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Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Ancestry updates London Poor Law records set

120x60: I’m, your NanAncestry has updated its London Poor Law Records 1430-1973 collection. (UPDATE 30 October: According to a tweet today, some 300,000 records were added to the online collection.) As is standard for these 'updates', there's no information about quite what the update entails, but I've taken the announcement as a timely opportunity to mention the usefulness of English Poor Law records for Irish genealogy research.

Poor Law Records contain many, many Irish people. And not just in the most obvious collection sets such as the workhouse and infirmary records, or registers of apprentices.

On arrival from Ireland, many found their lives no less precarious than back home. If they fell sick or were injured, they may well have applied for temporary relief from the local parish.

New to the parish, and without the professional or family means to support him/herself, such an individual would not have the formal status of 'settlement' in the parish; as such, while it might extend funds to the struggling Irish migrant, it would try to claim a refund from the 'home' parish, back in Ireland.

So Poor Law records can be a rich source of information if your ancestors either settled in England or migrated there on a temporary or seasonal basis.

The London collection on Ancestry is extensive, with 2.8million records available. They have not been indexed, however, so you have to identify which documents your ancestors may appear in and browse accordingly. The records include:
  • Admission and discharge books of workhouses
  • Registers of individuals in the infirmary
  • Creed registers
  • School registers
  • Registers of children boarded out or sent to various other institutions
  • Registers of apprentices
  • Registers of lunatics
  • Registers of servants
  • Registers of children
  • Registers of relief to wives and children
  • Registers of inmates
  • Registers of indoor poor
  • Registers of deserted children
The exact information you can find about your ancestors varies according to what type of record you’re looking at.