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Overseers of the Poor

The main duty of the overseers of the poor was to make sure the poor of the parish were cared for and to collect sufficient funds to be able to support them from the owners of property in the parish. This was done by levying a rate on all property owners according to the rateable value; a precursor to council rates. Landlords in turn charged their tenants. The Overseers gave a weekly allowance to their poor in accordance to a rate drawn up by and approved by the vestry meeting, presided over by the Church Wardens and other Parish Officers. Examples are from a vestry book for Willoughby held at Warwick Record Office.

On 6th Feb 1815
William ELLARD the Overseer should gather the third levy 6d in the pound for use of the Poor and accidents of the Parish

1. Man his Wife and 1 child 1s 6 per week
2. plus 2 children   3s    per week
3. plus 3 children  4s   per week

This is William ELLARD [5131] (1764-1846).

This is a considerable rise from the example for Dec 8 1814 (on Poor Law page)

Poor parishioners could be given help to purchasing clothing and tools and for house repairs. An example  from the Willoughby Vestry book

May 1 1820  Order that Ed Boyes  house be repaired and allow.... 2/6 per week for  Richard Cowley house rent.

Examples from the Poor law Accounts Book for Tadmarton. Oxfordshire kept at Oxford Record Office.

Feb 28 1829

Willm MORBY's trees 8s


June13 1830

R DRINKWATER lodges 2 weeks 2s



R DRINKWATER washing  1s 6d


Jun 1 1833

To Rd HARRIS for repairing widow NEEDLE's dore & dore trees

Elizabeth NEEDLE [7513] Direct line


Poor people had a coal allowance in Tadmarton


Dec 6 1828

John COLIGRAVE cayge of cole £2- 8- 3 <carriage of coal>

Jno NEEDOL 15 cwts   


This is John NEEDLE [7512] Direct line

Feb 28 1829

Wm MORBY has cole

 probably William MORBY [7873]

The overseer also made sure that the medical requirements of the poor were adequately covered. There is an interesting meeting on 25 April 1820 where John Seymour Brind a surgeon from Dunchurch agrees to vaccinate the poor and on March 24 1825 to provide his attendance for Midwifery, Fractures, Small Pox and all Accidents.

In Tadmarton there are examples of the sick being cared for by the community.

Apr 4 1830

MORBY Wm for fetching Doctor 1s


Jun 6  1830

MORBY Wm Snr for attending R DRINKWATER 1 s

MORBY Wm jnr for attending R DRINKWATER  2s 10

Probably William MOREBY [7873]

Probably William MOREBY [9286] son of the above

 Nov 19 1831

E NEEDLE for attending to Wm SPRINGER 2s

This is Elizabeth NEEDLE [7513] Direct line

Nov 26 1831

E NEEDLE for attending to Wm SPRINGER 2s


Jun 15 1833

Wm MORBY wife for waiting on widow NEDLE 2s

This is probably to help when Elizabeth NEEDLE gave birth to her last child Hannah Cox June 1834

Probably Ann MORBY nee GENNINGS [9236] wife of William [9286]

Jun 22 1833

Wm MORBY wife for waiting on widow NEDLE 2s

Jun 29 1833

Wm MORBY wife for waiting on widow NEDLE 2s


Through out the book extra payments are made when a person is unwell

 Nov 22 1828

MORBY Jas not well 5-1s3d  8s 4d


 Jan 2 1831

Jas NEEDOL Snr not well 4s

This is James NEEDLE [7845] direct line

Aug 10

 John NEEDLE 1 day lay still  5d


Another part of the overseer’s duties was to arrange parish apprenticeships for poor children (see Parish Apprentice page) and to provide work for those able bodied  who had no employment.

From the Tadmarton book for 1834.

Aug 10

James NEEDLE 4 days on the rode 3s 4d


Aug 17

James NEEDLE 3 day on rode 2s 6d


Aug 24

James NEEDLE 1 wk on rode  5s


Aug 31

James NEEDLE 1 wk on rode 5s


The Overseer was also responsible for collecting the appropriate fee from the father of any illegitimate child  liable for parish relief (See  Bastardy page)

Where a settlement dispute requires a removal he has to see that the constable is paid.(see Settlement)

The parish also paid for funerals of pauper parishioners

Examples from Tadmarton

Nov 22 1828

MORBY Wm child's funeral 2s 6d

This is Sarah MORBY [9243] born 1826 buried 26 Nov 1828 daughter of William [9286] and Ann MORBY nee GENNINGS [9236]

May 28 1831

Jno NEEDOL funeral 4s 6d  

This is John NEEDLE [7517] Direct line who had been invalided out of the army 10 years previously.

Poor Land Allotment.

Land was being enclosed early in 1800 under local bye laws then a parliamentary Act was passed in 1836 in an attempt to unify the situation it made it  legal for land owners to enclose land with out reference to parliament. During that time many cottagers found they had no land to grow food graze their animals or to collect timber, this was leading to civil unrest.  A further Act was passed in 1845  which provided for land to be set aside for allotment use. Commissioners were to make provision for the landless poor to each have use of up to a quarter of an acre of  “field garden”. However the Act was not well implemented. Local parishes set up their own schemes under the existing  parish Poor law committees until eventually an Act was passed in 1887 obliging local authorities to provide allotments.

Several Parishes used the allotments not only to provide land to the needy but also to raise funds from the rent of plots. An interesting account of  how the parish used the rents from the allotments to provide coal to the poor can be read at  Hampton (of  Hampton Court fame).

There is an interesting account of the Poor Land of Hampton Poyle which provided Whitsun ale in 1625 and later to allow the rector to provide bread and cheese for the poor at Easter. By 1817 it provided 26cwts of coal for the poor(at a cost of 1s 5d per cwt.

Family involvement

In Hampton Poyle several ancestors are documented as being involved in Poor Land Allotment. Between 1876-1901.

Nov 8 1875: Applications received by Thursday last accepted ... land let at 7d per pole
... allotments should be drawn for Tuesday next at 6pm. ... unless cottages signed agreement by Feb 1 allotment void.

Jan 13 1876

Hannah King

9. 7½



Hannah Cox

9. 7½

Hannah COX nee ELLARD [989] widow of John COX and sister of George ELLARD.

Jan 14 1876

Hannah Ellard (pr herself George Ellard)

19. 3

Hannah ELLARD [955] wife of George ELLARD [987]

Feb 7 1876

 The widow of Henry Savins

receive 12/10.



George Ellard

receive 5/1

It was agreed to each of the remaining cottages should be given 10/3

Jul 23 1877

John Goodgame

Payment 19.10

John GOODGAME [1079]


 Richard Giles

Payment 16.10

Richard GILES [1062]


 Martin Giles

Payment 16.10

Martin GILES [1058]


 Emmanuel Edmonds

Payment 16.4

Emmanuel EDMONDS [981]


William Giles

Payment 16.4

{ several William Giles found}


Richard Sperrin

Payment 16.11

Richard SPERRIN [10248]


John Giles

Payment 16.11

John GILES [1044]


Joseph Giles

Payment 16.11

Joseph GILES [1048]


William Wing

Payment 16.11

William WING [6615]


David Ellard

Payment 16.11

David ELLARD [983] son of George and Hannah,

Nov 13 1877

John Giles

13.4



Martin Giles

13.4



William Giles

13.4



Mary Giles

13.4

Mary GILES [1061]


Richard Sperrin

13.4



Hannah Ellard

13.4



Emmanuel Edmonds

13.4



John Goodgame

13.4


1883




Dec 31 1883



relet to present occupiers Lot 1 John Giles

Dec 1884



M, Giles, J Giles and  D Ellard rec’d.

1885



rents reduced – D Ellard back in

Dec 1885



paid M Giles, J Giles, D Ellard

1887



John Giles, Martin Giles, David Ellard in distribution list.

6 Dec 1889 - 10 Dec 1889

Received of Mr John Giles & Others

11 shillings and 4 pence

for poor rate.

1892



John Giles not in Allotment holders but John & Martin Giles still in shareout. Eliza Young [1135] & Sam Savin in Allotment list.

Sep 29 1901



On Recipients list Giles Martin & Giles Mrs Jno [1082] Elizabeth nee Hawkins John Giles died Sep 1900 :

1903

Giles Martin & Giles Elizabeth



1906

Mrs Giles and Martin Giles



1908



No Giles - Martin died Feb 1906 and Elizabeth Giles nee Hawkins died May 1907

Family Overseers of the Poor at Willoughby, Warwickshire

James COGGINS [11907] Middleton Stoney Oxfordshire

James was the son of the Parish clerk George COGGINS[1187] and brother of William [11903] who followed his father as clerk. James was involved in the Bicester Union work house in 1852 when he together with the chuchwardens and a second overseer sold two cottages, then being used for the poor, to the Earl of Jersey in order to raise the parish donation for the  Workhouse. At the time a widow COGGINS was living in one of the cottages concerned as yet she has not been identified. The following is an extract from a deed held in Oxford Record Office (J I ac /1)

”....the Guardians of the Poor of the Bicester Union in the Counties of Oxford and Buckingham and William Underwood and Joseph Woods the Churchwardens and Thomas Wheeler and James Coggins the Overseers of the Poor of the Parish of Middleton Stoney ...”


Thomas HESOM [9128] was the brother in law of William ELLARD [5154] (1774-1846).

William ELLARD [5131] (1764-1846) was at least an overseer in 1814-1815 from examples given left and on the Poor Law page. He later became Church Warden.

William ELLARD [5154] (1774-1846) an overseer in 1821.

Family Overseers of the poor at Beaford, Devon.

John NOTT [1422] 1636 and 1643 from a very faint Overseers accounts book 2215 Aa/P01 1631-1648

Arthur NOTT [2400] 1749 from Apprenticeship  Indenture for John HEARD

Robert HEARD [2594] 1790 from Apprenticeship Indentures of Robert FOLLAND [10841]

From the Apprentice Indentures the following were Overseers in Beaford

1749 Robert SAUNDERS & Arthur NOTT [2400]

1766 John BUDD & John WILLIAMS

1775 William WEBBER & Anthony SNELL

1790 Robert SAUNDERS Junr [10879] & Robert HEARD [2594]

1804 John SNELL & John MARSHALL

1810 Robert SAUNDERS [10879] & William PINCOMBE

1811 William PINCOMBE & Thomas CLARKE

1779 Richard BUDD[10569] From Overseers accounts

Family Overseers of the poor at Beaford, Devon.

John NOTT [2422] 1636 and 1643 from a very faint Overseers accounts book 2215 Aa/P01 1631-1648

Arthur NOTT [2400] 1749 from Apprenticeship  Indenture for John HEARD

Robert HEARD [2594] 1790 from Apprenticeship Indentures of Robert FOLLAND [10841]

From the Apprentice Indentures the following were Overseers in Beaford

1749 Robert SAUNDERS & Arthur NOTT [2400]

1766 John BUDD & John WILLIAMS

1775 William WEBBER & Anthony SNELL

1790 Robert SAUNDERS Junr [10879] & Robert HEARD [2594]

1804 John SNELL & John MARSHALL

1810 Robert SAUNDERS [10879] & William PINCOMBE

1811 William PINCOMBE & Thomas CLARKE

1779 Richard BUDD [10569] From Overseers accounts

See also

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