The Old Communion Service

How often have you passed the case containing Paxton’s historic communion set in the archives hallway outside the west sanctuary door?  When you look, do you know what you are seeing?

The markings on one large charger (large plate) indicate it was made by Townsend & Giffin in London sometime between 1771 and 1801.  Another charger, which has initials, was made between 1760 and 1770.  The four two-handled cups are attributed to William Will who worked in Philadelphia between 1764 and 1798.   The four plates were probably made in Philadelphia between 1780 -1800.This communion set was used until 1892 when it was retired because of the weight of the plates. Each of which weighed 10 pounds!

One pewter item is modern – probably from around the 1920’s to 1940’s.  It is the pitcher in the center of the set.

Along the bottom of the case are 96 lead and pewter communion tokens.  They are marked “BP” and “BD.”  They were used by Rev. William Bertram who served both Paxton and Derry Churches from 1732 to 1736.  Reportedly,   “BP” stands for Bertram Paxton and “BD” means Bertram Derry.  The tokens were given to intending communicants during a communion preparatory service.  On Sunday, during the communion service, when the communicant came forward, he presented his token to a member of session as evidence that the session regarded him as entitled to participate.  No token – no communion.

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