chapter  IV
24 Pages


THIS brief sketch of the authorities who exercised jurisdiction previous to 1834 is not complete without a description of the Poor Law functions of the vestry. The summing-up of the Commissioners against the vestry is as emphatic as a.gainst the overseers and the magistrates. This fact has been very generally overlooked, by the Government responsible for the Act of 1834, by the Commissioners appointed under that Act, and by public opinion ever since. The condemnation of the vestry pronounced in 1834 condemns by anticipation the board of guardians, which is liable to exactly the same influences, here represented as fatal to the efficiency of the vestry. The legislation which followed abolished altogether the jurisdiction of the overseers and magistrates, but the verdict against the vestry was not pressed. Yet the evidence against the incompetence of a locally elected body seems to be quite as clear and as damaging as anything that is recorded against the overseers and the magistrates.