Sunday, December 06, 2009

Church Record Sunday: Pew Deeds

One day as I was chatting with a GenealogyWise member and she told me of how she had been researching family members in a record of pew deeds. In her case, these records from colonial times gave her ancestor’s name and how much they paid for their pew at church.

According to Wikipedia, “in some churches, pews were installed at the expense of the congregants, and were their personal property; there was no general public seating in the church itself. In these churches, pew deeds recorded title to the pews, and were used to convey them.” (Wikipedia article on Pews,

One example of a Pew Register can be found on Google books at

This Register is for St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Philadelphia from 1787-1791. This list provides the person’s name, which pew they were renting and how much they paid. A small explanation can be found before this list.

You can also find pew records at Family Search ( by doing a library keyword search for pew deed or pew.

This is just one more type of church record that may be available for your ancestor.


Lisa Louise Cooke said...

I'm a fan of your blog and have awarded you the Kreativ Blogger award which you can pick up at
Sincerely, Lisa Louise Cooke

Gena Philibert Ortega said...

I wanted to let everyone know that one of my fellow genealogists pointed out to me that she has seen pew deeds in probate records. One that she saw was in Steuben County in early 1800's and then others were earlier.