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A History of Randwick
By E. P. Fennemore
1893

Chapter 10

THE CONTENTS of "THE OLD OAK CHEST."

"At length an old chest that had long lain hid,
Was found in the castle they raised the lid."
"MISTLETOE BOUGH."

By the side of the font, in the church, stands an ancient looking oak coffer or chest. Many a time has the writer looked askance at it, and wondered what could be its contents. She has, however, lately become acquainted with them, and very interesting they must be to the villagers of Randwick.

An old villager was present when the writer made her survey, and exclaimed, "Well, I never seed that 'un open before. I allus thought as there was silver cups in there, and nobody mus'nt open en athout the minister and churchwardens was present." Much astonished was she to find in it nothing but old books, dusty parchments, and bundles of papers.

Of books there were four, and parchments three

One book says, on the cover:--
"Examinations Randwick Parish, 1795."

Another:
"The disbursements of Charles Holder, General Overseer of the Poor of the Parish of Randwick, from March 29th, 1824, to March 28th, 1825."

Another says:
"April 1st 1773 Mr Robert Ellis gave this book to be kept at the Charity School of Randwick."

The fourth book says: Surveyor's Book, 1801.

The book "Examinations Randwick Parish," contained copies of different things which had to be sworn before the magistrates and signed by them, such as the following :-" An exn of Samuel Bassett now residing in the Parish of Randwick, in the said county, jenny spinner, taken upon oath the first day of March, 1796, before us whose names are subscribed his majesty's justices of the peace for the said county. Who saith upon oath that he is about 30 years of age, and was born in Randwick aforesaid as he hath heard and believes; and further saith that nine years ago he was hired a covenant servant for a year to Mr. Edward Thornton, of the parish of Stroud, in the said county, surgeon, and that he served his said master the whole year, in the said parish of Stroud, and received a year's wages of his said master, and hath done no act since to gain any settlement to the best of his knowledge.
"Sworn before us, the day and year aforesaid.
"G. HAYWARD. (Signed) SAMUEL BASSETT."

The "General Overseer's Book" contains many curious things. At that time the office of overseer was no nominal office only, his duties were legion. He had to pay the poor, find them clothes, make and collect the rate, pay all the charges for the workhouse-in fact he was overseer, assistant overseer, and relieving officer, all in one. Hence the expression, "Ah, the overseer's bin round."

Among many other curiosities are the following:--
"Paid for 995 sparrows to the 4th of March, 1826, 2 1s. 4d."
And again "Pd for 920 birds omitted entering last year, and 1001 this year, 4 0s. 01/2d." Strange that in the commencement of the nineteenth century birds and wild animals, such as hedge-hogs, etc., should be destroyed, and in the end of the same century they should be publicly protected.
"Pd. John Heaven, constable, of Stonehouse, for apprehending and keeping John Pool for bastardy, 13/11."
"Expenses for the Workhouse, 5 19s. 4d."
"Standish Churchwardens, 3s. 0d. (annually)."
"Paid for a letter from the House of Commons, 2d."
(several entries.)
"Constable's bill, 4 is. 0d."
"Paid for 2 prs new sheets for workhouse, 1 2s. 0d."
"2 Caps, 2 Aprons, and a petticoat for Sarah Vines, 5/-."
"Towards a pair of shoes for Joseph Morgan, 7/-."
"Bought ointment for Sam Rowles, scalded leg, 1/-."

The "Surveyor's Book" shows that among others the following served as surveyors:
John Lawrence, Henry Jennings, William Butcher, John Butcher, John Burbidge, and Samuel Browning, and that the teams of Sami. Lawrence, William Phipps and Robert Martin did duty by hauling the stone.

Mr. Robert Ellis's Book gives an account of the trustees of the Charity School) and also of the children admitted and dismissed, as well as clothes and books found for them, thus:--
"Midsummer meeting, July 1st, 1779. S. Lewis, son of Saml. Lewis, age 6 yrs., admitted, and a bible given (to him)." "1794. Sam Lewis dismissed for non-attendance." Trustees present, Will Ellis and David Lloyd.
"Lady Day meeting, 1774. Charles Chandler and Sarah Worston No Bible for ill-behaviour; all the rest had bibles at this meeting."
"Lady Day meeting, 1776. Resolved at this meeting that notice be given in time church for several Sundays by the clerk, that those charity children who do not attend with the master to church every Sunday shall be dismissed.
Christmas, 1776. Given 6 New Testaments for the use of the school-12 New Testaments since to the school."
March, 1774. Discharged Nathl. Chandler, and Joseph Bassett; these are not to have books, being taken from school without the consent of the trustees."
"Michmas' meeting, 1774. At this meeting a lease was granted, and executed to John Hopson, of the land left by the late Mr. Ellis to Charity School,"

There is also a ledger containing a list of donors of the Charities, viz:--
Messrs. Willam and Thomas Bennett,John Mills, Bisley, Gent.,
Mr. Thomas Chandler,Mr. Thomas Vobes,
Mr. Robert Ellis,Mr. Thomas Chandler,
Mr. Thomas JennerMr. Richard Cambridge and Mrs. Hawkes.
Mr. Joseph Ellis and others.Woollen Clothes.*
( *These Charities are still distributed as usual, an account of them being publicly displayed in Church Porch yearly, aud lists of receipients being kept in book for the purposes)

There are many papers in the chest relating to the building of the Rectory, notably the following:--
"The property consists of five parcels of land, with some timber growing thereon, together with an old building, formerly occupied as a workhouse, which is intended to be pulled down. The property lies altogether, the situation is good, having a favourable aspect, and screened from the N.E. and N.W. winds by high ground and woods. It is situated close to a good road, very near to the Church, and only a short distance from the National and Sunday Schools."

In the chest are also two "London Gazettes" (which are directed by letter to be kept clean), with articles relating to the conversion into a Vicarage.

Another paper says :-" We, Henry, Bishop of Gloucester, hereby licence you, John Elliott, clerk, perpetual curate of Randwick, in the county Gloucester, in our diocese, to reside in the parish of Stroud, distant about a quarter of a mile from Randwick, aforesaid, for 3 years, from the 31st day of Decr. last, on account as you by your petition to us as presented, allege of there being no Glebe House at Randwick; and of your doing the whole of the clerical duties yourself."

Of the parchments, the oldest was of the reign of Anne, 1710, and commences thus :--- " This indenture was made the - day of January in the 9th year of the reign of Sovereign Lady Anne, between Samuel Wont? of Pakenhill within the psh. of Stroud in the county of Gloucester, bookseller, of the one part, and Daniel Badger of Leonard Stanley, county aforesaid, clothier, on the other part."

The second parchment says :--" Counterpart of marriage articles, William Thomas Holder and others, to Mrs. Tanty and others."

A third parchment says on the back:--
"Faculty for enlarging the parish Church of Randwick, and erecting a gallery and seats therein. Dated 15th Jan., 1824.". It is a request made by William Butcher, Charles Holder, Richard White, William Knight, Francis Holmes, and George Harmer (who are and for many years have been principal inhabitants of the said parish of Randwick), to the Bishop, and in it seats No. 1, 2, in the S. aisle are apportioned to Edward Hogg, Esqr., Lord of the Manor of Randwick, and his family for Pool Cottage, or Churchyard House; No. 3, to John Butcher and his family, and future owners of Westrip Farm No. 4, to T. Croome, Esqr., for the Gravel Pits; No. 5, to Jasper Selwyn Hawkins, at Prospect Cottages; No. 6, to Edward Palling Caruthers Esqr., and his family at Westrip House; No. 7, two sittings in said seat to Mrs. Pettal of Ebley; and three sittings in said seat to be attached to the Golden Cross Inn, Cainscross. Singers to the number of 14 to have a seat (probably in the gallery, as they did latterly sit there), instead of one in the old gallery.