Register of Paupers Removed from the Parish (RV)

A page from the St Clement Danes Register reflecting three removal orders executed in May of 1754 Westminster Archives Centre, St Clement Danes, Register of Orders, 1752-69, Ms B1210, LL ref: WCCDRV36900115.


From 1752 to 1793 the parish of St Clement Danes maintained a comprehensive register of all paupers formally removed from the parish under the auspices of the Laws of Settlement. Entries in these registers are usually associated with Pauper Examinations (EP) created in response to questions asked by one or two Justices of the Peace, normally acting in petty sessions. Much of the information found in the legally binding examinations can also be found in these registers. Significantly, the additional information of whether or not an individual was formally and legally removed from the parish is also included here.1


The legal definition of a settlement for the purposes of poor relief evolved substantially in the late seventeenth and first half of the eighteenth centuries, and by 1752 had become a relatively flexible system for managing migration. Under its provisions, immigrants thought likely to be chargeable to a parish could be removed by an order of a Justice, if a complaint was brought against them within forty days of their arrival, and always providing that the individual involved had not married someone with a settlement, rented a house or land worth £10 per year or more, paid parochial taxes, served as a parish officer, or provided a certificate from their parish of previous legal settlement accepting responsibility for them (in which case they could only be removed if they sought poor relief). By the second half of the century, and as result of a series of precedents at the Court of King's Bench, the idea of derivative settlements had also been established, ensuring that if a person did not form a new settlement for themselves they would derive their settlement from that of their parents, or even their grandparents.2

To enforce a removal order the parish needed first of all to commission, at the cost of several shillings, a legal pauper examination signed by a Justice. Because of the expense, this was normally only done at the point when a pauper first applied for poor relief. In London and from mid-century the cost of the formal system of removals encouraged the use of Friendly Passes, which allowed parishes to agree a pauper's settlement among themselves, without recourse to, or the cost of involving, a Justice.

Much expense and legal effort was expended in appealing against removal orders, and as a result the Sessions Papers (PS) contain significant numbers of both removal orders (frequently printed forms with the details filled in by hand) and Pauper Examinations.

Layout and Content

Following an initial alphabetical index, the registers included in this series take the form of abstracted statements, approximately three per page, reflecting the content of the equivalent set of documents reproduced on this website, Pauper Examinations (EP). These statements include both the element of the examination upon which the legal case for removal was based, and a further statement to the effect that a removal had been enforced. These registers were completed after the formal examination process and, in combination with the examinations themselves, allow us to gauge what percentage of examinees were actually removed.

Introductory Reading

  • Hindle, Steve. On the Parish?: The Micro-Politics of Poor Relief in Rural England, c.1550-1750. Oxford, 2004.
  • Hitchcock, Tim and Black, John, eds. Chelsea Settlement and Bastardy Examinations, 1733-66. London Record Society, 33, 1999 for 1996, Introduction.
  • Steedman, Carolyn. Lord Mansfield's Women. Past and Present, 176 (2002), pp. 105-143.
  • Styles, Philip. The Evolution of the Law of settlement. University of Birmingham Historical Journal, 9 (1963), pp. 33-63.
  • Taylor, J. S. The Impact of Pauper Settlement 1691-1834. Past and Present, 73 (1976), pp. 42-74.

Online Resources

For further reading on this subject see the London Lives Bibliography.

Documents Included on this Website

  • St Clement Danes, Register of Orders, 1752-69, Westminster Archives Centre, Ms. B1210, LL ref: WCCDRV36900, Tagging Level: D
  • St Clement Danes, Register of Orders, 1769-93, Westminster Archives Centre, Ms. B1211, LL ref: WCCDRV36901, Tagging Level: C


1 The role of removal in the ordering of rural England has been the subject of extended debate among historians. See in particular, Keith Snell, Pauper Settlement and the Right to Poor Relief in England and Wales, Continuity and Change, 6:3 (1991), pp. 375-415; Keith Snell, Settlement, Poor Law and the Rural Historian: New Approaches and Opportunities, Rural History, 3:2 (1992), pp. 145-72; Norma Landau, The Regulation of Immigration, Economic Structures and Definitions of the Poor in Eighteenth-Century England, Historical Journal, 33 (1990), pp. 541-71; and Norma Landau, Who was Subjected to the Laws of Settlement?: Procedure Under the Settlement Laws in Eighteenth-Century England, Agricultural History Review, 43 (1995), pp. 139-59.

2 See Carolyn Steedman, Lord Mansfield's Women, Past and Present, 176 (2002), pp. 105-143.