From medieval times, the importance and role of the parish in local government was very clear. The parish was involved in civil and religious matters and it wasn't until well into the 19th century that its civil role and function transferred to other organisations.
Parishes that had a large population or covered a large area were often divide into tithings. Stroud was no exception.
The parish was responsible for the maintenance of roads (highways) and the welfare of the poor. Money to fund the parishes' responsibilities was raised through charging rates on property.
Prominent and wealthy members of the parish met once a year to appoint the parish officers for the year and approve the level of rates to be charged on property. They also met when important decisions needed to be taken. These meetings were known as vestry meetings.