Hackney was a parish in the historic county of Middlesex. The parish church of St John-at-Hackney was built in 1789, replacing the nearby former 16th-century parish church dedicated to St Augustine (pulled down in 1798). The original tower of that church was retained to hold the bells until the new church could be strengthened; the bells were finally removed to the new St John's in 1854. See details of other, more modern, churches within the original parish boundaries below.
The vestry of the parish, in common with all parishes in England, was entrusted with various administrative functions from the 17th century. The parish vestry administered the Poor Law until 1837, it became part of the Poor Law Union of Hackney. The ecclesiastical and civil roles of the parish increasingly diverged, and by the early nineteenth century they covered different areas.
A distinct civil parish dates from 1855, with the incorporation of The Vestry of the Parish of Hackney in the County of Middlesex by section 42 of the Metropolis Management Act. With Stoke Newington it formed part of the Hackney District, governed by the Hackney District Board of Works, within the area of the Metropolitan Board of Works. In 1894, the district and board were dissolved, with the Hackney vestry taking on its duties within the parish.
In 1889 Hackney was included in the new County of London, and in 1900 the vestry was dissolved with the parish becoming the Metropolitan Borough of Hackney. The civil parish was abolished when the borough became part of the London Borough of Hackney in 1965.
The boundaries of the civil parish were identical to the ancient parish, and it covered 3,289 acres (13.3 km2). The populations recorded in National Censuses were:
Hackney St John's Vestry 1801–1899
Ecclesiastical parish subdivided
The ancient parish, dedicated to St John the Baptist, was in the Diocese of London. From 1825, as the population of Hackney increased, a number of new ecclesiastical parishes were carved out of the ancient parish. This did not affect the local government arrangements:
- South Hackney and West Hackney in 1825 (the remainder now being known as Hackney St. John). Each of these parishes was subsequently subdivided.
- Stamford Hill in 1828
- Dalston in 1844
- Homerton in 1846
- Upper and Lower Clapton in 1855
- Clapton Park in 1873
- Hackney Local Government
- Description of Hackney Parish in 1839
- Description of Hackney Parish in 1868
- Hackney Churches
- Guide to the Local Administrative Units of England, Vol.1, Frederic Youngs, London, 1979
- Statistical Abstract for London, 1901 (Vol. IV).