus Penny

Samuel Sherry

1725

Onesipherus Penny

Samuel Sherry

1726

John Boucher

Henry Penny

1727

John Boucher

Henry Penny

1728

Andrew Everton

George Boucher

1729

Andrew Everton

George Boucher

1730

Andrew Everton

Samuel Kitson

1731

Andrew Everton

Samuel Kitson

1732

Edward Boucher

Samuel Kitson

1733

Edward Boucher

Thomas Williams

1734

Edward Boucher

Thomas Godsall

1735

Edward Boucher

Thomas Godsall

1736

Edward Boucher

Thomas Godsall

1737

William Donne

John Reeks

1738

William Donne

John Reeks

1739

James Cook

John Reeks

1740

Ambrose Seward Jnr

Henry Lewis

1741

John Dyer

Henry Lewis

1742

John Dyer

Thomas Shean

1743

George Peckford Snr

Christopher Hartwell

1744

Onesipherus Penny

Philip Francis

1745

Onesipherus Penny

Philip Francis

1746

Francis Woodrow

George King

1747

Henry Piddle

John Francis

1748

Henry Peddle

John Francis

1749

Boon Penny

Samuel Beauchem

1750

Boon Penny

Samuel Beacham

1751

James French

William Masters

1752

Edward Boucher Jnr

Richard Pitcher

1753

William Reeks

Samuel Sealy

1754

William Reeks

Samuel Sealy

1755

James Foot

Samuel Sealy

1756

James Foot

Andrew Everton

1757

James Foot

Andrew Everton

1758

Ambrose Seward

James Dier

1759

James Fox

John Kitson

1760

James Foot

Henry Donn

1761

Ambrose Seward

James Dyer

1762

Ambrose Seward

James Dyer

1763

Ambrose Seward

James Dyer

1764

Charles Francis

John King

1765

Charles Francis

John King

1766

Thomas Hobbs

George Gast

1767

Thomas Hobbs

George Gast

1768

William Tanner

Samuel Garland

1769

William Tanner

Samuel Garland

1770

Samuel Kitson

William Masters

1771

Samuel Kitson

William Masters

1772

Samuel Beacham

William Peddle

1773

Samuel Beacham

William Peddle

1774

Barri John Forbes

Richard Peddle

1775

Barri John Forbes

Richard Peddle

1776

Henry Penny

John Ryall

1777

Henry Penny

John Ryall

1778

Thomas Andrews

John King

1779

Thomas Andrews

John King

1780

Isaac Shorland

William Winsor

1781

Isaac Shorland

William Winsor

1782

Gabriel Baker

William Edward

1783

Gabriel Baker

William Edward

1784

George Shaw

William Rowe

1785

George Shaw

William Rowe

1786

John Mitchell

Thomas Jesty

1787

John Mitchell

Thomas Jesty

1788

Robert Reeks

Thomas Jesty

1789

Robert Reeks

Thomas Jesty

1790

Thomas Rawlings

Thomas Jesty

1791

Thomas Rawlings

John King

1792

Thomas Andrews

John King

1793

Thomas Andrews

John Ryall

1794

John Greenham

Henry Collins

1795

John Greenham

Henry Collins

1796

John Greenham

Henry Collins

1797

William Kitson

Thomas Garland

1798

George Ryall Corry

Henry Whitmarsh

1799

George Ryall Corry

Henry Whitmarsh

1800

Gabriel Baker

John Ashby

1801

Gabriel Baker

John Ashby

1802

William Willmington

George Watts

1803

William Willmington

George Watts

1804

Henry Collins

George Watts

1805

Henry Collins

George Watts

1806

Henry Collins

George Watts

1807

Henry Collins

George Watts

1808

Henry Penny

George Watts

1809

John Newman

George Watts

1810

John Newman

George Watts

1811

John Neal

George Watts

1812

John Neal

George Watts

1813

Thomas Andrews

George Watts / William Edwards

1814

Thomas Andrews

William Edwards

1815

Thomas Andrews

William Edwards

1816

John Neal

Philip Collins

1817

George Mayo

Henry Penny

1818

George Mayo

Henry Penny

1819

George Wellington

John Edwards

1820

George Wellington

John Edwards

1821

John Ryall Mayo

Robert Tucker

1822

John Ryall Mayo

Robert Tucker

1823

Charles Parsons

John T Boucher

1824

Charles Parsons

John T Boucher

1825

John Highmore Snr

William Bide

1826

John Highmore Snr

William Bide

1827

John Highmore Snr

William Bide

1828

Peter Edwards

Edward Granger

1829

Peter Edwards

Edward Granger

1830

Peter Edwards

Edward Granger

1831

Robert Tucker Jnr

Charles Greenham

1832

Robert Tucker Jnr

Charles Greenham

1833

James Curtis

Thomas Cave

1834

James Curtis

Thomas Cave

1835

John Perratt

William Buck

1836

John Perratt

William Buck

1837

John Perratt

William Buck

1838

William Bide

Frederick Greenham

1839

William Bide

Frederick Greenham

1840

George Edward Wellington

Henry Bryant Phelps

1841

George Edward Wellington

Henry Bryant Phelps

1842

Edward Pierce

George Edwards

1843

Edward Pierce

George Edwards

1844

Thomas Cole

George Wadman

1845

Thomas Cole

George Wadman

1846

James Tally Vining

Michael Cumbrawe Davey

1847

William Tomkins

Thomas Pope

1848

William Tomkins

William V Matthews

1849

William Symes

William V Matthews

1850

William Symes

William V Matthews

1851

Henry Bryant Phelps

Richard Vining

1852

Henry Bryant Phelps

Richard Vining

1853

James Tally Vining

Thomas Lyon

1854

James Tally Vining

Thomas Lyon

1855

Thomas Dampier

Thomas Lyon

1856

Thomas Dampier

Thomas Lyon

1857

Thomas Dampier

Henry Marsh Custard

1858

Joseph Brook (Town's)

Henry Marsh Custard (Vicar's)

1859

Joseph Brook (Town's)

Henry Marsh Custard (Vicar's)

1860

Joseph Brook (Town's)

Daniel Vickery (Vicar's)

1861

Richard Vining (Town's)

Thomas Manning (Vicar's)

1862

Richard Vining (Town's)

Thomas Manning Jnr (Vicar's)

1863

James Curtis Jnr (Town's)

John Dampney (Vicar's)

1864

James Curtis Jnr (Town's)

John Dampney (Vicar's)

1865

Thomas Manning Jnr (Town's)

John Glyde (Vicar's)

1866

Henry Bown (Town's)

William Neale (Vicar's)

1867

Henry Bown (Town's)

William Neale (Vicar's)

1868

Henry Bown (Town's)

William Neale (Vicar's)

1869

Henry Bowen (Town's)

William Neale (Vicar's)

1870

Joseph Brutton (Town's)

William Raymond (Vicar's)

1871

Joseph Brutton (Town's)

William Raymond (Vicar's)

1872

Joseph Brutton (Town's)

William Raymond (Vicar's)

1873

Joseph Brutton (Town's)

William Raymond (Vicar's)

1874

John Hill (Town's)

William Marsh (Vicar's)

1875

William Raymond (Town's)

William Marsh (Vicar's)



Note - 1607*
"Articles against Thomas Marsh and Roger Traske wardens at Yevel" recorded "Some of the disorders at our Church ale at Yeavell this year 1607. It was an usual thing upon the saboth day to have minstrelsie and dauncinge and carrying men upon a cavell stafe, the wardinges themselves Thomas Marshes and Roger Traske wear willingly so caried to the church."   "Witness: Thomas Braine, Thomas Jarves, etc."
Quarter Session records see 'Riding the Stang'