The documents in this category are by their nature miscellaneous. They share the characteristic of having been created in the service of parish administration, and were produced by sub-committees of the parish vestry. Some of these volumes were the result of ad hoc committee arrangements established to manage local poor relief provision; while others were created in service of committees established either by local Acts of Parliament or as a result of national legislation.1
There was no legal bar to a local vestry establishing a sub-committee to undertake aspects of parochial administration. In the instance of St Botolph Aldgate the vestry created a committee made up of the churchwardens and overseers of the poor and charged it with responsibility for managing the local workhouse established under the auspices of the Workhouse Test Act of 1723.2 The minutes of this committee include few resolutions or extended sections of prose text, and instead are made up almost exclusively of financial accounts concerning the supply of goods to the workhouse. A similar ad hoc committee was established by St Dionis Backchurch, again served by the churchwardens and overseers of the poor, and again comprised substantially of accounts of expenditure.
As a direct result of the campaigning of Jonas Hanway, An Act for the Keeping Regular, Uniform and Annual Registers of all Parish Poor Infants Under a Certain Age, Within the Bills of Mortality was passed by Parliament in 1762.3 This was followed in 1767 by the passage of An Act for the Better Regulation of the Parish Poor Children.4 Between them, these two pieces of legislation fundamentally transformed the nature of parochial record keeping, and ensured that most parishes within the Bills of Mortality created Registers of Parish Infants (RI) and Registers of Parish Children (RC). The 1767 Act also changed the nature of parish apprenticeship, and mandated the creation of Registers of Apprentices (RA). As part of the 1767 Act parishes within the Bills of Mortality, excluding the ninety-seven parishes of the City of London and four Westminster parishes, were directed to create a committee to be called the Guardians of the Parish Poor Children. This committee was charged with guarding against the "false parsimony, negligence, inadvertency, or the annual change of parish officers", and was composed of "five noblemen or gentlemen, inhabitants of the parish", who were chosen by the vestry to serve a term of three years. Churchwardens and overseers of the poor were explicitly excluded from serving.5
The Guardians were charged with inspecting the treatment of parish children, and reporting any problems to a Justice of the Peace. The minutes of their meetings reflect this concern, and can also reflect (as in the case of the minutes of the Guardians for St Botolph Aldgate) the concerns of the parents of children left to the care of the parish.
The parish of St Clement Danes had a further series of subcommittees established in consequence of two local acts of parliament designed to improve paving and street cleaning. The first act of 1771 applied to all the parishes of Westminster and authorised the creation of a new committee of Assistants to oversee the levying of rates in aid of street repair and paving.6
A further act passed in 1782, An Act for Better Paving, Cleansing and Lighting the Parish of St Clement Danes, was more local in nature, and authorised the creation of a Committee for Paving which both oversaw local taxation in aid of street repair and lighting, and actively formulated and implemented policy in this area.7 Local acts of this sort, and most particularly those associated with Westminster, became a means of reshaping both local government and policing.8
- Eastwood, David. Local Government and Local Society. In Dickinson, Harry, ed., A Companion to Eighteenth-Century Britain. Oxford, 2002.
- Innes, Joanna. Inferior Politics: Social Problems and Social Policies in Eighteenth-Century Britain. Oxford, 2009.
- Reynolds, Elaine A. Before the Bobbies: The Night Watch and Police Reform in Metropolitan London, 1720-1830. Basingstoke, 1998.
- Taylor, James Stephen. Jonas Hanway, Founder of the Marine Society: Charity and Policy in Eighteenth-Century England. London and Berkeley, 1985, ch. 8.
For further reading on this subject see the London Lives Bibliography.
- St Botolph Aldgate, Accounts, 1734-38, London Metropolitan Archives, Ms. 2680/1, LL ref: GLBAMO10008, Tagging Level: D
- St Botolph Aldgate, Minute Books, 1768-80, London Metropolitan Archives, Ms. 2680/20-61, LL ref: GLBAMO11302, Tagging Level: C
- St Botolph Aldgate, Minute Books, 1792-95, London Metropolitan Archives, Ms. 2680/62-103, LL ref: GLBAMO11303, Tagging Level: D
- St Botolph Aldgate, Minute Book of the Guardians of the Parish Poor Children, 1767-1800, London Metropolitan Archives, Ms. 2690, LL ref: GLBAMO30301, Tagging Level: C
- St Dionis Backchurch, Committee Minute Books, 1772-95, London Metropolitan Archives, Ms. 4217/1 & 4217/2, LL ref: GLDBMO30300, Tagging Level: D
- St Clement Danes, Churchwardens, Minutes of the Committee, 1771-75, Westminster Archives Centre, Ms. B1272, LL ref: WCCDMO36100, Tagging Level: C
- St Clement Danes, Churchwardens, Minutes of the Committee, 1789-98, Westminster Archives Centre, Ms. B1273, LL ref: WCCDMO36101, Tagging Level: C
- St Clement Danes, Minutes of the Committee for Paving, 1798-1800, Westminster Archives Centre, Ms. B1275, LL ref: WCCDMO36102, Tagging Level: C
- St Clement Danes, Minutes of Assistants, 1779-90, Westminster Archives Centre, Ms. B1147, LL ref: WCCDMO36103, Tagging Level: C
- St Clement Danes, Minutes of Assistants, 1790-98, Westminster Archives Centre, Ms. B1147, LL ref: WCCDMO36104, Tagging Level: C
- St Clement Danes, Minutes of Assistants, 1798-1808, Westminster Archives Centre, Ms. B1148, LL ref: WCCDMO36105, Tagging Level: C
1 For a sophisticated discussion of the role of local acts in the evolution of social welfare, see Joanna Innes, Inferior Politics: Social Problems and Social Policies in Eighteenth-Century Britain (Oxford, 2009), ch. 3. ⇑
2 9 George I c. 7. ⇑
3 2 George III c. 22. ⇑
4 7 George III c. 39 ⇑
5 James Stephen Taylor, Jonas Hanway: Founder of the Marine Society: Charity and Policy in Eighteenth-Century Britain (Berkeley California, 1985), ch. 8. ⇑
6 11 George III c. 22. ⇑
7 23 George III c. 89. ⇑
8 Elaine A. Reynolds, Before the Bobbies: the Night Watch and Police Reform in Metropolitan London, 1720-1830 (Basingstoke, 1998), ch. 2 & 3. ⇑