The lesser nobility and the gentry were the backbone of Government outside the capital cities. They sat on Commissions of Peace, called the musters in times of war, and represented the shires in Parliament. On the Anglo-Scottish border, they were responsible, under the great feudal magnates, for maintaining some semblance of order.
The gentry were expected to ensure that Acts of Parliament were enforced locally, and were in charge of administering the Poor Laws and helping the King's Commissioners collect taxes.
They were also predominantly, the class from which the Clergy was drawn. It was this class that the Tudors promoted, bringing regularity and administration into local government and creating obligations and customs in a way of life that lasted more or less until the Second World War – the Squire and the Parson, hand in hand, running the country.