(Nos. 151 - 254)
10, 1821. Concerning a dispute with the Parish of Bathwick as to the
settlement of Thomas West.
14, 1821, Concerning two boys, John Lovel and William Gibbs, that had
been apprenticed to Richard Ash of Bagley, Cordwinder, and left chargeable
to the Parish.
l53.-March 22, 1822. Ordered that the Surveyors
of Mudgley do defend the presentment found against them at the last
Quarter Sessions. Joseph Brown, Edward Brown, John Clark, James Banwell,
James Toogood, Edward Toogood, Sarah Hayne.
Also that the Wedmore
Surveyors do defend the like presentment found against them at the same
Quarter Sessions of a different part of road. Solomon Wall, George Dando,
James Banwell, George Banwell, William Taverner, John Millard, Joseph
Parker, James Parker, George Millard, William Gibbs, James Gibbs.
By what right or title Sarah
Hayne attended the Vestry I don't know. Evidently an early assertor
of Woman's rights. We shall see her again attending. See No. 163.
23, 1822. To consider a presentment of Robert Phippen Esq. of a certain
road in Blackford moor made at last Quarter Sessions; a presentment
of the Constable of the Hundred of Bempstone of a certain other road
in Blackford moor and two other presentments made by said Robert Phippen
Esq. at a former Sessions of Certain other roads leading from Wedmore
22, 1822. We do agree that the above named persons (10) be fit and proper
persons to serve the office as Surveyors of the highways for this parish;
and we recommend that the allowance of £4 for each Surveyor be
paid for the ensuing year. William Edwards, William Taverner, John Tucker,
John Tonkin, John Tyley, Robert Tucker, John James, Ben. Rickard for
No. 150 had appointed two
Surveyors for the whole Parish. This, I suppose, changed the plan, and
each hamlet had its own Surveyor instead.
6, 1822. At a Vestry meeting held to consider what course may be taken
by the Churchwardens and Overseers for the employment of the Poor; Agreed
that the Surveyors of the roads within the several hamlets be convened
at an early day, and be requested to employ such labourers as may want
work on the said roads, and to collect a moiety of the composition to
enable them to pay the same. Agreed that the Overseers shall (pursuant
to a late Act of Parliament) advance money weekly or otherwise to persons
applying for relief by way of Lone, and take receipts from them to repay
the same at such times as the Justices shall direct, John Barrow, William
Edwards, Robert Giles, John Glanvile.
This is one of many Vestries
that show either directly or indirectly how wretched was the state of
the agricultural labourers at this time. Steamers had not yet begun
to cross the Atlantic laden with American produce; free trade was not
yet come in; and most years the price of wheat was as high as any one
could wish: so one must not put it down, as some people do now, to America,
to free trade, or to low prices. It was rather the whole system that
was wrong. And it is not quite right yet.
16, 1822. Ordered that Messrs. Richard Baker and George Vowles, the
Parish Surveyors, do go to the next Sessions and plead not guilty to
a presentment of Robert Phippen, Esq. of a certain road in Blackford
Moor. William Edwards, Arthur Phippen, Robert Giles, James Banwell,
7, 1823. At a Vestry held to determine whether the Roadway leading from
the public road in the Village of Wedmore opposite to Mr. John Billinge's
house through Wedmore East Field unto a public highway leading from
Sand to Wells opposite to Court Garden shall be repaired by the Parish,
or any other proceedings adopted: and also to determine on the propriety
of having certain other roads in the Parish stopped up or continued
as private roads only; Agreed that Joseph R. Poole and Robert Giles,
Esquires, be employed by the Parish Surveyors to state a case and take
such opinions as shall seem meet, and to report the same at a Vestry
to be held on or before March 1 next; and that the above Gentlemen be
authorized to examine witnesses, peruse rates and other documents, etc.
54 Signatures (Having got into modern times, I shall not give
the names of those present any more, and shall shorten the resolution
passed when possible).
10, 1823. At a meeting held to take into consideration the mead tythes
to have abatement thereon, or throw them out in kind; also to take into
consideration the propriety of having two Fire Ingiens for the use of
this Parish; Resolved that we the undersigned persons do agree to give
due notice to give the said tythes in kind from Michaelmas next. 33
The notice about the fire
engines is crossed out for some reason or other; but its having been
entered shows that there was was some question of getting them. And
they too tell indirectly the tale of distress amongst the agricultural
labourers. Driven to desperation and violence by poverty and starvation,
they were firing ricks all over the country; and I imagine that these
proposed fire engines were in consequence of the state of things. I
recollect reading some years ago the memoirs of some one who was a child
at about this time, and she (I think it was she) described her father's
constant anxiety about his ricks, and the precautions and watchings
which were necessary every night. She told how that every night they
looked out of the window, and were almost sure to see the glare of a
burning rick in some direction or other; and they always lay down half
expecting to be roused up before the night was over. I cannot recollect
the title of the book, but I think it was the Memoirs of a lady, and
I think Kent or thereabouts was the County. This firing of ricks was
of course a wrong, but it was a wrong that was brought about by another
wrong which had brought the agricultural labourer to such a state; and
the wrong that caused the other wrong was the greater wrong of the two,
The difference between the two wrongs was that the one was with law
breaking and violence, the other without; the one came of despair and
hunger, the other came of greed and selfishness; the one was done each
time at a given hour of a given night, the other was the continued never-ceasing
work of years; the one was the work each time of a pair of hands Whose
owner you could name and blame, the other was the combined work of whole
classes and of many generations, dispersed over them, so that you could
not name or blame any one in particular; the punishment of the one might
come at the next Assizes after it was done; the punishment of the other
would come more surely but more slowly, in another shape, and sometimes
upon those who had not partaken of the wrong.
27, 1823. Agreed that the salary for the Surgeon's attendance on the
Poor £28 a year, midwifery and casualties requiring other assitance
excepted; and that Mr. Tucker be appointed surgenn for the year. 6 Signatures.
22, 1823. At a Vestry held to consider the propriety of applying to
Parliament for an Act for exonerating the several hamlets from the repairs
of the highways within their respective limits, and throwing all such
repairs on the Parish at large; And also to consider the propriety of
obtaining an order of Justices for stopping up such of the roads within
the Parish as shall be considered useless to the Public; Resolved that
it is expedient to apply to Parliament the next Sessions for an Act
for exonerating the hamlets, and throwing the repairs on the Parish
at large; and that Messrs. J. R. Poole and Robert Giles, Solicitors,
be requested to draw the necessary bill, and obtain the consent of the
proprietors of land to the bill; And that John Barrow, William Edwards,
J. D. Parsons, T. T. Knyfton, and Joseph Wollen be appointed a committee
to confer with the said Solicitors on the bill, and be empowered to
call a subsequent Vestry, as occasion may require. 9 Signatures.
6, 1823. Resolved that the Parish Surveyors, Richard Baker and George
Vowles, do take the necessary steps to remove the presentment of Robert
Phippen Esq. of a certain road in Blackford moor into the Court of King's
Bench by writ of Certiorari, and that when removed they do withdraw
the plea of Not Guilty and plead such special plea as Counsel shall
advise; and that the Surveyors do take every other requisite step for
defending the above Presentment and trying the issue thereof. 5 Signatures.
24, 1823. At a Vestry meeting held, when the Bill intended to be presented
to Parliament next Session for discharging the several hamlets and tracts
of newly enclosed land from the repairs of public highways, and for
charging the same on the Parish was produced; Resolved that the Clauses
of the Bill now produced be approved; and that the Solicitors be requested
to proeeed in getting It passed. 25 Signatures.
Sarah Hayne (See
No. 153) is again amongst those who sign, the only woman, as far
as we can tell, who has ever taken her seat at a Vestry here. One wonders
whether she did all the talking, and whether anybody else was allowed
to put in a single word; and was she the wife of a Mr. Hayne, and if
so, was the poor man ever allowed to speak or do what he would.
59, 1823. Resolved that the Surveyors of the several hamlets be requested
to employ such Poor people as may want work on the said roads, and to
collect a moiety of the Composition to enable them to pay the same.
`4, 1824. At a Vestry meeting held for the purpose of making a list
of persons to serve the office of the Surveyors of the highways to be
returned to the Justices at the next special Session of the Highways
to be holden for the Hundred of Bempstone, in order that the requisite
Surveyors may be appointed by the said Justices, pursuant to an Act
of Parliament passed this Session for exonerating the hamlets and tithings
from the maintainance of their highways and charging the same on the
parish at large; Resolved that the following lists of persons be returned
to the Justices, and that they be requested to appoint from the different
hamlets in succession as they are named in the said Act.
Then follow the names of
the hamlets and of the proper persons in them. The hamlets with the
number of names in each are as follows. Wedmore hamlet 10, Pilcorn 10,
Wedmore Borough 10, Heathhouse 5, Sand 7, East Theal 10, Blackford 10,
West Theal 7, Mudgley 5, Cocklake 9, Cluer 7, Crickham 9, West Stoughton
5, Stoughton Cross 7. The Justices are requested to appoint 4 persons
Surveyors for the present year, taking one from each of the hamlets
of Wedmore, Blackford, East Theal, and Cocklake; and 4 persons for the
ensuing year taking one each from Pilcorn, West Theal, Heathhouse, and
Cluer. These resolutions have 9 and 7 signatures respectively. Thus
it will be seen that the Act of Parliament mentioned in Nos. 161, 163,
was passed. Since the hamlets were exonerated, and the expense of maintaining
the roads thrown on the Parish at large, the principle has been still
further carried out by exonerating the Parishes and throwing the expense
on the Union at large.
16, 1825,. At a Vestry meeting held for the purpose to consult the best
plan of repairing the houses in the occopatian of Richard Tyley lately
burned and consumed; Agreed that two cottage houses be rebuilt on the
said garden for two families to live in; and that the windows taken
from the library he altered and put into the same cottages. W. B. Cattell,
Minister; Joseph Wollen, William Edwards.
These are the houses on the
way to Latcham formerly owned and occupied by the late Mr. Simon Day.
The library means the room over the Church Porch, more properly called
the Parvise Chamber. Richard Tyley died in 1844. He used to go up to
Mr. Wollen's early every morning, and wake up the household by clapping
his hands. His widow, Mary Tyley, died in 1880, aged 93 years.
No. 167.- March
24, 1826. Held to make out a list of a competent number of substantial
householders from which His Majesty's Justices of the Peace acting for
the Division of Wrington may appoint Overseers of the Poor for the year
ensuing. Agreed that this meeting be adjourned to the Pay room. At the
adjourned meeting a list of so names was made out.
5, 1826. Agreed that the roof of the Poor House be put in proper repair
forthwith. Joseph Richards, Vicar; John Carver, John Millard.
2, 1826. Held to make a list of persons within the several Tithings
who being poor are not liable to pay the dutys on windows, horses, dogs:
and other business. Resolved that the Paupers living in their own cottages
are to be relieved when in distress at the Overseers discretion as usual.
4, 1826. At a Vestry meeting held to consider the rebuilding the west
end of the Poor house at Blackford now occupied by William Kingsbury
as it is in a very dilapidated and elangerous state; Agreed that a sum
not exceeding £30 be expended in rebuilding the west end. 8 Signatures.
1, 1826. At a Vestry meeting held to consider the contents of a letter
received by one of the Overseers from one of His Majesty's Justices
of the Peace respecting the state of the Poor house and of the beds
and bedding therein ; At the recommendation of J. Barrow, Esq. and on
the complaint of the Rev. Joseph Richards, Vicar of Wedmore; It is agreed
that the Poor house be whitewashed, the windows repaired, beds and bedding
put into proper repair. 4 Signatures.
9, 1827. Notice of a meeting for the purpose of considering the propriety
of inoculating the poor children of the Parish at the Parish's expense.
22, 1827. At a meeting held to consider the propriety of paying a Certain
sum of money charged by Mr. Lawrence, Surgeon, for attending an inquest
held on the body of Henry Binning We the undersigned do consider that
Mr. Lawrence's bill ought not to be paid by the Overseers, as from the
testimony of several persons that Henry Binning died a natural death
being in a consumption for a long time before, and that there was no
necessity for the attendance of a Surgeon; and further it appears that
Edmund Banwell was the cause of Mr. Lawrence being sent for, who in
our opinion ought to he responsible for the expense of the same. 4 Signatures.
174.-Jan. 2, 1828. Resolved that the Churchwardens
be empowered to expend out of Church rate the sum of £50 towards
the erection and fitting up of a Vestry room and ringing loft in this
Church, provided the Rector of this Parish do at the same time improve
and make an arched ceiling to the Chancel, and give consent in writing
to the Churchwardens for the taking down and removal of the old lumber
room at the north east end of Church. And that the south east side of
the Church appears to be the most convenient and proper place for the
Vestry room; that the same he appropriated for that purpose and fitted
up accordingly. And that in fitting up care be taken not to interfere
with the burial place of the Edwards's family, and that a door of sufficient
width be placed to the same room to give to that family free access
to their said burial place whensoever they shall have occasion to use
it. John Kempthorne, Vicar; John Barrow, John Glanvile, Robert Giles,
George Champeny, John Hancock, Henry Tucker.
I put down the suggestion
of these improvements partly to the spirit of the age or the fashion
of the day, which was beginning to condemn many things that the 18th
century had not condemned, and partly to the zeal of a young man just
beginning his Ministry Mr. Kempthorne had just come and was just beginning
his long ministry here of over 49 years. Being at this time only about
25 years old, he was probably influenced by the new spirit or fashion
which had lately come in. He was not old enough to have known the days
before it had come in. He had been here a year, long enough to see,
or at any rate to find out from hearsay, that Vestry meetings were not
always very orderly, and so the Church was not a good place to hold
them in. Perhaps he had also been here long enough to find out that
the ringers and the spectators who went up into the belfry were not
always the soberest part of the parish. So two things struck him as
being needed at once; viz., a Vestry room, so that meetings might not
be held in Church; and a ringing loft, so that the ringers might not
ring (and drink) from the floor of the Church. The Rector of the Parish,
who was the Dean of Wells, consented to do what he was asked to do,
viz., put an arched ceiling to the Chancel; and so the Parish did their
part. The Chancel ceiling was made, the ringing loft and the Vestry
room were put up. The ceiling and the ringing loft still remain, but
the Vestry room was swept away in 1880. The ringing loft will probably
always remain, but I expect that some day the Ecclesiastical Commissioners
will take away the Chancel ceiling. We keep groping, feeling and gradually
finding our way to what is best; we often don't find out what is bad
till after we have tried it; so it sometimes happens that the improvement
of to-day is to sweep away the improvement of yesterday, and the improvement
of to-morrow will be to sweep away the improvement of to-day.
I was much puzzled at first
by the "lumber room at the north east end of the Church,"
mentioned in this resolution. There were no visible signs of it, and
Mrs. Sellick Williams had no recollection of it. But I feel quite certain
now that "north east" is a slip of the Vestry Clerk's pen
for "south east," and that this lumber room occupied the site
of the Vestry room which we took down in 1880. So that all they did
now was to fit up the lumber room, and turn it into a Vestry room. The
question then arises, What was the original object of the lumber room,
and when was it built The doorway that led into it, and that still remains,
is a good 17th century doorway, probably made somewhere about 1650.
Now, a little before that, in the reign of Charles I, there had been
a short-lived High Church movement. There had been a High Church Archbishop
of Canterbury, Laud, and a High Church Bishop of Bath and Wells, William
Piers; and these had sent out orders and made some changes in a High
Church direction. And it has occurred to me that possibly the building
of a Vestry room was one of the things done then; and that when, after
a little while, this High Church movement died out, then they returned
to the holding of meetings in Church, and the Vestry room, being neglected,
became a lumber room. If that be so, then this is an instance of history
repeating itself. This that they did in 1828 is an exact repetition
of what they did in 1628 or thereabouts: the same thing done, and the
same reason for doing it. Whether it be so or not I cannot say for certain.
But the lumber room converted into a Vestry room in 1828 seems to have
been at one time the bone house. Possibly that was its original object.
A bone house or charnel house is defined in Bailey's Dictionary (1763)
as "a place near Churches where the skulls and bones of the dead
that are thrown up in digging the old graves are decently collected,
to be again buried in a proper place." Formerly graves were so
shallow, and they all crowded so close round the Church, that bones
must have been disturbed more than they are now, and so a bone house
was needed. My reasons for thinking that the old Vestry was at one time
the bone house are these: (1) Mrs. Sellick Williams told me that there
used to be several skulls (skools she called them) in it, (2) Among
some parish papers is the following Coroner's order.
hath been made unto me, one of his Majesty's Coroners, for the Co. of
Somerset, that on June 30 last the body of one Champenny was secretely
buried in your parish, These are by virtue of my office in his Majesty's
name to charge and command you that you forthwith cause the body of
the said Champenny to be taken up and safely conveyed to the Bone house
in the said Parish, and that I with my inquest may have a view thereof,
and proceed therein according to law. Hereof fail not as you will answer
the contrary at your peril. July 4, 1795. Peter Layng, Coroner. To the
Churchwardens and Overseers of the Parish of Wedmore."
Whatever, then, was the original
object of the room at the S.E. end of the Church which we took away
in 1880, whether it were originally a Vestry room that became a bone
house and lumber room and then returned in 1828 to a Vestry room, or
whether it were originally a bone house and lumber room that first became
a Vestry in 1828, the 17th century doorway that led into it shows when
something was put there, viz., somewhere about 1650. The thing that
we took down was a hideous thing that spoiled the external symmetry
of the Church. A great authority on Church architecture doubted whether
we did right to take it down, because of the 17th century doorway that
led into it. But though the doorway that led into it (and that still
remains) was of the 17th century, the thing itself into which it led
was of the 19th century in its worst style, evidently put up in 1828.
I do not understand the latter
part of the resolution, nor where was the door put in for the benefit
of the Edwards' family. Apparently that family did not approve of it;
at least the signatures of two very regular attendants at Vestry meetings,
Mr. William Edwards and Mr. Arthur Phippen, are wanting. It is possible
that the Edwards' family doorway mentioned in the resolution may be
what I have called the 17th century doorway, it being cut through in
1828, but old freestone, taken from elsewhere, used for the arch and
jambs. But I don't think that it is so.
The architect employed in
making the ringing loft and the Vestry room was Mr. Richard Carver,
of Bridgwater, who received two guineas for his estimates, John Wheeler
did the work receiving £50 out of the Church rate. John Tonkin
supplied the chairs for the Vestry room at £ 2..14.0. The same
architect, Mr. Richard Carver, had a few years before this built Theale
Chapel. For that grand piece of architecture he received £52..2..3,
being a commission of 5 per cent, on the whole cost.
5, 1828. To consider how to find employment for the poor. Resolved that
the Overseers do request the Waywardens to employ the Poor who Want
work; and if the Waywardens refuse to do so without proper cause that
the Overseers do summon them before the Magistrates for neglect of duty.
William Edwards, John Glanvile, Arthur Phippen, George Duckett, John
2, 1828. Agreed that a Church rate of 6d. in £ be immediately
made and collected, and that the Churchwardens be empowered to expend
any sum not exceeding £50 for the fitting up of the old Vestry
room and erecting the ringing loft. Also that the Churchwardens be empowered
to put doors to the mens seats in Church. 8 Signatures.
This is almost conclusive
that the old Vestry room pulled down in 1880 was not a new erection
on a new site in 1828, but was the old lumber room fitted up. It also
looks as if it had originally been a Vestry room, but disused of late
years, as I guessed. See No. 174.
3, 1828 Held to consider the dilapidated and dangerous state of Bartlett's
bridge over the river Axe In the public highway leading from Wedmore
to Rodney Stoke. Agreed that the Surveyors be empowered to repair and
widen it, and place parapet walls to it. 6 Signatures.
No. 178.-Dec. 12,
1828. Held to nominate Overseers. This is the last meeting said to be
held in the Church. For the future they are always said to be held in
the Vestry Room.
1, 1829. Resolved to empower the Overseers to expend the sum of £20
in potatoes for the use of the Poor for seed. Also that the Overseers
do remove the nuisance of the Poor house by putting down a gutter. 5
The tremendous rain of Monday
evening, May 6, 1889, which turned the road between the Church and the
Vicarage into a foaming river, washed away the gravel path under the
Churchyard wall, and laid this gutter bare. It also laid bare some of
the foundations of the old Poor house, which I should liked to have
examined with a peck leisurely.
10, 1829. Held to consider the propriety of altering and amending the
Poor house situate at the west end of the Churchyard; and also of erecting
additional offices for the convenience of the Poor persons residing
there. Resolved that the Overseers be empowered to build at the east
end of the Poor house, according to the sketch now produced, a coal
house, depository for ashes, etc.; also to rebuild the front wall to
the top of the present doorways and windows, and cap the same with freestone,
erect a pump and put a new doorway at the west end of the Court, which
will be the entrance to the Poor house; for which purposes they may
expend £50 and no more. 9 Signatures.
13, 1829. Held for the purpose of the Inhabitants to signify their intentions
to do their statute labour or pay their compositions for the repair
of the roads.
27, 1829. Agreed that the Poor house be repaired at the sum of ten guineas.
8, 1830. Notice of a meeting for the Inhabitants to meet the Officers
of the Parish on account of the severe weather, for the purpose of subscribing
or consulting the best way to obtain clothing for the Poor.
15, 1830. Held to consider the distressed state of the Poor, and to
choose proper persons from different parts of the Parish as a Committee
to distribute goods to them that stand in need of it.
22, 1830. Held for the Surveyors and Inhabitants to arrange with the
Commissioners of the Turnpike trust of the road from Hayse's Corner
to Moor Rhine against the Parish of Cheddar to keep the same in proper
repair. Resolved that the Surveyors of the highways be empowered to
have the whole of the Parish roads measured forthwith: also that the
Inhabitants and Surveyors agree to pay over to the Commissioners an
equal proportion of their whole rate according to the measure or length
of the Turnpike and Parish roads respectively. 27 Signatures.
28, 1830. Held to consult about the distressed state of the Poor, caused
by the severity of the weather, and to empower the Churchwardens, Overseers,
and such other persons as may be chosen to purchase and distribute such
quantities of food, fuel, clothing and bedding to the Poor as may appear
April 8, 1830. Agreed that Mr. A. Phippen be the Parish Surgeon for
the present year, commencing at Lady day, 1830, at a salary of 50 guineas.
24, 1831. A list of substantial householders made out from which the
Justices may appoint Overseers of the Poor for the ensuing year. Agreed
that Mr. James Tucker be appointed Surgeon for the ensuing year at the
like salary and under like conditions to Mr. Phippen. 5 Signatures.
31, 1831. Agreed that Benjamin Rickard collect the arrears of the rates
dated 1829 & 1830, and to have one shilling in the pound for it.
Agreed that all Overseers be compelled to Collect or answer for the
full amount of rates granted to them in future. 9 Signatures.
22, 1832. Held to consider what sum of money should be paid to the Overseers,
to their Clerks and Assistants, for their trouble taken in the execution
of an Act passed June 23, 1830, entitled, An Act for taking an account
of the Population of Great Britain, and for other business. Resolved
that the Overseers and Vestry Clerk be allowed for taking account of
the Population of 3557 at one half .penny per head - the sum of £7.
.8..2 1/2. Also that Mr. James Tucker be continued as Surgeon for the
Poor for the ensuing year. 8 Signatures.
22, 1833. Agreed that Mr. James Tucker continue as Surgeon for the Poor
for the ensuing year. 6 Signatures.
19, 1833. Held to consider what sum of money shall be paid by the Churchwardens
out of the Church rate to John Barrow, Esq. in part of the costs and
expenses incurred by him for alterations and improvements lately made
in the Churchyard. And also to consider the propriety of giving authority
to the Churchwardens to pay out of the rate a yearly salary to such
person as may be chosen yearly in Easter Week by the Parishioners to
be the Organist. It was moved by the Rev. John Kempthorne and seconded
by John Glanvile Esq, that the Churchwardens be authorized to pay to
John Barrow Esq. out of Church rate the sum of £46.17.. 10, being
the balance due to him for improvements lately made. Agreed unanimously,
35 Persons present and no person dissenting; 33 voting for the motion
and 2 did not vote.
These two persons who did
not vote represented, I expect, a good deal of smothered discontent,
and very likely some of the 33 did not vote with a very good conscience,
and would sooner have voted against it. The alterations consisted in
lowering the ground on the North and West sides of the Church, and putting
up the West gate and pillars. It also included, as far as I can make
out, the taking a great piece out of the Churchyard and throwing it
into Mr. Barrow's garden, and the stopping of a public path that went
through the Churchyard, across what was then Mr. Barrow's orchard and
is now the Manor House kitchen garden, and so into the Cocklake road.
The second oldest yew tree of the four stands where this path went out
of the Churchyard I don't know whether Mr. barrow paid any compensation
for doing these two things; it does not appear that he did; but even
if he had been willing to pay £10,000 for each of them, they ought
never to have been allowed. They are losses for evermore, which no money
can make good. One generation bartering away or letting go their rights
may inflict a loss not only upon themselves, but upon all those who
come after them.
The lowering of the ground
on the North and West sides of the Church was a good thing done. The
rough Jew stones in the buttresses of the Church, which were not originally
meant to be seen, show how high the ground was till now.
The unusually minute way
in which the record of this Vestry meeting is entered is, I think, a
proof that he who caused it to be so entered was not quite satisfied
with himself, and jumped at anything which would make matters look better
than they really were. If there is no doubt about the rights of a thing,
and if all are agreed about it, you don't take the trouble to say so.
But if there is a great doubt about it, and if there is a good deal
of feeling against it, you jump at any flukey figures which make the
thing look better than it is The total cost of these improvements in
the Churchyard came to £128, of which £82 had been raised
by subscription, and the £46 voted by this Vestry out of Church
rate was the balance due. The work had been done in 1831. Mr. Barrow
gave £6 for the old gates, and £3 for earth, besides a subscription
of £10. See Church Book f. 211.
It does not appear what was
settled as to the Organist's Salary, but I expect that the Vestry refused
to allow it to come out of the rate. The Organist at this time was a
grinder. In the Churchwardens' accounts (Messrs. Joseph Wollen and William
Edwards) for 1828 appear the following items.
Pd. George Harvey
for carriage of Organ £6. Pd. Mr. Henry Brieen for putting up
the Organs £10..16.
I imagine that this was the
first organ. Before then they had the flute and the base viol, the sackbut
and the serpent.
23, 1833. Held to consider the propriety of allowing the Parish Surgeon
to vaccinate poor children at the expense of the Parish: and other business.
Mr. John Glanvile having vaccinated many poor children of this parish
gratis, and having kindly offered to vaccinate others; Resolved that
the thanks of the Parish are due to him, and that the Overseers be requested
to beg his acceptance of the same. 8 Signatures.
27, 1833. We whose names etc. do direct that a rate be made not exceeding
3 pence in £ for the payment of all sums already disbursed by
the late or present churchwardens, also for the payment of the usual
salaries to Clerk and Sexton, and the costs of the four customary Sacraments
and annual Visitation, and also for the costs of the necessary reparations
only of the fabrick of the Church and the bells therein, but not any
external or internal ornaments, renovations or improvements whatsoever.
This is the first time that
the resolution to pass a Church rate appears in this form. And I think
one can see the reason of it. It was partly to prevent the rate being
again used for such external improvements as those which Mr. John Barrow
had lately carried out. (See No. 192). And it was partly intended to
put an exstinguisher upon some of the designs of Mr. Kempthorne. Mr.
Kempthorne at this time was 30 years old, and had been here 6 years.
He had come here after 50 years of non-resident Vicars, and after 100
years and more of slovenliness and bad taste in ecclesiastical matters
all over the country. He had come also just as a wave of more ecclesiastical
correctness (usually called High Churchism) was passing all over the
country. No doubt that wave more or less touched him. So one can imagine
that when he first came he saw many things needed to be done, and tried
to utilize the Church rate for the doing of them. But the Parish, or
a part of it, not as yet moved by this ecclesiastical wave, saw no harm
in things as they were and as they had always been accustomed to seeing
them. So they resisted the suggested alterations, or at any rate the
using of the Church rate to carry them out. And so it was, I expect,
that the concluding words of this resolution were put in. Mr. John Barrow
signed it with seven others. The improvement to the Churchyard, which
was also an improvement to his own garden, had been carried out and
paid for; so it could not hurt him there. And as he was not in the least
moved by the incoming wave, and had no desire for internal improvements,
he could have no other objection to sign it.
28, 1834. Agreed at this Vertry that George Adams he given the suns
of £5 towards cutting off and curing his leg. 8 Signatures.
5, 1834. Same as No. 194. 12 Signatures.
18, 1836. A committee appointed to ascertain the lands subject to the
payment of tithes, to ascertain the sum total that has been paid for
the last seven years, and to whom, and to ascertain the owners of one
fourth part of the titheable lands necessary to join in a notice either
for a parish or district meeting, agreeable to the Tithe Commutation
Act. 11 Signatures.
28, 1837. Adjourned to the School room in the Parish Poor house. Agreed
that a Highway rate for the present year he made at 1 shilling in £.
Agreed that the Surveyors pay to the Commissioners of the Turnpike roads
within the Parish of Wedmore £50 for keeping them in repair for
this present year. Agreed that hereafter the Surveyors shall cause notices
of all public meetings respecting the Highways to be affixed on the
doors of Blackford and Theale Chapels as well as on the door of the
Parish Church. 12 Signatures.
Blackford and Theale Chapels
had both been up more than 10 years, so it was about time that they
should be officially recognized.
22, 1838. To consider what would be proper to do with the Parish Poor
houses. Adjourned to July 2.
These are not the Poor houses
in the Churchyard, but cottages in different parts of the parish which
had somehow become parish property.
No. 20 l.-May
10, 1839. To consider whether the Parish poor houses should be sold
or let. Agreed that the Overseers be empowered to ascertain what houses
are occupied as Parish property, and to make a return of the same, and
to let the same. 9 Signatures.
7, 1839. To consider in respect of taking a slew survey for the parish,
and to consult by what means the poor to be supported in the meantime.
Agreed that the Overseers are requested to summons Mr. Benjamin Tyley,
Churchwarden, forthwith to show cause for objecting to sign the Poor
rate made at a Vestry meeting on April 19, 1839. 13 Signatures.
28, 1839. To consider the settlement of Ann Spearing and Mary Spearing
her child, who is now residing in the Parish of East Stonehouse, Co.
Devon, and is ordered to be removed to this Parish. Agreed to appeal
against the order. 4 Signatures.
9, 1839. To provide fuel for the second poor for the ensuing winter.
A subscription to be made for such purpose, and a Committee appointed
to make a collection from the inhabitants of their respective parts
of the Parish. 5 Signatures.
205.-Oct. 23, 1839. To ascertain the opinion of
the Inhabitants whether any police or additional Constables is needed.
Unanimously agreed that no police are wanted for this Parish, but that
it would be proper that additional Constables be appointed by the Parish
with a Salary. 5 Signatures.
8, 1839. All persons who have subscribed for providing fuel for the
second poor are particularly requested to attend at the pay room in
the Parish poorhouse to ascertain who are proper objects to receive
the same. Also the second poor are desired to attend and report their
wants as to fuel etc.
13, 1839. To acertain the opinion of the Vestry as to a new Valuation
on lands, houses etc.
27. To consider a New Valuation. Agreed that the undermentioned persons
(14) are appointed as a Committee and Mr. George Duckett in the chair
to make a new Poor rate and a New terrier with reverence (they meant
reference) to the plan. That 8 of the Committee be a Quorum. That William
Rickard be Clerk to the Committee, and be paid a reasonable sum for
his trouble. That application he made to the Board of Guardians to grant
a sum not exceeding £50 to defray the expense of making the New
Valuation, terrier and rate. 23 Signatures.
This is the first mention
in these Vestry records of the Board of Guardians. The Poor law Amendment
Act was passed by Parliament in 1834, which grouped parishes into Unions
and put a Workhouse in each Union. The first mention that I have seen
of Guardians being appointed by the Parish was at a Vestry held on March
209.-March 16, 1840. To elect Guardians, and to
consider whether the Inhabitants think it necessary to have any Police
or additional Constables.
19, 1840. To make a rate for the necessary repairs of the Church. All
persons desirous of Contracting for the white-washing of the inside
walls thereof are requested to attend. Agreed that a rate of 1 1/2 d.
in £ be made. Mr. William Russell having agreed to whitewash and
colour the interior of the Church and Vestry room in a proper and workmanlike
manner for £6, agreed that it be done. 4 Signatures.
16, 1840. To consult respecting enlarging the bridge at the Mill stream.
9, 1840. To make some necessary alterations in the Church. Adjourned
to Oct. 12. 3 Signatu':es.
No. 2 l3.-Oct.
12, 1840. Agreed that a new door and doorway be made on the North side
of the Church and a passage leading to the Tower. And that new doors
be put to the mens' seats in Church. And a new dial to the Church clock.
This new door and passage
was for the benefit of the ringers, or rather for the benefit of the
Church, and to keep the ringers out of it. The doorway was built up
again in 1880, so well done that anybody could not now tell where it
No. 2 l4.-Oct.
22, 1840. Respecting the settlement of Thomas Hembury. Agreed that the
Overseers take the opinion of an attorney as to the validity of Thomas
Hembry's indenture, and, if invalid, ascertain to what parish he is
No. 215.-Jan. 6, 1841.
The Overseers and Surveyors have received a notice that a Turnpike road
is in action of taking place through this Parish.
12, 1841. To appoint Churchwardens and examine their accounts. Adjourned
to April 19. 5 Signatures.
19. 1841. Agreed that Messrs. George Duckett and James Toogood be again
chosen as Churchwardens, and their accounts to be examined at some future
Vestry. Also that no bills for repairing and cleaning the Church Clock
and Churchyard bills shall from this time be paid unless ordered by
20, 1841. Resolved that E. Baker act as Vestry Clerk on behalf of William
Rickard untill some other appointment be made. Also that the Churchwardens
be authorized to pay one farthing per head for the destruction of sparrows.
There were three rates at
this time, Church rate, Poor rate, Highway rate. One does not see why
the Church rate should pay for the sparrows; nor, if one of the other
two had done so, would one be able to see why they should either. In
the Church accounts for 1841, Mr. James Toogood, Churchwarden, puts
down £3..0..7, as paid for 2908 sparrows. Over 2000 were paid
for every year after the passing of this resolution.
20, 1841. To provide fuel for the poor for the ensuing winter.
22, 1842. Agreed that the undermentioned persons (12) are fit and proper
persons to be appointed assessors of the Income Tax for the respective
tithings. 12 Signatures.
12, 1842. Agreed that £20 be paid out of the Poor's rate to defray
the expences of the passage of James Reeves wife and family to Canada.
25, 1842. Agreed that £25 be paid out of the Poor Rate as a contribution
for defraying the expenses of the emigration of poor persons having
settlements in this parish and being willing to emigrate, to be applied
under such rules as the Poor law Commissioners for England shall direct.
19, 1842. To investigate the case of Edmund Wall.
1 1843. Held in the Pay room of the Poor house to consider a letter
from the Clerks to the Trustees of the Wells and Highbridge Turnpike
Road to the Churchwardens and Overseers of Wedmore, inviting them to
join in appointing a Surveyor to value the said Poor house and premises.
Adjourned from the Payroom to the dwelling house of Mr. James Toogood.
Resolved that the said invitation be accepted. 5 Signatures.
The end of the Poor house,
about which so many Vestries have been held, is now drawing nigh.
225.-March 17, 1843. To consider what steps shall
he taken for obtaining possession of the undermentioned Parish houses
and premises. A house and garden at Latcham now or late in the occupation
of John Clark. Houses & gardens at Crickham now or late in the occupation
of Gilbert Cullen and William Prisons. A house comprising 3 tenements
with the gardens at Blackford, now or late in the occupation of William
Kingsbury, George Grimstead and William Harden, A house comprising 2
tenements with gardens in Wedmore now or late in the occupations of
Charles Wride and Sarah Leigh. A house comprising 2 tenements with gardens
in Wedmore now or late in the occupation of Richard Tyley and George
Mellish. A house and garden at Latcham now or late in the occupation
of Thomas Tyley. A house at Latcham now or late in the occupation of
John Clark jun. A house and garden in Wedmore now or late in the occupation
of William Gane and - Hicks. A house and garden at Latcham now or late
in the occupation of Benjamin Ward. Resolved that a Committee of nine
be appointed to ascertain what rent ought to be obtained for the said
Parish houses, and to report at a Vestry on March 25 th next what property
do belong to use Parish, and what rent ought to be obtained for it.
17, 1843. To make out a list of 12 competent persons qualified and liable
to serve as Constables to be appointed by the Justices at Axbridge on
March 29 next.
The list was made out, and
two of them still survive. The day of the old amateur Constables was
very nearly gone by, for the new professional police of Sir Robert Peel
had already come in. See Nos. 205, 209.
Constables were appointed yearly till 1870 and later, but I do not suppose
that they had anything to do as aforetime.
25, 1843. To ascertain what property do belong to the Parish, and what
rent ought to be obtained for it.
Then follows the list of
houses already mentioned in No. 225. Some
were to be let at 6 pence, some at, 3 pence, a week; one at Crickharn
to be sold; and the claim to others to be submitted to the Poor Law
Commissioners. 14 Signatures.
4, 1843. To consider the Valuation lately made of the Poorhouse and
premises situated at the West end of the Churchyard by Mr. Wainwright
the Surveyor, and to assent or dissent to the amount of such Valuation
as fixed by the Surveyor to be received by the ratepayers of Wedmore
from the Trustees of the Wells and Highbridge Turnpike road. Resolved
that the Valuation be approved of and that the Trustees of the Wells
and Highbridge Turnpike road may take down the said Poorhouse, and may
convert the materials, as well as the site on which the house and premises
stand, to any purposes they may deem advisable, on paying £110..
10..0 (the sum fixed by such Valuation) into the hands of the Treasurer
of the Axbridge Union to the credit of the Guardians of the said Union,
to be applied to the permanent advantage of the Ratepayers of Wedmore,
in such manner as the Poor Law Commissioners for England and Wales shall
This is positively the last
mention that we shall have of the old Poorhouse by the Churchyard. In
a little while from this it was pulled down, and the Churchyard and
the Road parted its site between them. But only a very few days before
this last Vestry was held about it, an untimely death took place within
its walls. Isaac Francis received a blow on the head by the 3rd bell
turning over while he was oiling it. He staggered across the Churchyard
holding his head, as I have heard an eye witness say, and went into
the Poorhouse. The accident took place about milking time, and he died
at about 9 o'clock that night. He was 31 years old.
16, 1843. Agreed that the Parish of Wedmore do accept the proposal made
by the Trustees of the Wells and Highhridge Turnpike Road, that the
Trustees should receive £80 from the Parish, and keep in repair
for one year so much of the said Turnpike Road as lies within the said
The resolutions at several
meetings at about this time are signed by the Chairman only, The custom
that all who approved should sign is going out. We shall no longer be
able to tell who are the good scholars and who are the bad; nor who
are the waverers who are ready to rescind to day what they were ready
to pass yesterday,
16, 1843. To consider whether the Parishioners of Wedmore are legally
liable to repair the Chapel of Theale; and, if found liable to repair
it, then to grant such sum out of the Church rates as may be requisite.
Resolved that the opinion of Counsell be taken as to whether the Parishioners
of Wedmore be legally liable to repair the Chapels at Theale and Blackford,
8, 1843. To consider a letter lately received by the Overseers of the
Poor from the Auditor of the Axbridge Union respecting the Poorhouses.
Resolved that the Poorhouses be sold that Mr. John Bailey, Solicitor,
be employed to effect the sale; that Mr. George Duckett, of Blackford,
Auctioneer, be employed to sell them, 5 Signatures.
These are not the Poorhouse
in the Churchyard, but the different cottages in different parts of
the parish which were parish property. This resolution came to nothing.
See No. 234.
10, 1843. To consider the liability of the Parish to repair Theale and
Blackford Chapels; to hear read the opinions of Counsel thereon and
to consider whether the Churchwardens shall take steps to repair Theale
Chapel. Resolved that the opinions of Counsel be entered in the Parish
Book; that the Churchwardens pay the expenses of Counsel's opinion out
of the Church rate that they immediately take steps to put both Chapels
in proper repair, such repairs to be paid out of the Churchrate.
I do not see Counsel's opinion
entered into the book, but it is evident how it decided the point; viz,
that the Church rate was liable to be used for the repair of the district
chapels. Apparently separate Churchwardens for Blackford and Theale
were not appointed till 1848. They were then, and for several years
afterwards, always appointed at the Wedmore Vestry. After a good deal
of friction they succeeded in getting Home rule, which is what everything
ought to have, be it a parish or be it a Country.
16, 1844. To make out a list of 12 persons qualified and liable to serve
234.-May 24, 1844. To give consent to the Guardians
of the Union to sell the following premises: (1) Cottage and Garden
at Crickham. (2) do. at Crickham Elm. (3) House at Blackford comprising
three tenements. (4) Cottage comprising 2 tenements with garden in Shutters
lane, with small plot of garden land adjoining. (5) Cottage and garden
at Combe. (6) do. at Latcham. Agreed that the said houses be not sold.
This proposed sale was pursuant
to an Act passed in the 6th year of William IV.
14, 1844. To determine what measures shall be taken by the Churchwardens
& Overseers to recover possession of all parish houses etc.; and
to authorize them to let them to the deserving poor, and to apply the
rents according to the Poor Law Amendment Act. Adjourned to June 28.
28, 1844. Agreed that the Churchwardens and Overseers be empowered to
recover, by application to the Justices, the poor houses and other parish
property, and relet them to such persons as are deserving poor and parishioners,
at such rental as they shall think sufficient, such rents to be paid
weekly; if unpaid for a month, persons in arrear may be removed, and
others placed in their stead; if the Churchwardens and Overseers shall
stand in need of any legal professional assistance, they are hereby
empowered to employ Mr. R. P. Edwards.
21, 1845. To make out a list of 12 persons qualified and liable to serve
as Constables, to be appointed by the Justices at Axbridge on March
13 1846. Agreed that £22 be paid to John Barrow, Esq., being the
apportionment of this parish for compromising two actions now depending
between the Trustees of the Wedmore Turnpike Trust and the Inhabitants
of the Hundred of Bempstone.
20, 1846. To make out a list of 12 persons qualified and liable to serve
19, 1846. Respecting the removal of Mary Ann Randell from the Parish
of Trevethin, Co. Monmouth, to this parish.
18, 1846, Respecting a notice of appeal from the parish of West Pennard
against the order of removal of Sarah Coles from Wedmore to West Pennard.
Adjourned to Sept. 25.
25, 1846. Agreed that Counsel's opinion be taken as to whether her father,
John Coles, had gained a settlement by purchase in this parish, and
that Mr. R. P. Edwards be instructed to to prepare a case, and support
the Order of removal at next Quarter Sessions, if thought by Counsel
to be good.
27, 1846. Respecting the removal of Sarah Gane from Camerton to this
parish. Agreed to appeal against it. Also that Mr. R. P. Edwards be
requested to attend the Board of Guardians at Axbridge on Tuesday next
to ascertain what steps the Justices intend to take with respect to
the relief and removal of paupers under the new Poor removal Act.
15, 1848. Agreed that £20 be paid Out of Church rate for new joists
and flooring of Blackford Chapel.
2, 1849. Agreed that consent be given to the Board of Guardians at Axbridge
to sell the Parish houses houses and property as soon as conveniently
4, 1849. Notice to consult whether the Overseers of the Poor for the
present year shall have the free and uninterrupted use and possession
of the Terrier, as its the intention of the Overseers on a denial of
the said Terrier immediately to apply for a new Survey. Agreed that
the Terrier be kept in the Parish Chest, that the Churchwardens be permitted
to lend it to a Parish Officer for not more than one month, nor without
The two Overseers who called
this meeting were William Harvey and William Bunn. I think that in the
wording of the notice one can recognize the sturdy not-going-to-be-put-down-by-nobody
qualities of the late Mr. William Harvey.
247.-May 18, 1849. Agreed that consent be given
to the Guardians of the Axbridge Union to sell the undermentioned premises,
pursuant to an Act passed in the 6th year of William IV. A cottage and
two gardens in Shutters lane, occupied by Grace Gane & Ann Hicks.
Two tenements & garden in Shutters lane, by Isaac Hembury &
Charles Wride. Two tenements in Wedmore, by George Counsell & John
Willis. Cottage & garden at Latcham, by Thomas Tyley. Cottage &
garden at Crickham, called Crickham churchyard, by Sarah & Ann Cullen.
Cottage & garden at Crickham Elm, now unoccupied. House comprising
three tenements at Beggars Batch, by WillIam Kingsbury, Richard Wall
& Catherine Harding.
Also agreed that Mr. R. P. Edwards be the Solicitor, and Thomas Barrow
the Auctioneer conducting the sale of the parish property.
26, 1849. Concerning the settlement of James Pope, his wife and three
children, ordered to be removed from Yatton to Wedmore. Agreed that
the Overseers do make inquiries about him.
22, 1850. To make out a list of 12 persons competent and liable to serve
as Constables. To consider the propriety of paying the expenses of poor
families that is willing to emigrate to Canada. Resolved that a Vestry
meeting be properly called to consider whether any and what sum of money
shall be raised for the expenses of emigration.
8, 1850. To consider whether any and what sum of monet, not exceeding
half the average yearly Poor rate for three years last past, shall be
raised or borrowed for defraying the expenses of emigration of poor
persons having settlement in this parish and willing to emigrate. A
rate of three pence in the pound was proposed and seconded, and also
an amendment that no rate should be granted; and the show of hands being
equal the subject was postponed for future consideration.
8, 1850. The present Overseers having discovered that a sum of money
was collected on behalf of the late Overseers and not accounted for,
a Vestry will he held to investigate the matter. Agreed that the present
and late Overseers do meet J. Wollen Esq. and investigate the matter.
22, 1850. An examination of the above alleged mistake has been made,
and cleared up to the satisfaetion of this Vestry.
22, 1850. Resolved that Mr. R. P. Edwards do all that is necessary for
supporting an Order of Justices for the removal of James Tilley from
this parish to Muchelney, notice of appeal against the Order having
been given. Also that Mr. R. P. Edwards do apply for a copy of the examination
of George Chapman, an Order for whose removal from the Parish of Philip
and James (in Bristol) to this parish having been received.
When there was a doubt as
to where a poor person was legally settled he was taken up and had to
give an account of himself from his childhood. This was written down.
A number of these examination papers will be found amongst the papers
of most parishes they are little biographies; "short but simple
annals of the poor."
5, 1850. To consider whether any and what sum of money shall he raised
or borrowed for defraying the expenses of emigration of poor persons.
Resolved that £250 be raised by the Churchwardens and Overseers,
to be paid out of the Poor rate, as a fund for defraying the expenses
of emigration of poor persons having settlements in this parish and
willing to emigrate, to be applied under such rules as the Poor Law
Board for England and Wales shall direct.
And now having gone through
120 years of Vestries, and seen what they did or tried to do, and having
reached the middle of this present century, I close.