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The legal row over relief for a sick ‘pauper’

St Margaret’s Church, Ridge Photographer unknown. Postcard from the Peter Miller collection
St Margaret’s Church, Ridge
Photographer unknown. Postcard from the Peter Miller collection

In 1856 agricultural labourer John Dymock from Ridge was living with relatives at Water End, North Mymms when he became ill. 

In those days the local parish was responsible for assisting the poor, but only if the person concerned was ‘settled’ in the parish. Settlement depended on the number of years they had lived there. 

If someone left their home parish to move elsewhere, as Dymock had done when he moved from Ridge to North Mymms, they had to take their settlement certificate with them. Dymock’s certificate guaranteed that his home parish, Ridge, would pay to move him back to his home if he needed poor relief. 

But Dymock’s illness wasn’t permanent, and he’d been living in North Mymms for fewer than five years.

So a legal back and forth developed between North Mymms and Ridge under the terms of The Poor Relief Act 1662, also known as the Settlement and Removal Act. 

Peter Kingsford wrote about Dymock’s case in the November 1988 issue of the Chancellor’s Community Newsletter. The article has been reproduced here with permission of the publisher.

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