It is useful to know the diocese to which a parish belonged especially when probate or ecclesiastical records are sought. The larger and more densely populated areas to the north and east of the county were in the Diocese of Lichfield, whilst those to the south western portion of the county were in the Diocese of Worcester. A few parishes were and still are in the Diocese of Gloucester. Diocesan Record Offices (DRO's) are located at Lichfield, Worcester and Gloucester.

The Diocese of Birmingham was founded in 1905; that of Coventry in 1918. However, Warwickshire County Record Office acts as the DRO for the Coventry Diocese and for the parishes in the Diocese of Birmingham outside the City.

Some of the records held at these DRO's cannot be referred to under parish headings as they cover the whole diocese or a group of parishes; in these cases it is advisable to consult the relevant DRO Handlist or a member of staff.


The Hundred was a division of the shire of great importance in Saxon and Norman times. There was a Hundred Court presided over by the Hundred Reeve acting on behalf of the King. The Court, in addition to dealing with disputes, levied taxes. Gradually its function was taken over by parochial and manorial administration under the supervision of the Justices of the Peace. There were a number of Hundreds in Warwickshire in early times, but they were amalgamated into four, by name Barlichway, Kington, Hemlingford and Knightlow. The names lingered on and were even used as divisions in some census records. Some documents relating to the Hundreds survive - for example cases tried at the Knightlow Hundred Court 1694-1720 are in Warwickshire County Record Office.


A Union has been defined as a combination of parishes, allowed by various Poor Laws to erect and maintain a workhouse. It is important to know the Union to which a parish subscribed since an impoverished family or an old and infirm person might well be transferred to the workhouse, which could be in another parish. When a person died the burial might be in a churchyard near the workhouse rather than in the parish of origin.

Overseers of the Poor were replaced by Boards of Guardians under the New Poor Law of 1834. These locally elected Boards in 'Unions' of parishes were to arrange and oversee the relief of the poor through the provision of 'indoor' relief in workhouses and 'outdoor' relief for those remaining in their own homes. The idea was to encourage people to work hard rather than to rely on official charity, with the result that most of the inmates were the sick, infirm and chronic unemployed who could not do so.

These Unions rapidly became an important unit in local government, and the Boards of Guardians were asked for a further 70 years to take on additional functions. The Poor Law Union in which each parish lay is given (based on White's 1851 Directory) and thus the Registration District.

[Last updated: 18th March 2013 ]

Maintained for BMSGH by Peter Abbott, Birmingham, UK