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 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.

Gloucestershire Research

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: Genealogy, Gloucestershire, Nonconformist, Parish Registers, Poor Law

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.

Overseers of the Poor

Posted by Liz Jack     Category: Apprentices, Genealogy, Poor Law

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.