England, Norfolk Poor Law Union Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)
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England, Norfolk Poor Law Union Records, 1796-1900 .
|This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.|
|Flag of England|
|Location of Norfolk, England|
|Record Type||Poor Law Union|
|Norfolk Record Office|
What is in the Collection?
This collection will include records from 1796 to 1900.
Records created by the parish vestry or union to care for the poor are collectively known as poor law records. Poor Law records include all of the documents created in the collecting, dispersing, and protecting the funds for the legitimate poor of the parish. The first poor law came into effect with the Poor Law Act of 1601. Under this law the Church of England parish served as a unit of the local government in managing the care of the poor who lived in the parish. The vestry council, or “vestry” for short, was the administrative body of local government. After 1834, responsibility for the care of the poor fell on the Poor Law Unions and their workhouses. Poor Law Unions encompassed several parishes.
Poor law records contain many documents. Here is a list of some of the records created as part of the poor relief effort:
- Vestry council minutes document the discussions and decisions of the vestry.
- Churchwardens’ rate books list the tax receipts.
- Overseers’ disbursement books track the distribution of money and in-kind materials.
- Settlement certificates identify an individual’s or family’s parish of legal settlement. The Settlement Law of 1662 required that a person have legal settlement in the parish before he or she could qualify for aid.
- Settlement examinations were conducted to establish the financial condition of the individual or family who had left their parish of legal settlement without obtaining a settlement certificate and to determine their parish of legal settlement.
- Removal orders were issued to have the individual or family removed from the parish and transported back to their parish of legal settlement.
- Apprenticeship indentures placed orphans and the children of poor families under the care of a master, which helped limit the costs of their maintenance.
- Bastardy documents of various types were created to deal with children born out of wedlock.
- Admission and Discharge registers that give the dates and places of the term of relief.
- Birth and Death registers including names, dates and to which parish the individuals belong.
- Correspondence from local authorities to the National Poor Law commission.
Parish pages for the Diocese of Norwich in FamilySearch wiki denote the Poor Law Union for the parish and are linked to Norfolk Poor Law Unions which contains history of the pre-1836 workhouses.
The poor law was instituted as a way to provide necessities and relief to the poor. Many types of records were created in the process. These records include information about both the poor population as well as those who paid taxes to support the poor. In many parishes the taxation record is a valuable means of locating by surname those who paid the poor rate to the parish.
These records are generally very reliable.
Poor Law Union records may contain the following information:
- Name of parish
- Date of events or transactions
- Names of individuals involved
- Family relationships
- Specific residences involved
- Children’s ages
- Birth and/or death dates
How Do I Search the Collection?
To begin your search, it would be helpful if you knew the following information:
- The names of your ancestors
- The name(s) of the parishes where the ancestor lived
- The time period of when the ancestor(s) lived
To search the collection image by image select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page:
⇒Select the appropriate "County"
⇒Select the appropriate "Poor Law Union"
⇒Select the appropriate "Location"
⇒Select the appropriate "Record Type" which will take you to the images.
Search the collection by image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination.
What Do I Do Next?
When you have located your ancestor in the records, carefully evaluate each piece of information about them. Compare the information in these records with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to compare the information of more than one family or person to make this determination. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors.
- Bastardy records may help you discover the name of the child’s father
- Use the records to track a poor family’s movements between parishes, even if the parishes are in different counties.
- Use the naturalization information to find their naturalization papers in the county court records. It can also help you locate immigration records such as a passenger list, which would usually be kept at the port of entry into the United States.
- Use the ages listed to determine an approximate birth date. This date along with the place of birth can help you find a birth record. Birth records often list biographical and marital details about the parents and close relatives other than the immediate family.
What if I Can't Find Who I'm Looking For?
It is often helpful to extract the information on all families with the same surname in the same general area. If the surname is uncommon, it is likely that those living in the same area were related. Be sure to extract all families before you look at other records.
Use poor law records to find the names of a couple and their children. (Some records identify an entire family, while others name only the father, mother, or some of the children.) These records may identify persons for whom other records do not exist.
How You Can Contribute
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Citing this Collection
Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.
- "England, Norfolk Poor Law Union Records, 1796-1900." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. Record Office, Norwich.
|The image citation is available by clicking on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for England, Norfolk Poor Law Union Records, 1796-1900.|