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said Town. Hereof fail not but of this precept and your doings thereon doe return make according to law.
Given under our hands at Rockingham this 8th Day of May Anno Domini, 1805.
ELIJAH KNIGHT, Selectmen
David Wood, Rockingham At Rockingham in the County of Windham this 18th Day of May 1805 I served this summons by leaving a true and attested copy of the same with the within Samuel March's Wife at his Dwelling house in said Rockingham with this my return thereon.
Elijah READ, Constable. On November 4, 1817, an Act was passed prescribing the different ways in which legal settlement could be obtained in a town, and warning out to prevent a settlement ceased. Among other provisions retained in the law, however, was this:
Any person may be admitted to a legal settlement in any town by vote of the town in a town meeting legally warned and holden for that purpose.*
This provision was embodied in the Laws of Vermont, 1824, page 382, and is found in the Compiled Statutes of Vermont in 1859, p. 128, as follows:
Any person that shall be admitted an inhabitant by the town at any legal meeting held under a warning, which shall contain an article for that purpose, shall thereby acquire a legal settlement therein.
After the Act of 1817 there was no more warning out in Vermont, but the previous records of such warnings are of much value as fixing the times when the persons warned must have come into the towns.
* Laws of Vermont, 1825, Chap. 47, No. 3, p. 381.
THE LENGTH OF TIME WARNING OUT WAS PRACTISED.—EFFECT
OF WARNING OUT, HOW AVOIDED.-VALUE OF WARNING OUT
It will be seen by examination of the statutes and records from which I have made such copious extracts that warning out was practised by the towns in Massachusetts from the early settlement of the colony, first, under the general power of towns to admit or exclude new-comers from inhabitancy, and then under the colony laws until the passage of the Settlement Act in 1793. It was also practised in the Plymouth Colony from the early settlement of that colony until its union with Massachusetts, and was also authorized by the Articles of Confederation between the colonies of Massachusetts, Plymouth, and Connecticut in 1672. The original colony statutes and the Articles of Confederation between the colonies were general in their provisions as to warning out, and did not fix any specific time within which a person should be warned out to prevent his obtaining settlement in a town.
But in 1692 the Massachusetts Bay Colony passed an Act which required persons to be warned out within three months after they came into a town, to prevent their gaining a settlement therein. In 1700 the period within which they might effectively be warned out was extended to twelve months, and this continued to be the period within which a warning must be given to prevent settlement until warning out ceased under the Settlement Act of 1793.
In Connecticut warning out prevailed by custom of towns and by the colony statutes from 1669, and in 1679 it was provided by law that, to be effective against obtaining a settlement, persons should be warned out within three months from the time they came into the town. In 1771 this period was extended to twelve months, which continued to be the period until warning out ceased as to persons living in Connecticut under the Settlement Act of 1796. In New Hampshire warning out was practised by the towns from the early settlement in 1638, and was soon provided for by the colony. In 1679 the period within which persons must be warned out, to prevent obtaining a settlement, was made in three months after they came into the town. In 1771 this period was extended to twelve months, which continued to be the period until the Settlement Act of 1796. In Maine the practice and the statutes for warning out were those of Massachusetts, of which it was a part until 1821. In Vermont warning out was authorized in 1779. The period fixed by the statute within which the warning must be given to prevent a settlement being obtained was fixed at twelve months after the persons came into the town, and this continued to be the limit until warning out ceased under the Settlement Act of 1817.
Warning out, therefore, was practised in some form in Massachusetts for more than one hundred and thirty years, in Maine for more than one hundred years, in Vermont for thirty-eight years, in New Hampshire for one hundred and seventeen years, and in Connecticut for one hundred and twenty-seven years.
In Rhode Island warning out was never authorized by statute, but the right to exclude new-comers from inhabitancy in towns was always exercised in
the town councils from the early settlement down to as late certainly as 1727.
The effect of warning out as thus practised upon persons who remained in the town after being warned was to relieve the town from all obligation to aid them if they became poor and in need of help or support. They were inhabitants of the town for all purposes except being helped if they needed help. They paid taxes, they could vote, they could hold office, they could perform all the duties of citizenship and of taxpayers, and yet, if they had been warned out, they could have no help from the town. They might be taxed for the support of others who were in need, but, when they came to be in need, they were entitled to no help from the taxes of the town. They were spoken of among their neighbors as persons who had “been warned.” Persons now living remember when those who had been warned out were spoken of in the towns among their neighbors as having "been warned.”
The effect of being warned out could be avoided by the election or admission of a person warned as an inhabitant by a vote of the town. In Connecticut it could be avoided, under an Act passed in 1784, by the person warned being “appointed to and executing some public office.” In Vermont, by an Act passed in 1801, the effect of warning out could be avoided by the person warned being chosen and serving one whole year in the office of selectman, town clerk, constable, grand juror, or lister. In Massachusetts the effect of warning could also be avoided by the person warned becoming a settled minister in the town.
It has been the law in Massachusetts since 1793 that Every settled ordained minister of the gospel shall be deemed to have acquired a legal settlement in the town where he is or may be settled as a minister.
The effect of this is that, whenever a man becomes a settled ordained minister of the gospel in a town, he loses any settlement he may previously have had in another town and acquires a settlement in that town. It is not necessary that a minister who has been once regularly ordained in a town, and who afterwards becomes a settled minister in another town, should be again ordained, or that his engagement in the new town should be for any particular time, or that he should be inducted into his ministerial office in the new town by any particular ceremony.*
The town records of these warnings out, and the statutes by which they were authorized, are of much importance in the study of family history. If a town record is found of a warning to certain persons to depart from the town, and the statute under which the warning must have been given to be effective fixes the period within which such warning must have been made at three months, it may be fairly assumed that the persons came into the town at a time not earlier than three months before the warning was given. Frequently also these warning out notices were issued to families and gave the names of the different members of the family, so that from them it may be fairly assumed that the names comprised all the members of the family. Generally, also, the members of the family are named in the order of their ages, beginning with the father and mother, and then naming from the oldest to the youngest child, so that the respective ages of the children may be fairly assumed therefrom. In some cases these notices state the place from which the person or persons came into the town, although this is not general in such warn
* Bellingham v. Boylston, 4 Cush. 553.
Leicester v. Fitchburg, 7 Allen, 90.