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Boston, past employers or other people with relevant knowledge could also be examined. If it was decided someone did not belong to the parish where they were examined, then a removal order could be issued which sent them to their parish of settlement. Boston map certificates permitted people to move about by guaranteeing their own parish would receive them back, or support them financially where they were living. Certificates were often issued retrospectively after a person had moved elsewhere. Moreover, having a certificate did not necessarily mean that person was a pauper, so they may not appear in any other poor law records. Boston a settlement in a parish was dependent on a number of criteria including being born there, having worked there for a year, serving an apprenticeship or having paid rates. Children took their settlement from their father unless they were illegitimate, in which case it was from their mother.

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Married women took their settlement from their husband. Parish officials tended to keep these records as it saved money in future claims and provided evidence in disputed cases. These documents can, therefore, provide us with biographical details of our ancestors we are unlikely to find in many other sources. The types of information recorded are age and place of birth, parish of residence, details of marriage and children, employment or apprenticeships served, and the value of the property they lived in. In the case of illegitimacy, widows, deserted wives and destitute children they can also tell us about husbands and fathers. The settlement examination taken for Thomas Smith, a gardener living in Weybread in Suffolk in 1817, was very comprehensive. In it he described who he worked for over the previous twenty-five years and the wages and clothing he received.

This included time working in different parts of Suffolk, London and Norfolk, and how his job in London came to an end when his employer’s business failed. He mentioned family members and who they were married to, as he spent time staying with them Finally, he tells how he was ‘drawn for the Militia’ and served in the East Suffolk Regiment for about three weeks, and when he married. Settlement certificates tell us which parish a person belonged to at the time they were taken. They can tell us their occupations, ages, marital status and details about wives, husbands and children. Overseers’ and churchwardens’ account books record both payments to paupers and money received from local ratepayers towards the poor rates. They may also include the costs involved in establishing a person’s settlement in a parish. Some also kept lists of people who arrived in their parish with a certificate from elsewhere.

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