Top 3 free genealogy websites for tracing Irish pauper ancestors removed from Britain to Ireland
In the 19th century, paupers from Ireland could be deported home from England, Wales and Scotland if they were unable to support themselves.
Without the legal right of ‘settlement’, or what was known as a ‘settlement certificate’, a poverty-stricken person could be forcibly removed by a warrant from the local justice of the peace, in order to save the parish from financial burden.
As a consequence, for family historians, some of the most useful records for tracing our ancestors are those concerning poor relief – including the records created by the process of removing a person from a parish, sometimes controversially.
After the new poor law amendment Acts of Parliament were introduced in England and Wales in 1834 (and in Scotland in 1845), administration of poor relief in England and Wales fell to the new poor law unions. Each was constructed from several parishes and managed by boards of guardians, and containing a workhouse. In Scotland, parochial boards became responsible for parishes, or combinations of parishes, with a dedicated inspector or the poor and a poorhouse.
* Another article that may interest you: Millions of historic Irish civil records are now online for free.
Many Irish immigrants were deported through the use of removal orders, particularly during the Famine of the 1840s, when authorities struggled to cope with the influx of destitute refugees from Ireland.
In the May 2018 issue of Family Tree, genealogist Chris Paton explains the most useful records for tracing the Irish poor, banished from Britain during this period – and finds rich pickings for genealogists in these lesser-known records.
Here are 3 of his top choices of websites to help you research what happened to your pauper Irish ancestors who fell victim to the poor law removals.
Peter Higginbotham's Workhouse website should be your first port of call to try to locate surviving records. The site has a dedicated page for each institution in Britain providing information on its history and any records known to exist, as well as noting the record office holding them.
This site includes returns from Scotland and from England and Wales to Ireland during the mid- to late 19th century. You can find out more about poor law removal records and view databases of names, parishes and numbers of children.
This website lists poor law removals. It is only available through subscribing institutions but many county libraries offer access, such as the National Library of Scotland’s eResources platform.
Discover more family history web resources for tracing banished Irish pauper ancestors in the May 2018 issue of Family Tree.