[Note: these church pews were written about on the old blog, but we’ve updated the post]
Estate inventories can provide a wide variety of clues about the deceased.
Sometimes they even reference church membership. Upon his death in 1819, Samuel Sargent owned two and a half pews in the “Baptist Meetinghouse.” One pew was in the gallery and the remaining pews were on the floor. The gallery pew was valued at $7, the full pew on the floor was valued at $12, and the half pew on the floor was valued at $5. Samuel is styled as “of Marlborough” throughout the packet of estate papers, so it is assumed that the church to which the inventory refers is in Marlborough. That assumption may be incorrect.
The listing of church pews may surprise those whose ancestors lived outside New England. It’s definitely not something one usually encounters in the South or the Midwestern United States.
Two and half pews in the local Baptist church seems a fair amount of room, but maybe not. After all, Sargent did have a fairly large family and the size of the church is not known. Context matters.
There may be more in your ancestor’s estate settlement than you think.