May 3rd 1834
The first meeting of the select Vestryr <1> for this parish will on [sic] the 14th Inst those that are to form the Vestry are as follows
The Vicar & Parish Officers
W. H. F. Talbot Esqr, John Awdry Esqr, <2> Ez Harman Esqr, <3> John Awdry Esqr, Revd Mr Peck, John Tucker, George Archard, Isaac Fussell, David Clark, <4> Thomas Rumming, John Fry, Mathew Wheeler, Edward Barton, Joseph Croker, John Gale, <5> John Phelps, John Plaister, John Barton, Thomas Hayward, <6> and Walter Robins.
I Am Sir Your Hble and Obt Sert
W. H. F. Talbot Esq MP
31 Sackville St
1. The ‘Select Vestry’ was a voting body set up to assist the poor. With the severity of depression in rural areas after the Napoleonic Wars, and the onset of industrialisation, the traditional means of supporting the poor were clearly inadequate. In 1818, the ‘Act for the Regulation of Parish Vestries’ passed, setting up a voting system based on the rateable value of property. In 1819, this was further amended to add resident clergymen. The Select Vestry elected the Guardians of the Poor and distinguished between the 'deserving' poor and those who were idle. These acts were named after their supporter, the Tory MP, William Sturges-Bourne (1769-1845). This system was completely replaced in 1834 with the passage of the ‘Poor Law Amendment Act’, which established a national Poor Law Commission. Each parish, or union of small parishes, was required to build a workhouse. Outdoor relief was permitted, but discouraged, and previous discrimination against Roman Catholics and Non-Conformists was eliminated. This forced revisions to the workhouses and practices of Select Vestry in parishes that had established a system. In the 1840s, further restrictions were introduced which compelled confinement to a workhouse as the only method of receiving aid.2. The repitition of this name may be accidental, but more likely refers to John Awdry (1766–1844), solicitor, Reybridge and his son Sir John Wither Awdry (1795-1878), JP & Chief Justice, Bombay Supreme Court.
3. Ezekiel Harman.
4. David Clark, of Inlands Farme, near Lacock.
5. John Gale, carpenter at Lacock.
6. Thomas Hayward (b. 1783), tenant farmer, Wick Farm, Lacock.