London Records of the Poor

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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.

The Records

Records from the poorlaw 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 Family History Library 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

  • 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

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

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.

Most transported convicts committed property crimes as impoverished inhabitants of London. The government banished them to colonies as a remedy for the criminal poor.


Wikipedia has more about this subject: Foundling Hospital
Foundlings were abandoned babies. Abandoning babies has been a common phenomena in urban areas.


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


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.