Wivenhoe Poor Law

Poor Law records such as settlement certificates, examinations, removals, bonds, and apprenticeships are useful documents for finding out where our ancestors lived and where they came from.

Your parish of settlement might be where you were born, it might be where your father had settlement, or it could be where you had a job earning a certain amount of money, or rented property of a certain value. When a woman married, her parish of settlement became her husband’s. An illegitimate child’s parish of settlement would be their mother’s, which she may well have inherited from her father. When you moved to a different parish, you would take your settlement certificate with you, to be passed to the overseers. This might be for work – you will spot several men with shipbuilding-related occupations such as ropemakers and carpenters – or a widowed woman might leave her husband’s parish of settlement to live with her parents in another parish. Because poor relief was administered at the parish level, if you faced hardship, you would have to return to the parish of your settlement, rather than receive relief in the parish where you lived.

While there’s quite a few people with settlements in places near Wivenhoe, such as Colchester, Elmstead, East Donyland, Fingringhoe, Alresford, there’s a few from further afield in Suffolk and London, and some from even further away than that such as Yorkshire and Cumberland.

Some of the apprenticeship records are very basic with just the year, and the names of the apprentice and their master/mistress. However, some give more information, such as the master/mistress’ abode and/or occupation.

The following are transcribed from a book (Essex Record Office reference D/P 277/13/1) which is available on FamilySearch. You will need to create a login. Go to “Search”, then “Catalog”, and type in Wivenhoe. Then select “Poor houses, Poor law etc” then “Vestry minutes and overseers records, 1457-1925.” Then select the second item, starting “Overseers rates…” The “img” referred to beside each transcription is the image on the digitised microfilm. You can either browse through or type in the number to be taken directly to the image.