Having completed my first book on ‘Victorian Prisoners in Gloucester Gaol’, I am now embarking on a new project to document the records available in the county for researching Gloucestershire ancestors. Having researched locally for twenty years now, I am obviously familiar with the main repositories such as Gloucestershire Archives, the Local Studies collections in the various libraries, the GFHS Family History Centre and the local history societies but want to produce as comprehensive a list as possible in the book so I would be pleased to hear from anyone who has found any funny, quirky or downright unusual sources of family information that could be included. Any references used in the book will be acknowledged.
Poor Law was administered by each parish following an Act of Parliament in 1597. It authorized the parish to levy a rate to be paid by those who could afford to so do. Collection of the rate was the duty of the Overseers, who also distributed the money to those in need, either in cash or in kind. Overseers had to keep accounts and they are very useful for finding out more about the poorer members of society.
As well as distributing money, the Overseers could organize apprenticeships for poor children and orphans, could question single mothers and order reputed fathers to pay maintenance so that the illegitimate children were not a charge on the parish, and could examine and remove people to their parish of origin who were in need of funds but who perhaps were not qualified to belong to that particular parish. So Overseers Papers include apprenticeships, bastardy bonds, settlement examinations and certificates and removal orders as well as rates for the poor and details of poor relief.