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William Andrews Holdsworth was the author of several popular legal handbooks, which ran into many editions. They were aimed at non-specialists, explaining topics such as landlord and tenant rights, will-making and acting as an executor, bankruptcy and married women's property legislation. The Handy Book of Parish Law was first published in 1859, and ran to twelve editions, of which this is the third (1872). The parish is still the lowest level of local government, particularly in the countryside, and parish councils formerly made many of the decisions which affected day-to-day life in their locality. Regular changes in the law required frequent updating, and the significance of certain bodies altered over time. This is a useful source for local and family historians, which helps unravel the complexities of parish law, which applied not only to church management but to poor law unions and aspects of local government.