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 20th February 2020 at St. John's Centre, Isleworth. Doors open at 7.15 pm. The focus of the meeting will be a talk by Julian Pooley titled Who Do You Think They Were? - Discovering the lives and experiences of our ancestors.

Next Fair

The fairs season for 2019 is over. The next fair we will be attending is in 2020. For more information please see the Fairs page.

Next Advice Session

Our next Advice Session will be held at Feltham Library on Saturday 18th January from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. These sessions need to be booked. See the Advice page.

Previous news

Recent updates


A new page titled On Joining the Committee has been added to the Members Area.


Committee minutes for November 2019 added to Members Area.


For nostalgia, you can now read online, (and search) all journals back to 1996.


A new page titled Poor Law Records has been added, and can be accessed from the Research tab.


New image (and tip) of the month.


A new page titled Burial Places Index has been added, and can be accessed from the Research tab.


A page titled WMFHS Data Privacy Policy has been added to the Members Area for references purposes.


A new page titled Church Index has been added, and can be accessed from the Research tab.


The Parish Maps page has been extended, and now has 4 maps.

Previous updates

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A Member of the Federation of Family History Societies. Registered Charity No. 291906