Photo: Harrietsham parish church
Caption: Harrietsham parish church
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West 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, craftsmen, seamen and soldiers. There are also single people, 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 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 latest so far is 1872. There are a few entries for the early seventeenth century but entries mainly date from 1663 and the majority are of eighteenth century date. Documents dated after 1834 can be particularly detailed and useful, often giving details of parents or even grandparents.

    The Index is comprehensive, including any items relating to settlement where both parishes are given. Inter-county movements account for about 25% of the Index entries.

    The area covered by this Index comprises all parishes in the Diocese of Rochester, that is, including and to the west of the following (moving north-south through Kent) : Gillingham, Chatham, Aylesford, Allington, East Barming, East Farleigh, Yalding, Horsmonden.

    Three major sources of settlement information are being used:

    1. Parish Collections - both deposited in Archives Offices and still in the parish of origin. The list on the attached sheet is of all the surviving parish collections for West Kent parishes. These are all 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.
    3. Other Sources - including diaries of Justices of the Peace, Accounts of Overseers of the Poor, Vestry Minutes and various incidental references.

    The Index contains over 17,500 entries to date, and is being added to daily. Documents from all the extant parish collections are in the Index and addition of the other items, in Quarter and Petty Sessions records, is in progress. Probably about 65% of the available documentation is in the Index at present. If your ancestors' parish does not appear on the list, it does not mean there are no settlement documents for them, as there may be something among Quarter or Petty Sessions papers, Vestry Minutes, etc.

    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 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.
    • Basic details from the documents and archives references will be provided.
    • It is usually possible to subsequently provide photocopies or transcripts of documents, the 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