Family Research – English, Scottish and Irish Genealogy


Dorset, England, Vagrant Passes, 1739-1791

Numerous laws impacted people accused of vagrancy in 18th-century England. These included settlement laws that regulated where people lived and Poor Laws that assigned responsibility for poor relief to parishes. These laws typically motivated parishes to keep potentially indigent people who didn’t belong to the parish out of the parish.

While vagrants could be subject to punishment, typically, parishes simply wanted to move them along to their home parish, or legal place of settlement. Passes would indicate where a vagrant was coming from, belonged, and was heading to and helped them navigate from parish to parish. People who were charged with vagrancy or thought to have no right to settle in a parish might be called to appear before a justice of the peace for a settlement examination to determine whether they had a right to remain in the parish. for more click here

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