The Good Old Days – never were!
Wiltshire Removal Orders
Poor P*RR*TTs, like so many others, were often harshly treated in the past. One way in which this manifested itself was that if they were – or seemed likely to be – unable to support themselves they could be forcibly ‘removed’ from where they were living and sent back to the area in which they had legal ‘settlement’. What did this mean?
After the introduction of the Settlement Act of 1662 it was mandatory for each person to have a parish of legal settlement. This was the only parish in which they were entitled to receive Poor Relief. The parish of settlement was usually a person’s parish of birth, or where they had lived or worked for at least a year and it was the only parish in which they could legally receive poor relief. A person had to undergo a settlement examination by the vestry or Justices of the Peace in order to obtain legal settlement in a different parish. If successful, they were granted a settlement certificate.
If someone required relief when living in a parish where they did not have legal settlement, the overseers could issue a removal order to have them transferred back to their parish of settlement. Most record offices have bundles of these ‘Removal Orders’ and are well worth the trouble of searching. Here are a few from Wiltshire:
13 March 1802: Removal orders were issued for Charles Perrett, his wife Ann, their daughter Sarah (5) and their son Charles (2). They were to be moved from Brighton, Sussex, back to their village of legal settlement, North Bradley, Wiltshire. Whether this order was carried out is uncertain, since Charles’s order is annotated ‘removal order suspended’. Perhaps you know what happened to them?
16 September 1813: Henry Parratt was ordered to be removed from Wroughton, Wiltshire to Bristol St Philip.
1 November 1831: John Perrett, his wife Thirza, their twin daughters Ann and Emma (17 months) and their daughter Sarah (5) were to be moved from Erdington, Wiltshire to their place of legal settlement, Great Cheverell, Wiltshire.