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For many centuries, the task of caring for the poor was left to the Church. Each parish was given an Overseer of the Poor to help with this cause in 1572. Then, 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 the poor.
The 1601 law remained in effect until 1834 when a new law, the Poor Law Amendment Act took over. This collected parishes into groups called Unions. Each Union elected a Board of Guardians, which was then responsible for the care of the poor across all the individual parishes.
Many of our ancestors received help through these Poor Laws. These included the elderly, orphaned, unemployed, sick and afflicted. It wasn’t just money they were given – they also received other daily necessities such as food, clothing and work. Children from poor families were placed in apprenticeships, or sent to particular schools and other institutions.
What’s Included in This Database:
This collection includes selected admission and discharge records for workhouses created and administered under the Poor Law Acts in London.
The exact information you can find about your ancestors varies according to the record.
You may find:
- The person’s name
- Date of admission
- Date of discharge
- Other details regarding the person’s condition and care
Details of additional family members who resided in the workhouse may also be included.
Search Tip: Admission and Discharge records are often split over multiple images, be sure to browse forward and back in order to find all available details about the individual.