Abstracts of over 22,400 London Poor Law records, covering over 300 years and 66 City of London parishes, are now online at Origins.net.
Poor Law records are a major source for those interested in both local and family history and touched almost every aspect of the lives of those who had fallen on hard times or whose predicaments drew them to the attention of the parish officers.
The parish officer/overseer of the poor was expected when necessary, to feed, clothe, house and find work for his poor inhabitants. He apprenticed pauper children and diligently pursued the fathers of illegitimate children born in the parish. Ultimately, however, he protected his parish from the claims of paupers who were not his responsibility.
Thus these records can allow you to prove relationships between both members of the same family and between families and places. A large number of families lived a hand to mouth existence, and illness or death of the main wage earner or a bad harvest or other disaster could cause a family to become dependent upon poor relief. Poor Law records can provide the means to help you to follow these ‘pauper’ ancestors through their trials and tribulations.
These poor law abstracts (summaries) contain a complete summary of the details contained within each entry and includes all details including names and places plus incidental information such as relationships and occupations where found in the original documents.
You can search London Poor Law Abstracts from 1581-1899 at the British Origins website.
These abstracts include: Apprenticeship indentures, Bastardy examinations, Indemnity bonds, Quarter sessions and appeals, Settlement examinations and removal orders, Vagrant removal orders, Workhouse admission and discharges. See some examples below:
6 Jun 1783 Settlement examination of Mary ALDRIDGE (X) wife of John. On 22 Aug 1768 married husband at Shoreditch & lived together 6 years & has 3 children, 2 of which are now in St Giles poorhouse. In Easter week 10 years ago last Easter her husband left her. 8 years ago she received a letter from her husband who was then in Virginia, America and she has not heard from him since. Since her absence she has had 2 children Mary (5) & Hannah (3) & she is now pregnant again & Edward BOWMAN a journeyman shoemaker is the father of the 2 children and the one she is pregnant with.
Vagrant’s Removal Order
1 Apr 1765 Vagrant’s Removal Order of Elizabeth WALMSLEY from Cirencester, Gloucestershire. Examination of Sarah MAY (X) who swears that her maiden name was WALMSLEY & has been wandering with her husband & her sister Elizabeth (10) & subsisted for some time by begging. Her sister was born in St Giles Cripplegate & her father is dead after which the child was maintained for some time by St Giles Workhouse.
29 May 1821 – Bastardy examination of Sarah wife of Henry BROMWELL delivered that day of male bastard & has charged Thomas BROMWELL who works at 4 Coleman Street as father & that on 7 Nov 1822 was delivered of another bastard child named Thomas and Thomas BROMWELL is also the father of this child.