Kelvedon Hatch: Parish government and poor relief

Pages 70-71

A History of the County of Essex: Volume 4, Ongar Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1956.

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Vestry minute-books for Kelvedon Hatch survive for the periods 1736-60 and 1835-81. (fn. 1)

During the period 1736-60 vestry meetings usually seem to have been held only at Easter in each year. In only one year (fn. 2) during this period was more than one meeting recorded. The minutes were brief but were always signed. The Revd. C. Wragg, rector of the parish from 1731 until 1758, seems never to have attended the meetings. His successor, the Revd. N. Griffinhoeff (1758-60) attended the only Easter vestry held during his incumbency and was the first to sign the minutes. The number of parishioners who attended the meetings varied between 3 and 6. Members of the Wright family, lords of the manor of Kelvedon Hatch, (fn. 3) always attended and usually signed first.

The minutes rarely did more than record the ap-pointment of officers and the balances remaining in officers' hands at the end of each year. In the period 1736-60 there was only one office of churchwarden and one office of overseer. George Wright was churchwarden throughout the period. Until 1744 the overseers served for two years consecutively, but after that date they served for one year only. As late as 1835 there was an illiterate overseer. In 1614 (fn. 4) there were two constables, but in the period 1736-60 there was only one office of constable. These officers usually served for several years consecutively. The appointment of surveyors was not recorded in the minute-book, but there appears to have been one office of surveyor. The rateable value of the parish was £700 in 1738 (fn. 5) and £1,676 in 1835.

Until 1751 the overseers, churchwarden, and constables were each granted separate rates for which they were directly responsible to the parish. Occasionally one officer was ordered to pay another officer's deficit out of his surplus. In April 1751 it was decided that the constable's charges for the ensuing year should be paid by the churchwarden. In March 1752 the same constable was reappointed, but on this occasion it was resolved that his charges should be paid by the overseer. No further resolutions were recorded on this matter and it is not clear how the charges of either the constable or the churchwarden were met in the years after 1753. By 1833, however, their expenditure was evidently met by the overseers who included it in their account. It is not clear what the practice was in regard to the surveyors' accounts.

There was a poorhouse (fn. 6) in Kelvedon Hatch, situated on Kelvedon Common, and in 1835 there were at least two male paupers in it. In most cases, however, poor relief was given outside the poorhouse. In each of the years 1813-15 there were thirteen adults on 'permanent' outdoor relief. (fn. 7) Provision for the poor included the payment of weekly doles.

In 1776 the cost of poor relief was £90. (fn. 8) In 1783-5 it averaged £104 a year. (fn. 9) It reached £501 in 1800-1 and £538 in 1801-2, but in the next six years it was always between £300 and £400 a year. (fn. 10) In the years 1808-17 the cost was usually above £400 and reached a maximum of £567 in 1812-13. (fn. 11) In each of the years 1833 and 1834 it was £275 and in 1835 £250.

In 1836 Kelvedon Hatch became part of the Ongar Poor Law Union.


  • 1. Unless otherwise stated all the following information is derived from these minute-books, which are kept by the rector.
  • 2. 1758.
  • 3. See above, Manor of Kelvedon Hatch.
  • 4. E.R.O., Q/SBa 3.
  • 5. E.R.O., D/DFa E44/27.
  • 6. There was a poorhouse by 1776, at latest: Rep. Sel. Cttee. on Overseers Retns. 1777, H.C. ser. 1, vol. ix, p. 350. The parish officers may have rented the cottages which had been given to the parish for use as almshouses: see below, Charities.
  • 7. E.R.O., Q/CR 1/10.
  • 8. E.R.O., Q/CR 1/1.
  • 9. Ibid.
  • 10. E.R.O., Q/CR 1/9.
  • 11. Ibid.