The 1662 Poor Relief Act (The Settlement Act)
The Poor Relief Act of 1662 An Act for the better Relief of the Poor of this Kingdom is often known as the Settlement and Removal Act. It gave a newcomer to a parish the right to a "settlement" — and thus the right to poor relief — in any place where he had lived unchallenged for forty days. During this period, following complaint to the churchwardens, he could be ordered back to his place of last settlement, unless he was renting a property worth £10 a year. The upholding of this law, and its subsequent amendments, which only finally disappeared in 1948, led to more confusion, argument, and profits for the legal profession, than virtually any other piece of legislation. The law of Settlement has been described as possibly one of the worst laws ever passed by a British Parliament.
To read the full text of the 1662 Act, just click on the picture of the title page above.
Unless otherwise indicated, this page () is copyright Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.