overseers of highways

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An Act of 1555 required the annual appointment at Easter of a Surveyor of the Highways for each parish or township. Like the overseer of the poor, this officer was empowered to raise local rates; his accounts had to be approved at the end of his term of office, and he was answerable to the Justices of the Peace. A particular responsibility was the supervision of statute labour, whereby local people were called upon to maintain their roads. The office of overseer was unpaid and was usually filled by rotation. Accounts of the overseers of the highways do not survive in the same bulk as do the accounts of the overseers of the poor; most date from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. In 1835 a new system was introduced whereby JPs appointed paid surveyors for groups of parishes.

Subjects: History.

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