London Workhouse Records go Online

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London Workhouse Records go Online

Postby ladyDeWint » Thu Apr 30, 2009 11:35 am

The harsh realities of life in Victorian workhouses in London can now be studied online with records going back 170 years available on the internet for the first time.

Data uncovered from old archive records telling a unique story of our welfare system at the turn of the 20th century have now gone online.

The records evoke images of a time when anyone who could not support themselves was forced into the type of workhouses brought to life in Charles Dickens’ classic Oliver Twist.

The records from the Poor Law Unions show how impoverished men, women and even children went to live in institutions doing tedious jobs in exchange for minimal food and board paid for by the parish Board of Guardians.

IDLE POOR

Workhouse conditions in parishes such as Stepney, Mile End, Poplar and Bethnal Green were deliberately unpleasant to discourage ‘the idle poor’ during an era of a harsh Victorian work ethics.

The records, including birth and death, admission and lunatic lists, are the first part of a collection of 77 million historical London records, covering four centuries from the 1500s to the 1900s, all being uploaded onto the Ancestry website.

“There’s every chance people’s grandparents could have worked and lived in them,” said the website’s Dan Jones.

“It’s easy to forget that some of these workhouses were in existence until the Second World War.”

E.L.A
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Re: London Workhouse Records go Online

Postby Barryoneoff » Thu Apr 30, 2009 11:51 pm

No dole office back then. The immigrants differed from those of today, they had to work to live. Maybe they should open them up again instead of building all those houses in another thread.
Iron rusts from disuse; stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind. http://www.justgiving.com/VictoriaCarter
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Re: London Workhouse Records go Online

Postby marilyn » Tue May 05, 2009 4:20 am

Yes, they should open them up again but I would think they'd be difficult to fill - they just don't have to work these days :-x
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Re: London Workhouse Records go Online

Postby jo » Tue May 05, 2009 9:24 am

the workhouse system interests me , the way they lived men and women separated ,some were born there and died there ,i think it must have been terrible .but at the same time it was somewhere for people to go , the powers that be cared enought o build buildings and give them shelter and work , even if it was terrible there , no homeless on the streets living in cardboard boxes.no psychiatric hospitals putting folk out into so called care in the community.
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Re: London Workhouse Records go Online

Postby Sues » Tue Jun 02, 2009 6:59 am

I am just about to take a serious look for Gt Gt Grandmother in one of the East End Workhouses!!
I'm guessing it is going to be a long study. I'll think of it as a challenge.
She was a prostitute in Whitechapel & Shadwell and she just vanished after 1864. I have not found a death record for her and she was never married.
Her eldest son (my gt grandfather) was brought up by another woman. She then had another son who died at 6 weeks old. There is where I loose her. So thought the workhouse would be my next venture.
Any ideas as to the best place to start. Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated.
Many thanks. SUE. :uhm:
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Re: London Workhouse Records go Online

Postby ladyDeWint » Tue Jun 02, 2009 3:06 pm

there were quite a few workhouses in east london so it's possible she may have been in any one of them, do you have her full name ?
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Re: London Workhouse Records go Online

Postby Inspiration » Tue Jun 02, 2009 5:49 pm

Workhouse records are a godsend as they can give good info on an ancestor if they were admitted. Name, age (or year of birth), from which parish admitted, occupation, and often their residence, reason for admittance and by whose order admitted.

My ancestor Thomas Roberts was in and out of the City Road workhouse in Hoxton 3 times in the last 4 years of his life. He was an old man though. He lived in a tenement block in Holborn.
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Re: London Workhouse Records go Online

Postby Sues » Tue Jun 02, 2009 8:49 pm

Thank you both for your replies..
Her full name was Louisa SMITHER and she was born in Milton nr Gravesend, Kent in 1842. In 1861 she was in Albert Square Shadwell. Occupation Prostitute. In 1862 she lived at 2 Church St, Holy Trinity, Minories, Whitechapel.
My favourite ancestor. Gt Gt Grandma Louisa. SUE.
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Re: London Workhouse Records go Online

Postby ladyDeWint » Tue Jun 02, 2009 11:53 pm

Hello Sues I did a quick search on Ancestry uk and came up with this.

Name: Louisa Smither
Birth: 29 Mar 1842 - Gravesend, Kent, England
Death: 01 Sep 1864 - Whitechapel, London, England
Residence: 1851 - Gravesend, Kent, England
Sources: 2
Saved Records: 2
Tree Name: SMITHER & HOPKINSON : KITCHING & SMITH

as you said you have no d.o.d and no record of her after 1864 it seems this may be your Louisa who was only 22 when she died.

This info belongs to a Michael Smither who has a public tree on ancestry who I'm sure will be able to help you fill in the details of her life.
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Re: London Workhouse Records go Online

Postby Sues » Wed Jun 03, 2009 12:23 pm

Hello there LadyDeWint.
This is our Louisa's birth but we hit another mystery.
Michael is the gt gt grandson of one of Louisa's brothers and he and I have been in contact chasing Smithers for some years. When this death was found on BMD
we got quite exited but it was transcribed as Louisa UNKNOWN. Michael sent away for the certificate as we both thought this must be her. However Michael has received a letter to explain that this is not a death at all. It is an incomplete entry by the person writing it up in 1864. It turns out that this is not a death but an incomplete birth entry for a Louisa ?? 1864 Whitechapel. So we were flattened by this and had to try to solve this mystery all over again. She had eluded us again!! :o
It has been and still is a huge challenge for us but we will keep searching. This is why I have a feeling that the Workhouse records is the next step in the search.
Gosh I find the workhouse's so fascinating and a Gt Gt Grandfather of mine died in the Faversham workhouse. He must have fallen on bad times as when he died he was a pauper but that was not always so. I guess if Louisa was in a workhouse and died she would have had a paupers burial.
Thank you for taking the time to look for me. I do so appreciate it and enjoy yours, and any feedback I receive. This is a super site and love reading other posts.
Regards. SUE.
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Re: London Workhouse Records go Online

Postby ladyDeWint » Thu Jun 04, 2009 12:02 pm

She is certainly proving difficult to track down, but in a way I'm glad it wasn't her for 22 is too short a life.
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Re: London Workhouse Records go Online

Postby Sues » Thu Jun 04, 2009 12:28 pm

Hello.
We did help Louisa out in a way as we matched her up with a baby Henry George Clouder who died at 11 Everards Place Whitechapel in 1864. He died at 6 weeks of age of convulsions. I took a chance and sent away for his death certificate. What a great warm and fuzzy it was to add him on to our family tree and give him a family.
To give you an idea of how hard it was to find out anything about her life. We know about her birth and family up until she left Kent to move to London. How or why she ended up as a prostitute in Shadwell we don't know and probably never will. Her first baby was my gt grandfather Alfred John CLOUDER. So we could only assume she had married. However after so many years of wondering why she changed her birth place to Greenwich from 1871 onwards was a mystery. Michael Smither had offered the theory of are there two different Louisa's. 1 Louisa Smither and 1 Louisa Clouder. BINGO!! Yes they were 2 women. Louisa Clouder must have taken Alfred at birth and given him her name (she was a spinster then) Louisa CLOUDER was present at the death of Henry George. Assuming she was to take him and bring him up also. Louisa Clouder married in 1869 and until Alfred married himself in 1885 he had his stepfather's surname. On both birth certificates Alfred & Henry had the same father except on one certificate it was Alfred Clouder and the other baby he was John Clouder. I am of the opinion the father may have been from the Clouder family. Why would Louisa Clouder have an interest in these babies? I think she may have really been an aunt to Alfred & Henry.
I feel Louisa CLOUDER gave Alfred a life that Louisa Smither never could. Also I feel if it was not for her would Alfred have died as a baby and if so I would not be here. So bless Louisa Clouder and double bless Louisa Smither who must have had a tough life. I am in touch with the family of Louisa Clouder and they were not aware that Alfred was not her son as he had her married name until they also matched up her marriage records. So Where oh where did our Louisa Smither go??
Hope this is not too confusing for you. Friends who do not do genealogy get quite confused and frankly sometimes quite bored with it all. Or sometimes they just simply ask can you do my family tree. To which I say "How about I point you on the right path to do it yourself" Thus in no time another one hooked.
Thank you for letting me share my favourite East Ender with you. Kind regards. SUE.
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Re: London Workhouse Records go Online

Postby ladyDeWint » Thu Jun 04, 2009 6:28 pm

Sue I didn't find it confusing just fascinating, and can only applaud you both on your perseverence. By coincidence my own gg grandmother was born in Milton, nr Gravesend in 1829, she married my gg grandfather Michael O'Shaughnessy who was a cuttersman about 1850 and after the birth of their second child they moved here to the eastend.
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Re: London Workhouse Records go Online

Postby Inspiration » Thu Jun 04, 2009 10:24 pm

Sue what a very interesting story. Yes it can be hard for others to absorb our family history findings. I do get requests to do others family trees and dont mind the odd favour but I just point them in the right direction. I have my own family tree to research.

Glad you have a favourite East Ender ancestor.
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Re: London Workhouse Records go Online

Postby marilyn » Tue Jun 09, 2009 12:56 am

I've never attempted to do my family tree - too hard with Davis, Brown and Williams (and the Williams grandmother was born Williams and also married a Williams which makes it even harder) but am finding your stories absolutely fascinating :-)
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