Records of the Poor in England<br />by Alan E. Mann, Diane Loosle, and Mark E. Gardner<br />
Background<br />Prior to the establishment of the Church of England, much of the responsibility for the care of the poor r...
Old Poor Law Acts<br />1564  -  Aimed to suppress beggars.<br />1572  -  Office of Overseer of the Poor created<br />1598 ...
The Act 1601<br />Families should be the first source of assistance and the parish to be second.<br />Stock, such as flax,...
The Settlement Act of 1662<br />Relief was received by<br />Some who held public office in the parish.<br />Paid the Paris...
The Settlement Act of 1662<br />Relief was received by<br />A legitimate child, aged under 7 whose father lived in the par...
More Poor Law Acts<br />1697  -  Newcomers could carry certificates of settlement from their parish of legal residence. (T...
More Poor Law Acts<br />1744  -  The legal settlement of a child was to be the same as its mother rather than the parish o...
Records of the Poor<br />Part of the secular records of the parish.<br />Kept in the parish chest.<br />Included:<br />Min...
A sample churchwardens’ account, 1645.<br />
Overseers’ accounts.<br />
Settlement certificate of Daniel Martin and family, 1752.<br />
Settlement examination of Mary Hall, 1791.<br />
Removal order for Mary Hall.<br />
Apprenticeship indenture of Mary Harfoot, 1776.<br />
A list of parishioners being assisted to emigrate to America, 1836.<br />
Quarter Session Records<br />When matters became difficult for the churchwardens or overseers to handle, they would be ref...
A settlement certificate, confirmed by the Justices of the Peace at Quarter Sessions, 1766.<br />
Removal order<br />confirmed by <br />the Justices.<br />
Bastardy Examination <br />of Ann Miles, 1807.<br />
Bastardy bond issued by Justices of the Peace at Quarter Session.<br />
A sample register of poor apprenticeships.<br />
Second half of the page.<br />
Transportation orders issued at Quarter Sessions.<br />
Example of printed Quarter Session minutes.<br />
The Workhouse<br />1723  -  The Workhouse Act – workhouses could be established by parishes if needed.<br />A large city, ...
In defense of the work-house diet, Tetbury, Gloucestershire, 1799.<br />
The New Poor Law<br />Growing unrest among the poor, particularly in rural areas, led to riots and attacks on poorhouses. ...
Classes of the Poor<br />The Sick			• TheAged<br />•  Orphans		 	• Foundlings<br />The Infirm		• Lunatics<br />The Widowed...
The Philosophy<br />“The Commission devised a simple way to eradicate pauperism at minimum cost and bureaucratic intervent...
The laws were considered by many to be very harsh.<br />
The Union Workhouse<br />
Separation of the Sexes<br />
Types of Records<br />Include:<br />Minutes of meetings of the Guardians. <br />Accounts of the Relieving Officers.<br />R...
Finding Records<br />Parish chest records deposited at a local repository – such as the County Record Office – at the same...
Some indexes of records are being created.<br />
Summary<br />Before 1834, look to the parishes for records of the poor.<br />After 1834, look to the union workhouses for ...
Read More About It<br />Annals of the Poor, by Eve McLaughlin, FHL book 942 H6mer.<br />Poor Law Union Records, by J.S.W. ...
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Finding The English Poor

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Presentation on records kept on the poor in England and the laws that led to these records being kept. Covers 1534 to 1900's. Aimed at family history research.

Published in: Self Improvement, Spiritual
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Finding The English Poor

  1. 1. Records of the Poor in England<br />by Alan E. Mann, Diane Loosle, and Mark E. Gardner<br />
  2. 2. Background<br />Prior to the establishment of the Church of England, much of the responsibility for the care of the poor rest with the monks and monasteries of the Roman Catholic Church.<br />The Church of England was established in 1531 and the monasteries were dissolved 1536-1539.<br />Care of the poor now rest with the Church of England parishes and their churchwardens.<br />This remained the case until 1834.<br />
  3. 3. Old Poor Law Acts<br />1564 - Aimed to suppress beggars.<br />1572 - Office of Overseer of the Poor created<br />1598 - Every parish was to appoint<br /> Overseers of the Poor.<br />1601 - The most comprehensive and significant act of the old poor laws.<br />2-4 Overseers of the Poor to be elected to serve with the churchwardens.<br />Rates to be assessed from householders and landowners. <br />
  4. 4. The Act 1601<br />Families should be the first source of assistance and the parish to be second.<br />Stock, such as flax, wool, thread, etc. to be purchased to provide work for the poor.<br />Names of those who are receiving relief to be recorded.<br />Pauper children to be bound out as apprentices.<br />Buildings to house the poor to be built on waste land.<br />
  5. 5. The Settlement Act of 1662<br />Relief was received by<br />Some who held public office in the parish.<br />Paid the Parish Rate<br />An unmarried person who had worked for 1 year in the parish<br />A woman who had married a man in the parish<br />
  6. 6. The Settlement Act of 1662<br />Relief was received by<br />A legitimate child, aged under 7 whose father lived in the parish<br />A child who was illegitimate and born in the parish<br />Apprenticed to a master in the parish<br />A person resident in the parish for 40 days after having given the parish authorities prior written notice of his intention to do so.<br />
  7. 7. More Poor Law Acts<br />1697 - Newcomers could carry certificates of settlement from their parish of legal residence. (This allowed relief from the original parish)<br />The poor were to wear a ‘P’ for identification on their right shoulder. Revoked in 1810.<br />1723 - Workhouses could be established.<br />1733 - Women forced to declare the father of an illegitimate child so he could be charged with its care - Bonds of Indemnity or Bastardy Bonds.<br />
  8. 8. More Poor Law Acts<br />1744 - The legal settlement of a child was to be the same as its mother rather than the parish of birth.<br />1782 - Parishes grouped into unions. Outdoor relief allowed – saved on the cost of running workhouses. Wearing the P not enforced for orderly paupers.<br />1795 - No one could be removed from a parish unless they were healthy and had applied for relief. Some parishes began to use rates to assist the poor to emigrate.<br />
  9. 9. Records of the Poor<br />Part of the secular records of the parish.<br />Kept in the parish chest.<br />Included:<br />Minutes and accounts of the Overseers.<br />Records of receipts and disbursements of funds.<br />Settlement and bastardy examinations.<br />Settlement certificates and removal orders.<br />Registers of apprentices and indentures.<br />Workhouse admissions and discharges.<br />Emigration lists, etc.<br />
  10. 10.
  11. 11. A sample churchwardens’ account, 1645.<br />
  12. 12. Overseers’ accounts.<br />
  13. 13. Settlement certificate of Daniel Martin and family, 1752.<br />
  14. 14. Settlement examination of Mary Hall, 1791.<br />
  15. 15. Removal order for Mary Hall.<br />
  16. 16. Apprenticeship indenture of Mary Harfoot, 1776.<br />
  17. 17.
  18. 18. A list of parishioners being assisted to emigrate to America, 1836.<br />
  19. 19. Quarter Session Records<br />When matters became difficult for the churchwardens or overseers to handle, they would be referred to the Quarter Sessions.<br />The local county court, held quarterly.<br />Including:<br />Cases of runaway fathers or apprentices.<br />Applications for maintenance of a child.<br />Disputes over legal settlement.<br />Convict transportation orders.<br />Accounts of charities and lunatics.<br />Insolvent debtors.<br />
  20. 20. A settlement certificate, confirmed by the Justices of the Peace at Quarter Sessions, 1766.<br />
  21. 21. Removal order<br />confirmed by <br />the Justices.<br />
  22. 22. Bastardy Examination <br />of Ann Miles, 1807.<br />
  23. 23. Bastardy bond issued by Justices of the Peace at Quarter Session.<br />
  24. 24. A sample register of poor apprenticeships.<br />
  25. 25. Second half of the page.<br />
  26. 26. Transportation orders issued at Quarter Sessions.<br />
  27. 27. Example of printed Quarter Session minutes.<br />
  28. 28. The Workhouse<br />1723 - The Workhouse Act – workhouses could be established by parishes if needed.<br />A large city, with a number of parishes, would also build a workhouse (or poorhouse). <br />Served as home for the sick, aged, and orphans.<br />Conditions in the workhouse would act as a deterrent to ‘the idle poor;’ relief only available to those desperate enough to seek it.<br />
  29. 29. In defense of the work-house diet, Tetbury, Gloucestershire, 1799.<br />
  30. 30. The New Poor Law<br />Growing unrest among the poor, particularly in rural areas, led to riots and attacks on poorhouses. <br />In 1832 the government appointed a Royal Commission to review the system, which resulted in the New Poor Law Act of 1834. <br />Poor Law Unions were established.<br />Each union was made up of several parishes.<br />Boards of Guardians were appointed/elected.<br />Each Union was to build a workhouse. (1865)<br />
  31. 31. Classes of the Poor<br />The Sick • TheAged<br />• Orphans • Foundlings<br />The Infirm • Lunatics<br />The Widowed • Deserted wives<br />School attendees<br />The unemployed able-bodied<br />Destitute paupers (the deserving poor)<br />Vagrants (the delinquent poor)<br />
  32. 32. The Philosophy<br />“The Commission devised a simple way to eradicate pauperism at minimum cost and bureaucratic intervention – the system itself, an institutional stimulus-response experiment in utilitarianism, would compel the indigent to reform in order to avoid conditions in the workhouse which were to be deliberately worse than that of an ‘independent labourer of the lowest class,’ a principle known as ‘less eligibility.’ Outdoor relief was to be phased out within two years, and paupers accepting indoor relief were to be made to feel like unwelcome guests.” – Poor Law Union Records, by J.S.W. Gibson, FHL book 942 P37gj.<br />
  33. 33. The laws were considered by many to be very harsh.<br />
  34. 34. The Union Workhouse<br />
  35. 35. Separation of the Sexes<br />
  36. 36. Types of Records<br />Include:<br />Minutes of meetings of the Guardians. <br />Accounts of the Relieving Officers.<br />Records of expenditures.<br />Records of admissions and discharges.<br />Lists of inmates.<br />Registers of births, baptisms, deaths and burials.<br />Registers of apprentices and indentures.<br />Registers of creed.<br />Records of families assisted to emigrate.<br />Medical records.<br />
  37. 37. Finding Records<br />Parish chest records deposited at a local repository – such as the County Record Office – at the same time as the parish registers.<br />Sources at the British Reference desk can supply addresses.<br />Some have been microfilmed. Will be found in the FHLC under the name of the county or parish and the topics of “Church Records” or “Poorhouses, poor law, etc.”<br />Post-1834 records are found under the latter.<br />
  38. 38.
  39. 39.
  40. 40.
  41. 41.
  42. 42. Some indexes of records are being created.<br />
  43. 43. Summary<br />Before 1834, look to the parishes for records of the poor.<br />After 1834, look to the union workhouses for the records of the poor.<br />The survival and contents of records varies widely.<br />But the records can reveal fascinating details about the lives of your ancestors. <br />
  44. 44. Read More About It<br />Annals of the Poor, by Eve McLaughlin, FHL book 942 H6mer.<br />Poor Law Union Records, by J.S.W. Gibson, FHL book 942 P37gj – in four parts.<br />Each part covers the existence of records in a different region of England.<br />The Effects of the New Poor Law, by Jean A. Cole, FHL book 942 P3cj.<br />www.workhouses.gov.uk<br />

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