Finding out more

The records available online for our pauper ancestors are just the tip of the iceberg. Visiting the County Record Office near where they lived can reveal much more, especially since very few regional records have been digitised.

When searching for Poor Law records that have not been indexed by name it’s necessary to know which parish and Poor Law Union your ancestors belonged to. FamilySearch has a map for identifying these at

The National Archives’ Discovery service is now the best place to find contact details for regional archives and catalogues of papers held in County Record Offices and smaller repositories. This has replaced Archon and the National Register of Archives and Access to Archives websites.

Like Twiggy, you may discover that your poverty-stricken ancestors were affected by many of the issues touched upon in this guide. Go to the Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine online tutorials about Workhouse Ancestors, Criminal Ancestors and Children’s Homes to learn more about these specific sets of records.

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Enslaved ancestors
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