The movement of people around the world often dominates the headlines. People searching for a home has been an ever present feature of history going back across millennia.
A permanent home, be that a physical structure, a town, a country or a continent, provides a measure of security that most people seek. Yet for many that dream can be impossible to realise.
This is the second blog in a series looking at different sets of records used in family history research and illustrating it with reference to my own wider family tree. In this blog, I am investigating Settlement and Removal records.
Just the name sounds slightly sinister.
How a society cares for its citizens in need is always a complex issue. The different countries of what is now the UK followed a broadly similar approach, with some differences in timescales. My comments, in this blog, are in relation to England and Wales.
Prior to the Dissolution of the Monasteries, during the reign of Henry 8th, the responsibility for providing relief to the poor rested with the many religious orders in what was then a predominantly Catholic country. With this resource gone, the parish became responsible for providing support to its own, in the first instance through the Poor Relief Act of 1601, subsequently referred to as the Old Poor Law. It was 1834 before the New Poor Law was enacted. Between these two dates a lot of legislation came onto the statute books relating to how the poor were to be dealt with. Much of this related to Settlement and Removal.
In basic terms, parishes were feeling the pinch. There needed to be some control over who qualified for relief, and from where, in a country which still had a large agricultural population, often moving around for work.
The solution was the concept of Settlement whereby an individual had to be legally 'settled' in a parish in order to receive relief from that parish. Anyone trying to claim relief outside of their legal parish of Settlement would be removed to their legal parish of Settlement.
Settlement could be obtained in various ways, but mainly through birth, parentage, marriage or some conditions of employment.
My husband's ancestors were Cornish miners, and found themselves caught up in this system. His 3 X great grandfather, Henry Marks, along with his wife Elizabeth and their 6 children, hit hard times when they were living in the parish of Camborne. In the Settlement document, dated 7/8th July 1840,Henry described himself as being born in the parish of Camborne " as I have heard and believe". How sad not to possess tangible proof of where he was born. However, he was certainly baptised in Camborne as I have seen the record.
Henry's father, John, gave evidence that " about 16 or 18 years since, I became chargeable to the parish of Crowan and received relief more than twice from the Overseers of that Parish". So in effect, this meant that son Henry had "inherited" his father's place of Settlement. Henry also stated that he had " done no act to gain settlement in my own right" in the parish of Camborne.
The result of the Settlement examination was that Henry, along with his wife and 6 children, be removed to the parish of Crowan, as illustrated in the image below.
We don't know for sure exactly what happened to the family although they were back living in Camborne when the 1851 census was taken.
There are lots of horrifying statistics to be found regarding the Settlement and Removal system. I was shocked to discover that in 1907, more than 12,000 people were removed under this system, mainly from London and other large cities.
It really feels like nothing much has changed. Those who hold the purse strings are still juggling the finances . Many nations/authorities are still trying to absolve themselves from responsibility. It is, of course, people who suffer and who may never find that security they seek.