Introduction to Poor Law Records
Poor Law records generally break down into several categories. The term "Poor Law Papers" is a group title which covers various documents generated by parish officers who were responsible for administering poor relief to the paupers living in their parish. These can date from 1601 to 1865. There are many Lincolnshire parishes that do not have poor law records archived under the parish name. Many poor law documents also appear in the Quarter Sessions and therefore include parishes not covered by the surviving parish documents. Petty Sessions records cover smaller areas but still include parishes without their own poor law docs.
For an understanding of Settlement, see "A Place of Legal Settlement," published by Anne Cole in the Lincolnshire Family History Society magazine.
Settlement Papers include several categories: Settlement Certificates, Settlement Examinations and Removal Orders. Vagrancy Passes were issued to permit a pauper to travel across parishes, and a large number of Removal Orders, many with Examinations, of rogues and vagabonds survive in the Quarter Sessions records. All were designed to specify which parish was to support a poor individual or family.
Bastardy Papers were used to determine which adult male was to support a child.
Apprenticeship Indentures were drawn up between a parish and a master taking on an apprentice. Children of paupers, and orphans, were apprenticed to relieve the burden on parish funds.
Some individuals and families wound up in a Workhouse. Some of those records carry on until about 100 years ago. See our Poorhouse and Almshouse page.
The Lincolnshire FHS has many publications in books, microfiche and on CD Rom containing indexes to, and transcriptions of, Lincolnshire Poor Law papers. These can be viewed on the LFHS website at Publications pages