Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Settlement records for Bromley

Bromley Archives record of the month for May 2014 feature settlement records. These often neglected record sources can be very useful in researching seventeenth century persons onwards as despite repeal of the Settlement Act in 1834 the principle of settement remained until 1876.
Settlement can be defined as a legal right to Poor Relief arising out of a settled place of abode. The 1601 Poor Law Act laid out that a person was legally a settled inhabitant of a parish after abode for one month, so that Parish vestries began to operate an unofficial system of refusing relief to paupers who had settlement elsewhere.
In the 1662 Settlement Act the principle was established  that anyone entering a township and occupying a tenement worth less then £10 per annum may be removed by parochial Overseers of the Poor acting on the authority of an order made by two Justices of the Peace who had examined the individual on oath. Under such orders constables would escort the person to his original place of abode. If a person managed to stay for forty days he obtained settlement at the new abode.
From 1685  the person was required to submit written notice of residence to the Overseers. However in 1691 the forty days were made to commence from publication of  the notice in the parish church. It is from 1691 therefore that most surviving records of removal begin.
The main records relating to Settlement are:

  • An Indemnity Certificate given to a pauper by his own churchwardens
  • The Examination of a pauper by church wardens or magistrate prior to a Removal Order. This refers to family and circumstances and can contain a great deal of useful biography.
  • The Removal Order,made out in duplicate a copy  for each parish the application made by the Overseer to two Justices of the Peace.
  • Quarter Sessions Records of appeals against removal order,sometimes with a counsels opinion on the matter.
  • Vestry minutes and accounts or correspondence of overseers and constables. 
The Bromley records on display are Examinations of John Barton and William Costin before Justices of the Peace from a volume of Bromley Petty Sessional Division Examinations dating from 1770-1777 which is coincidentally the period of Baptismal Register I am completing as part of my work to publish the complete Parish Register series for Bromley. Settlement records are a useful resource for some ambiguous entries in the Parish Register.
In part I have blogged on these records as a an email enquiry sought to understand what record a catalogue reference referred to. Bromley Archive has various records relating to Settlement including Vestry records for several parishes affected by an individual's Settlement examination and The Justices decisions.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Bromley Baptismal Register 1812-1829

The Baptismal register has two features which are unusual in parish records.
The first is a double decker entry which the Reverend Henry Smith D.D. employs,that is to say that the register number is used for two different persons entry. This was a technical infringement of the requirement to enter a single entry for each individual. Since returns from the Parish Register were required to the Home Office for population totals to be maintained there was a purpose in this legal requirement and since the Reverend Smith had occupied the living of Minister of Bromley since 1785 it is puzzling that in the final two years of his ministry he should develop this spasmodic entry system. He is replaced in 1818 as Minister.
Entries from 1816-1818 are affected.Baptisms on different dates outnumber those on the same date. The Minister of Bromley has a neat hand and is capable of producing very small characters so that all entries are legible. My thought on first encountering such tiny hand writing was that during the Napoleonic wars sailors often produced such miniature hand writing and I wondered whether the Minister had learned the skill from them.
His successor is Reverend James Edward Newell who served as curate previously in the parish. I presume he retired from ministry in 1826 after which date he does not sign the register. He leaves an extraordinary record in the blank pages after the 1829 baptisms are completed.In two pages and "with great care" he provides two tables,the first recording baptisms marriages and burial totals for each year and the second tables analyses by age ranges each event. I have to admire the careful preparation of the data (presumably in retirement) and the value of the record in submitting information for 1831 population details.
The Civil parish of Bromley has population data has been compiled by academic research and  recorded as follows:
1801      2700
1811      2965
1821      3147
1831      4002
1841      4325
1851      4127
1861      5505
1871      10674
1881      15154
1891      21684
1901      27354
1911      33646
1921      35052
1931      43832
Mottingham was an extra parochial area until 1857 ;it became a civil parish in 1866 see civil parish history of Mottingham
Both of these aspects of the register are leading to a revision of the Bromley Archives catalogue entry.
The transcripts now complete are joining my other transcript work for Bromley Bromley Transcripts Kent Online Parish Clerks.