Prior Co 1815, a rate (also known as Quarter Tax) had been levied by Quarter Sessions to provide for county services including the repair of bridges and the relief of militiamen's wives. However, the system of assessment was unjust with great inequalities in proportion of rate charged on each parish. To rectify this situation, acts of 55 Geo. III, c.51 (1815) and 8-9 Viet., c.lll (1845) empowered Quarter Sessions to call for returns of rateable value from parish overseers and boards of guardians.
The Act 27-28 Viet., c.39 (1864) further required clerks to assessment committees of each poor law union to return annually to the clerk of the peace totals of the gross estimated rental and rateable value for each parish within their union.
Precepts from the clerk of the peace requiring the money to be paid are addressed to the high constables of each hundred up to 1845 and to guardians of poor law unions (with a copy to the clerk of the union) and some parish overseers after that date.