The parish of Llanfair-is-gaer situated in Gwynedd (formerly the county of Caernarfonshire), north Wales, was, in common with other parishes, a civil as well as an ecclesiastical administrative unit. Until the end of the nineteenth century the parish, represented by a selection of members known as the vestry, was a major instrument of local government with responsibility for poor relief, highways and law and order. This continued until 1894 when parish government was reconstructed and the parish council was established for the civil government of the parish which left vestries with limited powers such as the election of churchwardens and administration of ecclesiastical charities etc.
Rates were a form of local taxation levied on parishioners. Rate books were compiled to record details of the rate paying inhabitants.