Meaning of "chargeable"?

+8 votes
I am looking for evidence to confirm or refute my hypothesis that Elizabeth Wilson

who was born ~1760 and married Samuel Thurber Providence, R.I. in 1765, was the daughter of potter Joseph Wilson, who lived in Providence from about 1770 until 1782.  He had returned to Massachusetts by 1784.

There is a paragraph in the Providence town council record of September 3, 1787 that says:

"A certificate was given to Elizabeth Wilson, daughter of Joseph Wilson, acknowledging her to be an inhabitant of Providence and promising that the town would receive her if she became chargeable unless she gained a legal settlement elsewhere"

Can anyone tell me what this means?
WikiTree profile: Elizabeth Thurber
in Genealogy Help by Barry Smith G2G6 Pilot (241k points)

4 Answers

+9 votes
Best answer

Hi Barry,

Well providing that this is late 1700-1800 time frame. I would allege that they're using the archaic definition for chargeable which would be financially burdensome. Basically the town would take care of Elizabeth unless she was able to get a settlement on a court case which most likely could have had some monetary value attached.

See Merriam Webster definition

Hope this helps

by Steve McCabe G2G6 Pilot (363k points)
selected by Shaun Doust
+7 votes
Some of the profiles from old times in England  indicated that families could and were sent back to their original residences if they became a burden to
the local taxpayers.  One family was refused entry to the town because of the perceived cost to the locals.  Where was SNAP then?  Is this a case of "accounts receivable?"
by Beulah Cramer G2G6 Pilot (401k points)
+7 votes
Under the poor laws of Elizabeth I and James I, the parish was responsible for maintaining people who couldn't support themselves.

This was supposed to mean that there was no excuse for begging, which otherwise was an attractive option to too many able-bodied people.

But obviously people tended to head for the parishes that were known to be more generous.  So they invented the concept of settlement.  The parish where you were settled was responsible.

You were settled where you were born, until you lived somewhere else for a year.  If some other parish allowed you to stay for more than a year, they took you on.  But during the first year, they could ship you back home or claim reimbursement from your parish of settlement.

They could still get lumbered, if they couldn't find out where you were settled or get that parish to acknowledge the fact.  This made parishes wary of accepting any incomers.

The solution was the settlement certificate.  Before leaving home you got a letter from your parish which agreed that you would still be their responsibility for the time being and they would take you back or cover costs.

When you rolled up in some other parish, you could show this to the local authorities and they might let you stay for a while.  Otherwise, you might get moved on very quickly.
by Living Horace G2G6 Pilot (573k points)
edited by Living Horace
That makes sense.  So does this mean Elizabeth would only have lived in Providence for one year by this date?  Also, would it make sense for her to get such a certificate if she was married, so (I assume) her finances were legally entangled with her husbands?
Providence was the town she was leaving.  She could have been there for ever.  But I think you can assume she wasn't married.
Thanks.  It occurs to me now also that if she were married, the record would have used her married name.
+6 votes

In England, and it looks as it may have continued in America, under the old poor laws, a parish and its ratepayers were responsible for paupers who had a right if settlement in that parish. They were chargeable to that parish. 

If they were living elsewhere and were in need of "relief' they could be removed back to their parish of settlement. ( though sometimes, particularly if the difficulties might only be temporary , a parish would support a family living elsewhere as it would be cheaper to do so. ) Quite often, parishes would not allow people to rent houses without a certificate of settlement from their 'home' parish and they made it difficult for newcomers of the 'labouring classes to gain such rights . I have found one ancestral family who were removed to the place their grandfather had come from many years earlier with a settlement certificate saying that his original parish took responsibility for him. His son, his wife and his grandchildren were all born in the new parish but  did not acquire settlement there( it went to an appeal court, not because it was thought wrong but because only one person had signed the original certificate and  not two!)

Settlement was acquired in the last place that the person qualified. There is a list of qualifications here  (labourers were often employed on contracts lasting less than a year; thus avoiding  newcomers gaining settlement. A woman lost her right of settlement in her home parish when she married . If her husband died she might be sent back to the place, he had last worked for a year.)

by Helen Ford G2G6 Pilot (398k points)
edited by Helen Ford

Related questions

+2 votes
0 answers
39 views asked Jan 30 in Genealogy Help by Jane McNicol G2G Crew (620 points)
+5 votes
1 answer
+3 votes
2 answers
+3 votes
1 answer
115 views asked Jan 5 in Genealogy Help by T Stanton G2G6 Pilot (260k points)
+4 votes
1 answer
+4 votes
0 answers
95 views asked Oct 7, 2022 in Genealogy Help by Shaun Sindelman G2G2 (2.4k points)
+5 votes
0 answers
66 views asked Sep 24, 2022 in The Tree House by Barry Smith G2G6 Pilot (241k points)

WikiTree  ~  About  ~  Help Help  ~  Search Person Search  ~  Surname:

disclaimer - terms - copyright