In its original meaning, a parish is an established area of land with a place of worship and a minister. In this sense, the first known parish was that of Chislet, St.Mary the Virgin (East Kent) established by charter in 605. The parish priest may have a number of different titles - Rector, Vicar or Parson, for instance.
Church of England Edit
In English use, as well as else where, the parish quickly became the basic unit of local government with the Church Wardens responsible for a wide range of civic duties, as well as their religious ones. For this reason it is still the case that whilst a Parochial Church Council may be elected only by those on the Electoral Roll, any parishioner may attend the Annual Vestry Meeting to elect the Wardens.
Outside the British isles the parish may not be so well defined owing to the greater distances between Anglican churches: as they will often be gathered communities of worshippers the fixed boundary is perhaps less appropriate.
Episcopal Church, USA Edit
In ECUSA use, a parish is a congregation which is self-supporting, and does not receive support from the diocese. The Parish is generally not a geographically defined area in ECUSA use.