AND POOR RELIEF
The existing court rolls of the manor of Marshalls
cover the period 1572-
1728 and there is also a
court book for 1832-
1924. (fn. 70) For the manor
of North Weald there are rolls for 1741-93. (fn. 71) In each
case the business recorded is that of a court baron only.
One general parish book survives for North Weald,
covering the years 1679-1879. (fn. 72) From about 1750
to 1790 there were usually vestry meetings at Easter
and in the autumn of each year. Otherwise there were
meetings at Easter but rarely at any other time. The
average attendance throughout the period 1679-1836
was fairly high, being about 10. The highest recorded
was 21 at the Easter vestry of 1702. George Hellier,
the curate, usually presided between 1709 and 1727.
Of the vicars only Francis Stanley attended regularly.
He usually presided between 1765 and 1781. After
1781 the churchwarden was usually in the chair. John
Benton was probably parish clerk in 1687. He was
then recorded as living in the Church House. He wrote
the rate in the parish book, receiving 1s. for this, and
also washed the surplice. After his death his son Isaac
succeeded him. In 1774 the clerk was receiving a
salary of 2 guineas. In 1803 John Stokes agreed to
retire from the office of clerk on payment to him of £5
and the promise that the parish should provide him
with a house for life, 'the workhouse excepted'. John
Benton, parish clerk in 1707, was also sexton, for which
office he was supposed to receive 4d. a year from each
house in the parish.
General rates 'for the use of the church and the poor'
were levied each year by the overseers. The churchwarden did not usually levy a separate rate but was
reimbursed by the overseers. The hamlets of Thornwood and Hastingwood were separately assessed and
levied their own rates. In 1679 a rate of 1d. in £1
produced a total of £9 2s. 6d., of which £4 18s. 9d.
came from the main body of the parish, £2 5s. 9d.
from Hastingwood, and £1 18s. from Thornwood.
There was little change in the assessment during the
next century: in 1786 a 1d. rate produced £8 17s. 11d.
for the whole parish.
Although the vestry met only once or twice a year it
maintained a check on the actions of its officers by
requiring that no grant of weekly pensions or firewood
to the poor was to be made without an entry in the
parish book and the subsequent approval of the vestry.
It also tried to ensure that all parishioners took their
fair share of common burdens. Thus in 1697 it was
recommended that all should in turn take poor children
as apprentices, with an allowance of 40s. for clothing.
Of the 13 persons present 8 did so and 4 others
followed their example later in the same year. In
1804 a Mr. Wilson was paid £10 when his son was
drawn for the militia.
Until about 1766 4 overseers and 3 surveyors of
highways were appointed. Thornwood and Hastingwood each had 1 overseer and the other 2 were
responsible for the rest of the parish. There was apparently 1 surveyor for each division of the parish. (fn. 73)
These arrangements were already established by
1613. (fn. 74) After 1766 the total number of overseers was
reduced to 3, there being 1 instead of 2 for the body of
the parish. This continued until 1810 when a single
salaried overseer was appointed for the whole parish.
From 1822 3 overseers were again appointed. There
was evidently a system of rotation for service in this
office, for in 1766 an overseer was described as serving
out of his turn. Before the 19th century only 1 churchwarden was usually appointed, but sometimes 2.
The parish owned 2 houses, each divided into 2
tenements, for accommodating the poor. One of the
houses stood at Weald Gullet and was copyhold of
the manor of North Weald; it was acquired for parish
use in 1766. (fn. 75) The other was at Skips Corner and
was freehold. How long the parish had owned it is
not clear, and in 1838 when the houses were sold the
deed of conveyance did not recite any earlier deed and
only stated that the house had been 'for many years'
parish property. (fn. 76)
In 1613-14 the four overseers spent £6 16s. 11d.
on poor relief, making grants of money, paying rents,
and supplying wood. (fn. 77) By 1680 disbursements had
risen to some £30-£40 a year. There was a steady
increase throughout the 18th century, £200 being
reached in 1761 and £300 in 1781. By 1801-2 expenditure had risen to £863 and it averaged about £800
between 1810 and 1822. The division of expenditure
between the hamlets and the main body of the parish
varied considerably but usually approximated to their
respective proportions of the rateable assessment. The
parish overseer accounted for about half the expenditure: in 1801-2, for example, his expenses amounted
to £455, those of the Thornwood overseer to £237 14s.
and of the Hastingwood overseer to £170 11s. The
hamlets were not so independent that they were left
to bear the burden of their expenditure alone. The
same rates were levied on all, whatever their share of
the total expenditure, and at the final audit at Easter a
deficit in one account was balanced by the surplus of
another. Usually all overseers had surpluses which
were.paid to the churchwarden to meet his accounts.
Doctors' bills for attending the poor were being paid
from 1738. From 1778 the parish doctor received a
regular salary of 7 guineas a year. North Weald was
one of the parishes which contributed to the Society
for the Promotion of Industry founded in 1794 by
John Conyers of Epping. In 1836 the parish became
part of the Epping Poor Law Union.