Settlement Examination

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: Genealogy, Gloucestershire, Parish Chest, Poor Law, Uncategorized

When a woman was left with  illegitimate children after her partner had died, she was examined by the local overseers of the poor to find out which parish she belonged to.  Such an examination happened to Ann Howell …

On 27th April 1832, Mitcheldean Overseers of the Poor examined Ann Howell, the daughter of Evan and Mary Howell of Lampeter in Pembrokeshire as to where she had been born.  She was 47 years old and in need of help from the parish.  Her examination revealed a long story involving much travelling.

In 1813, Ann had been hired by Captain James Probert of St. David’s at £5, presumably in a domestic capacity.  After she left Captain Probert’s employ she ‘connected’ with George Sleeman Kendal, a malt mill grinder.  She never married him but lived and travelled with him.  In 1814, she became pregnant and was delivered of a male bastard child at a lodging house in Pembroke.  The child was baptised Thomas Sleeman Kendal in Peterchurch, Herefordshire.  In 1820, Ann had a female bastard child at Brockway in Hewelsfield who was baptised Mary.  In August of that year, a male bastard child called George was baptised at St Mary’s church in Swansea.

Then the family moved to Ruardean and finally Mitcheldean.  In May 1822, a son called William was baptised, the following July a daughter called Margaret arrived on the scene and, finally, a sixth child, a boy called Evan after his grandfather, was baptised at Mitcheldean in August 1825.

The following year, George Sleeman Kendal died and Ann stated that she did not know his legal place of settlement but only that it was near Penzance in Cornwall.

If it weren’t for this examination document, how confident would you be in tying the various baptisms together into one family?

Illegitimacy

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: Genealogy, Gloucestershire, Parish Chest, Poor Law, Research

Every time we go back a generation, we double the number of ancestors that we can add to our family tree, except when we come across an illegitimate child.  As the base born child was baptised with the mother’s surname, it is normally very difficult to find out the name of the father.  Where would you start looking?

 

Apprenticeships for poor children

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: Apprentices, Gloucestershire, Parish Chest, Poor Law

Some apprenticeships were organised by the overseers of the poor in a parish  in order to enable a poor child to provide for himself and his family in future years.  These documents may be found in the parish chest and can often give a little more information than expected.

For example, an apprentice indenture, dated 12th January 1772, found in the Down Hatherley records, relates to young William Gibbs and informs us that William was the son of the late John Gibbs who was a labourer from the hamlet of Wotton,  and that his mother was Dorothy who was then married to John Finch of Wotton, also a labourer.  William was being apprenticed to John Blanch who was a cordwainer in Down Hatherley.

Many years later, on 28th February 1801, William Gibbs was declaring to the overseers that George Piff of Down Hatherley had his apprenticeship indenture.  No reason was given for why he did not have it himself.

 A week later, William Gibbs was examined by the authorities – presumably he had become dependent on the parish for some reason.  In his examination on 4th March 1801, he declared that he had been born in the hamlet of Wotton in the parish of St Mary de Lode and, about 27 years before, had been apprenticed to John Blanch of Down Hatherley, cordwainer, with whom he had served 5 years.  This qualified William for settlement in Down Hatherley and therefore to support from the parish.

On 6th March 1801, the overseers of Down Hatherley were ordered to pay William Gibbs the vast sum of 3 shillings per week.

Settlement Certificates

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: Gloucestershire, Gwinnett, Parish Chest, Poor Law

For many years I tried to find a link between my Worcestershire Gwinnetts and the Gloucestershire family without success.  Then, thanks to an index to Gloucestershire Overseers of the Poor documents, I located a settlement certificate from the overseers of Painswick to their colleagues in Bewdley, stating that they did ‘own and acknowledge’ Richard Gwinnett of Painswick and his wife Ann and their issue.  This meant that, should Richard fail to support himself and his family once he settled in Bewdley, Painswick parish would pay any costs incurred in supporting him and removing him to his home county.  Read more about settlements and removals in my latest book.

The Vestry

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: Genealogy, Gloucestershire, Parish Chest

The parish chest included vestry minutes.  The vestry was the name given to the early equivalent of the current parish council and was the main body for administering the parish in days gone by.  It would appoint the parish officers who were the churchwardens, the overseers of the poor, the highway surveyor, the petty constable, and the parish clerk and would oversee their work and their accounts.  The many tasks of the vestry included setting a rate for the parish (sometimes done by the overseers of the poor), and ensuring its collection, caring for the poor, sick and elderly, upholding the law, maintaining the roads and keeping the church in good repair.  Anything that occurred in the affairs of the other parish officials could also be discussed in the vestry meetings.  The topics dealt with can be seen from the various vestry minutes that have survived.  Whilst the vestry minutes are not generally as informative of family affairs as other parish chest documents may be, they should not be ignored in the search for more information on your ancestors, you may find a fascinating entry relating to your ancestor.  For instance, in the Painswick vestry minutes, you could discover that, on 17th March, 1771, the vestry ordered that the two children of Joseph Scott be removed to the isolation of the local pest house because they were suffering from smallpox.

 

The Parish Chest

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: Apprentices, Books, Parish Chest, Parish Registers, Poor Law, Research

There’s more in the parish chest than baptism, marriage and burial registers. Back in the 16th century, each parish was required to purchase a strong oak chest, with three locks and keys, to hold the church silver, the parish registers and other documents necessary for the administration of the parish. This followed on from the Poor Law Act of 1522 which had ordered a similar chest to be bought to hold securely the alms collected for the poor. The three keys were to be given to the bishop, the minister and a religious layman.

If you have finished searching the registers and want to know more about your ancestor’s life in a parish, look at the settlements and removals, the apprenticeship records and the bastardy bonds (We’ve all got some of those!). Check out Chapter 1 in my latest book, Discover Gloucestershire Ancestors, Volume 2.