The Poor Law Acts of 1597 to 1601 established the civil parish as being responsible for the relieving of the poor and the Act of 1662 set out ways in which a poor person could claim to be legally settled. The system was administered by the Churchwardens and Overseers of the Poor. Children obtained settlement in the place where they were born (even if illegitimate). A new settlement could be obtained through apprenticeship, or through service for more than a year. Upon marriage, a wife took her husband’s place of settlement.

The practice of issuing certificates began in 1691. They were many disputes between parishes over liability, which were referred to the appropriate Quarter Sessions for a judgement by two Justices of the Peace, and the appellant would be subjected to an Examination in which he or she would be allowed to present a case for remaining in the parish. Once the place of settlement had been determined, an order would be issued for implementation by the Constable of the Parish.

The transcriptions below were made from the original documents held in the Parish Chest of St. Andrew’s Church, now housed at Devon Records Office.