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The City of London Poor Law Union

Starting in 1834, a single poor law union had responsibility over the City of London called The City of London Poor Law Union. Multiple workhouses operated within this jurisdiction. For further information, see:

The Records

Records from the poor law unions, which were created from this time forward include the following:

  1. Guardianship
  2. Creed Registers
  3. Rate books
  4. Workhouse Lists of Inmates
  5. Register of Apprentices
  6. Register of Births
  7. Register of Deaths
  8. Vestry Rate Books
  9. Admission and Discharge Registers
  10. Board of Guardians' Records

Online Poor Law Records (£) has the largest collection of online London poor law records:

Other sites include:

  1. The Pauper Biographies Project provides detailed information including maps and working papers.
  2. For more information on the history of the workhouse, see Peter Higginbotham's web site:
  3. Here's a general website providing data on approximately 10 percent of the county's poor

Family History Library Collection

To determine records availability for each poor law union, search the FamilySearch Catalog under the name of the county (London), and then under the name of the poor law union, i.e. City of London; then search under the term[s] "poorlaw" or "poorhouses".

Guides to London Poor Law Records

  • Gibson, J.S.W., Colin D. Rogers, and Cliff Webb. Poor Law Union Records. 4 parts. Birmingham, UK: Federation of Family History Societies, c1997. FHL Book 942 P37gj 1997 pt. 1.Volume 1 includes London.
  • Webb, Cliff. London, Middlesex and Surrey Workhouse Records: A Guide to Their Nature and Location. West Surrey Family History Society, c1991. FHL Book 942.21 H25w no. 31.
  • Webb, Cliff. A Provisional List of City of London Poor Law Records. West Surrey Family History Society, c1992. FHL Book 942.21 H25w no. 28 1992.

Pre-1834 Records of the Poor (£) has a large collection of online London poor law records:

London Poor Law Records, 1581-1899 are available on findmypast (£)


Workhouses and the City of London Corporation of the Poor existed in the City before 1834. For further information, see:

Early London workhouses included:

  • Bishopsgate Street - opened 1699
  • St Giles Cripplegate - opened 1724[1]

Parish Chests

Parish chest records contain a great deal of information about the care of London's poor before 1834, when it was a parish responsibility. Refer to individual City of London parish pages to learn more about parish chest records.

Criminal Poor

Most transported convicts from London were impoverished individuals who had committed property crimes. The government banished their criminal poor to British colonies where they labored for specified numbers of years. Prosecuted crimes can be found in the Old Bailey Sessions and London Sessions.


Wikipedia has more about this subject: Foundling Hospital

Foundlings were abandoned babies. Abandoning babies has been a common practice in urban areas for centuries.


The London Foundling Hospital opened in 1741. In the 1950s, most business dropped off, as adoption became more popular. The Hospital created records on more than (100,000) infants placed in their care during that period. For tips on finding foundling records, see Research Resources at The Foundling Museum website.

Baptisms at this facility from 1741 to 1838 are indexed on FamilySearch in Batch C067701.

For further information, see: Anthony Camp's London Foundling Hospital: Reclaimed Foundlings.


Before 1741, the care of foundlings fell to the parishes where they were discovered. Officials often named these nameless infants after their parish or streets where they were found. Individuals charged with raising these children were supported by parish rates.

A few guides and databases have been prepared about pre-1741 London foundlings.


  • Webb, Cliff. An Index to London Hospitals and Their Records. London: Society of Genealogists, c2008. FHL Book 942.1/L1 J43w.


Wikipedia has more about this subject: Bethlem Royal Hospital

Bethlem Royal Hospital, also known as 'Bedlam,' was a London hospital for the mentally ill, dating from medieval times.

1547 Subsidy

  • London Bedlam Hospital, Bishopsgate Ward, London (The National Archives, Ref: E179/145/139); copy: FHL Film 2228700.



  1. An Account of Several Work-Houses for Employing and Maintaining the Poor ... (London: Joseph Downing, 1725), 1-8. Digitized by Internet Archive.