Pear Tree Church - Southampton

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The Church Registers

We are indebted to the Rev. Anthony Poole for the earliest records of christenings, burials and marriages at Jesus Chapel. Right from the beginning, the mother church had failed to provide a book for the recording of such events. The Curates in charge were expected to enter them in the registers of the mother church. Most of these, however, were destroyed in a disastrous fire at St Mary's Rectory early in the 18th Century. Like his predecessors at Jesus Chapel, the Rev. Poole had sought to officiate in a second church in order to augment his meagre stipend. For many years he combined the duties of Jesus Chapel and South Stoneham. Later he moved to Holy Rood, while still retaining Jesus Chapel. Over the years he had adopted the practice of recording all christenings, marriages and burials in the South Stoneham register, as Jesus Chapel did not have one, putting a small mark against the Jesus Chapel records to distinguish them from the others. His move to Holy Rood presented him with a problem. Where was he now going to keep his records'? He solved the problem by providing himself with a "little payper book", Jesus Chapel's first register, but he did so grudgingly. Along with the christenings, marriages and burials, he recorded his annoyance at having to provide the book at his own expense. "Memorandum - that Jesus Chapel being in the parish of St. Mary's, and no register book belonging to it because the parishioners took no care to provide one, for thirty years past I was both vicar of South Stoneham and Minister of Jesus Chappel. I took care to enter all Christenings, Marriages and Burials belonging to the said Chappel into the Register book of South Stoneham, distinguishing them by this mark. (There follows a drawing of a hand, with the index finger outstretched). But now being removed to the Vicarage of Holy Rood in Southampton, and still continuing the said Chappel, I have taken care to enter all Christenings, Marriages and Burials in this small payper book, til such time as the Parishioners of St Mary's shall provide me a Register Book for the said Chappel, this is the true state of the case Witnesse my hand, Ant Poole, Minister of Jesus Chappel".

 

The Rev Poole never did get the register for which he had waited so long, and neither did his successor, the Rev Thomas Andrewes, who kindly gave another book to the parish. The Rev Saunders recorded events in a little book of his own providing. The Rev Bartholomew left a memorandum to the effect that he started a new register in 1739, but did not say who had been the provider.

There arc a number of gaps in the records, which presumably occurred between the going of one minister and the coming of another, when the Rector of St Mary's would have been responsible for any services carried out at Jesus Chapel. An absence of marriages from 1753 onwards was due to "Hardwicke's Act", (Act 26 Geo II Cap 3 3) which restricted the celebration of marriages to parish churches only, in an attempt to prevent clandestine marriages from taking place. The restriction remained in force until 1843, when the Bishop of Winchester granted Jesus Chapel a new licence (under the provisions of Acts 6 and 7, Will IV Cap 85) enabling banns to be published once again and marriages celebrated. A dearth of baptisms around 1770 was due to the action taken by the redoubtable Rev James Scott, of whom more later.

 

Church Registers