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.

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.