Friday, May 13, 2011

Church Warden's Account Books

Until we developed a more complicated society local government was localised to the Parish. Justice was dispensed by the Justice of the Peace (often the Lord of the Manor) and social welfare was administered by the Church, usually in the person of the Churchwardens.

The Holy Trinity Account Books for the 18th and 19th centuries survive and are kept in the Buckinghamshire Archive. They record payments made to the sick, the widowed and the poor and managed the costs of out-of-wedlock pregnancies. Two of their number were appointed overseers for the year beginning in April It appears that they divided the parish, which extended from Bradwell Brook in the east to Watling Street in the west. I am not sure how it was divided. The overseers appear to come from the ranks of the larger farm tenants. The new overseers for 1809-10 are Robert Battams from Stacey Bushes Fram and William Wilkinson from Brick Kiln Farm. The rate, at 1/6d in the Pound, was assessed only against land and property, so the farmers had a vested interest in the management of this money , which they appear to have managed very carefully, because there was usually a surplus of income over expenditure. The Poor Law Act of 1834 replaced this system, which had become inadequate to the purpose by the 1820s and moved the administration to a larger administrative district, the Poor Law Union, which was subsequently based at Potterspury.

Here is the minute of the annual meeting of April 3rd 1809
Balance recorded of late overseers £86 17s 9 1/2d
do of John Tucker                          £20   0s 0d
by 1/6 Rate                                     £271 11s  0d.
Total                                              £370   8s   9 1/2d
Disbursements brought down        £290   0s  7d
Balance due to Parish                    £ 80    8s  2 1/2 d 

April 3rd 1809. At our annual meeting this day held we have perused the preceeding accounts of Thos. Ratcliffe and John Brill and approve of the same and find due to the Parish Eighty Pounds eight shillings and two pence halfpenny which we Direct to be Paid to Robert Battams and Wm Wilkinson who were appointed to be overseers for the ensuing year.
A H Cathcart Curate
William Oliver
Thos. Ratcliffe
John Brill 
Tomorrow I will explain why John Tucker contributed £20. 

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