In the larger " towns " the officers elected at this meeting may consist of five, seven or nine selectmen, a clerk, a treasurer, three or more assessors, three or more overseers of the poor, one or more collectors of taxes, one or more auditors, one or more surveyors of highways, a road commissioner, a sewer commissioner, a board of health, one or more constables, two or more field drivers, two or more fence viewers, and a tree warden; but in the smaller " towns " the number of selectmen niay be limited to three, the selectmen may assess the taxes, be overseers of the poor, and act as a board of health, and the treasurer or constable may collect the taxes.
Workhouse chaplains are appointed by overseers and guardians on the direction of the Local Government Board, to which alone such chaplains are responsible.
In some counties there is no distinction between town and county poor, but in 1910 only one county had not a county superintendent for the general supervision and care of the poor; towns and cities not subject to special provisions intrusted public relief to one or more overseers of the poor or to commissioners of charities.
This code was based largely on the laws of New England, and, although a source of popular discontent, it gave to the freeholders of each town a voice in the government of their town by permitting them to elect a board of eight overseers which chose a constable and sat as a court for the trial of small causes.
This class is also furnishing the small traders of the towns, overseers on the plantations and public works, petty officials, and to some extent the teachers and professional men of the provincial towns.