Last updated: 09/12/2011
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As parishes acquired civil responsibilities, the parish 'vestry'
meeting assumed overall supervision, especially of poor relief and
road maintenance. The minutes generally record ecclesiastical and
secular activities of the meeting such as the appointment of parish
officers, settling rates and auditing accounts. For
the records of the various vestry officials please see:
the Poor, Highway Surveyors and
Constables. For the ecclesiastical functions of the Vestry
meetings and Churchwardens see Parishes.
Vestry administration was reformed by the 1818 and 1819 Vestry
Acts, which attempted to regulate procedures for attendance and
voting at meetings, and legalised payment of officials. However,
the vestry's civil responsibilities were greatly reduced in 1834
when Poor Law
Unions were set up, and the establishment in 1835 of
Highway Boards removed the direct
responsibility for road maintenance. Compulsory church rates were
abolished in 1868 and the office of parish constable disappeared in
1872. In 1894 all the surviving civil responsibilities of the
vestry meeting were transferred to Parish Councils.
Available at CRO
19th century vestry minutes survive for a number
of parishes, but comparatively few earlier records survive; a few
parish council minute books contain records of pre-1894 vestry
meetings (catalogue reference P).