The priest of the parish with the churchwardens and the parochial officials headed a crowd of boys who, armed with green boughs, beat with them the parish border-stones.
The churchwardens are the principal lay officers.
The civil importance of the poor-law parishes may be dated from the introduction of the poor law by the statute of 43 Elizabeth, which directed overseers of the poor to be appointed in every parish, and made the churchwardens into ex-officio overseers.
The freemen, now appearing as the ratepayers, elected the "parish officers," as the churchwardens and way-wardens, the assessors, the overseers, and (if required) paid assistantoverseers, a secretary or vestry-clerk, and a collector of rates if the guardians applied for his appointment.
They elected the churchwardens and overseers, the highway surveyor, if the parish was a separate unit for highway purposes, and the waywardens if it was included in a highway district.