Updated 22 Jan 2008

WIRKSWORTH Parish Records 1600-1900

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Photo 563


Settlement Certificate

A scan of this most interesting Settlement Certificate was sent to me by a gentleman from Australia who wishes to remain anonymous.

Grace Hawley was presumably born in Cromford parish around 1800, though no baptism has been found. In August 1818 she was noticeably pregnant, without husband and desireous of moving to Wirksworth parish. Her situation as being a possible burden on the new parish required a Settlement Certificate to be raised, with Wirksworth officially accepting the likely burden. Cromford Church-wardens and Overseers of the Poor were duly notified of the acceptance. The Certificate required the signatures of 9 gentlemen of very considerable standing within the Wirksworth Community, the situation was quite serious. Compare the ease with which we move home 2 miles today. On 15 November 1818, Grace baptised her child Mary at Matlock Parish Church. The space for the father's name is still left blank. Anyone who knows what became of Grace or Mary please contact

To the Church-wardens and Overseers of the Poor
of the Township of Cromford
in the County of Derby

We, the Church-wardens and Overseers of the Poor
of the Township of Wirksworth
in the County of Derby do hereby Certify,
own and acknowledge Grace Hawley and the
child or children of which she is now

to be inhabitants legally settled in our Township
of Wirksworth aforesaid: In Witness whereof
we have hereunto set our Hands and Seals the -
Day of August In the Year of our LORD One
Thousand Eight Hundred and Eighteen

Attested by
Tho. Norris Ince    Richard Hurt      O|
Jas. Wright         Chas.Wright       O| Church-wardens
                    Robt. Blackwall   O|

                    F.G.Goodwin       O| Overseers of the
                    Joseph Fern       O|      Poor

We, Philip Gell and Richard Arkwright
Esquires two of his Majesty's Justices of the 
Peace in and for the said County of Derby
do allow of the above written Certificate: and we do also
certify that Thomas Norris Ince one of the Witnesses
who attested the same, hath this Day made Oath before us
the said Justices, that he the said Thomas Norris Ince
did see the Church-wardens and Overseers of the Poor of the
Township of Wirksworth aforesaid,
(whose Names and Seals are thereunto subscribed and set)
severally sign and Seal the same; and that the Names of
Tho.Norris Ince and Jas. Wright who
are the witnesses attesting the said Certificate, are respectively
of their own proper Hand-writing,
Given under our Hands the Eleventh Day of
August 1818

                                       Philip Gell
                                       Richd Arkwright

Signatories of the Certificate.

Thomas Norris INCE 1824-60, Wirksworth solicitor and genealogist. Clerk to the Magistrates.
Richard HURT 1785-1851. Churchwarden 1815-18. Lead merchant.
Charles WRIGHT 1767-1845. Churchwarden 1814-18. Grocer and tea dealer.
Robert BLACKWALL 1789-1838. Churchwarden 1818-24. Linen and Woolen draper.
Francis Green GOODWIN 1780-1865. Wigwell Hall. Gentry and Clergy.
Joseph FERN
Philip GELL 1752-1822. Hopton Hall. Magistrate, gentry.
Richard ARKWRIGHT 1755-1843. Willersley Hall. Magistrate, gentry.

Settlement Certificates:

    (A more detailed description is given in "A Place of Legal Settlement" by Anne Cole.)

    In 1662 an Act of Settlement was passed to define which parish had responsibility for a poor person. A child's birthplace was its place of settlement, unless of course its mother had a settlement certificate from somewhere else stating that the unborn child was included on the certificate. However from the age of 7 upwards the child could have been apprenticed and gained a settlement for itself. Also, the child could have obtained a settlement for itself by service by the time it was 16.

    Typically, a legitimate child would take it's father's place of settlement, and an illegitimate child would be settled in its place of birth until:

  • He served an apprenticeship elsewhere, or
  • He rented property worth over 10 per year in another parish, or
  • He was unmarried and had worked a year in a parish.
  • He held public office in a parish, or paid the parish poor rate.
  • She married a man of the parish.
  • He inhabited (slept in) the same parish for 40 consecutive days, and was bound as an apprentice by Indenture.

    After 1697, the poor were allowed to enter any parish in search of work, so long as they had a Settlement Certificate signed by the church wardens and overseers of their place of settlement and two magistrates guaranteeing to receive them back should they become chargeable.

    No one was allowed to move from town to town without the appropriate documentation. If a person entered a parish in which he or she did not have official settlement, and seemed likely to become chargeable to the new parish, then an examination would be made by the justices (or parish overseers). From this examination on oath, the justices would determine if that person had the means to sustain himself and, if not, which was that person's parish of settlement. The results of the examination were documented in an Examination Paper, but few of these have survived. As a result of the examination the intruder would then either be allowed to stay, or would be removed by means of what was known as a Removal Order.

    A married woman was normally settled with her husband (exeptions abound).

    Complaints about someone had to be made by churchwardens and overseers within forty days before a magistrate. Settlement papers contain details of every event having a bearing on settlement, from cradle to present circumstances, age, parentage, birthplace, apprenticeship, employment, marriage, names, ages of children, etc. were all written down. They were kept by the parish (normally in the Parish Chest) as evidence of settlement someplace else.

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