The Solicitor's Waste Bin

4. Other People’s Lives: Settlement & Removal

The Bednall Archive 

Last updated 08/11/2007  

Emma & Elizabeth Froggatt  Thomas Melbourne Enoch Mitchell  Richard Mould Ralph Ratcliffe John Yates


Concern about the high cost of the rates is no new thing and in previous centuries, when the relief of the poor was a matter for local rather than national government, the removal of people who had fallen on hard times to their place of settlement, was one of the strategies used by Churchwardens and Overseers of the Poor to minimise the burden on local ratepayers.  The process, which was governed by statute law and precedence, started, theoretically, when a person or a family, whose place of settlement was unknown, actually became “chargeable to the rates”.  Local officials would question the applicant for relief about his or her life prior to moving into their township and subsequently.  If the applicant could prove, that after moving into the township he or she had acquired settlement there in any one of the ways specified by law, then relief would be granted.  If they could not prove this, then the life of the applicant prior to moving into the township would be scrutinised to determine his or her true place of settlement. For some, whose settlement had been certified by the churchwardens and overseers  of a township in which they had previously lived, this should have been straight forward and often was. In such cases the two townships might come to an arrangement by which the township of settlement paid relief to either the individual or the officials of the other township and the person concerned stayed where he or she was. 

For other, however, where the applicant’s true place of settlement appeared to be elsewhere but this was denied by officials of the township of settlement, the churchwardens and overseers of the poor would prosecute a case for their removal at the Quarter Sessions.  If on examination of the individuals concerned and considering any witness statements or other evidence, the JPs found in favour of the churchwardens and overseers prosecuting the case, then a grant a removal order would be granted and shortly afterwards actual removal would take place.  This was not necessarily the end of the matter for the township to which the poor individuals were returned might appeal against the removal order and the legal process would continue –sometimes with a series of appeals by both townships.

All this could generate a great deal of paperwork and in addition to settlement certificates, settlement examinations and removal orders, other documents such as witness statements or notes for a barrister’s opinion on the merits of a case and evidence from, for example, rate books or rentals may be found by the assiduous searchers of archives –in this case the Solicitor’s Waste Bin.

All these documents (Bednall Collection BC2/1185) provide insights into the lives of individuals and families and the uncertainty that  perhaps 40 percent of the population faced.  The cases outlined below are all based on Staffordshire & Derbyshire cases submitted to barristers for their opinions between 1814 and 1841. 

For further information try:
The Old Poor Law Settlement & Removal British Social Policy 1698 - 1948


The Case Of Emma & Elizabeth Froggatt Of Snelston

 About 1836, a man named Green who was legally settled in Croxden, Staffordshire married Hannah Frogatt who at that time was legally settled in Snelston, Derbyshire. At the time of her marriage, Hannah had two illegitimate children, Emma, aged 7 and Elizabeth, aged 2, both born in Snelston, and Green was their father.

After their marriage the family went to live in Croxden where they remained until the Mr Green died. Subsequently Hannah and her children had to apply for relief and as they had become chargeable to the parish, the overseers obtained an order for the removal of the children to Snelston.  

The Removal Order was signed by the Justices on 19 September 1838 and within a month, the Churchwardens of Snelston, Thomas Gadsby, George Allen, and the township's Overseers of Poor, John Phillips and Thomas Appleby, had given notice of their intention to appeal against the order at the Stafford General Quarter Sessions on 2 January 1839.  The grounds for their appeal was that the two children had become a part of Green’s family and since his death are irremovable from their mother, who became settled in Croxden by her marriage, until they reach the age of 16 or until her death.  They therefore ought to be maintained by Croxden until either of those events occurs or they obtain settlement in their own right. 

The Croxden officials contended that when the father died the family was broken up and that at least Emma, eldest child (who was born before the passing of the New Act) was removable to her parish.  Liability for Snelston to maintain the children being only suspended during Green’s life, revived when he died and Overseers of Croxden denied any liability to maintain Emma.  As regards the youngest child, Elizabeth, who was “within the age of nurture” and could not, therefore, be removed under either the Old or the New Poor Law Act, the Overseers of Croxden believed the Magistrates adjudication with regard to Elizabeth’s settlement was correct and that only the order for her removal was liable to be quashed. However, they denied their liability to maintain Elizabeth until she reached the age mentioned and claimed that they  were entitled to be reimbursed by the Parish of Snelston. 

The barrister was asked to advise on the points raised which related to sections 57 and 71 of the New Poor Law Act and also on which of the parishes was liable to maintain both or either of the children.  Unfortunately, neither the barrister’s reply nor the outcome of the case is known.

In 1841 a 10 year old Emma Froggatt was a lace worker living in the house of John Roe in Snelston.


The Case Of Thomas Melbourne Of Bradbourne, Derbyshire 

Thomas Melbourne of Bradbourne, Derbyshire applied to the parish for relief but the Overseers of the Poor, who were not satisfied that he was settled in the parish, took him before the magistrates at Ashbourne.  After examining Thomas, the magistrates were uncertain about removing him without a counsel’s opinion on the matter. 

The facts of the case were that Thomas Melbourne had lived with John Wright, “a large farmer” at Bradbourn for several hirings, each of 51 weeks.  In his last hiring he had had a cottage for £1-10s a year and the laying of a cow with Mr Wright for £8 a year.  During the last year of his laying a cow with Mr Wright he bought another cow and layed her with Mr Bateman at Muggington for 14 weeks at 8d a week and at the end of that period laid the 2nd cow with Mr Wright for 4 weeks at 4s a week and then sold her. A few weeks later he sold the other cow, left Mr Wright’s service and sought work as a labourer.  Still having a cottage at £1-10 a year, he subsequently bought another cow which he layed with a Mr Robert Stafford of Bradburn for £10 a year but in fact only paid £9 because Stafford gave up his farm before the end of the year and Melbourne had to take his cow away. 

Thomas layed the cow for 3s a week for spring running but only for a few weeks before laying her with Francis Webster for the period from May Day to Michaelmas Day following for 5 Guineas.  He also took a house at a rent of £2 a year, paid £1-13s for some aftermath and afterwards took 2 acres of Winter running paying £4 for a small quantity of cabbage and hay standing on the land. 

Sometime after he again laid his cow with Francis Webster on the previous terms but when paying the £5 to Webster requested 5s back on the grounds that the lay was too much.  He also took land from John Fearn from about midsummer to the following old Lady Day for £3 and the aftermath of other land for £1-10s. 

The opinion of Counsel was requested with regard to whether Thomas Melbourne ought, in the circumstances quoted, to be relieved by the township of Bradburn or removed by the magistrates to his father’s  place of settlement, he not having gained one himself. 

Undated. Counsel’s comments and advice unknown.


The Case Of Enoch Mitchell Of Rudyard’s Settlement 

In or about 1830, Enoch Mitchell rented Blake Field Farm in Horton, Staffordshire from Simon Myatt and there he remained for about 8 years.  He left Horton to take a small farm of about 14 acres, called Marl Spring, in Rushton James which the owner, the Reverend James Bostock of Cliffe Park, Horton Hay, rented to him for £30 a year.  In 1840 Mitchell was living in nearby Rudyard and was said to be a pauper although the circumstances are not mentioned. 

The Overseers of the Poor wished to remove him to either Rushton James or Horton and applied to Leek magistrates for a Removal Order. However, because of certain complications with regard to the nature of Mitchell’s tenancy of Marl Spring Farm, the magistrates were uncertain as to whether or not Mitchell had gained settlement in Rushton by renting it or not.  To gain settlement through his tenancy, the law required Mitchell to rent and occupy a farm for more than a year and actually pay a rent of more than £10 per annum. He also had to  be assessed to and actually pay  the Poor Rate as occupier.  Previously the farm had been let at a rent £25 per annum plus rates but Mitchell agreed to pay an increased rent for the farm to cover the payment of the rates by his landlord, James Bostock. 

When the Overseers’ assessments for the years in question were examined, discrepancies were found with regard to James Bostock’s premises and in an associated declaration that Bostock, as Assistant Overseer, had signed knowing that the information it contained was incorrect.  For one thing the ownership of Marl Spring Farm was variously attributed to Bostock, his sister and his brother when James Bostock was  the owner throughout the period. Furthermore, with regard to the entries in the Rushton James rate assessments for 1838 to 1840  under “Occupier”, Bostock had “got it so made out by the former Overseers” for the express purpose of preventing Mitchell gaining settlement in Rushton.  

The  solicitors  acting for the magistrates who faced this problem, sought guidance from barrister, Richard Godson of Stafford, not only regarding Mitchell’s removal to either Rushton James or Horton but also as to whether the Revd. James Bostock had committed fraud by falsely putting himself down as the occupier of  Marl Spring Farm and signing a declaration as to the truth of this. 

As to the question Mitchell’s place of settlement, Godson’s reply (9 January 1841) is difficult to interpret since, with regard to a legal clause in the relevant Act of 4 /5 William IV “precluding any party gaining settlement” unless the occupier was assessed to and actually paid the rates, he states that the question had been concluded “as none of the requisites of that section have been complied with”.  With regard to Bostock’s fraudulent declaration, Godson’s view was that Bostock hadn’t done anything that would make him liable to punishment. 

The magistrates sought a second opinion, pointing out that the rent arrangement between Mitchell  and Bostock meant that Mitchell was indirectly paying the rates himself. Unfortunately,  like the outcome of this case,  the 2nd barrister’s views are unknown but the 1841 Census reveals that in June that year, Enoch Mitchell, then described as an agricultural labourer, was still living (with his wife Emma and their 6 children) in Rudyard, Staffordshire[1].  It would thus appear that the magistrates had decided in his favour.


The Case Of  Richard Mould Of Leek 1835

 Richard Mould was a pauper who had become “chargeable to the Township of Leek & Lowe in Staffordshire claimed, in his examination before the magistrates, that his father occupied a house in Ipstones belonging to a Mr Griffin and also land on which he kept a cow all the year round for which he paid a rent of 7s a week.  He also claimed that he had paid that rent for many years before July 1818.   The magistrates subsequently ordered his removal to Ipstones but the Overseers of Ipstones then gave notice of appeal. 

The grounds for Ipstones’ appeal was that neither at the time of Richard Mould’s birth nor subsequently, was his father (Thomas) legally settled in the parish of Ipstones and that he never occupied a house at Consall Flint Mills belonging to Mr Griffin or the land as Richard had stated. Thus neither by birth nor by any other means did Richard Mould gain settlement in Ipstones. 

However, it was subsequently found that Thomas Mould had not one but two cows and had not actually pay 7s rent.  Instead he had received wages of 12s a week from Mr Griffin and the keep of 2 cows for part of the time and of one cow for part of the time.  When he only had one cow, his wages were raised. 

The opinion of counsel (C. Hoggins, 2 January 1835) was sought  as to whether the fact that only one cow was mentioned and the payment of 7s rent was claimed, at the initial examination was such a variation from the facts as to prevent  the respondents proving otherwise on the appeal.   Counsels  stated that he thought Leek & Lowe would be able to give the new facts in evidence in support of the original order.  Evidence on the hearing of the appeal would be limited to the grounds for removal stated in the order or the examination or statement.  In his view, the appellant parish based its appeal against the removal order on the grounds that the pauper never gained legal settlement in Ipstones by birth or other means and the respondents “may show that that ground is untrue and that though the pauper did not gain settlement there by birth he did gain it by living there.  If therefore in their statement the appellants lay a ground large enough to admit the respondents’ new evidence, “the fault is their own  and the evidence must be admitted”. 


The Case Of Ralph Ratcliffe’s Removal From Onecote To Grindon 1814 

Ralph Ratcliffe was born at Fold House, Ipstones, Staffordshire in or about 1786 where his parents were legally settled and his father died in Onecote when Ralph was about 4 years old.  When he was between 14 and 15 years of age, Ralph was, with his mother Ann’s consent, bound apprentice to Jeremiah Fernihough of Ipstones, joiner and cabinetmaker, for 7 years, by an indenture dated 10 January 1801. For this agreement, Ralph’s uncle John Potts of Leek, paid £7-7s to Fernihough and under it Fernihough was to provide meat, drink, washing and lodging for his apprentice and teach him his trade. Ralph’s mother was to provide clothes and wearing apparel. 

Ralph said that he served his master at Ipstones steadily for about 3 years, leaving only once, with the consent of his master, to go home to his mothers at Onecote for about 20 weeks when he was poorly.  When he recovered he returned to his master in Ipstones and shortly afterwards Ralph’s mother died.

He continued to serve his master regularly for about a year when he met Sarah Bennison of Grindon who then lived at Ipstones. She left her place at the Christmas (when Ralph had served 6 years of his apprenticeship) and went home to her mother’s house at Hillsdale, Grindon.   Just over two months later, Ralph followed Sarah and continued at Mrs Bennisons in Grindon for about a month and during that time his Master sent for him. When his Mistress came for him he returned with her to Ipstones but stayed only two nights before returning to Hillsdale.  After a further week, his Mistress again fetched him  back to Ipstones but stayed only one night before returning to Hillsdale. His master than sent a fellow apprentice, Joshua Wardle, and went part way back but returned again to Hillsdale.  A fortnight later he and Sarah set off for Manchester to have their Banns published and be married. They stayed in Manchester just over 3 weeks and were married on 20 May at the “Old Church in Manchester”. 

The couple returned to Hillsdale and a few days later Ralph went to Ipstones and told his master of his marriage.  They came to an agreement for the 1 year Ralph had still to serve of his original apprenticeship under which Ralph was to give his master 10 guineas, paying £2 down and the rest when he could. The indenture was not given up nor was there any written agreement but the agreement was witnessed. 

After this Ralph worked for his master as a journeyman for some weeks, lodging and having “his victuals” with him as usual at Ipstones.  He worked on piece work not day work and paid his board. On Saturday evenings, he returned to his wife at Hillsdale and stayed there until the Monday.  After 7 or 8 weeks, he left his master and worked for himself at different places. 

Despite not having applied for relief and being, as the Grindon overseers’ solicitor stated “ in a good way of business”, Ralph was removed by magistrates’ order from Ipstones to Grindon.  This order was, so the solicitor for Grindon asserted, incorrectly grounded on an implied consent by Ralph’s master Jeremiah Fernihough to Ralph staying in Grindon.   

Counsel (J. Bulguy of Duffield, Derbyshire) was asked to provided advice on what action Grindon overseers .should take and whether there were sufficient grounds to continue with their appeal.   Balguy was in no doubt, the supposed pauper was not a pauper and was therefore irremovable. On that ground alone the order would be quashed.  There was another ground for appeal too. If Ratcliffe was to be considered as a pauper, then because he was in Grindon without his masters consent and was in effect an apprentice deserting his service under indenture, he could not gain settlement in Grindon.  

For Balguy, there was no doubt the order was “clearly against the law”.


The Case Of John Yates And His Family 1837 

On 22 March 1837, John Yates of Leek, Staffordshire was taken before the magistrates and questioned  to determine his place of settlement.  John said that he was upwards of 30 years of age and had been informed that he was born in Catswall, Cheddleton, Staffordshire where, so he believed, his father was settled at that time.  In 1834, he had agreed to rent a house in Stanley from his father (another John Yates) for £10 a year and this he did for about two years.  Since then he hadn’t done anything that would gain him a settlement in any other parish.  John told the two JPs (the Reverends Thomas Henry Heathcote and the John Sneyd) that he had a wife, whose name was Ann, and four “children born in wedlock”, Elizabeth aged 9, William aged 7, Emma aged 6 and James who was about 18 months old.  All, he said, were chargeable to the Township of Leek and Lowe. 

On the basis of this the magistrates decided that Stanley was the place of settlement for the whole family and ordered that they be removed there.  Accordingly, the Overseers of the Poor Leek & Lowe notified the Overseers of the Poor of Endon, Longsdon and Stanley that the Yates family were to be removed there. Thomas Smith, the churchwarden, and William Beardmore and Richard Smith, the Overseers of Endon, Longsdon and Stanley, immediately gave notice of their intention to appeal at the next Staffordshire Quarter Sessions on the grounds that , firstly, John Yates did not “bona fide” rent a tenement in the Township of Stanley for one year at £10 a year and the rent “for any tenement rented by him for £10 for a whole year” was not paid, and that secondly, John Yates did not pay the poor rate for one year on any tenement in Stanley that would, had he occupied it, have conferred settlement, as the law required. 

Information from the brief for counsel provided by the solicitor for the Overseers of Leek & Lowe, gives a little more about John Yates’s life.  When John Yate was born his father occupied a large farm at Catswall, Cheddleton and young John remained there until he was about 21 when he got married to Ann Atkinson “with who he received £40 as a fortune”.  John junior lent £23 of his wife’s fortune to his father and soon after their marriage, the couple took a small farm in Cheddleton.  After living there for about 12 months, they took a small house in Bagnall at a rent of £4-4s a year and remained there for  about 2½ years. 

In May 1830, John Yates senior, with another of his sons, James who was lame, moved from the farm at Catswall to a house with a garden and about 1¾ acres of land, that he had purchased in Stanley.  There they lived until November 1831 when John Yates senior went to live with his mother-in-law Mrs Phoebe Mountford of Baddeley Green, leaving the house unoccupied but with goods in it. 

A while after, John Yates senior and his son John met at Newcastle Fair and as they came home together “fell into conversation” about John junior’s brother James and the house at Stanley.  The father told his son that if he would keep his brother he could have the place at Stanley “for the keep of him” and payment of the taxes.  Young John agreed to this and next day moved from Bagnall to the house in Stanley. 

Some six months later, in the Summer of 1832, James Yates, having nearly recovered from his lameness, left his brother’s house and went to live with Mrs Mountford again and their father returned to Stanley to live with John and Ann.  John Yates senior was said to be “a very drunken man” and because he frequently quarrelled with his daughter-in-law, Ann about his drinking, he finally resolved to leave them.  One day in February 1834, when father and son were “ridding land together” prior to setting potatoes,  John senior told his son that he wasn’t going to live with them any longer and that he (John junior) must pay the same rent as that paid by the previous tenant, Ephraim Moss, £10 a year.  John agreed to pay his father this rent and also, after an argument, the taxes.  However, although he often saw his father afterwards and frequently talked about it, he never paid his father the rent but told him that he would not pay any rent until the £23 that his father owed him had been cleared. His father did not object to this and said that he wished his son to be paid.

 John and Ann and their family remained in Stanley on these terms until May 1836 when they removed to Leek where John expected to find employment for his children.  Unfortunately John was taken ill soon after and because he was unable to maintain his wife and children had to apply to the Overseers of the Poor for relief. 

What happened subsequently is unknown except that in 1841 John Yates 59 the elder and his son James 26 were living in the house of George & Elizabeth Cope in Stanley: both were described as agricultural labourers[2].

[1] Census Returns for England & Wales HO107/1007/5  fol: 5 page 4.

[2] Census Returns for England & Wales 1851, Staffordshire. PRO, HO107/1005/13  3


AWBednall Macclesfield 2007