Thursday, 19 June 2014

Lancashire Vagrant Passes 1801-1835 including Irish poor law removals

Ancestry has released a new collection for Lancashire in England, entitled
Lancashire, England, Vagrant Passes, 1801-1835, available via The collection will be of particular interest to those with Irish ancestors who moved to England and were forcibly removed back home to Ireland. The following is Ancestry's blurb on the collection:

The burden of relief for the poor fell to parishes, so to keep their outlays at a minimum, English parishes kept a close eye on migration. The Poor Law Act of 1601 restricted the burden of relief for paupers to their parish of “settlement,” and several subsequent Settlement Acts defined who had the right to settlement in a parish. While the laws changed over the years, place of birth, steady employment or apprenticeship for some length of time, marriage, owning or renting property of £10 per annum or more, holding an office in the parish, or paying the parish rate were criteria used to determine right of settlement.

Individuals (or families) deemed vagrants could be transported back to their parish of settlement. Anyone able to support themselves or their family who neglected to do so was considered a vagrant, as were unlicensed peddlers, prostitutes, beggars, fortune-tellers, the homeless, gamblers, and criminals.

This collection includes lists of people being transported back to their place of settlement in Ireland. Lancashire received more than their share of Irish immigrants, as other parishes often passed them to Lancashire to be shipped back to Ireland from Liverpool. Soldiers and sailors returning from wars often returned home and found themselves being passed back to their parishes of settlement, and you’ll find the names of many of them, as well as their wives and children, included in these records.

The lists varied somewhat over the years, but in general they included the name of the vagrant, date shipped, description (e.g., vagrant, discharged soldier, soldier's widow, etc.), whether accompanied by a wife and child(ren), number of passes (per family), allowances and expenses, and the name of the ship. In some cases, they also listed the parish from which the vagrant was passed.

Note that poor law removals of Irish folk from Britain can also be found in lists on the House of Commons Parliamentary Papers website at (accessible through subscribing institutions, including the National Library of Scotland's Licensed Digital Collections at, with some also freely available from the 1860s and 1870s on Raymond's County Down website at

Ancestry also has additional removals lists, for example in London via the London, England, Selected Poor Law Removal and Settlement Records, 1828-1930 at


Now available for UK research is the new second edition of the best selling Tracing Your Family History on the Internet: A Guide for Family Historians, whilst my new book British and Irish Newspapers is also now out. And FindmyPast - please reinstate the original Scottish census citations on your new site.

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