|The Workhouse Yard|
I have come across many poor individual Bancroft families who had fallen on hard time, sometimes of their own making and sometimes not, but here is a rather interesting story about one of them, who should have ended up in the workhouse, but for some reason seems to have managed to evade this fate
It would seem that Ann was pregnant at the time of the marriage in 1837, because later that year her son Joseph was born, followed by a daughter Elizabeth, in early 1839, which was after her husband, William’s death, leaving her in a very difficult situation, and needing some financial assistance from the Authorities.
The 'Settlement and Removal Act', follows on from the 'Poor Relief Act' of 1662, the purpose of which was to establish the parish to which a person belonged [i.e. their place of 'settlement'], and hence clarify which parish was responsible for them, should they be in need of poor relief money. It was mandatory for each person to have a parish of settlement and to produce a settlement certificate to prove that they were a legitimate resident of that parish, otherwise they were liable to be moved back to the parish they had lived in previously.
To gain settlement status to a parish, a man had to meet one of the following conditions, and if these conditions were met, his family was also allowed to stay in the event of his death. The conditions were that he had to be either :
· Born in the parish.
· Have married in the parish
· Be hired for a year and a day within the parish
· Rent a property worth £10 per year, or pay the same in rent.
· Receive poor relief in that parish previously.
· Have a seven-year apprenticeship with a settled resident in the parish.
A person had to undergo a settlement examination by the overseers of the parish to obtain legal settlement in a new parish, before they could obtain poor relief, and if they were unsuccessful in obtaining this, the overseers could obtain a removal order to have them transferred back, by force if necessary, to their original parish of settlement. This must have been the situation Ann Bancroft found herself in.
This sad story shows the struggle that some people had surviving during these hard times, and ended up being past from pillar to post, as parish authorities did what ever they could to rid themselves of so called “paupers”, who would be a burden and drain on their local poor relief funds.
The poor law was gradually altered, following the great reform act of 1834. The main difference was that the relief of the poor was changed from a local responsibility into a group one. Groups of parishes were consolidated into Poor Law Unions so removing the local community responsibility. Out relief was discouraged and the workhouses, which had been in existence for the previous two centuries, became the primary source of relief, and where many poor women with their children were placed. Throughout the remainder of the 19th century the laws were tightened and modified until the administration was transferred to the Ministry of Health in 1918. It was not until 1930 that the poor laws were finally abolished.
Fortunately however, it would seem that Ann’s removal did not take place, as the document shown below, dated July 1839, explains. Her husband William had died in 1838, leaving her with one small child and by this time probably nursing another new born child, which would appear to be the reason her removal seems to have been postponed from when it had been made in January 1839.
It would seem that the authorities were unsuccessful in their efforts to remove her from their parish because by the time of the 1841 census, Ann Bancroft is living as a widow, and without an occupation, with her widowed mother's family at Hove Edge near Hipperholme. Her 2 small children are with her, and youngest child, Elizabeth age 2 years, was listed on the next page of the census.
|1841 census - Hove Edge, Hipperholme|
|1861 census - Hove Edge, Hipperholme|
|1851 census - Hove Edge, Hipperholme|
All this leaves several unanswered questions:
1- Why were the authorities trying to have her relocated to Keighley in the first place?...as on the various records she is listed as being from at least four different surrounding areas of Lindley, Elland, Lightcliffe and Brighouse, with no record of her, or her husband William ever coming from Keighley in the first place!...maybe she was trying to confuse them as to her origins by giving so many different areas!
2- Why does the children's baptism records list her husband as though he was still alive....did someone else stand in as her 'husband' at the church, to give her a 'respectable' image, or was this just a clerical mistake by the minister?
If anyone can offer any further information on this story, please let me know.