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Vestry Minutes (Parish)

Nature of Source

The vestry was composed of the parish priest and other local worthies and could appoint parish officials such as the overseer of the poor, churchwardens and constables, all named and occasionally with an occupation and address. The New Poor Laws of the 19th century and the Local Government Act of 1894 which created elected parish councils brought a close on the vestry.

Look for militia lists, settlement papers, details of bastardy cases and payments to the poor amongst the minutes. Often the details of payments to the poor are included in the minutes if a separate book was not warranted as were details of informal apprentice agreements between the parish and master. Also look for surviving parish magazines, with some available on CD at

Also see
Apprenticeship Indentures, Parish
Bastardy Documents
Churchwardens' Accounts
Overseers of the Poor Accounts
Rate Books
Settlement Certificates/Examinations and Removal Orders

Where Found

Period Covered

1700 - 1894

Genealogical Value

Names of officials and their occupations sometimes with addresses. Names of parishioners sometimes with their occupations, ages family relationships and parishes of origin.

Further References

Eastwood, David. Governing Rural England: Tradition and Transformation in Local Government 1780-1840: Clarendon Press, 1994


Stephens W.B. Sources for English Local History. Cambridge University Press, 1981 (Preview available from Google Books)


Tate, William Edward. The Parish Chest: Phillimore, 1983 (Preview available from Google Books)


West, John. Village Records: Macmillan, 1962


Websites (What is a Vestry? by Sherry Irvine, CGRS, FSA [Scot]) (Hampshire Archives and Local Studies: Vestry minutes)

Online Databases (London Lives: Vestry Minutes)
(London Lives, Culture & Society 1680-1817. London Lives chronicles the lives of Londoners through the exploration of a variety of sources including criminal registers, session papers, ordinary’s accounts from Old Bailey, apprentice records, coroner inquests, workhouse minutes, Register of admissions to workhouse, clerks’ papers, Churchwarden's account books, Vestry minute books/vestry minutes, Register of removal orders, Pauper examination books/examination books, bastardy bonds and much more) (Dorset, England, Parish Poor Law Records, 1511-1997. The original records are held at the Dorset History Centre) (Warwickshire, Miscellaneous Parish Records including vestry books in association with Warwickshire County Record Office) (Warwickshire Parish Poor Law, 1546-1904: Lists of parish officers; Parish minutes produced in association with Warwickshire County Record Office)

CD Roms

The Parish Register Transcription Society (Select Vestry Minutes & Surname Index of Etchingham, East Sussex, 1819-1836)
West Surrey Family History Society (Surrey Poor Law Index & Calendar for non-metropolitan Surrey, compiled by John Holland. Includes Overseer Accounts and Vestry Minutes)
East Surrey Family History Society
(Churchwardens Accounts 1504-1645, Vestry Book 1610)
Parish Chest (Vestry minute records from a number of family history societies and groups)