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"Pews in Deerfield meeting house first Parish- sold December 1824"
(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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The earliest Puritan meeting houses seated parishioners on benches often without regard to social standing or prominence. However, this quickly changed and by the mid-1600s most towns began building and assigning pews. Like many other towns, Deerfield seated people according to a formula according to age, estate, place, and qualifications that calculated an annual rent for the pew. The seating was often adjusted, sometimes as much as once a year. The custom changed again in the years following the American Revolution. When the First Church of Deerfield voted to replace the second meeting house in Deerfield, Massachusetts, in 1823, members decided that the pews would be sold. A committee was appointed to assess the value of each pew and their calculations appear in this document. The seats closest to the pulpit (numbers 4-7, 72-75, 29-33, and 46-50) were given the highest value at $100. The remainder were assessed accordingly. Several seats did not sell at auction and were assigned to the minister (number 53), or left open for the poor or visitors who did not choose to sit in the gallery upstairs.
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