Powys Digital History Project

Care of the Poor
The Settlement Laws


The forced removal of paupers
Under the Law of Settlement of 1662 the overseers of the parish could order the forcible removal of any stranger to the parish who might become a burden on the funds available for poor relief.
Children were given settlement in the place where they were born, even if they were illegitimate, so parish overseers tried to remove pregnant, unmarried women before their child was born.
Farmers could not take on workers for seasonal jobs such as the harvest unless they carried a certificate from their home parish to prove that they would be accepted back afterwards

The Quarter Sessions document below is part of the record of an examination of one Richard Howells as a suspected 'rogue and vagabond' by a Justice of the Peace in 1774. There is more from this paper on the following page.

The examination of a
pauper from the
Quarter Sessions,
Michaelmas 1774

County Archives

 Part of Quarter Sesssions paper

The Settlement Act of 1697 had similar aims to the earlier laws, and it laid down that people wishing to move to another parish to live would require a document provided by their home parish as a safeguard against their future poverty.
Around this time paupers became known as "badgers" because of the prominent "P" badge which they were forced to wear, identifying the parish to which they belonged.

There are 4 pages on the Settlement Laws. Use the box links below to view the other pages.