View Full Version : How rich is the Poor Law?
01-03-2005, 8:42 PM
In my rompings through the one-name history of the DURKs (and every imaginable bizarre variant) I've encountered a small number of Poor Law documents, at least one of which is of current interest.
The abstract of it, from FHO, is as follows:
Name HENRY DURKE
from STOKE ST.MARY, SOM
to AWLISCOMBE, DEV
Event: Settlement (Poor Law)
Details AGED 70
Marriage 1: SARAH KEPPLE; 2 children
Marriage 2: MARY WOOD
Marriage 3: SARAH HEM; 3 children
Marriage 4: FANNY BOURTON/BOLTO
Reference TAUNTON ST.MARY RECS
This has handily enabled me to link up quite a few Henry DURKs as being one and the same person, without actually seeing the original text.
The question, though, is this: How much more detail would there usually be on such a document?
I have Sarah CHAPPLE's marriage, two children and death; Mary WOOD's marriage and Fanny BORTON's marriage, but can find no mention of Sarah HEM on either the Devon Marriage Index or the Somerset one.
Would the original be likely to tell me whereabouts & whenabouts his third marriage was, and the names of the three children by that marriage?
01-03-2005, 10:30 PM
The detail of names of previous wives suggests to me that this is a settlement examination rather than a settlement certificate.
If it is an examination, it may be quite lengthy and well worth checking for the full detail. it is likely to mention parishes where the chap has lived and worked; and quite probably the parishes where he married and had children.
In your shoes, this is a document I would definitely check out further.
01-03-2005, 11:31 PM
Many thanks for that
I've got a few references to Poor Law docs but not gone into any thus far as they've not been necessary, so I've not got the niceties of what they contain.
I know that Henry was removed following this to Awliscombe, Devon, whence he went some time after his second marriage but before his fourth (which took place there).
There was a previous Poor Law case removing him from Awliscombe to St Mary Magdalene's, Taunton, in 1802.
This then took him back to Awliscombe; he was apparently removed again in 1825 back to Taunton, St Mary Mags.
He was then convicted of stealing a sheep later in 1825 (presumably to feed his family, no parish on earth wanting him) and deported to Australia, en route to which he died at the age of 70.
His wife was then removed (having no support) back to Honiton until she caught typhoid, when she was removed back to Taunton in 1830.
And people complain about the modern welfare state...
Anyway, to cut the above very short, I've a load of DURK variants born between his marriage to Mary WOOD and his marriage to Fanny BORTON (with a marriage in between).
Knowing who his 3 (via Sarah HEM) were (and their marriage) might link a few groups together.
Since you suspect that's the sort of info these things might contain I'll give Somerset Archives a bell in the morning...
02-03-2005, 1:28 AM
Some contain more information than others...
"Gott Charity BRANKLYN put on the pencon [pension] at 6s a month : Mrs BRANKLYN was a Widow when she marryd. Mr BRANKLYN & has a Child Nathaniel SMITH about 12 year old by a former husband Nathaniel SMITH. Thomas BRANKLYN aged about 33 past from St. Giles Highgate Mid. Says he was bound Apprentice to VAUGHAN in White Hart Yard a Charcol seller, about 19 year ago & served him there about 5 year. His widow is now alive, his master gave him up his Indentures, he says he never was in any service. He says he was marryd to Elizabeth his wife at Fleet about 3 year ago by whom he has one child Charity about a year & a quarter old. He marryd to Susan his first wife at Lambs Chapple in London about 13 year ago by whom he had two children Sarah 14 year old & Eliz. 11 year old. He says he never was a housekeeper. 6 November 1710 "T" the mark of Thomas Brancklyn"
"Thomas SHEPHEARD lived formerly in the mews & was since a housekeeper in Bedfordbury in 1705 & 1706 & a Scavenger .... to have a certificate to Warsop in Com. Nottingham."
02-03-2005, 1:29 AM
and the tragic story of a young woman whose husband was away at sea:
"Sarah SANDERS wife of Charles SANDERS was marryd in the Fleet a year ago the 17 February. He then bought & sold fish about the streets. He is now at sea in the Prince George. She says he never was an apprentice or servant to her knowledge and she says he never was a housekeeper. She says he was born in Cullumton in Exeter and his father was a housekeeper then. She says she has a cancer in her breast. The mark of X Sarah Sanders".
02-03-2005, 1:34 AM
And the original documents look like this:
A load of them like these covering the period 1705 to 1795 have been scanned by Archive CD Books, and are available here.
Removal and settlement examinations can be worth their weight in gold, but can also give you tantalising glimpses into your ancestor's pasts which throw up yet more questions.....! My husband's Brock ancestors spent a lot of time being shunted from one workhouse to another (mainly between Lambeth and Camberwell) and I was able to find several settlement and removal orders for them at the Greater London Record Office as was (now the Metropolitan Archives). One such settlement examination has left me with more questions than answers - but that's the name of the game isn't it? The gist is this, George Brock and his family underwent a "voluntary examination" in December 1815 which declared they were to be removed from the Parish of St Mary Lambeth back to "their" Parish of St Giles, Camberwell. In April 1816 there was another "voluntary examination" of Sarah Brock, wife of George Brock, which reads - "The examinent upon her oath saith that she hath heard her husband say that he hired himself as a yearly servant about forty years ago unto Mr Thomas Clark of South Lambeth in the Parish of St Mary Lambeth in the County of Surrey at the yearly wage of 24 pounds and continued in the service for the space of 2 years and 6 months. This deponant further saith that she hath four children namely Ann aged 11 years, Matilda aged 8 years, John aged 6 years and Henry aged 4 years. This deponant further saith that her husband is now in confinement and that she hath heard him say that he hath done no act to gain him a subsequent settlement, that she is poor and became chargeable to the Parish of St Giles." So, Who was Mr Thomas Clark of South Lambeth? Not an easy name to track down in the best of places, let alone Lambeth. George is 'in confinement' - in prison perhaps? Where? Why?
If you can find such documents (or any other poor law records) for any of your family, go for them :)
02-03-2005, 4:04 PM
To add to that, and the usefulness of poor law records, I would add this.
How often do you hear researchers say "My family were poor labourers, and therefore they never appear in records. Its easy to find records for rich people".
Ladies and gentlemen.... if you look in the right places, there is so much more recorded about the poor people, the labourers and agricultural labourers, and the unemplyed and destitute, and when you find it, the information is so much better!!
Real meat on the bones stuff. Its what I call the family history of the "ordinary" people. And it is fascinating!
Go for it. Turn over the right stones.
16-03-2005, 12:40 AM
It's now been ordered... so a warning to all you late-nighters: you may get more of this yet!
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