Menu Home


“Every householder had to serve his year as an administrator of the nations business. Unpaid with little option of escape and almost certainly reluctantly he had to take his turn in one of the parish offices or to provide an efficient substitute….For a year the mantle of authority rested on his humble and unlettered shoulders…”  William Tate

Unless you were really poor every man [and very occasionally a woman] was expected to take part in the running of the parish. This was an obligation that few escaped and there were two ‘great’ parish offices that had to be filled – the churchwarden and the Overseer of the Poor.

  • Churchwarden     This is the most ancient of all the parish offices and John Martin filled this role for over thirty five years from 1828 until his death in 1863. This section looks at his work in those years.
  • Overseer of the Poor     Although he only worked for one year in this role the accounts books of the Overseers tell a fascinating story. Here I look at the origins of the Poor Law,the infamous Settlement laws and the thorny topic of Bastardy. In this section too you will find a few of real life story’s of the people who were unfortunate enough to be included in the accounts of the Overseers.
  • Quartermaster   The Dorset Yeomanry Cavalry  had a complex history . Famously it figured in Thomas Hardy’s novel the “Trumpet Major”. John Martin was it’s quartermaster for many years and some of it’s activities are recorded here.