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Caption: Lenham parish church
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East Kent Settlement and Removal Index

Settlement and Removal documents are of importance to those tracing their ancestry, principally in proving the movements of families and individuals from parish to parish, but they may also give details of children previously not known of, evidence of movement between several parishes, details of how a person's settlement was gained and/or information about their working lives. Not only labourers and paupers are represented - a substantial proportion are tradesmen and craftsmen. There are also single people, seamen and soldiers, widows and unaccompanied children.

Major sources for the Index:

  • Parish Collections
  • Petty and Quarter Sessions
  • Other sources

  • The concept of a person's legal settlement in a particular parish was confirmed by an Act of Parliament of 1662. Most documents associated with settlement date from that year onwards and include Bonds, Settlement Examinations, Removal Orders, Appeals against Removal Orders, Orders at Quarter Sessions, Settlement Cases, Legal Opinions, Bills, Letters and, from 1697, Settlement Certificates. The law of settlement was substantially altered in 1876 but there are few documents of that late date in this Index, the earliest is dated 1598 and the latest 1865. The majority are of 18th century date but there are also many 19th century entries. Documents dated after 1834 can be particularly detailed and useful, often giving details of parents and even grandparents.

    The Index is comprehensive, including any items relating to settlement where both parishes are given. Inter-county movements account for about 14% of the Index entries.

    The area covered by this Index comprises all parishes in the Diocese of Canterbury, that is, including and to the east of the following (moving north-south through Kent): Rainham, Bredhurst, Boxley, Maidstone, Loose, Hunton, Marden, Goudhurst.

    There are three major sources of information about settlement:

    1. Parish Collections, both deposited in Archive Offices and still in the parish of origin. About a quarter of the parishes in the area have surviving parish collections though few if any are completely comprehensive and several parishes have only a few documents surviving. The list on the attached sheet is of all surviving parish collections for East Kent parishes, all of which are included in the Index.
    2. Petty and Quarter Sessions records - these can help to fill in gaps in parish collections and may feature records for parishes which have no collections of documents. Current coverage is detailed on the attached sheet. (continued)
    3. Other Sources - including diaries of Justices of the Peace, Accounts of Overseers of the Poor, Vestry Minutes and various incidental references.

    Around half of the Index entries come from sources other than parish collections of loose documents. (2) and (3) above are very important sources often overlooked. If your ancestors' parish does not appear on the list on the next sheet, it does not mean that there are no settlement documents for them, as there may be some among the Petty and Quarter Sessions papers, Vestry Minutes, etc.

    The Index contains some 39,000 entries to date and is complete except for items in the Wingham Petty Sessions Minutes 1818 onwards and Upper Scray Petty Sessions Minutes April 1816 onwards. These volumes are being indexed but, due to their size, likely to take some time yet to index in full. West Kent Quarter Sessions papers 1800 on wards are now being indexed, covered to 1805 to date.

    How to order:

    • Please send full details of families/individuals of interest, i.e. dates, names, places.
    • Obvious surname variants will be checked but please point out any unusual variants, particularly those involving a difference in initial letter.
    • Details of children of the person/family may also be useful in identifying entries of possible relevance.
    • If the required family/individual is not yet in the Index, the request will be noted and the enquirer informed when the required entry appears.
    • All relevant details from the documents and archives references will be provided. It is usually possible to subsequently provide photocopies or transcripts of documents, the extra charge for which will be advised when replying.
    • Replies normally sent same day by e-mail, but can be mailed if preferred.
    Search Fee: £5 per family or individual sought. Quotations can be provided on request for all entries of:
    • a surname
    • a parish
    • counties other than Kent (specify county)
    • Ireland or Scotland.

    Overseas Enquirers only - please remit by Sterling bank draft or cash or approximate value in American Dollars cash.

    On-line - Index searches may be purchased on-line at:

    • GENFair at — look for "Kent Family History Research" in the Main Hall, Ancestry Arcade section.

    Contact information:
    Miss G.Rickard, Kent, England
    Please contact me by email initially


    © Copyright 2000 - 2024 Gillian Rickard

    Updated July 2024