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Kent Online Parish Clerks

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The Answer - Removal Orders

A Removal Order was the written authorization prepared by the Overseers of the Poor of a parish requiring an individual resident or resident family of that parish to return to their parish of legal settlement.

A Removal Order was prepared upon an individual or family becoming improvished at the parish of residence to the point of becoming or about to become a burden on the poor rates of that parish.

A Removal Order was also typically prepared poste-haste should a single woman residing in the parish become pregnant and that parish was not her parish of settlement. Although the parish could remove the woman following the birth of the child, the Overseers would not have the same ability to remove the child after it had been born in the parish. Thus, it was easier to remove the pregnant woman back to her place of legal settlement before the child was born.

Preparing a Removal Order was a simple matter provided that the individual or family that was to be removed had arrived in the parish of residence with their Settlement Certificate (q.v.) in hand. The Settlement Certificate was removed from the parish chest and attached to the Removal Order.

If no Settlement Certificate accompanied the individual or family, then the Overseers of the Poor of the parish were required to bring the individuals concerned before them for an examination probing into their previous background of birth, family, employment and physical movements about the country. Based upon the answers provided at the examination the Overseers of the Poor then prepared the Removal Certificate addressed to the parish that the Overseers believed was the correct parish of Settlement for that individual or family.

The Removal Order sets out the names and ages of the individuals being removed by that order, generally all members of one family. If the Removal Order had been prepared on the basis of a Settlement Certificate the Order is likely not to contain much more information of the individual or family being removed.

However, if the Removal Order was based upon examination of the individual or family, then one can perhaps gain a much needed piece of family background to break down a brickwall in their research.

Example 1:

Maidstone Parish Chest, 29 Aug 1769, Lydia Ruck removed from Maidstone to Boxley with her child.

Example 2:

Filiation order signed by Westwell Overseers of the Poor regarding Mary Ruck and her illegitimate child born at Westwell, and therefore not able to be removed, by Edward Rigden indicates that Richard Ruck a carpenter of Leeds was the master of Edward Rigden. Mary Ruck was described as being of Ashford circa 1748 and witnesses to the order were Martha and Francis Whitfeld. Martha and Francis Whitfield pledging support upon bond for Mary Ruck to Westwell parish enabled Mary Ruck to remain at Westwell with her child and not be removed.

Typically, the Removal Order was handed to the local Sheriff who was then charged with the responsibility of escorting the persons named on the Order to the parish boundary where they were to be handed over to the Sheriff of the next parish with the Removal Order, and so on until the removing people were finally at their last parish of legal settlement. The cost to the parish for removing a person or family from a parish was supposed to be paid by the Overseers of the Poor of the parish of legal settlement. However, sometimes the parish of settlement refused to pay the costs and it was necessary for the Overseers of the removing parish to bring the matter to Quarter Sessions for final judgment. In some, instances, if the parish of settlement was quite distant from the removing parish or if the parish of settlement was already labouring with a large proportion of paupers to support it was more economical for the parish of settlement to simply pay to the removing parish a small monthly sum to maintain the paupers at their current place of residence. Alternatively, the parish of settlement could deny that settlement of the persons to be removed had occurred at their parish again necessitating an appearance before Quarter Sessions to adjudicate on the matter.

The Removal Orders and any accompanying documentation were to be kept by the parish of legal settlement in its parish chest. The costs associated with transporting paupers out of a parish and back to their parish of legal settlement can be found among the Overseers' Accounts kept in the parish chest.