Records of Barking Parish

Scope and Content

This collection comprises the records of the parish of Barking, including: vestry minute books (1694-1926), baptism and burial registers (1558-1812), overseers accounts (1786-1926), churchwarden accounts (1777-1823), rate books (1739-1914), rental books (1763-1773), notice books (1769-1839) and apprenticeship books (1818-1844).

Administrative / Biographical History

Barking Abbey was founded in the later part of the seventh century by St. Ethelburga. The earliest charter of the Abbey, relates to a gift of land being made by Hodilred, King of Essex. Although all the places mentioned in this charter cannot be identified with certainty, it is fairly certain that it is referring to all the land between the River Roading and Dagenham Beam River. Barking is not appears to be identified as Beddanhaam or Budinhaam, while Dagenham is called Deccanhamm. It is not known when Dagenham became a separate parish. Although it is likely to be fairly early due to the date of the dedication of the Parish Church St. Peter and St. Paul's.

For secular purpose the land granted by the charter remained in the hands of successive abbesses of Barking, and formed part of the large Manor of Barking until the Dissolution. It remained a royal manor until 1628, when it was mortgaged to Sir Thomas Fanshawe. On his death it was passed to his daughter who sold it to Sir Orlando Humphreys in 1717. In turn it was brought by Smart Lethuillier and then inherited by the daughter of his brother Charles, who was also the wife of Sir Edward Hulse.

The parish of Barking, included parts of Ilford, as well as Barking. These two areas were separated for ecclesiastical purposes in 1830, but remained one civil parish until 1888. Before this division, the parish was about thirty miles in diameter. It is probable that the early inhabitants would have worshipped at Barking Abbey and then St. Margaret's Church, which was located on the southern edge of Barking Parish. Those that lived north of this towards Ilford, would have attended the Chapel of the Leper Hospital, and later the Chapel at Aldborough Hatch, built in 1653.

The rapid urbanisation during the beginning of the nineteenth century caused problems in the administration of public health and welfare, which the vestries of such districts were incompetent to deal with. The bad name of the town vestries, meant reformers ignored the spirit of local patriotism and the historic descent of local government. After the Poor Law of 1834, ad hoc bodies were continually being created to carry out different tasks that were previously undertaken by the local vestry. Barking, for example found itself within the Romford Poor Law Union. The maintenance of the highways was taken over by the 6th Highway District in 1867. In addition to this the provision of education was put into the hands of an elected School Board in 1889. Barking also had its own Board of Health from 1853 to 1855.

However unity was restored with the establishment of the Barking Urban District Council under the Local Government Act of 1894. The vestry of the parish of Barking, continued to meet despite its diminished power in order to discuss church and secular business, as well as to receive charity accounts after 1895. The overseer also remained in office until the introduction of the Rating and Valuation Act in 1925.

This administrative history was largely based on a book by J. E. Oxley, entitled 'Barking Vestry Minutes' (1955).

Access Information

This material is open to research and can be viewed at the Barking and Dagenham Archive and Local Studies Centre. To make an appointment to visit the reading room, please telephone 020 8227 2033 or email at


Catalogued by Clare Sexton, Assistant Archivist.

Other Finding Aids

For further information about the contents of this collection, please contact the Barking and Dagenham Archive and Local Studies Centre by telephone 020 8227 2033 or email at

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Custodial History

This collection was previously held by Essex Record Office.