View Full Version : Sojourner - what is it?

13-04-08, 06:41
I think I've found my 4g grandfather on the census and I've had a look at some PR transcriptions for his marriage. However I've found something I've not come across before. In the notes section it says: both "sojourners". What does that mean?

If you wish to have a look, click on the link and search for George Thorne.


I've checked the dictionary and a sojourn is a short stay, my OH thinks they were itinerants but on the census Judith's palce of birth is always Luxborough, so I don't think he's right.

I'll be looking for more info on the PR's so I may not answer straight away.

PS: That link would be good to put in the wiki if someone wants to put it in.

13-04-08, 06:59
Sojourners were those without a legal settlement in the parish.

13-04-08, 07:33
Thanks Gwynne. It is a mystery though as the lady was born and married in the parish and yet is listed as a sojourner?

Little Nell
13-04-08, 07:51
There seem to be a few sojourners marrying in that parish. I have never come across any in my research.

I would have interpreted it as meaning that they were passing through the parish, rather than living there permanently, so it is odd as it doesn't fit with the information you have. Maybe only John was a sojourner and the vicar/curate wrongly put this for both of them.

Or for whatever reason, the bride had settlement elsewhere. Where are they living on the census?

Little Nell
13-04-08, 08:00
I see there's a John Hole getting married 1833 and he and bride are also "both sojourners". Is John related to your Judith? If so, maybe the family moved after her baptism and had settlement in their new parish?

13-04-08, 08:12
Not sure yet Nell who John is. He doesn't appear to be a brother and her father is Thomas. I have to keep investigating.

13-04-08, 08:13
just a thought...could sojourners be "gypsies" ?...allan

13-04-08, 09:32
as far as I'm concerned they could be Allan, however Gwynne's answer did seem sensible until my people seemed to be born in the parish. How would you know if they are gypsies?

I've found some of the family on the 1841 and they are ag labs. Mind you they are living on a hill. lol

Olde Crone Holden
13-04-08, 10:49
Yes, I have always understood sojourners to mean "passing through, staying a while but definitely going somewhere else eventually and not being a nuisance at the moment" lol.

However, you never know how individual vicars interpreted a word - they may have been Gypsies, although I think the vicar would have used the word Wayfarer, in that case.


Durham Lady
13-04-08, 10:52
My OH's maternal grandfather was classed as a Sojourn Sugar Boiler, (sweet maker) and there's a Sojourn cabinet maker in his family too.
If you look here
Old Occupations - S (http://rmhh.co.uk/occup/s.html)
you will see a Sojourn Clothier ( a travelling cloth salesman) so these men obviously travelled around the country selling their wares or working where needed but went home to their wives and families on a regular basis.
I'd imagine an Ag Lab could be classed as the same, going from farm to farm where workers were needed for the plowing or harvest but returning home between times.

13-04-08, 12:21
Well OC they certainly forgot to leave. They were still there decades later.

Daphne maybe that is right. Not sure how the wife fits in but she may have worked too. That isn't on the transcript.

Olde Crone Holden
13-04-08, 12:35

As they didn't leave, I wonder if there is a Settlement Order for them?


Durham Lady
13-04-08, 13:05
Kit it is possible the wife would go working on the farms too and maybe they either had family to leave children with or the children went back and forward with them. Getting harvest in would mean all hands on deck so to speak from young children to the elderly.

Pippa Doll
13-04-08, 18:02
Not sure where you wanted me to click but I saw some people where of Stogumber? Just wondered if Sojourner was a mis-transcription - Just thinking out of the box thats all.

Len of the Chilterns
13-04-08, 21:50
Sojourners could be travelling salesmen or anyone visiting the parish.

Sheila from Down Under
13-04-08, 22:28
But one of my Bailey's was a Journeyman Blacksmith according to one census and one of my Souter's " Ran away with the gypsies " this must be true as there is no Marriage or death record that we can find for her.

14-04-08, 08:34
OC how do I find out about settlement orders? Do I have to go to a records office or would they be at the national archives?

14-04-08, 08:42
Settlement papers, if they survive, are held at the county record offices. They can be found in Parish Chest papers and the Guardians' minute books - again if they have survived.

Somerset County RO has indexed the settlement papers they hold. Some of mine are there and some aren't. Hardly any settlements have survived for most of my counties of interest.

*deep sigh*

14-04-08, 10:11
Most young people would hire themselves out at annual fairs and work as live in servants, often in a parish miles from home. If they had worked for at least the 365 days in a different parish, then they gained a new parish of settlement. This rarely happened in practice as no new employer would want to find himself paying extra poor rates for an ex employee if they fell on hard times.
The vicar was probably trying to cast a bit of doubt in everyone's mind, so that if the parish were called upon to look after the couple it would have to investigate their background. A woman took on her husband's place of settlement on marriage, but any illegitimate children would be settled where they were born.