Salary of the Pastor

Pastor of the Meeting House was paid by subscription dur­ing the first six years of its existence. Who paid what was determined by a system in which “several persons were rated.” That was changed to a plan by which the salary was raised by an assessment of church pews. Members of the church who paid the most money had first choice of a pew. That, too, was changed so that the choice of a pew would depend on the amount of money a member paid for construc­tion and repair of the church building.


To keep a record of who paid what, a “Book of Rights” was maintained by the clerk in which was entered the amounts paid by various individuals and families. To prevent the bartering and sale of pews, and other abuses, it was soon found necessary to adopt some special rules:


“That no person on his right shall be allowed more room than required by his family, a child under six years of age being entitled to only one-half a seat.


“That no person shall be allowed to choose seats on the right of any person not a frequenter of public worship in this place; nor shall any person having a right choose seats in order to dispose of them to other persons.”


A rule carrying out the premise of heredity was used by the Meeting House for more than ten years after the house of worship was established in 1754.


The rule of heredity was amended to allow a man to dis­pose of his right by will, and if there was no will the right was equally divided among his heirs. If the heirs could not agree on the right, the church settled the matter by arbitra­tion.


It was the custom during the days of renting pews for each man to give his note for the rental in regular legal form. An order was later passed by the church authorizing the Select Men to collect delinquent rentals by law. If any member was in arrears on the date of choice, he automatically forfeited his right of choice.


The scheme of rights was eventually abolished. The pews were then sold to the highest bidders. The plan of renting pews, however, continued throughout the history of the church as a regular place of worship. It insured that the pastor would be paid regularly, and allowed families to wor­ship together.