Poor Law Records for Family Historians

Simon Fowler, (The Family History Partnership, 2011), A5 Paperback 63pp

After Parish Registers, Poor Law Records are the most important and informative for the family historian. Using these records, ancestors who were helped through the Poor Law, or were Poor Law Officers may be found. This book describes which records survive and where they may be found. Charities such as Barnado’s, Friendly Societies, Church and Religious Societies were also involved with helping the poor and their records can be particularly useful when searching for records of children. Examples and illustrations of records are given for both the Old Poor Law 1601-1834 and the New Poor Law 1834-1948. The last place any poor person wanted to go was the Workhouse, and entry to one of these institutions was usually as the very last resort, many detailed records were kept of the administration and condition of the inmates.

There is a comprehensive bibliography and a list of useful of websites, and addresses together with a chronology from 1563 when Justices of the Peace were authorised to raise compulsory funds for the relief of the poor to 1948 with the introduction of the Welfare State.

Information on sources for Scotland and Ireland are also included. Packed full of useful information, this book will prove an invaluable guide through the Poor Law.

Mary Smith 

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