St John's Pew List 1648
This large leather-bound notebook contains accounts relating to St John’s Church, built by Mr John Harrison in 1631-4 and only the second Anglican Church to be built in Leeds. It has three lists of pew-holders, one starting at the front with three or four pews on each right-hand page, the left-hand page being mostly blottings. Many of the pews show several changes of holder with names crossed out and replaced.
This notebook is volume number 71 in Ralph Thoresby's catalogue of his books and museum. In his Ducatus Leodiensis (1715) it appears under "Manuscripts, Folio' on p.524, as:
'71. The Number of Pewes in the New Church at Leedes, and Names of the Possessors, with the Sums they paid each half Year, both to the Incumbent and Lecturer, during the Life of the noble Founder of that stately Fabrick. This is the Original subscribed by the Aldermen (Dawson, Atkinson, Thoresby and Isles) who were empowered by Mr. Harrison to assess upon the Seats Eighty Pounds for Mr. Todd, and 60l per An. to Mr. Saile; with the Original Subscriptions of the Magistrates, Sir Will. Lowther Sen. and other principal Inhabitants."
The pages are numbered, and seven and a half pages appear to be missing explained by this note in Ralph Thoresby's hand.
"Memorandum from this place to page 29 was wanting when Mr Matthew Boyse gave me this book only I afterwards found part of 2 leaves wherewith he had covered an old sermon of Mr Baxters, this I mention to testify that it rec’d no damage after it came into the possession of Ralph Thoresby note also that the names blotted out in some pews & the others inserted were all done in those times as persons paid or refused their contributions."
The end of the volume contains:
(i) copy of a note by John Harrison about raising pew rents;
(ii) a list of signatories agreeing to the increase in rents;
(iii) “ A table of the names written in this booke” – alphabetically by first name;
(iv) a further list of pew-holders with rents dated 28 Sep 1657, and signatories to that list;
(v) Starting from the back: a list dated 31 Jul 1653 of pewholders and rents.
Mr John Harrison was a royalist, who struggled to survive in Parliamentarian Leeds, and the document tells us a great deal about society in the borough; the sums mentioned as rent are large. The lists of names are very useful to researchers in family history and genealogy. John Thoresby, Ralph's father who is the John Thorsbie appearing in the list, was a great fan of Sir Thomas Fairfax, Yorkshire general of the Parliamentary cause, and Ralph's famous collection was begun with his father's purchase of the coin collection .from the Fairfax estate. Ralph's acquisition and care of this notebook shows his antiquarian veneration for the past (only a few years before his birth) and an archiving example that the Society undertook to follow in 1889.
SD VI can be viewed at the Library upon request, and a PDF scan of it is available in the Library.
Blank pages have been omitted.