England Miscellaneous Workhouse Records (National Institute)

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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course English: Poor Law and Parish Chest Records  by Dr. Penelope Christensen. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).

Workhouse In-Relief (cont.)[edit | edit source]

Workhouse Birth and Death Registers[edit | edit source]

There were actually various registers of birth, christening, death and burial kept by workhouses, and they are especially useful in the early period (1837-1874) of civil registration when registration was not compulsory. It must be remembered that because of the intense social shame engendered in Victorian England by having an illegitimate child, most families heartlessly evicted a pregnant unmarried daughter and her only option was to have her baby in the workhouse.

Patient Certificate from Union Infirmary, Hackney, Middlesex 1921

                                                  Hackney Union Infirmary
                                               230 High Street, Homerton E9

I hereby certify that Julia Jane Rowe was a patient in this infirmary from 18th August 1920 and died on 19th August 1920 suffering from Puerperal Eclampsia.
                                                     Dated this 20th day of April 1921.

                                                                          W. Braunder
                                                                          Medical Superintendent
[This small certificate is stamped crosswise in large letters
                                                                      NOT TO BE USED FOR BEGGING PURPOSES]

Workhouse Baptism and Burial Registers[edit | edit source]

  • Baptism registers mostly contained illegitimate children born in the workhouse.
  • Burial registers occur where the workhouse had its own burial ground, but most paupers would have been buried in the parish churchyard, or city cemeteries after 1853, with their abode listed as union, workhouse, or simply house.

Workhouse Inmates Clothing Records[edit | edit source]

These are records of what clothing was brought into the workhouse by the paupers.

Workhouse Punishment Books[edit | edit source]

Registers of offences by, and punishments awarded to, inmates were kept.

Workhouse School Registers[edit | edit source]

Where a workhouse had a school then there were dated lists of children, sometimes with other information.

Workhouse Tradesmens’ Accounts[edit | edit source]

A list of bills for Fareham is givenbelow , and a list of the contracts for the Greenwich Union (Holmes) after that . Plenty of ancestors here!

Tradesmen Supplying the Fareham, Surrey Workhouse 1836

Tradesmen Item Price
SMITH, Henry Cheese £3. 6s. 0d
KNOTT, George Butcher’s meat £7. 8s. 4 ½d
GOUGH, William Butter £1. 19s. 5 ½d
KING, John Groceries £1. 13s. 5d
REED, J.B. Groceries £2. 3s. 4 ½d
BLAKE, W. Clothing £2. 11s 0 ½d
HELBY, J Peas and groceries £3. 12s 9 ½d
BROCK and Son Beer £11.13s. 3d
PINK, Thomas Meat 2s.7d
WILSON, John 5 sacks of flour £6.18s. 9d
Letter from G. HALFSIDE, engraver to HMSO, showing a design for a Union seal.

Letter to Henry O'GIVEN re the price of palliasses and bolsters.

Tradesmen Supplying The Greenwich, Kent Workhouse 1854

Baker for the House Samuel Hobbs, Woolwich
Brewer George Scott Freeman, Camberwell
Brush Maker John W. Olley, Deptford Bridge
Butcher for Greenwich
        “        Deptford
        “        Woolwich
George Garrett, Church St., Greenwich
William Pembroke, Deptford
William Waller jnr, Woolwich
Chandler James Percival, Blackfriars Road
Cheesemonger W. Carr, Bishopsgate, City of London
Clothier Atkinson and Co, Bridge Road, Lambeth
Coal Merchant C.W. Coen, Deptford
Earthenware Dealer J.J. Richards, Greenwich
Firewood Dealer John Dyball, Deptford
Grocer Richard Twickett, Deptford
Ironmonger and Engineer J.C. Peckham, Greenwich
Leather Seller Jonas Crossley, Woolwich
Linen, Woollen, Haberdashery and Hosier Charles Roope, Chelsea
Mealman James Denham, Wellington St., Deptford
Milkman David Phillips, Lewisham
Oilman Joseph Hale Bryan, Lambeth Walk
Plumber and Gas Fitter George Whitting, Trafalgar Road, Greenwich
Potato Dealer Samuel Cook, Sandy Hill, Woolwich
Printer Miss Brown, Deptford
Shoe Maker Joseph Mead, Greenwich
Stationer James Truscott, Nelson Square, Blackfriars Road
Timber Merchant John Carter, Burey St., Greenwich
Undertaker Charles Bishop, Woolwich
Wine and Spirit Miss A.G. Tuke, Greenwich

Workhouse Allowances[edit | edit source]

Extra Allowances at Titchfield Poorhouse 1835

Name Allowances Remarks
James CLEVERLY 2s/month
1pt ale daily
Usefully mends shoes, decrepid and infirm.
William HARRIS 2s/month Trustworthy; cuts and has charge of the wood, runs errands
James BONE


Extra bread

and cheese daily.

Very useful, takes care of garden and keeps it in order himself.

1pt ale daily

Attends to baking
John CULLIMORE 1s/month
1pt ale daily
Very useful, takes care of the oakum and assists in keeping the boys in order.
Mary KENT 2s/month Schoolmistress for the younger children.
Lydia CARY 6oz tea +
Very old, lame and blind.
Elizabeth PARSONS same Very old, lame and much palsied.
Harriet BARNES same Very useful, takes care of the old women, cooks, bakes, washes and generally useful.
Ann CHIDDLE same Generally useful when wanted.

Workhouse Food[edit | edit source]

The Bill of Fare at Fareham Workhouse 1835!

Item Allowances for

Per Day or Week

Men Women Children
Bread 16 oz 12 oz 12 oz Day
Meat 16 oz 13 1/3 oz 10 2/3 oz Week
Cheese 14 oz 10 2/3 oz 9 1/3 oz Week
Pudding 12 oz 10 oz 8 oz Week
Potatoes 4 ¾ lbs 3 lbs 9 oz 3 lbs 3 oz Week
Gruel 1 pint 1 pint 1 pint Day

Workhouse Out-Relief[edit | edit source]

Relief Order Books and Workhouse Out-Relief Books[edit | edit source]

Out-relief lists and relief order books, which give names and usually amounts of money and reasons for payments, with sometimes the address and names of any dependants. Sometimes there are separate records of Loans granted to paupers and Rent for paupers. Tom Wood recommends Bill Painter’s book (Upon the Parish Rate: The Story of Louth Workhouse and the Paupers of East Lindsey) on a Lincolnshire workhouse as being of more general value.

Workhouse Medical Records[edit | edit source]

Medical records include many different items such as Medical Officers Treatment Books, Lists of lunatics both in asylums and not in asylums, Midwives’ bills, and payments for Nursing of the sick

Smallpox vaccination records[edit | edit source]

The serious epidemic of smallpox in England that occurred in 1837-1840 lead guardians to start vaccination in 1840, since the poor were particularly vulnerable, and it became compulsory for all infants from 1853-1948, but even so there was another bad outbreak in 1870-1872. Parents received vaccination certificates containing the name and age of the child and the date of vaccination, and often the place of birth. Registers kept by hospitals and the guardians from 1862-1948 give similar information, together with the father’s name and occupation, and these may be found in county archives or (later ones) in hospital archives.

Militiamens’ Dependents[edit | edit source]

According to Acts of Parliament of 1758, 1793, and 1803 each parish had to support the dependants of its militiamen. The militiaman got a certificate of service from his captain that he sent to his wife. She gave it to the Overseers of the Poor or obtained a Justice of the Peace’s Order for payment (Camp 1999-2) which could come from the Poor Rates or the special Land Taxes. An order and a payment account are shown below .

Order to Support a Militia Wife Eling, Hampshire 1810
FHL film 1566084

Order for Relief of the Family of a Ballotted Man Dwelling in another Parish of County that that for which he was drawn
SOUTHAMPTON, To Wit: To the Overseers of the Poor of the Parish of Bishops Waltham in the County of Southampton.
WHEREAS it appears unto me, one of His Majesty’s Justices of the Peace for the County of Southampton, that William Pope of the Parish of Bishops Waltham is a Ballotted Man serving in the Militia for the County of Southampton, and hath joined the same, and is now in actual Service therein; and that he hath left his Wife, named Kezia and his five children born in Wedlock, namely Mary, William, James, Josiah and Sarah now dwelling in the said Parish of Bishops Waltham unable to support themselves. And whereas it also appears unto me that the said William Pope serves as a Ballotted Man in the said Militia, for the Parish of Eling in the said County of Southampton. Now by Virtue of the Act of Parliament, made and passed in the Forty-third Year of the Reign of his present Majesty King George the Third, entitled An Act for consolidating and amending the several Laws for providing Relief for the Families of Militia-Men of England when called out into actual Service, I do hereby order you the Overseers of the Poor of the Parish of Bishops Waltham aforesaid to pay unto the said Kezia the Wife of the said William Pope weekly, and every Week, from the twenty second Day of January instant the Sum of twelve shillings for and towards the necessary Relief and Maintenance of the said Kezia and her Children during so long Time as the said William Pope shall be in actual Service in the said Militia, unless in the mean Time the said Kezia the wife of the said William Pope shall follow the said Regiment, or shall leave her Children, or depart from her Home, without having first obtained such Certificate, as in the said Act is directed; or until you shall be otherwise ordered herein.
GIVEN under my Hand and Seal this 23rd Day of January in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and ten.
                                J. Baynes
To the Overseers of the Poor of the Parish of Eling in the County of Southampton.
IN Pursuance of the Statute in this Behalf, I, one of His Majesty’s Justices of the Peace for the County of Southampton, do hereby certify, that the foregoing is a true Copy, or to the Purport and Effect, of an Order made by me, for the Relief of a Family of the Militia-Man therein named. And I do hereby, in further Pursuance of the said Act, direct you, the Overseers of the Poor of the Parish of Eling to reimburse to the Overseers of the Poor of the above-mentioned Parish of Bishops Waltham, all such Sum and Sums of Money as shall from Time to Time be paid by them, the said Overseers, in Obedience to my said Order. GIVEN under my Hand and Seal the twenty third Day of January 1810.

                                     J. Baynes
[Note at side: Overseers are particularly cautioned to apply for Reimbursement of these Sums within sic Months, or the same will not be repaid the.]

Payment Account for Support of a Militia Wife Eling, Hampshire 1810 FHL film 1566084

AN Account of all Sum and Sums of Money, Allowance and Allowances, that have been paid within six Months last past, to wit, from the twenty second Day of January last past to the twenty second Day of July last past by the Overseers of the Poor of the Parish of Bishops Waltham to the Wife and Family of William Pope in Obedience to the Order of The Reverend John Baynes one of His Majesty’s Justices of the Peace, acting in and for the County of Southampton; a Copy whereof is hereunto annexed; And which Monies are to be reimbursed to them, the said Overseers of the Parish of Bishops Waltham by the Overseers of the Parish of Eling.

£ s d
From the 22nd day of January to the 22nd day of
July 1810 being six weeks at 12/- per week

Octbr 27th 1810 Paid by Jno Tiller
Signed J. Baynes

One of His Majesty’s Justices of the Peace of the County of Southampton.

The Overseers will take Notice that this Account must be made up at the End of every six Months, and signed by some Justice of the Peace of the County of Southampton, within one Month, and delivered to the Overseers, by whom the Money is to be reimbursed within three Months.



Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course English: Poor Law and Parish Chest Records offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at wiki@genealogicalstudies.com

We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.