A Receipt and Expenditure Cash Book can be a fascinating record to explore. The entries give a snapshot of the everyday goings-on that are not always recorded elsewhere in a parish collection. We discover, for example, the level and regularity of stipends paid, the amount of weekly offerings, what costs are involved in the upkeep of the parish buildings, and who undertook the cleaning of the church or the washing of the Communion linen (yes, they paid people for these tasks in the early days). The entries also give a fascinating glimpse into the social life of the congregation, the activities offered like a Sunday School Picnic, Garden Party, lectures or a Bazaar. There is an indication of the Congregation’s interests and support beyond its boundaries.
I found it really fascinating to flip through the first extant cash book (1908-1942) from the St. Andrew’s Takaka parish, a collection we have recently processed. The first entry showing the ‘amount carried forward’, indicates there was an earlier record which appears to be no longer extant, then follows the purchase of a new cash book and Minute Book.
In its first year as a fully fledged Home Mission Station, the parish held an Easter Festival and took a collection on Easter Sunday. This deserves a note as Easter was not an officially recognised religious festival in the Presbyterian Church in 1908; in fact it was into the 1930s before the General Assembly sanctioned Easter as part of its Religious Calendar.
The Missionary David James Albert, received erratic stipend payments of a limited amount during his 10 months sojourn in the district. The majority of other payments in this first year covered the upgrading of the manse and fencing off of the property. As Mrs Beattie received a refund for ‘sweets for Bazaar’ leading us to draw a conclusion that the ever-popular children’s lolly scramble was included in the Bazaar festivities and quite possibly sandwiches were offered for afternoon tea time indicated by C.W. Boyd’s refund for bread.
The income reveals the parish efforts to attract people and raise funds. Proceeds are recorded from a lecture given by David Albert, the bazaar, which was a significant amount, monthly collections from around the district are recorded and alongside, the names of collectors. These names can offer a tantilising insight for the family researcher into their forebears interests, activities and participation in Church life.
Moral of this contribution : Keep the parish cashbooks they contribute significant additional information to your stories.