Townships or villsHistorical term describing a unit or area of land containing several dwellings were divisions of an ecclesiastical parishAncient or ancient ecclesiastical parishes encompassed groups of villages and hamlets and their adjacent lands, over which a clergyman had jurisdiction. that had civil functions. Townships maintained the poor of that community from about 1540. Most gained civil parishSmallest administrative unit in England. status, or were included into adjacent civil parishes before 1866. In the north of England, townships were regarded as divisions subordinate to parishes.