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A transcription of the Marriage Record of my 4th Great Grandfather John Creber to Harriet Palmer in Marystow, Devon, England on 9 Jun 1794 can be found in GENUKI. I am intrigued by his Parish being listed as "sojourner i.t.p". The "i.t.p." bit is fine because my understanding is that it stands for "In This Parish".

However, an interesting description that I have found suggested for "sojourner" is here where it says:

I think it was often used to avoid having the banns read in two parishes or in some cases to avoid saying the couple were already living together.

A dictionary definition is:

so·journ (sjûrn, s-jûrn) intr.v. so·journed, so·journ·ing, so·journs To reside temporarily. n. A temporary stay; a brief period of residence.

John Creber was christened in Marystow on 9 Mar 1773 so while he may have been more or less just "passing through" at the time of his marriage my thinking is that Marystow was "his parish". Later, in the 1841 Census his occupation is given as Carpenter so I'm not sure whether that might shed any light on what Sojourner in the context above might mean.

If anyone has looked into "sojourner" previously and can offer their thoughts on what the term might mean in the above context I would be grateful to hear them?

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Identifying somebody as a Sojourner was related to the qualification requirements for Parish Settlement. Somebody who was not 'legally settled' in a parish was not entitled to Poor Relief at the expense of the parish in the event that they fell upon hard times but was liable instead to be 'removed' back to the parish in which they were legally settled (i.e. the cost of supporting them and their family was offloaded elsewhere).

The rules for assessing legal settlement were complex and varied as different acts were passed. There's an excellent site here that describes them: Workhouses.org.uk.

It's worth noting that if John Creber wasn't settled in Marystow, at the time of her marriage his wife (and later, his children) also lost any claim there -- they became settled where he was settled. So even though John Creber was born in Marystow, if his father wasn't settled there, neither was he. And if he'd been apprenticed elsewhere for 7 years, his settlement moved to where he was apprenticed. But he could gain settlement in Marystow by being employed continuously there for at least a year.

See Sojourner and Settlement Papers for corroboration.

A Short Explanation of the English Poor Law has a good summary of settlement qualifications.

  • John Creber's father (John Creeber) and his grandfather (John Creeber with a caret over the second e) also lived in Marystow and all appear to be legitimate but I have found no christening record for his wife (the Marriage Record seems to say came from Lamerton) so her being from elsewhere and an apprenticeship by him elsewhere (he was 27 when married) may be the possible future financial burden the parish was trying to avoid - his grandmother died in Marystow as a pauper. – PolyGeo Jun 12 '13 at 10:52
  • Your advice has put me back on track - I've found some info on Settlement and Removal in Rural Devon Parishes that is more or less what you are saying but geographically closer - it even mentions a James Creber from Walkhampton (don't know if he is a relation yet). – PolyGeo Jun 12 '13 at 11:05
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    @PolyGeo, I suspect John Creber bapt. 1766 may have been apprenticed elsewhere and lost the settlement of his parents. There was a settlement examination of a John Creber in Marystow in 1801 and a bunch of Crebers (but not John) being apprenticed in 1789. (nationalarchives.gov.uk/A2A/…, search for Creber). The documents are at Plymouth and West Devon record office, not online. – user104 Jun 12 '13 at 11:07
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    When did his parents die? If it was around 1789, it might explain the rash of apprenticeships -- parishes often offloaded children they were liable to support on other parishes by apprenticing them out. He would have been to old for it to apply him in 1789, but if the family needed support earlier, maybe... – user104 Jun 12 '13 at 11:24
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    Definitely worth trying to get details of the settlement examination -- it should give useful information about his life up to that point (unless it's for his father -- not impossible). Also, nobody went through one voluntarily so there was something going on that made the parish worry they might be liable for some cost... – user104 Jun 12 '13 at 11:48

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