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Digital Subscriptions > Family Tree > May 2018 > Banished from Britain: The Irish poor

Banished from Britain: The Irish poor

Destitute and dispossed, paupers from Ireland could find themselves forcibly sent back to their homeland, from England, Wales and Scotland, if unable to support themselves financially. Chris Paton finds rich pickings for genealogists in these lesserknown records of poverty-stricken families


Removal orders, sending paupers back to their parish of settlement, seem particularly harsh in instances where it meant sending folk back to a famine-stricken Ireland. Many were deported from Liverpool

Among the most useful records for ancestral research are those concerning ancestors who made claims for poor relief. For some, such help was granted in the form of indoor relief, where they would be taken into a workhouse or poorhouse, as determined by an appropriate agency after an extensive assessment of the claimant’s circumstances. Others were instead granted outdoor relief, where they would receive relevant payments for a set duration according to their needs, rather than be brought into an institution. There was of course a third option, and that was for the authorities to refuse to provide any assistance whatsoever – but in some cases, this went beyond a simple ‘no’ to the claimant.

The right of ‘settlement’

Historically in Britain the holding of the legal right of ‘settlement in a parish determined whether a person could claim poor relief from the relevant parochial authority. There were various ways in which such a right could be achieved, including being born in a parish to parents who already held the right, the serving of an apprenticeship for seven years to someone legally settled, or even marrying a man who was legally settled.

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About Family Tree

Where are you going to take your family history this spring? From planning a trip to The National Archives to a meander down memory lane, there are so many choices... I bet there are few among us whose hearts don’t gladden when spring is in the air, and this issue we’ve got all sorts of ideas to help you get out and about and enjoying your family history. Whether you’re going to pay a visit to the archives, or plan a day out or weekend away to the places where your family once came from, it’s sure to add so much to what you know about your ancestors’ lives. It’s definitely true – the more we look, the more we learn. Have fun!