Workhouse registers

Workhouses maintained various sets of registers to keep track of inmates. Admission and discharge registers and ‘day books’ are usually arranged chronologically, listing the names and biographical details about people arriving and leaving the workhouse.

Many paupers ended their days inside, so deaths are commonly noted in these records. Creed registers recorded an inmate’s religion, but can often provide just as much information as an admission register.

The Poor Law authorities had the right to refuse relief to people who could not prove that the parish or Union was their legal place of settlement, and could pay to transport the pauper and their family to wherever they were legally deemed to belong.

The criteria for legal settlement changed with various amendments to the Acts, but often paupers were removed to the parish where they or their parents were born or formerly lived.

Brian Blessed uncovered a Settlement Examination for Barnabas Blessed’s orphaned children revealing that although Barnabas had lived and died in Portsmouth, the family used to live in London, and so a Removal Order was issued to send the family to St Martin’s Workhouse.

Some early Settlement Certificates, Examinations and Removal Orders for London parishes can be seen for free online at has a transcribed collection of Lincolnshire Removal orders here, indicating which parish a pauper was taken from and removed to.

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