A vestry was a committee for the local secular and ecclesiastical government for a parish in England and Wales, which originally met in the vestry or sacristy of the parish church, and consequently became known colloquially as the "vestry". The term vestry remains in use outside of England and Wales to refer to the elected governing body and legal representative of a parish church, for example in the Scottish and American Episcopal Churches.

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  • A vestry was a committee for the local secular and ecclesiastical government for a parish in England and Wales, which originally met in the vestry or sacristy of the parish church, and consequently became known colloquially as the "vestry". For many centuries the vestries were the sole de facto local government and presided over local, communal fundraising and expenditure until the mid or late 19th century with local Established Church chairmanship. More punitive matters tended to be dealt with by the manorial court and hundred court during the epoch of the vestries. Their initial power derived from custom and was very occasionally ratified by the common law or asserted in statute such as the Elizabethan Poor Law. At the high point of their powers before removal of Poor Law responsibilities in 1834, the vestries spent not far short of one-fifth of the budget of the British government which derived much of its income from global trade and imperialism. Secular and ecclesiastical aspects of the vestries were separated, for all areas where they had not earlier been, under a reforming statute of 1894. Their secular duties have been performed in England since then by parish councils or more superior councils, leaving their ecclesiastical duties to the Church of England where they have been performed by parochial church councils (PCCs) since 1921. Realised secularisation of local government was opposed by administrations of the Tory Party preceding the Third Salisbury ministry, the British government led by Lord Salisbury from 1895 to 1900 and several earlier influential High Whigs. A public right in the PCC (church) meeting remains in that all Members of an overlapping civil parish can speak at their annual meetings (which may appoint churchwardens for instance). A right to tax by a PCC for church chancel repairs remains as to liable (apportioned) local residents and businesses across an apportioned area of many church parishes, in the form of chancel repair liability however in some tithes were replaced by no further such taxation. The term vestry remains in use outside of England and Wales to refer to the elected governing body and legal representative of a parish church, for example in the Scottish and American Episcopal Churches. (en)
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  • A vestry was a committee for the local secular and ecclesiastical government for a parish in England and Wales, which originally met in the vestry or sacristy of the parish church, and consequently became known colloquially as the "vestry". The term vestry remains in use outside of England and Wales to refer to the elected governing body and legal representative of a parish church, for example in the Scottish and American Episcopal Churches. (en)
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  • Vestry (en)
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