Source Information

Ancestry.com. Warwickshire, England, Parish Poor Law, 1546-1904 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Original data: Warwickshire Parish Poor Law. Warwick, England: Warwickshire County Record Office.

About Warwickshire, England, Parish Poor Law, 1546-1904

This is a collection of parish Poor Law records that relate to disposition of relief in Warwickshire, England.

Historical Background

For centuries, the task of caring for the poor in England was left to the Church. Each parish was given an Overseer of the Poor to help with this cause in 1572. In 1601, the Poor Law Act empowered these overseers to collect a poor rate from wealthier members of the parish and distribute the funds among those needing relief.

The 1601 law remained in effect until 1834, when a new law, the Poor Law Amendment Act, took effect. Under this law, parishes were grouped into Unions. Each Union elected a Board of Guardians, which was then responsible for care of the poor across all of the individual parishes.

Many of our ancestors received help through these Poor Laws, including the elderly, orphaned, abandoned, unemployed, and sick. Aid came as more than just money; the poor could also be provided food, clothing, and work. Children from poor families might be placed in apprenticeships or sent to schools and other institutions.

What’s Included in This Database

This collection includes images of a variety of different records created in Warwickshire from ca. 1658 through 1901 in connection with the Poor Laws. They can help you identify members of your family who were considered poor, find out what aid they received, and discover details of their everyday lives. It’s sometimes possible to piece together the story of a relative’s life, from their placement at a school as a child, through their time in a workhouse, up to their final fate—be it their eventual passing or an escape from poverty. Or, you may find your ancestor on the other side of the coin, among the rate payers. Poor Law records can also be useful in tracing movements among family members—both poor and not.

Examples of the types of records found in this collection include

  • apprenticeship registers and indentures
  • lists of parish officers
  • churchwardens’ accounts
  • charity deeds and accounts
  • poor law papers
  • overseers' accounts
  • parish account books
  • poor rates
  • removal orders
  • settlement examinations and certificates
  • bastardy bonds
  • constables' accounts
  • parish minutes
  • pauper lunatics
  • lists of poor and apprentices
  • rent books

These records can be browsed by parish or other jurisdiction and record type.

Information contained in Poor Law records varies by record type. For example, on an admission and discharge register you may see the person’s name, their date of admission, age, religious persuasion, and date of discharge. On an apprentice register you could find the apprentice’s name, gender, age, the name of the person they were bound to, date of indenture, parents’ names, trade, and residence.

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