Pews were numbered for the purpose of people paying rent for a specific pew. This raised an income for the church. Annual seat rents varied from 1/- (5p) to 1/-6d (7.5p) in 1730.
The Lord of the manor, Lord Hamilton of Dalzell, occupied the front pew in the gallery facing the pulpit, hence the extra leg room. Note the different spelling of the family name Dalzell and the church Dalziel both pronounced DL. The name comes from old Gaelic “Dal Geal” the “white holm” or “beautiful meadow”. King Kenneth I called for a volunteer to rescue a captured kinsman from certain death by hanging. One man shouted “Dal Yell– I dare”. He was successful and received the name Dalzell, was granted a coat of arms, a naked man hanging from a gibbet, and the lands now known as Dalzell.
In the early days the Kirk Session and the minister were responsible for schools and education, the appointment of teachers, moral discipline in the parish, food for the poor and the renting of the ‘mort cloth.’
The Parish School at Knowetop (1822-1861) moved to the Cross stone, down from the current Crosshill Parish Church. The Schoolmaster was paid £1.5/- (£1.10p) per annum in 1673 he acted as Session Clerk, Kirk Officer and maker of graves for the dead. This supplemented his income as well as a free house.
The ‘mort cloth’ was rented out by the Session to the bereaved family to cover the dead body (no coffins) prior to burial. If you did not rent the cloth you could not be buried. Some Sessions had smaller cloths to rent for a deceased child at a lower rental figure.
Minutes were and still are kept of each Kirk Session meeting the earliest of Dalziel Parish Church date from 1644 to 1750. These two slim fragile volumes were recently found in the church archives and handed over to The National Archives of Scotland (NAS). They will now be preserved and when digitised can be viewed in the NAS reading rooms.