From earliest times in England and Wales the care of the poor was the responsibility of the manor. In the 16th century this gradually shifted, when a person fell on hard times and needed relief it became the responsibility of the parish. Before 1601 the rules to determine the parish of settlement where a person was entitled to relief were irregular but by the Poor Law Act of 1601 a person was recognised as legally being a settled inhabitant of a parish of a month's abode. The settlement Act of 1662 laid the basis of the law of settlement which lasted for two centuries.
Initially the early rules to establish settlement were:
The Settlement Examination of Richard Enefer
Surrey: The examination of Richard Enefer now residing in the parish of Godstone in the said county, taken on oath the 18th day of January 1799 touching his settlement. The examinant on his oath saith that he was born in the parish of Much Hallingbourn in the county of Essex where his fatherís settlement was and that after having lived in several services, he hired himself at Michaelmas 1795 to Mr Born of the parish of Matcham in the county aforesaid for six guineas per year and lived with the said Mr Born in Matcham aforesaid until Michaelmas following and received the said wages and since that time hath done no act to gain a settlement.
The Removal Order of Ann Enefer
Surrey: To the Church-warden and overseers of the Poor of the to Parish of Godstone in the County of Surrey to the Church-wardens and Overseers of the Poor of the Parish of Matcham in the County of Essex Whereas Complaint hath been made unto us, whose Names are hereunto set, and Seals affixed, being two of his Majestyís Justices of the Peace in and for the County of Surrey aforesaid (one whereof being of the Quorum) by the Church-wardens and Overseers of the Poor of the said Parish of Godstone that Ann Enefer hath lately intruded and came into the Parish of Godstone and is actually become chargeable to the same; We the said Justices, upon due Proof made thereof, as well upon the Examination of the said Ann Enever upon oath, as other Circumstances, do adjudge the same to be true, and do also adjudge the Place of the last legal Settlement of the said Ann Enefer to be in the Parish of Matcham in the County of Essex aforesaid These are therefore in his Majestyís Name to require you, on sight hereof, to remove and convey the said Ann Enefer from and out of your said Parish of Godstone to the said parish of Matcham and have deliver unto the Church-wardens and Overseers of the Poor there, or to some or one of them, together with this our Order, or a true Copy thereof who are hereby required to receive and provide for her according to Law. Given under our Hands and Seals this 26th day of January 1799
The Settlement Examination of Ann Enefer
Surrey: The Examination of Ann Enever now residing in the parish of Godstone the wife of Richard Enever, taken on oath the 2nd day of May 1799 touching her settlement. The Examinant on her oath saith that she is the wife of Richard Enever such that the said Richard Enever lately ran away and left her and this Examinant saith she had heard and believes that at old Michaelmas 1793 her said husband was hired by Thomas Millbank of Hatfield Broad Oak in the said county of Essex for a year and that he served Thomas Millbank the following year in Hatfield aforesaid, and that she hath by her said husband one child named Richard aged two months and that this examinant is now actually chargeable to the parish of Godstone aforesaid.
Although the complete set of records have not survived, these records together with parish register records enable us to build up a comprehensive picture of a few years in the lives of Richard & Ann Enefer and the movement between parishes. Richard was born in Great Hallingbury, Essex where his father was settled. In 1793 Richard lived in Hatfield Broad Oak, in 1795 he lived in Matching, by 1798 he was in Godstone, Surrey where he met Ann Inwood, he married her in Mitcham on the 18th January 1799 by licence, the same day as his settlement examination so one assumes he was probably pressurised into this marriage by the parish overseers to avoid Ann being their responsibility as she was heavily pregnant. Richard & Ann were removed to Matching, Essex, the examination of Ann suggests they may have then been subsequently removed from Matching to Hatfield Broad Oak, but Richard disappears, Ann returned to Godstone where her family and friends were, having her son Richard christened there in April. The settlement examination of Ann has her and her new born son Richard then removed back to Hatfield Broad Oak, Essex.