Ancient or ancient ecclesiastical parishes encompassed groups of villages and hamletsRural settlement smaller than a village. and their adjacent lands over which a clergyman had jurisdiction. They existed for ecclesiastical functions, baptisms, marriages and funerals, from pre-Norman Conquest times until the dissolution of the monasteries between 1536 and 1541 and England’s break with Rome.
VillsHistorical term describing a unit or area of land containing several dwellings or townshipsDivision of an ecclesiastical parish that had civil functions. and manors within the parish administered local secular government. The adoption of the ancient parish to administer poor relief after the first Poor Relief Act of 1597 meant that they performed secular and ecclesiastical roles, and began the development of public services in urban and rural areas.
Urban parishes were replaced by urban districtsAdministrative areas that had district councils and shared local government responsibilities with a county council. and boroughs at the end of the 19th century, but rural parishes retained some administrative roles as parish councilsSmallest administrative unit in England..