The Poor Laws Project

This project has a history in that Poor Law records for our area were researched by members in the 1980s and 1990s, and several typed booklets have been produced. These are now held by Roland Bostock, as indicated on the General Indexes held by members page.

Poor Law records divide between the older records from about 1662 up to 1834, and newer records which follow the Poor Law Act of 1834. The records that the Society has targetted are the older ones, in that family history previous to 1834 is much harder to do than post 1834.

Unfortunately the survival of the pre-1834 records is somewhat sparse, but even so there are several thousand detail records that have not been indexed at all for our area up to 2017. The records are a mix of Settlement Examination records, Bastardy Examination records, Removal Orders (to and from), and Apprenticeship Indentures.

The records with most value to family historians are the Settlement Examinations. The examinations are all about establishing which parish, if any, will be responsible for the cost of supporting the person, and his or her dependants. They almost always give the age of the claimant, and they look for the facts where the person was born, where they might have served apprenticeship, where they may have rented property, and also provide information on dependent spouses and children. The examinations are usually marked with a conclusion, to accept the person to the parish holding the examination, or to raise a Removal Order that the person be sent back to the parish where they have established settlement rights, even if unintended.

Bastardy examinations are all about establishing who is the father of the bastard child. They are often conducted with pregnant women, but also those with the young child. They have less content than Settlement Examinations and very much focus on the man involved, and when and where the act of carnal knowledge took place.

Removal Orders are much shorter, with much less information attached to them, but they are important for family historians as they they provide vital information as to when and why people may have moved from one parish to another. Removal Orders from the parish are instigated by the parish, usually as a result of a Settlement examination. Removal Orders to the parish are the parish accepting responsibility for providing relief support to a family as a result of another parish 'sending them back'.

We also have a considerable collection of Apprenticeship Indenture records. While these are of interest they are much less likely to help piece together difficult family trees.

The project is very time consuming, and volunteers can pick and choose how to contribute. The typed booklets need to be digitised, ie retyped, and records available on microfilm at the LMA also need to be viewed and transcribed. Two ancient books (1800 and 1802) have even been found at Richmond Library, which need to be read and transcribed; and there are also records held at Hammersmith Library to be read and transcribed. Then there is indexing to be done from the transcribed records.


Any volunteers looking for this sort of work should contact the Projects Co-ordinator.

Society news

Next Meeting

Our next meeting will be held on Thursday 15th March 2018 at St. John's Centre, Isleworth. Doors open at 7:15 pm. The meeting will start with the Society AGM. This will be followed by a talk by Jef Page titled London in the 1880s: hard work, poverty & street life.

Next Advice Session

Our next Advice Session will be held at Feltham Library on Saturday 17th February from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm.


We have had our last meeting at Montague Hall, and all meetings henceforth will be at St. John's Centre, Isleworth. Do meet with us there.

Give a lift - Take a lift

See this page if you can give lifts, or need a lift to meetings.

Previous news

Recent updates


Meetings page updated.


New image (and tip) of the month.


Journal summary pages now link article summaries direct to the articles. See Updates page for more.


Digital copy of journals for 2001 added.


Library page updated.


A new page for Sponsored Events is added.

Previous updates

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