England Poorhouses, Poor Law, etc.

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= Introduction  =
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'''English poor law''' resulted from a gradual development of a poor relief or welfare system dating to medieval times<ref name="Quigley">{{cite web|author=Quigley, William P.|url=https://www.uakron.edu/law/lawreview/v30/docs/quigley.pdf|title=Five Hundred Years of English Poor Laws, 1349-1834: Regulating the Working and Nonworking Poor|accessdate=14 Nov 2011}}</ref>. The first laws enacted for dealing with poverty, vagrancy, and economic distress were the Statutes of Labourers of 1349-1351.<ref>{{cite web|author=Bertha H. Putnam|url=http://www.archive.org/stream/enforcementofsta00putnrich|title=The Enforcement of the Statute of Labourers During the First Decade After the Black Death|location=New York|publisher=Columbia University|year=1908|ref=704 pp}}</ref>&nbsp;
  
English poor law resulted from a gradual development of a poor relief or welfare system dating to medieval times<ref name="Quigley">Quigley, William P., Five Hundred Years of English Poor Laws, 1349-1834: Regulating the Working and Nonworking Poor, retrieved on 14 Nov 2011 from https://www.uakron.edu/law/lawreview/v30/docs/quigley.pdf.</ref>. The first laws enacted for dealing with poverty, vagrancy, and economic distress were the Statutes of Labourers of 1349-1351.<ref>Bertha H. Putnam, The Enforcement of the Statute of Labourers During the First Decade After the Black Death. New York, Columbia University:1908. 704 pp. http://www.archive.org/stream/enforcementofsta00putnrich</ref>&nbsp;
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== Poor Law Records  ==
  
= Poor Law Records =
+
Poor Law Records are records created by the process of caring for the poor. This includes records of rates (taxes) collected, as well as disbursements of, application for, and administration of poor relief or welfare. In England, the term ''poor law records'' usually applies to records created between the beginning of the English Poor Law Acts around 1600 until the abolishment of the Poor Law system in 1948.
  
Poor Law Records are records created by the process of caring for the poor. This includes records of rates (taxes) collected, as well as disbursements of, application for, and administration of poor relief or welfare. In England, the term poor law records usually applies to records created between the beginning of the English Poor Law Acts around 1600 until the abolishment of the Poor Law system in 1948.
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English records relating to the poor fall into three time periods, namely:  
 
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<br> English records relating to the poor fall into three time periods, namely:  
+
  
 
#Prior to the establishment of the Poor Law System in the late 1500's (acts of 1597, 1598, and 1601)  
 
#Prior to the establishment of the Poor Law System in the late 1500's (acts of 1597, 1598, and 1601)  
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#The New Poor Law (1834-1948)
 
#The New Poor Law (1834-1948)
  
== Pre-1600 Records of the Poor  ==
+
=== Pre-1600 Records of the Poor  ===
  
Prior to 1600, responsibility for poor relief rested early on with the feudal Lord and later the Manorial Lord. Those who were neither serf nor manorial tenant as well as those travelling relied on the Catholic monasteries for relief from economic distress, temporary disability, or illness while away from family and friends.  
+
Prior to 1600, responsibility for poor relief rested early on with the feudal Lord and later the Manorial Lord. Those who were neither serf nor manorial tenant as well as those traveling relied on the Catholic monasteries for relief from economic distress, temporary disability, or illness while away from family and friends.  
  
The Family History researcher's best hope for finding any mention of a specific person during this time period (other than the nobility and manorial Lords) lies with records of daily life on the Manor. Manorial records mention many of the individual tenants and often give clues to their lives and even family relationships. See [[England Manor Records|England Manorial Records]].  
+
The Family History researcher's best hope for finding any mention of a specific person during this time period (other than the nobility and manorial Lords) lies with records of daily life on the Manor. Manorial records mention many of the individual tenants and often give clues to their lives and even family relationships. See [[England Manors|England Manor Records]].  
  
 
King Henry VIII's break with the Pope and the Catholic Church led to the establishment of the Church of England in 1534 and the abolishment of the monasteries by 1538. This led to a shift to the English parish for responsibility for the poor. A system developed for caring for the poor, which was codified with a series of Poor Law Acts of 1597, 1598, and finally the establishment of the Poor Law System in 1601.  
 
King Henry VIII's break with the Pope and the Catholic Church led to the establishment of the Church of England in 1534 and the abolishment of the monasteries by 1538. This led to a shift to the English parish for responsibility for the poor. A system developed for caring for the poor, which was codified with a series of Poor Law Acts of 1597, 1598, and finally the establishment of the Poor Law System in 1601.  
  
== The Old Poor Law (1600-1834)  ==
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=== The Old Poor Law (1600-1834)  ===
  
Providing for the poor has long been challenge in England. This responsibility was placed on the parish officials since 1531. In the early years, each parish handled matters as they saw fit, since laws regulating the administration of matter dealing with the poor were not enacted until 1597, 1598, and 1601. The 1601 system was modified over the years, with Settlement Laws added in 1662. Providing relief for a person in need took time. Monies were collected by an appointed person from those who had land or property in the parish. An amount was assessed according to the amount of said land or property.<br>  
+
Providing for the poor has long been challenge in England. This responsibility was placed on the parish officials in 1531. In the early years, each parish handled matters as they saw fit, since laws regulating the administration of matter dealing with the poor were not enacted until 1597, 1598, and 1601. The 1601 system was modified over the years, with Settlement Laws added in 1662. Providing relief for a person in need took time. Monies were collected by an appointed person from those who had land or property in the parish. An amount was assessed according to the value of their land or property.<br>  
  
=== Poor Law Records (pre-1834)  ===
+
==== Poor Law Records (pre-1834)  ====
  
Poor law records deal with providing food, shelter, and sometime work for those who had none. Records include settlement certificates, removal orders, workhouse records, minutes of meetings, accounts, rate books, appointment books (of overseers). Some of these records include names, dates, places and ages, while others are merely statistical. For a fuller discussion of the records of this time period, see [[England and Wales Poor Law Records Pre-1834|England and Wales Poor Law Records&nbsp;Pre-1834]]. <br>  
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[[Image:The Parish Chest.jpg|thumb|right|300px|The Parish Chest.jpg]] Poor law records deal with providing food, shelter, and sometime work for those who had none. Records include settlement certificates, removal orders, workhouse records, minutes of meetings, accounts, rate books, appointment books (of overseers). Some of these records include names, dates, places and ages, while others are merely statistical. Records were kept in the parish chest and are included in the general term "parish chest records." For a fuller discussion of the records of the poor kept during this time period, see [[England and Wales Poor Law Records Pre-1834|England and Wales Poor Law Records&nbsp;Pre-1834]]. <br>  
  
=== Settlement Laws  ===
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==== Settlement Laws  ====
  
Settlement Law was established in 1662, and modified by numerous subsequent acts of Parliament. Generally, before money was given to a person in need, the parish (or civil) overseer determined the parish of settlement. Money was hard to come by, and was only given in cases where it was justified by settlement as well as indigence. The parish of settlement was not always the parish of birth, since there were ways a person could re-establish settlement in another parish. When a woman married, her husband's parish of settlement became her parish of settlement. For more information on settlement, see [[England and Wales Poor Law Records Pre-1834|England and Wales Poor Law Records&nbsp;Pre-1834]]. <br><br>For a list of and full text of Acts modifying settlement law and poor law, see [http://www.workhouses.org.uk www.workhouses.org.uk]. <br>  
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Settlement Law was established in 1662, and modified by numerous subsequent acts of Parliament. Generally, before money was given to a person in need, the parish (or civil) overseer determined the parish of settlement. Money was hard to come by, and was only given in cases where it was justified by settlement as well as indigence. The parish of settlement was not always the parish of birth, since there were ways a person could re-establish settlement in another parish. When a woman married, her husband's parish of settlement became her parish of settlement. For more information on settlement, see [[England and Wales Poor Law Records Pre-1834|England and Wales Poor Law Records&nbsp;Pre-1834]]. <br><br>For a list of and full text of Acts establishing and modifying settlement law and poor law, see [http://www.workhouses.org.uk www.workhouses.org.uk]. <br>
  
== The New Poor Law (1834-1948)  ==
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=== The New Poor Law (1834-1948)  ===
  
 
Following the report of a Parliamentary Commission of 1832, poor law unions governed by a civil board of guardians were established in 1834. The terms "old poor law," and "new poor law" are used to denote before or after 1834.<br>  
 
Following the report of a Parliamentary Commission of 1832, poor law unions governed by a civil board of guardians were established in 1834. The terms "old poor law," and "new poor law" are used to denote before or after 1834.<br>  
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The 1834 Act established Poor Law Unions, a grouping of parishes who shared expenses and raised revenue for the operation of a Union workhouse. The Union workhouse had a Board of Guardians, as well as provisions for regular inspections and reviews. For more information of post-1834 Poor Law, workhouses, and Poor Law Unions, see [[England and Wales Poor Law Records 1834-1948|England and Wales Poor Law 1834-1948]].  
 
The 1834 Act established Poor Law Unions, a grouping of parishes who shared expenses and raised revenue for the operation of a Union workhouse. The Union workhouse had a Board of Guardians, as well as provisions for regular inspections and reviews. For more information of post-1834 Poor Law, workhouses, and Poor Law Unions, see [[England and Wales Poor Law Records 1834-1948|England and Wales Poor Law 1834-1948]].  
  
=== Poor Law Union Records (1834-1948)  ===
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==== Poor Law Union Records (1834-1948)  ====
  
Records of the Union Workhouse and Union Board of Guardians are often extensive. While they vary by Union, they typically include<ref>London Metropolitan Archives, Poor Law Records in London and Middlesex, Information Leaflet No. 26, London: 2006. Retrieved 15 Nov 2011 from http://217.154.230.218/NR/rdonlyres/513E3F59-2AC2-4D4F-BF6E-B77A5779BEDB/0/infono26.pdf</ref>:  
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Records of the Union Workhouse and Union Board of Guardians are often extensive. While they vary by Union, they typically include<ref>{{cite web|publisher=[[London Metropolitan Archives]]|url= http://217.154.230.218/NR/rdonlyres/513E3F59-2AC2-4D4F-BF6E-B77A5779BEDB/0/infono26.pdf|title=Poor Law Records in London and Middlesex, Information Leaflet No. 26|location=London|year=2006|accessdate=15 Nov 2011}}</ref>:  
  
 
*Workhouse Records  
 
*Workhouse Records  
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*Registers of Deaths, and  
 
*Registers of Deaths, and  
 
*records of:  
 
*records of:  
***Workhouse Infirmaries <br>  
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**Workhouse Infirmaries <br>  
***Pauper Lunatic Asylums<br>  
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**Pauper Lunatic Asylums<br>  
***Out Relief <br>  
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**Out Relief <br>  
***Poor Law Schools <br>  
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**Poor Law Schools <br>  
***Poor Law School Districts <br>  
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**Poor Law School Districts <br>  
***Children in the Workhouse <br>  
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**Children in the Workhouse <br>  
***Boarding out Children, and <br>  
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**Boarding out Children, and <br>  
***Staff
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**Staff
  
A set of four volumes details records which survive for each Poor Law Union and where the originals are housed.&nbsp;Gibson, Jeremy, Colin Rogers and Cliff Webb. Poor Law Union Records: Birmingham, England: Federation of Family History Societies, 1993 (later editions vary by part #).{{oclc|230100951}}{{FHL|644238}}<br><br>1. South-East England and East Anglia.<br>2. The Midlands and Northern England. <br>3. South-West England. The Marches and Wales.<br>4. Gazetteer of England and Wales.  
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A set of four volumes details records which survive for each Poor Law Union and where the originals are housed.&nbsp;Gibson, Jeremy, Colin Rogers and Cliff Webb. Poor Law Union Records: Birmingham, England: Federation of Family History Societies, 1993 (later editions vary by part #).{{WorldCat|230100951}} {{FHL|644238|item|disp=FHL book 942 P37gj}}. The four volumes are:<br><br>1. South-East England and East Anglia.<br>2. The Midlands and Northern England. <br>3. South-West England. The Marches and Wales.<br>4. Gazetteer of England and Wales.<br>
  
<br>
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== Links to Online Records and Finding Aids  ==
  
= Finding Records  =
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The following are links to Poor Law records available online, alphabetized by county in England:
  
http://www.sussexrecordsociety.org/plhome.asp?an=&amp;ap=  
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*Cheshire - [[England Cheshire Workhouse Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)|England Cheshire Workhouse Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)]]
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*Dorset - using your [http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=1557 Ancestry.com] subscription or using the free access at the Family History Library, a public library near you, or a Family History Centre
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*Kent -
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**[[England, Kent, Parish Chest (FamilySearch Historical Records)|Kent Parish Chest Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)]](coming soon)
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**[[England, Kent, Workhouse Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)|Kent Workhouse Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)]](coming soon)
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**[[England, Kent, Quarter Sessions and Court Files (FamilySearch Historical Records)|Kent Quarter Session and Court Files]]&nbsp;(includes bastardy and settlement cases) (FamilySearch Historical Records)
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*London &amp; Middlesex - using your [http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=2164 Ancestry.com] subscription or using the free access at the Family History Library, a public library near you, or a Family History Centre
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*Norfolk - [[England_Norfolk_Poor_Law_Union_Records_(FamilySearch_Historical_Records)|Norfolk Workhouse Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)]]
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*Surrey - various online databases, see&nbsp;[http://www.surreycc.gov.uk/recreation-heritage-and-culture/archives-and-history/surrey-history-centre/surrey-history-centre-searchable-online-indexes Surrey History Centre]. Do not overlook [http://www.surreycc.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/172776/RoyalPhilanthropicSchoolRedhill.pdf Royal Philanthropic Society].
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*Sussex (West) Poor law database - [http://www.sussexrecordsociety.org/plhome.asp?an=&ap= West Sussex Poor Law Database] at Sussex Record Society website.
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*Warwick - using your [http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=1557 Ancestry.com] subscription or using the free access at the Family History Library, a public library near you, or a Family History Centre
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*[[Poorhouses, Poor Laws, etc.|1861 Paupers who have been in a workhouse for at least five years]] (thanks to George Bell)
  
Poor law database for Sussex
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=== Finding Aids and more information:  ===
  
[http://www.victorianweb.org/history/poorlaw/poorlawov.html http://www.victorianweb.org/history/poorlaw/poorlawov.html]
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The following links are to sites with records or more information relating to poor laws in England.  
  
<br>
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*Many poor law records have been indexed on the [http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/a2a/ Access to Archives (A2A)] web site. Go to the site and click on search, but be sure to read the “help” before conducting a search. If a relevant record is found on A2A, you may be able to find a copy of the original record at the Family History Library (see next item). If no record is available at the FHL, a photocopy of the document may be ordered from the record office or archive where the original document is located. A2A will provide the contact information for the archive.
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*[http://www.workhouses.org Workhouses.org] - extensive information
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*Victorian Poor Law pages -&nbsp;[http://www.victorianweb.org/history/poorlaw/poorlawov.html http://www.victorianweb.org/history/poorlaw/poorlawov.html]
 +
*Workhouse database - [http://www.fourbears.uk.com/Unions/Poor%20Law.html http://www.fourbears.uk.com/Unions/Poor_Law.html]
  
[http://www.fourbears.worldonline.co.uk/html/union_finder_database.html http://www.fourbears.worldonline.co.uk/html/union_finder_database.html]
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== References ==
 +
{{reflist}}
  
Workhouse database
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{{Poor Law}}  
 
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<br>
+
 
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'''A wiki article describing this collection is found at:'''
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+
[[England Cheshire Workhouse Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)|England Cheshire Workhouse Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)]]
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SOURCES:
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{{reflist}}  
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[[Category:England|Poorhouses, Poor Law, etc.]]
 
[[Category:England|Poorhouses, Poor Law, etc.]]

Revision as of 20:28, 17 May 2013

English poor law resulted from a gradual development of a poor relief or welfare system dating to medieval times[1]. The first laws enacted for dealing with poverty, vagrancy, and economic distress were the Statutes of Labourers of 1349-1351.[2] 

Contents

Poor Law Records

Poor Law Records are records created by the process of caring for the poor. This includes records of rates (taxes) collected, as well as disbursements of, application for, and administration of poor relief or welfare. In England, the term poor law records usually applies to records created between the beginning of the English Poor Law Acts around 1600 until the abolishment of the Poor Law system in 1948.

English records relating to the poor fall into three time periods, namely:

  1. Prior to the establishment of the Poor Law System in the late 1500's (acts of 1597, 1598, and 1601)
  2. The Old Poor Law (1600-1834)
  3. The New Poor Law (1834-1948)

Pre-1600 Records of the Poor

Prior to 1600, responsibility for poor relief rested early on with the feudal Lord and later the Manorial Lord. Those who were neither serf nor manorial tenant as well as those traveling relied on the Catholic monasteries for relief from economic distress, temporary disability, or illness while away from family and friends.

The Family History researcher's best hope for finding any mention of a specific person during this time period (other than the nobility and manorial Lords) lies with records of daily life on the Manor. Manorial records mention many of the individual tenants and often give clues to their lives and even family relationships. See England Manor Records.

King Henry VIII's break with the Pope and the Catholic Church led to the establishment of the Church of England in 1534 and the abolishment of the monasteries by 1538. This led to a shift to the English parish for responsibility for the poor. A system developed for caring for the poor, which was codified with a series of Poor Law Acts of 1597, 1598, and finally the establishment of the Poor Law System in 1601.

The Old Poor Law (1600-1834)

Providing for the poor has long been challenge in England. This responsibility was placed on the parish officials in 1531. In the early years, each parish handled matters as they saw fit, since laws regulating the administration of matter dealing with the poor were not enacted until 1597, 1598, and 1601. The 1601 system was modified over the years, with Settlement Laws added in 1662. Providing relief for a person in need took time. Monies were collected by an appointed person from those who had land or property in the parish. An amount was assessed according to the value of their land or property.

Poor Law Records (pre-1834)

The Parish Chest.jpg
Poor law records deal with providing food, shelter, and sometime work for those who had none. Records include settlement certificates, removal orders, workhouse records, minutes of meetings, accounts, rate books, appointment books (of overseers). Some of these records include names, dates, places and ages, while others are merely statistical. Records were kept in the parish chest and are included in the general term "parish chest records." For a fuller discussion of the records of the poor kept during this time period, see England and Wales Poor Law Records Pre-1834.

Settlement Laws

Settlement Law was established in 1662, and modified by numerous subsequent acts of Parliament. Generally, before money was given to a person in need, the parish (or civil) overseer determined the parish of settlement. Money was hard to come by, and was only given in cases where it was justified by settlement as well as indigence. The parish of settlement was not always the parish of birth, since there were ways a person could re-establish settlement in another parish. When a woman married, her husband's parish of settlement became her parish of settlement. For more information on settlement, see England and Wales Poor Law Records Pre-1834.

For a list of and full text of Acts establishing and modifying settlement law and poor law, see www.workhouses.org.uk.

The New Poor Law (1834-1948)

Following the report of a Parliamentary Commission of 1832, poor law unions governed by a civil board of guardians were established in 1834. The terms "old poor law," and "new poor law" are used to denote before or after 1834.

The 1834 Act established Poor Law Unions, a grouping of parishes who shared expenses and raised revenue for the operation of a Union workhouse. The Union workhouse had a Board of Guardians, as well as provisions for regular inspections and reviews. For more information of post-1834 Poor Law, workhouses, and Poor Law Unions, see England and Wales Poor Law 1834-1948.

Poor Law Union Records (1834-1948)

Records of the Union Workhouse and Union Board of Guardians are often extensive. While they vary by Union, they typically include[3]:

  • Workhouse Records
  • Admission and Discharge Books or Registers
  • Creed Registers
  • Registers of Births
  • Registers of Baptisms
  • Registers of Deaths, and
  • records of:
    • Workhouse Infirmaries
    • Pauper Lunatic Asylums
    • Out Relief
    • Poor Law Schools
    • Poor Law School Districts
    • Children in the Workhouse
    • Boarding out Children, and
    • Staff

A set of four volumes details records which survive for each Poor Law Union and where the originals are housed. Gibson, Jeremy, Colin Rogers and Cliff Webb. Poor Law Union Records: Birmingham, England: Federation of Family History Societies, 1993 (later editions vary by part #).WorldCat 230100951 FHL book 942 P37gj. The four volumes are:

1. South-East England and East Anglia.
2. The Midlands and Northern England.
3. South-West England. The Marches and Wales.
4. Gazetteer of England and Wales.

Links to Online Records and Finding Aids

The following are links to Poor Law records available online, alphabetized by county in England:

Finding Aids and more information:

The following links are to sites with records or more information relating to poor laws in England.

  • Many poor law records have been indexed on the Access to Archives (A2A) web site. Go to the site and click on search, but be sure to read the “help” before conducting a search. If a relevant record is found on A2A, you may be able to find a copy of the original record at the Family History Library (see next item). If no record is available at the FHL, a photocopy of the document may be ordered from the record office or archive where the original document is located. A2A will provide the contact information for the archive.
  • Workhouses.org - extensive information
  • Victorian Poor Law pages - http://www.victorianweb.org/history/poorlaw/poorlawov.html
  • Workhouse database - http://www.fourbears.uk.com/Unions/Poor_Law.html

References