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A parish is the smallest unit of Church organisation. It may be defined as a township or cluster of townships having its own church (the parish church). A parish has its own priest, vicar or clergyman to whom the tithes and ecclesiastical dues are/were paid.

The Roman Catholic and Anglican Church both are arranged in the same hierarchical way: the Church of England merely took over the Catholic system. Henry VIII broke away from a direct connection with Rome although during his reign there was only a "change of management". The real break with the Catholic Church came with Elizabeth I who created the Anglican Church as the Established Church.

The Anglican hierarchy

My thanks to Dr Yew Kong Leong for producing this chart.

Victorian History Poor Law

Last modified 16 August 2002