The Dugdale Society, as the publisher of edited texts of documents relating to the history of Warwickshire, has endorsed a project to transcribe and eventually publish the early parish accounts from the entire county! Over recent decades, the annual lists of income and expenditure items compiled by churchwardens have emerged as key sources for the religious and social history of early modern England (see start-up resources below), but this project places them alongside comparable reckonings of other lay officers such as constables, highway surveyors and overseers of the poor. The hope is that an integrated approach will allow a fuller understanding of ecclesiastical affairs, parish politics, local government and everyday life over a key transition period which included the Reformation, civil wars and two revolutions.
Title page of the Coleshill SS Peter & Paul Church Book (1657-). WRO, DRB0100/20.
Warwickshire Parish Accounts, under the overall management the Dugdale Society (and its general editor Robert Bearman), is a collaborative initiative also involving Heritage & Culture Warwickshire through Sharon Forman who is co-ordinating the transcription work of the documentary sources, most of which are deposited at the County Record Office, and My-Parish through Beat Kümin from the History Department at the University of Warwick who is advising on the project and will contribute an introduction to the volume.
If you would like to join the transcription team, please email Sharon Forman at the Record Office.
Finger from Solihull (1660s)
As the project gets under way, this page will feature updates, extracts and information on our dissemination plans. Please let us know if you have any questions or suggestions.
17thC - Coleshill - transactions recording the killing of a fox & hiring out cows (1657-58; DRB100_20, p. 1, 7)
17thC - Shipston on Stour - may game proceeds allocated to poor relief (1635; DR0446/21, p. 82):
‘the sume of Fower pounds beinge mony gotten by the youth of the towne of Shipston att a may game … shalbee delivered into the hands of [the] churchwardens to the intent & purpose that they shall by buy
Seacole in the summer att the best and cheapest rate they canne & to sell them againe to the poore
of the same towne att the same price which thye buy them att’
18thC - Castle Bromwich - payments for singing on 5 November / giving thanks for the army's success (1702)
and a collection for victims of a great storm (1704; DRB105, p. 83-84)
Brown, N.; Whittingham, C. (eds), Berkhamsted St Peter Churchwardens’ Accounts, c. 1584-1660, Hertfordshire Record Society vol. XXXVIII (2022)
Burgess, C. (ed.), The Pre-Reformation Records of All Saints Church, Bristol, part 2: Churchwardens’ Accounts (Bristol, 2000)
‘Churchwardens’ Accounts’: an introduction provided by the Borthwick Institute for Archives at the University of York
‘The Churchwardens’ Accounts of England and Wales’: a database of surviving sets (c. 1300-1850) compiled by Valerie Hitchman
Hanham, A. (ed.), The Churchwardens’ Accounts of Ashburton 1479-1580 (Torquay, 1970)
Hobhouse, Bishop ed.), Church=Wardens Accounts of Croscombe, Pilton, Yatton, Tintinhull, Morebath and St Michael's, Bath (Somerset Record Society, 1890)
- For St Margaret, Tintinhull (where accounts survive from 1433-1672), the Latin text of the earliest year 1433-34 has been translated in extracts made by Katherine French (for 1433-1538); the local history group site also features the manuscript pages & transcription for 1604 (which included a rate on the inhabitants).
Sangha, L.; Willis J. (eds), Understanding Early Modern Primary Sources (London, 2016), esp. ch. 3
Savage, R. (ed.), The Churchwardens’ Accounts of the Parish of St Nicholas, Warwick, 1547-1621 (Warwick, 1917)
Webb, C. (ed.), The Churchwardens' Accounts of St Michael, Spurriergate, York 1518-48 (2 vols, York: Borthwick Institute, 1997)
Burgess, C., The Right Ordering of Souls: The Parish of All Saints Bristol on the Eve of the Reformation (Woodbridge, 2018)
Carlson, Eric, ‘The origins, function and status of the office of churchwarden with particular reference to the diocese of Ely’, in: M. Spufford (ed.), The World of Rural Dissenters 1520-1725 (Cambridge, 1995), 164-207
Cox, J. C., Churchwardens’ Accounts from the 14th to the Close of the 17th Century (1913)
Craig, J., ‘Co-operation and initiatives: Elizabethan churchwardens and the parish accounts of Mildenhall’, Social History 18 (1993), 357-80
Drew, C., Early Parochial Organisation: The Origins of the Office of Churchwarden (1954)
Foster, A., ‘Churchwardens’ accounts of early modern England and Wales. Some problems to note, but much to be gained’, in: K. French, G. Gibbs and B. Kümin (eds), The Parish in English Life 1400-1600 (Manchester, 1997), 74-93
Hindle, S., On the Parish? The Micro-Politics of Poor Relief in Rural England c. 1550-1750 (2004)
Hitchman, V. & Foster, A. (eds), Views from the Parish: Churchwardens’ Accounts c.1500-c.1800 (Cambridge: Scholars Publishing, 2015)
Kent, J. R., The English Village Constable 1580-1642: A Social and Administrative Study (Oxford, 1986)
Kümin, B., ’3.2 The sources’, in: The Shaping of a Community: The Rise & Reformation of the English Parish c. 1400-1560 (1996), 82-102
Lovegrove, Roger, Silent Fields: The long decline of a nation’s wildlife (Oxford, 2008), esp. 26-61 (on species extinction)
Pounds, N., A History of the English Parish: The Culture of Religion from St. Augustine to Queen Victoria (1999)
Tate, W. E., The Parish Chest: A Study of the Records of Parochial Administration in England (3rd edn, Chichester, 1983)
Webb S. and B., English Local Government: The Parish and the County (1906)
Hybrid work in progress meeting at the Warwickshire County Record Office on 26 November 2022, when the parish accounts team had an opportunity to inspect the original sources. Pics: BK.
Mary Eaton - I am a retired primary school teacher, who has always had an interest in history. I volunteered for The Civil War Loss Accounts project and had training in palaeography and then became involved with the Church Warden’s Account s project.
Lynn Hockton - I studied history at the University of Warwick as a mature student in the 1980s. In 1998 I was a founder member of the Women's Research Group, researching and writing about the history of women in Coventry. During 16 years with the group we published nine books on the subject. Having spent over two years helping to transcribe 17th century Civil War documents for the 'Loss Accounts' project, I dove straight into transcribing our Churchwardens' accounts.
Anne Langley - volunteers at the Warwickshire County Record Office. She helps run a local history society, publishes material, gives talks, and contributes to various local and national historical projects. She has been recording the effect of the pandemic on her village.
Martin Popplewell - Whilst always being interested in history, I have had more time since retirement and was lucky to get involved with Maureen Harris's Civil War project. We were taught how to read Secretary hand and I was keen to keep this up so the Churchwardens Accounts project seemed ideal.
Ann Such - formerly a teacher and more recently a Citizens Advice volunteer, I enjoy the challenge of deciphering Secretary Script, especially when combined with medieval Latin.
Colin Such - I am a retired company director and archivist of the Lighthorne History Society. I have lived in Warwickshire villages most of my life and I am fascinated by local history. Helping to transcribe the Warwickshire Civil Wars Loss Accounts introduced me to the study of original 17th century documents.
Joanne Taylor - Hi I'm Jo, and as well as working on this project, I'm an Archive Assistant at Warwickshire County Record Office. I started working on the Churchwardens Accounts after having a go at a similar project transcribing English Civil War Loss Accounts. What can I say, I love a bit of palaeography!