City of London Parish Workhouses
The old City of London comprised more than 100 parishes, most of which were tiny and lay inside its ancient walls. A few of the within-the-walls parishes operated workhouses prior to 1834, as did some of the newer City parishes just beyond ("without") the walls. Several of the latter also had portions which lay within the county of Middlesex. Most of the information below is based on the following sources:
- An Account of Several Workhouses... published in 1732 — this is abbreviated here as ASW.
- The 1776 parliamentary Abstract of Returns Made by the Overseers of the Poor — abbreviated as ARMOP.
- Tim Hitchcock's 1985 study The English workhouse 1695-1750 — abbreviated as TEW.
- Pigot 's Metropolitan Guide (c.1820) — abbreviated as PMG.
Allhallows Barking by the Tower
Allhallows Barking by the Tower had a workhouse by 1737. In 1776, it could house 70 inmates (ARMOP). The building was located at Cooper's Row, Tower Hill
Allhallows Bread Street
ASW contained the following report on the parish of Allhallows, Bread Street:
THE Churchwardens and Overseers of the Poor in this Parish, being desirous their Poor should have the same Benefit as other Parishes, of a House, where they might be provided with all Necessaries for Life, the Vestry appointed a Committee of Gentlemen, including the Churchwardens and Overseers, to take a proper House for such a Service. Accordingly in 1730, they hired a House, formerly a Tavern in Fish-street in the Parish of St. Nicholas Cole-Abby and at Christmas the same Year, opened it for all their poor Pensioners, where they are very cleanly dieted and lodged, under the Care of a Mistress.
THE Family being small, the Overseers of it have appointed the following concise Regulations to be observed by those that belong to it.
1. THAT no Person go out of the House without Leave, and that whosoever shall presume so to do, shall, for the 4th Offence, be expelled the House.
2. THAT no distilled Liquors be brought into the said House, whereby the Poor may disorder themselves; and that Offenders against this Order be punishable as far as the Law will allow, and the Parish shall think fit.
3. THAT whatsoever Person shall steal, or remove, with intent to imbezzle any Goods, Money, or Cloaths belonging to the House, or to any Person therein, such Person so offending, shall be sent to Bridewell, or further punished as the Nature of the Offence may deserve.
4. THAT if any Person shall be heard to swear or curse, or shall disturb the Family with Clamour, and Quarrelling, such Person, for the first Offence, shall lose their next Meal; for the second, denied their Victuals for a whole Day; for the third, be still further punished; and for the fourth, be expelled the House.
5. THAT all healthful and strong People in the Family, rise in Summer at 5 or 6, and go to Bed at 9 a Clock; and in Winter be up by 8, and go to Bed by 8, or sooner, to save Firing and Candle.
6. THAT all the able Poor go to their own Parish-Church, (or to some other Place of Religious Worship, as they have been accustomed to heretofore) twice every Lord's Day; and that whosoever shall come home drunk upon such Occasions, shall be severely punished.
7. THAT when any Person dies in the House, their Cloaths shall be lodged in the Store-room, for the Use of the Parish, and the Nurse who attended the Party while sick, shall safely deliver up all the other Goods and Money of the Deceased, or be severely punished if she purloin the same.
8. THAT no separate Pensions be allowed to any Person out of the House, but that the whole Collections for the Poor be applied towards the Support of the House, and the Maintenance of the Poor therein.
9. THAT the House be stocked with all such Tools and Implements as are necessary to employ the Poor in such Manufacture as the Committee shall approve; and that all such Poor as have their Health and Limbs, be chosen out and appointed to such sort of Work, as they are fit for, or else be stationed to the other necessary Business of the Family.
In 1776, a maximum of fourteen of the parish poor were farmed out, with six children and two lunatics provided for in that number.
Allhallows the Great
Allhallows the Great had a workhouse by 1746. In 1776. it had ceased operation and the poor were being farmed out.
Allhallows Honey Lane
Allhallows Honey Lane had a workhouse from 1731 (TEW). By 1776, the parish poor were farmed out at Hoxton.
Allhallows Lombard Street
Allhallows Lombard Street had a workhouse from 1736 (TEW). By 1776, the parish was farming out its poor with a contractor at Blackfriars.
Allhallows London Wall
Allhallows London Wall had a workhouse from 1736 (TEW). By 1776, the poor were farmed out at Mile End.
Allhallows Staining had a workhouse from 1736 (TEW). By 1776, the poor were being farmed by a contractor at Little Bartholomew Close.
Christchurch Newgate Street
Christchurch Newgate Street (also known as Christchurch Greyfriars, or Christchurch in London) was the subject of an ASW report dated 29th September, 1731.
The parish obtained a Local Act in 1753, amended in 1778 and 1784, enabling it to purchase, hire or erect a workhouse. In 1776, the workhouse housed up to eighty inmates. By 1804, however, the parish farmed out its poor with Mr Overton at Mile End.
Holy Trinity Minories
From around 1692 to 1749, the parish provided accommodation for its poor in two houses rented from Lord Granderson. Thereafter, they were largely farmed out.
St Alban Wood Street
In 1732, ASW noted:
TEW dates the workhouse to 1724. In 1731, it was located in a hired house in Merchant Taylor's Rents, at the upper end of Moor Lane, in the parish of St Giles Cripplegate. By 1776, the parish was farming out its poor with a contractor at Hoxton.
Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals. Before travelling a long distance, always check that the records you want to consult will be available.
The Ancestry website has two collections of London workhouse records (both:
- The London Workhouse Admission and Discharge Records (1764-1930).
- The Poor Law and Board of Guardian Records, 1738-1930 — a wider range of London workhouse-related records.
- The FindMyPast website has workhouse / poor law records for Westminster.
- London Metropolitan Archives, 40 Northampton Road, London EC1R OHB.
- Higginbotham, Peter Workhouses of London and the South East (2019)
- Anon (1732) An Account of Several Work-houses for Employing and Maintaining the Poor
- Hitchcock, T.V. (1985) The English workhouse: a study in institutional poor relief in selected counties. l695-l750. (DPhil thesis. University of Oxford.)
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