1997 ContentsAbstracts from the Vestry Book
The following is compiled from notes made by Fr. Denis O'Donoghue in 1917. They are from the Vestry Book of the Church of Ireland in Inchigeela. This book was a compilation of notes on Parish Meetings and Church Expenditure.
The Vestry Book of the Parish of Inchigeelagh starts with a minute of a meeting held in May 1807 with reference to approving the sum of £22 to be raised in the Parish for the coming year, £10 of which was to be the Clerk's Salary.
Signed Nicholas C. Bowen, Curate.
Wm. Boyle, Michael Williams, Joseph Browne.
A minute of a Vestry Meeting held on the 13th. day of November, 1807, for the purpose of raising a subscription in the Parish in order to provide substitutes for the XXXXX agreeable to the Act of Parliament, it was agreed that the sum of 3 shillings and 6 pence a gneeve be applotted on each gneeve in the Parish and that John Tobin be appointed Collector for which he received the sum of 3 guineas.
(Editors note: 1 gneeve - one twelfth of a ploughland)
Signed Nicholas C. Bowen, Curate. James Barry and Wm. Boyle.
A minute of a Vestry Meeting held on June 16th. 1806.
Wm. Boyle of Drumcarra and Alexander Larymore of Inshunanave, Church Wardens and Barry Crean of Kilbarry, Sidesman for ensuing year.
Signed Nicholas C. Bowen, Curate. Wm. Boyle, James Barry, Michael Williams and Thomas Williams.
At a Vestry Meeting held 3/4/1809 being Easter Monday it was agreed that Michael Williams of Currihy and Joseph Brown of Inchigeelagh be nominated Church Wardens.
Vestry Meeting held on 23rd April, Easter Monday 1810. It was agreed that Wm. Brown of Inchigeelagh and Chris Woods of Teeranassig be appointed Church Wardens.
Signed Deane H. Nash, Curate.
Vestry Meeting held on 18th April, 1811, being Easter Monday was signed by Deane H. Nash, Curate. James Donleson.
Vestry Meeting held on 27th May 1811, for the purpose of the Church Wardens to give in their accounts for the year 1810, but which they have not done, nor attending this Vestry. It is resolved that the applotments of 1 shilling and 8 pence per gneeve (£22) having lain on Commission Table, be confirmed.
Vestry Meeting held Easter Monday 30th of March 1812, Richard Busteed of Drumcarra and Charles Connel of Inchineal be appointed Church Wardens, also George Grainger with Michael Williams and Joseph Brown do applot the sum of £22.
At a Vestry Meeting held on the 7th of July 1812 it was agreed that 4 pence per gneeve should be added to the former applotments for to pay for the interest of £250 which is to advanced by the Board of First Fruits for the Rebuilding of the said Parish Church, and it is also ordered that a plan and estimate of the intended work be laid before the bishop of this Diocese for his approbation.
Signed Richard Henry Rogers, Curate.
Copy of a letter found pinned on to a leaf of the Vestry Book, giving an account of a meeting held on the 23rd May 1809.
Glebe, April 9th.
Dear Miss Brown,
Corly Callaghan told me that you wished me to prevent strangers sitting in the pew in which you and your sisters generally sit. I have neither the power nor the inclination to prevent any persons of sitting in any part of the Church they please, not appropriated to the requirements of Divine Worship, but, as you have probably perceived, Mrs Spring, to prevent unpleasantness has made Miss Brown, who has been staying at the Castle, sit with herself. I have also got the Church Wardens to make an entry in the Vestry Book, which I hope will answer your purpose as it recognises the fact of your occupying the sitting you wish should be left for you with the option of better accommodation any time you should desire to make the exchange. I enclose you a copy of the entry, and on back of it a copy of the only other allocation of pews in the Book, for a term of 67 years, the period over which it extends.
Very truly yours,
As an instance of the value of money in Inchigeelagh in 1825, the following extract from an entry in the Vestry Book will show:
Nineteen perches of the Church wall at 7 shillings a perch = 6 pounds and thirteen shillings.
To the Mason - 1 shilling and 10 pence per day = 1 pound, 14 shillings and 10 pence.
To floor the Church = 11 pounds.
For letters from Vicar Gen. = 4 shillings and 4 pence.
For Labour - 5 men at 7 pence each = 2 shillings and 11 pence.
For horse hire - 10 horses at 2 shillings and 6 pence each = 1 pound and 5 shillings.
24 labourers for planting and carrying = 14 shillings.
For building the walls under joist and getting stones = 4 shillings.
For 30 joists at 5 and a half pence each = 13 shillings and 9 and a half pence.
For timber for a gate and painting and nails = 8 shillings and 8 pence.
To Mangan for 8 lbs. of Iron at 4 pence per pound = 2 shillings and 8 pence.
To the Smith = 3 shillings and 6 pence.
Pay Tobin for making do. = 2 shillings and 2 pence.
1825 money expended = 24 pounds, 6 shillings and 4 pence.
Money in hand = 23 pounds, 9 shillings and 9 and a half pence.
Due by the parish to Mr. B. = 16 shillings and 6 and a half pence.
A Note on the Vestry Book.
The Notes written by the Church of Ireland clergyman at the beginning of the 19th.c. throw an interesting light on how the local representatives of that church intended to spread the costs of the upkeep of that Institution across the parishioners. In this first instance they were considering the required sum of £22 for the following year, of which £10 was for the salary of the Clerk, and the uses of the remaining £12 is unstated. This £22 would represent about £22,000 in today's money.
In May 1807 the principle is agreed that the total sum to be raised is £22 for the year.
In November 1807 it is agreed that the individuals contribution shall be based on 3/6d. per gneeve, where the gneeve is an old land measure equal to 1/12th. of a ploughland, itself an archaic and imprecise unit of land measure.
John Tobin, who has the dubious pleasure of "collecting" this imposition, will be rewarded by receiving 3 guineas, ie.£3-3-0 or £3,150 in today's money.
By May 1811 the contribution is amended to 1/8d. per gneeve, but this is still calculated to bring in £22 for the year.
In March 1812 it is confirmed that £22 is required for the year.
In July 1812 the sum of £250 is required apparently for interest on the capital sum provided by the Board of First Fruits for the rebuilding of the Church. To raise this £250 requires an additional contribution of 4d. per gneeve.
These notes raise a number of queries.
1.Who was the "Clerk"?
The term "Clerk" could be taken to mean a "Clerk in Holy Orders", ie. the Curate himself, in this instance Nicholas Bowen, and later, Deane Nash, and then Henry Rogers. But Brady tells us that in 1837 the Curate was employed at a stipend of £18 per annum, not £10.
An alternative interpretation is that "Clerk" refers to a "Parish Clerk", ie. the official in a large Parish who kept the Parish Records, and other similar clerical duties. He would be a layman, a prominent and active parishioner, and likely to have other means. eg. a local landlord. It is difficult to believe that there was enough work for a Parish Clerk in Inchigeelagh. But we do have a reference to a William Browne who died in 1862 and is called "the Parish Clerk."
2.What are the "gneeves" referred to?
A gneeve was 1/12th. of a "ploughland" in the archaic land measure system. The concept of a ploughland was "that amount of land which could be ploughed by one team". By this definition, it was an imprecise measure. It could represent 100 acres of good flat arable land, say in Milleen. Or 1000 acres of rough "unprofitable" land up in the mountains.
In common parlance, a gneeve often referred to a small farm unit, say 10 to 30 acres, which could support one family. The term had also become a unit of taxation, which was probably the case in this instance.
In the Survey of 1655, the Parish of Inchigeelagh, excluding the eleven townlands in Carbery, was described as being 23 ploughlands and one gneeve. This division into ploughlands and gneeves was probably still in use in the beginning of the 19th.c. Thus when it is expected to raise £22 from an imposition of 1/8d. per gneeve, the calculation becomes:
20 pence x [(23 x 12) +1] = £23 which is not far out. There were 240 pence per £ then. 240
It would, of course, have been well known, which were the individual gneeves, and who owned them.
This does not explain why, in May 1807 they thought they needed to impose 3/6d. per gneeve to raise this same £22. Perhaps this was a simple miscalculation, which was put right in May 1811. Or there may be no connection between the sums calculated in May and November 1807., which would have been for different purposes.
3.How could 4d. per gneeve pay for the interest of £250?
Again reference to Brady shows that the final cost of rebuilding the Church in 1814 was £230-15-4 3/4d. ! In other words, the £250 was the total cost, and it should read "to pay for the interest on £250". 4 pence per gneeve would yield £4.62, a rate of interest of 3.7% pa. average, which seems reasonable, although today's Banks would not agree, now that they have decided that Usury is no longer a sin!
4. Why was the Curate involved, and not the Rector?
Again Brady is a great help. From 1791 to 1838 the Rector was Rev.George Sealy, and for most of this time he was an "absentee". He lived in England on the princely benefice of £380 pa., and Inchigeelagh Parish was left in the care of a Curate who was paid £18 pa. plus a house and the rents of the Glebe. There were, as it can be seen, a series of Curates changing at regular intervals. We do not have a full list of them.
5.The letter to Miss Brown.
This again is of great interest, but is much later. Rev.Edward Spring was Rector of Inchigeelagh Parish from 1867 to 1871, so the letter was slipped into the book at a much later date. Miss Brown was probably a daughter of Joseph Browne (1786-1847) who had two daughters, Diana b.1813 and Elizabeth b.1817. All this family were Protestants. They were direct descendants of Dr. Jemmett Browne, Bishop of Cork (1702-1782) and who built Riverstone Park as his Bishop's Palace.