Type details for Poor Law/Registration County

Type:Poor Law/Registration County
Number of units in system:
Geographical Level: 7 (County)
ADL Feature Type:countries, 2nd order divisions
May be part of: Poor Law/Registration Division
May have as parts: Sanitary District , Poor Law Union/Reg. District
May have succeeded: Division of Ancient County , Ancient County
May have preceded: Modern (post 1974) County , Administrative County , District/Unitary Authority

Full Description:

Registration Counties were based on the combined area of several Poor Law Unions. They existed from 1851 to 1930, although they went out of use in census reporting after 1911. The General Registers Office created them for purposes of civil registration and census reporting. The Poor Law Unions of England and Wales were used as the template for the Registration Counties, each County was divided into Registration Districts, with a total of 635 in the mid-nineteenth century. The registration of births, marriages and deaths had been occurring spasmodically since the early sixteenth century. The Injunction of 1538, issued by Henry VIII's Chancellor Thomas Cromwell, instructed the clergy of every English and Welsh parish to keep registers of baptisms, burials and marriages. This Injunction was repeated in 1597 by Elizabeth I and included penalties for neglect of this duty as well a requirement that all registers 'be sent annually to a diocesan registrar' for protection (Nissel, 1987, p.6). This Act was unsuccessful as there was a failure to record sufficient details and lapses in security and storage, even though the purpose of this Act was much as it is for civil registers today. In 1590 the Lord Treasurer, Lord Burghley, perceived the possibility of providing population statistics, if the records of England and Wales were brought together (Nissel, 1987, P.6). There was greater interest in population growth in the Country during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, especially with the unreliability of births, deaths and baptism data. Yet there was greater concern for the state of the marriage law in the eighteenth century. This led to the Marriage Act of 1754 which enforced registration of a Church of England marriage in the parish register. A similar Act for births and deaths was defeated in 1753. In 1832 the House of Commons appointed a 'Select Committee to inquire into the whole system of parochial registration'. The committee decided that there 'should be national civil registration of births, marriages and deaths administrated from a General National Office' (Nissel, 1987, p.10) and this led to the 1836 Registration Act and the Marriage Act - both enforced from 1st July 1837.