These vestry records include costs of burials, tolling the bells, and salaries. In 1734, when these records begin, the decision was made to rebuild the main body of the church as it was considered ‘too dark and mean and incommodious’ to accommodate the town’s growing population and a “Tax for rebuilding the Church” was introduced. In 1730, a workhouse was established in Gainsborough. The vestry appointed “Trustees of the Workhouse” and judging from these records they held considerable financial control. The vestry were responsible for key appointments including overseers of the poor, church wardens, and others. Although overseers of the poor nominated by the vestry were sometimes considered despotic in behaviour, they were tasked with differentiating between the “deserving and undeserving poor” allowing an initially more efficient and generally humane system to operate. Unregulated, the power and responsibilities of the vestries grew with spending accounting for just under a fifth of the national government itself. This continued until 1834, when the Poor Law Amendment Act was introduced to curb the considerable spending on those in poverty, reallocating relief to the workhouses in order to deter applications. Covering a period of over 70 years, these manuscripts provide detailed longitudinal accounts of spending on vestry work, workhouses and overseers of the poor.
- Title: Church records of vestry minutes and accounts : manuscript.
- Production: Lincolnshire, England, 1734-1808
LWL Mss Vol. 253
Acquired May 2020