Resettlement orders for Longtown paupers: Introduction
Settlement laws from 1662 allowed the removal of persons from a parish where they resided to their parish of ‘settlement’, which could be determined in various ways: by the parish of birth, continuous residence for more than five years, having a contract for work for a year, renting property worth more than £10, marrying a settled resident, previously receiving poor relief in that parish, by having served a seven year apprenticeship. There was no restriction on moving from place to place: removal orders were applied when an individual became chargeable to the parish rates, that is, a ‘pauper’. Paupers were ‘examined’ as to the circumstances in each case, citing a breach in any of the above conditions which would legitimate a removal order. Competition between parishes both to instigate and to resist removal orders was intense.
The parish basis of settlement rights continued despite massive public protest until 1865 when the Union Chargeability Act established the pooling of rates within a Poor Law Union, and at the same time gave settlement rights after one year of residence. This measure gave greater security to the poor at least within the parishes belonging to the Union.
Surviving documents from the 1840s giving the case histories of individuals who at some time had resided in Longtown show how the regulations were applied under the Poor Law in that decade. An ‘Order for a Removal’ was a printed pro forma with spaces for filling in details of the pauper concerned and the reasons for removal. The ‘Examination’ was a sworn statement by the pauper, and sometimes included an affidavit by others with information to contribute, such as a doctor, relative or independent witness. Normally the pauper was brought to a court (unless prevented by illness) where the case was decided by two Justices of the Peace who signed the documentation.
Extracts from the Removal Orders and/or Examinations of persons connected with Longtown can be accessed from the list below. All are from 1840 to 1850 and some relate to residence in Longtown many years previously. For some, the outcome of the case is noted, but for some remains unknown.
See also the research paper ‘The Poor Law in Longtown 1820 -1840’