Search for your Kent ancestors in this index of poor law and occupation records. The records include church registers, alehouse keepers’ licenses and poor law documents.
Each record includes a transcript of the original record. The amount of information listed varies, but the records usually include a combination of the following information about your ancestor:
Comments from the record
These records were compiled by the Kent Family History Society.
It was in the 16th century, during the reign of Henry VIII and following the dissolution of the monasteries and the closing of almshouses and charity hospitals run by monks and nuns that the parishes first became responsible for supporting their own poor, with the vestry acting as the parish governing council. The office of overseer of the poor was officially created in 1572 to collect and distribute parish poor relief. The Poor Law was funded by a local tax (Poor Rate). Subsequent Acts of Parliament changed the system from being a purely voluntary measure and introduced new rules and regulations to help maintain and control the poor.
The system radically changed following the great reform act of 1834. The main difference was that the relief of the poor was changed from a local responsibility into a group one. Groups of parishes were consolidated into Poor Law Unions so removing the local community responsibility. Out relief was discouraged and the workhouses, which had been in existence for the previous two centuries, became the primary source of relief. Throughout the remainder of the 19th century the laws were tightened and modified until the administration was transferred to the Ministry of Health in 1918. It was not until 1930 that the Poor Laws were finally abolished.
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