The Poor Laws



"An Act of 1662 empowered two justices to order intruders into a parish to leave and return to the one from which they had come. They might, however, apply for a settlement to allow them to stay.
To determine whether a person should be granted a settlement certificate an Examination was made of the person's background. Those documents are of great value to the family historian. They are full of factual information (virtually autobiographies in miniature) giving details of parentage, famiily, occuption and movement from place to place.
Where these Examination Certifiates surive you should find them with the poor law records of the parishin the CRO. "
[The Family Historian's Enquire within, Newbury UK, 1988]

Poor Law Union

"Administered by the parish after the act of 1597 which authorised them to levy a rate to be paid by those who could afford to do so. The collection of the rate was the duty of an 'Overseer' who also gave relief to those in need, either in money or in kind. Overseers Accounts can be very useful record of people living in the parish.
They also apprenticed pauper children. Attempts were made to prevent people likely to become a burden on the Poor Rate from settling in the parish (see Settlements and Examinations)..
The duties of Overseers passed to the Boards of Guardians set up in 1834, the Overseers then becaming assessors and collectors. The Rating and Valuation Act of 1925 finally abolished the office of Overseer."
[The Family Historian's Enquire within, Newbury UK, 1988]
"The measures introduced were designed to suppress vagrancy and begging, but the act of 1601, which continued as the basis of English poor law until 1834, recognized the state's obligation to the needy. Rates were levied on all occupiers of property and overseers of the poor law were aappointed to put the able bodiied to work and proviied their materials for work, and place pauper children as apprentiies. They could give the infirm financial relief, and could etablish 'poor houses' (Workhouse) for those who were unable to work.. In the 17th century legislation was brought in to send paupers back to their home parish to avoid too great a burden on the rates from migrants; this power was abused and parishes did their best to expel paupers whenever possible."
[The New Caxton Encyclopedia, London 1979]
"Legislation providing public relief and assistance for poor. English law (1601), 1st state intervention on behelf of destitute, made them responsibility of parish. Poorhouses built, work provided, local levies reised. Workhouses estab (18th cent).. Abuses aroused discontent in agric. workers and employers, led to Poor Law amendment (1834). This act granted releif only to able bodied poor in strictly regulated Workhouse."
[Collins Concise Encyclopedia, London 1977]


"See Examinations. From 1691 a settleement could be gained by birth in a parish, by various rent /rate qualifications, by being apprenticed to a parishioner or by serving a year in service in the parish. Anyone from the working class wishing to move from one parish to another had to obtain a certificate saying that his parish of settlement would be responsible if he needed poor relief. The system lapsed early in the 19th century. "
[The Family Historian's Enquire within, Newbury UK, 1988]