City of London Parish Workhouses
The old City of London comprised more than 100 parishes, the majority of which were tiny and lay inside its ancient walls. A few of the within-the-walls parishes operated workhouses prior to 1834, as did some of the newer City parishes just beyond ("without") the walls. Further details are given below of some of these early parish workhouses. Most of the information is based on the following sources:
- The second edition of the early workhouse directory An Account of Several Workhouses... published in 1732 — this is abbreviated here as ASW.
- The 1776 parliamentary Abstract of Returns Made by the Overseers of the Poor — abbreviated as ARMOP.
- Tim Hitchcock's 1985 study The English workhouse: a study in institutional poor relief in selected counties 1695-1750 — abbreviated as TEW.
- Pigot & Co.'s Metropolitan Guide & Miniature Plan Of London from c.1820 — abbreviated as PMG.
Allhallows Barking by the Tower
Allhallows Barking by the Tower is listed by ARMOP as operating a parish workhouse for up to 70 inmates.
Allhallows Bread Street
ASW contained the following report on the parish of Allhallows, Bread Street:
THE Churchwardens and Overseers of the Poor in this Parish, being desirous their Poor should have the same Benefit as other Parishes, of a House, where they might be provided with all Necessaries for Life, the Vestry appointed a Committee of Gentlemen, including the Churchwardens and Overseers, to take a proper House for such a Service. Accordingly in 1730, they hired a House, formerly a Tavern in Fish-street in the Parish of St. Nicholas Cole-Abby and at Christmas the same Year, opened it for all their poor Pensioners, where they are very cleanly dieted and lodged, under the Care of a Mistress.
THE Family being small, the Overseers of it have appointed the following concise Regulations to be observed by those that belong to it.
1. THAT no Person go out of the House without Leave, and that whosoever shall presume so to do, shall, for the 4th Offence, be expelled the House.
2. THAT no distilled Liquors be brought into the said House, whereby the Poor may disorder themselves; and that Offenders against this Order be punishable as far as the Law will allow, and the Parish shall think fit.
3. THAT whatsoever Person shall steal, or remove, with intent to imbezzle any Goods, Money, or Cloaths belonging to the House, or to any Person therein, such Person so offending, shall be sent to Bridewell, or further punished as the Nature of the Offence may deserve.
4. THAT if any Person shall be heard to swear or curse, or shall disturb the Family with Clamour, and Quarrelling, such Person, for the first Offence, shall lose their next Meal; for the second, denied their Victuals for a whole Day; for the third, be still further punished; and for the fourth, be expelled the House.
5. THAT all healthful and strong People in the Family, rise in Summer at 5 or 6, and go to Bed at 9 a Clock; and in Winter be up by 8, and go to Bed by 8, or sooner, to save Firing and Candle.
6. THAT all the able Poor go to their own Parish-Church, (or to some other Place of Religious Worship, as they have been accustomed to heretofore) twice every Lord's Day; and that whosoever shall come home drunk upon such Occasions, shall be severely punished.
7. THAT when any Person dies in the House, their Cloaths shall be lodged in the Store-room, for the Use of the Parish, and the Nurse who attended the Party while sick, shall safely deliver up all the other Goods and Money of the Deceased, or be severely punished if she purloin the same.
8. THAT no separate Pensions be allowed to any Person out of the House, but that the whole Collections for the Poor be applied towards the Support of the House, and the Maintenance of the Poor therein.
9. THAT the House be stocked with all such Tools and Implements as are necessary to employ the Poor in such Manufacture as the Committee shall approve; and that all such Poor as have their Health and Limbs, be chosen out and appointed to such sort of Work, as they are fit for, or else be stationed to the other necessary Business of the Family.
Allhallows Honey Lane
Allhallows Honey Lane had a workhouse from 1731 (TEW).
Allhallows Lombard Street
Allhallows Lombard Street had a workhouse from 1736 (TEW).
Allhallows London Wall
Allhallows London Wall had a workhouse from 1736 (TEW).
Allhallows Staining had a workhouse from 1736 (TEW).
Christchurch Newgate Street
Christchurch Newgate Street (also known as Christchurch Greyfriars, or Christchurch in London) was the subject of an ASW report dated 29th September, 1731.
St Alban Wood Street
In 1732, ASW noted:
TEW dates the workhouse to 1724.
St Andrew Holborn
St Andrew Holborn comprised three Liberties, one falling within the City of London, the other two in the county of Middlesex.
In June 1727, the London Liberty opened a workhouse at 41 Shoe Lane. Its location is shown on Hopwood's map of London, Westminster, and Southwark (1792-99):
According to ASW, a 16-man Committee management was set up who:
...first hired a House joining to their Churchyard, in Shoe-Lane near the Church, and having fitted it up, it was opened for receiving all the Poor of their Division in June 1727. The Expence of this Beginning was defrayed by an extraordinary Rate of a Year's Tax to the Poor, and has so far succeeded, that the Gentlemen who have the Care of it, having no private Views to serve, and being heartily united to banish Beggary and Idleness out of their District, have the Pleasure of seeing it so prosperous under their Management, as to hope in time to make a considerable Reduction of the Poor's Tax, which at present is abated about one fourth part of 1000l. per annum.
THEY then took Care to find out a faithful Inspector, to whom the immediate Government of the House should be committed, and two or three of the Overseers seldom fail in their Turns, twice a Week, to visit it, to redress all Difficulties that may occur to the Master, or reasonable Complaints on the side of the Poor under his Care.
THERE are now 62 in Family, besides the Master and Matron, every one of which have such Business assigned to them by the Master, as they are most capable of, whose present Allotments are as follow, viz.
7 old Men and Women (of which two are upwards of Fourscore, and one an Ideot) pick Ockam.
4 Women and Boys spin Noyl, a Yarn afterwards described.
9 knit Noyl Yarn into Caps for Seamen.
2 make the Woollen Cloaths.
2 make Linnen Cloaths.
2 Cooks constantly attend the Kitchen.
4 get up the Linnen and wash for the House.
2 make Beds, clean, and wash the House.
2 mend Cloaths, Linnen and Woollen.
3 nurse those that are in the Infirmary.
21 Children at School, in Rotation as they can be spared from their Work, besides which, three Parish Children are allowed to dine there three times, or oftner in the Week.
1 Child nursed.
62 in all.
BY this Allotment the Reader will take notice, that above ½ the Family are wholly employed in nursing, and other necessary Attendance on the House, that not above 1/3 are employ'd in what may be said to encrease the Revenue of the House, and that even those Employments are no more than what is useful for their Health.
THEY that pick Ockam, are continually refresh'd with the Balsamick Odour of it.
THE Spinners and Knitters with an Exercise so moderate, that it fits any Age or Sex, at the same time that it qualifies those that are young, for most Handicrafts, such as Wiredrawing, Pinmakng, Watchmaking, Letterfounding, Printing, Painting, Sewing, Weaving, Shoemaking, and all other Trades depending on a good Command of the Hand and Fingers.
THE Overseers, observing that the best regulated Houses of this kind, are employed in something that may be called the Manufacture of the House, beside picking of Ockam, (which is the standing Business of most Houses, for the Blind and Lame that can do nothing else) such as spinning of Yarn for Mopps, Cotton-Yarn for Candle-wick, Yarn for Wadding, a course Thread for Sacking, and such other Employs as do not require a Person to serve an Apprentiship to understand, have at last fallen into a Business, not interfering with their Neighbours, and promising most Advantage to the House, and that is spinning of Noyl, a short Wool from whence the Worsted is drawn, bought of Mr. Top, at Leicester, who furnishes the House, from time to time, with any Quantities at Sixpence half-penny per Pound delivered at London. As fast as this is spun, it goes into the Hands of the Knitters of the House, who make it into Caps, which are afterward sent to Mons. Bonneau in Spittlefields, to be mill'd at Fifteen-pence a Dozen, and are then sold to the East and West India Merchants, for the use of Sailors, to several Parts of the World, and by the Demand there is of them, promises to be a useful Employment, to which there will be always Encouragement.
A Flaxdresser on Snow-Hill furnishes the Flax, the coarser Sort, at Sixpence or Sevenpence per Pound, for Sheets and House-Linnen: And a Pound when wove up will yield an Ell of Linnen Yard-wide, worth about Twenty-pence an Ell.
Richard Huttersall in Red Bull Yard, Clerkenwell, weaves the Flax Thread at Sevenpence an Ell; and Nicholas Cooper, near the King's Arms Stairs, Lambeth, whitens the Linnen for this, and most of the Work-houses about London.
THE Junk for the Ockam Pickers is to be had at Mr. Thomas Young's at Execution Dock, who furnishes this and other Houses with it at Seven Shil. per Hundred, or he will take it again and allow three Shillings per Hundred, after it is picked into Ockam, those that pick it allowing him eight Pound in 112 Pound for waste.
IT is thought necessary to be thus particular, for the Instruction of other Houses, who may want the like Materials; and the Persons who fell them, it is hoped, will excuse this publick Use of their Names, in a matter that may bring them some Customers in the Business they profess.
THE next Consideration, was the Provisions for the Table, which required all the Attention of the Managers, to buy the wholsomest Food at the best hand, and to keep a faithful Account of it: This is now done in so exact a Method, that it is hardly possible for any Abuse or Corruption in the Master, while the Overseers are not weary of inspecting his Management, which they do as often as they please, but they don't fail of doing it twice a Week, by a Committee for that purpose, who generally meet Sunday after Evening Service, and Thursday Afternoon.
THIS House being erected after many others, the Overseers of it selected what they thought best for their Imitation, out of every Plan they consulted, and therefore they that desire to know it, are here presented with a short View of their Method of Booking an Account of their Proceedings, with the common Articles of their Expence for one Day or Week.
1. THERE is a Minute-Book for the Orders of the Churchwarden and Overseers, or Committee, for the Admission of any poor Person, for buying Provisions or Materials to cloath or employ them, in which the Persons giving such Order are always noted.
2. THE Admission-Book is ruled with ten Columns, to express in one Line the following particulars, viz.
Time of Admission.|
Number of the Persons Admitted since opening the House.
Persons Names. Age.
By whose Order Admitted.|
Of what Condition, and to what Employment put.
When discharged, by being put Apprentice, sent to the Hospital, or dead.
3. Wearing-apparel Book, wherein is noted what is brought by each Person into the House, which is immediately clean'd, and whatever they want beside, is furnished out of the House-Wardrobe. This Book is also ruled with so many Columns as to express every Species wore by the Men and Women, who are examined once a Month, to see that they have embezzled nothing, viz,. The Columns for Men and Boys are titled, Hats, Caps, Neckstocks, Coats, Wastcoats, Breeches, Shirts, Stockings, Shoes, &
FOR Women and Girls, the Titles are, Day-Caps, Night-Caps, Handkerchiefs, Gowns, Petticoats, Under-Petticoats, Shifts, Bodice, Stomachers, Aprons, Stockings, Shoes, &c.;
4. A Waste-Book, in which every thing brought into, or carried out of the House is entred, or an Account of the Particulars kept on File.
5. The Journal, which is a fair transcript of the Waste-Book, in the manner hereafter mentioned, and is thence posted into another Book, called
6. The Leger, which shews at one View, a Day, a Week, a Month, or a Year's Account or Expence on every Article of Provision, at the undermentioned Prizes, viz.
|l. s. d.|
|A Half Peck Loaf of Second Bread||00 00 08|
|Beef and Mutton per lb||00 00 02½|
|Milk by the Quart||00 00 0¼|
|Butter by the Pound||00 00 05|
|Cheese by the Pound||00 00 03¼|
|Beer by the Barrel||00 07 06|
|Sugar by the Hundred||01 12 00|
|Rice by the Hundred||00 06 08|
|Candles by the Dozen||01 12 00|
|Soap by the Firkin||01 06 00|
AT these Rates, the House is provided as occasion requires, and the Tradesmen are paid off once a Quarter.
The workhouse's 'Weekly Bill of Fare' was as follows:
|Saturday||Milk Pottage or Water-gruel||Suet Puddings Baked & Beer||Bread & Cheese or Bread & Butter with Beer|
|Sunday||Bread & Beer||Beef Broth & Beer||Beef Broth & Beer|
|Monday||Milk Pottage or Water-gruel||Rice Milk and Beer in Summer, Pease Pottage of Sunday's Broth in Winter||Bread & Cheese or Bread & Butter|
|Tuesday||Ditto||Broth Beef and Beer||Broth Beef and Beer|
|Wednesday||Ditto||Rice Milk and Beer||as Monday|
|Thursday||Ditto||Broth Beef Bread and Beer, as Sunday||as Tuesday|
|Friday||Ditto||Frumetty & Beer at 3 o'Clock||Bread & Cheese or Bread & Butter with Beer|
The workhouse had a detailed set of rules governing its operation and the behaviour of the inmates.
ORDERS to be Observed by every Person belonging to the Work-House of St. Andrew's Holborn, Shoe-Lane.I. THAT all Persons upon their admission, deliver up what Houshold Goods and Cloaths they are possessed of to the Master, in order to be cleaned, and made useful for the Service of this House; that they be new cloathed, and have their proper Apartments and Imployments assigned them by the Master; and if any Person shall conceal any Linnen or Woollen, with an Intent to steal or imbezzle the same, such Person shall immediately be carried before a Magistrate, in order to be imprisoned and punished with the utmost rigour as the Law directs.
2. THAT Prayers be read in this House every Morning before Breakfast, and every Evening before Supper, and that Grace be said before, and after each Meal, and all those that are able, and do not attend Prayers, to lose their next Dinner.
3. ALL that are able, and in Health, to go every Sunday to Church, Morning and Afternoon. That they return home so soon as Divine Service is over; and if any be found loitering or begging by the way, to lose their next Meal. If at any time they get drunk, or are guilty of prophane Cursing or Swearing, to be punished in the Stocks as the Law directs, and to be debarred going out, during the Master's Pleasure.
4. THAT no Person presume to go out of the Street Door without a Ticket of Leave, to return in good Order, at the time appointed, or to be denied going out for six Months afterwards.
5. THAT no distill'd Liquors, or other strong Drink, be brought into the House, and whoever shall disturb the House by brawling, quarrelling, fighting, or abusive Language, shall lose one Day's Meat, and for the second Offence be put into the Dungeon twenty four Hours.
6. THAT every Person in Health shall be kept to such Labour as they can well do, according to their several Ages and Abilities, that is to say, from Lady-day to Michaelmas, from Six of the Clock in the Morning, to Six at Night; from Michaelmas, to Lady-day, from seven in the Morning till five at Night, (Meal time excepted) and if any grown Person refuse to work, to be kept on Bread and Water, or expelled the House, the Children to be corrected by the Master.
7. THAT all Persons, who through Idleness may pretend themselves sick, lame, or infirm, so as to be excused their working, such Impostors so discovered, either by their Stomachs, or by the Physician, shall be carried before a Magistrate, in order to be punish'd severely as the Law directs.
8. THAT a Bell be rung every Morning in the Summer by five and in the Winter by six, for the healthful People to rise to work, and to go to bed in the Summer by nine at Night, and in the Winter by eight, and that the Master see all the candles out, in the Men and Boys Wards, and the Matron for the Women and Girls at that Time.
9. THAT all the Beds be made in the Morning by nine, and every Room and Passage swept and clean'd by ten, to be washed three times a Week in Summer, and once in Winter; the Dishes to be washed twice a Day, or oftner; no waste Fire to be made, and in Summer none at all, except in the Infirmary, Kitchen, and Washhouse, in time of washing and ironing.
10. THAT all the Children be washed and cleaned by eight in the Morning and some Proper Persons chose to teach them to read, and that they be taught to labour and work, as their several Capacities will bear, in such Manufactures as may be most useful and beneficial for the publick Good; and likewise as they grow up, to be taught to write and cast Accompts, to fit them for Apprentiships to some honest Tradesman, and not permitted to play until they have finished their Task.
11. THAT all the Provisions be cleanly and well dressed, to go to Breakfast in Summer at eight, in Winter at nine, Dinner all the Year at one, Supper in the Evening at six, to be allowed half an hour at Breakfast, and a whole hour at Dinner, and all they that have not done their Task by Supper, to work afterwards until finished, and great Care taken, that they sit decently at Meat.
12. THAT the Nurses take care to make and mend all the Linnen and Cloaths, when any Person dies, to deliver his or her Cloaths clean and neat to the Master, to be laid up in the Wardrobe or Storeroom, and also every thing else they die possessed of, for the use of the House.
13. THAT if any Person fall sick, or lame, notice be given by the Master to the Apothecary or Surgeon, with all convenient Speed to be taken Care of, and such other Victuals than what is daily used, be allotted to the Patient, as shall be thought proper by the Physician.
14. THAT no Pension be allowed to any Pensioner out of the House, unless in Cases of Lunacy, Plague, Small-Pox, Foul-disease, or Idiotism; and that all the Money received or collected for the use of the Poor of this Parish, (Sacrament Money excepted) shall be brought to Account, and applied to the Support of this House, and the Maintenance of the Poor therein.
15. THAT no Person of either Sex be allowed to smoak in Bed, or in any Room of the House, upon Pain of being put in the Dungeon six Hours.
16. THAT a Book shall be kept wherein the Names and Sirnames of every grown Person shall be set down, and called over every Morning, by six in the Summer and eight in the Winter, and at one in the Afternoon; and if any of the said Persons be missing, or any other Offences committed by any Persons in the House, the same shall be noted and set down, in order that the Offender may be examined by the Trustees, and brought to such Punishment as the Nature of the Offence shall require.
17. THAT two of the Trustees meet at the Work-house twice in the Week, at least, to weigh and value all manner of Provisions that come in, whether they be wholesome and good, according to the Contract, and to examine into the Management of the Master and Mistress, and likewise to hear the Complaints and Grievances of the Poor, (if any) and to report the same to the Committee at their next Meeting.
18. THAT every Person endeavour to preserve a good Unity, and look upon themselves as one Family; and to prevent any Dispute which may create Differences amongst themselves, by forging and telling Lies, such Persons so offending, (on good Proof) shall be set on a Stool, in the most publick Place in the Dining-room, whilst at Dinner, and a Paper fixed on his or her Breast, with these Words wrote, Infamous Lyar, and likewise to lose that Meal.
19. THAT Care be taken, that none of the Materials of the several Manufactures be wasted or spoiled; that there be no defacing of Walls, or breaking of Windows; and that these Orders be publickly read once in every Week, that none may plead or pretend Ignorance.
In 1832, the Shoe Lane workhouse had 100 inmates, twenty-four of whom were men, forty-six women, and the rest all children under the age of 14. The adults were nearly all former journeymen mechanics and domestic servants. Those considered 'improper objects of relief' were farmed, with an order to pick oakum.
St Andrew Undershaft
St Andrew Undershaft (also known as St Mary Axe) had a workhouse from 1733 (TEW). ARMOP lists its capacity as 50 inmates.
St Ann Blackfriars
St Ann Blackfriars had a workhouse from 1734 (TEW).
St Anne and St Agnes
St Anne and St Agnes within Aldersgate is listed by ARMOP as operating a parish workhouse for up to 28 inmates.
St Augustine Watling Street
St Augustine Watling Street had a workhouse from 1732 (TEW).
St Bartholomew the Great
St Bartholomew the Great had a workhouse from 1737 (TEW).
St Botolph Aldersgate
St Botolph Aldersgate (also known as St Botolph Without Aldersgate) is listed by ARMOP as operating a parish workhouse for up to 240 inmates. In 1820, the workhouse was located at the rear of 129 Aldersgate Street (PMG).
St Botolph Aldgate
St Botolph Aldgate (also known as St Botolph Without Aldgate) is listed by ARMOP as operating a parish workhouse for up to 300 inmates. In 1820, the workhouse was located at 138 Houndsditch (PMG).
St Botolph without Bishopsgate
St Botolph Bishopsgate (also known as St Botolph Without Bishopsgate) had the following entry in ASW dated 29th September 1731:
THE Officers of this Parish being burthened with a numerous Poor, notwithstanding their late great Expence in building a new Church, resolved to erect a Workhouse for the Comfort of their Poor, and for that purpose have built a large, commodious Brick House in Rose-Alley, on a long Lease. The 2 Churchwardens, and 4 Overseers by turns, assisted by a Committee of the ancient Inhabitants, take care to inspect the Management of it, each Churchwarden or Overseer has his Week, so that in 6 Weeks it comes to their turn to preside.
THE House was opened at Midsummer 1730, and in one Year's time after opening the House, 'tis reckoned they saved at least 600l. in the Poor's Rates.
THERE are now in it 129 Men, Women, and Children, kept clean and in good Order, under the Care of a diligent Master, the old People pick Ockam, and the Young spin Worsted and Mop Yarn.
THEY go every Lord's Day to Church, where the old People set in the middle Isle, and the Children in the Gallery, that the Parishioners may see the good Order observed by them.
By 1820, Bishopsgate had a parish poorhouse on Rose Alley, near 31 Bishopsgate Street, and a workhouse at Dunning's Alley near 151 Bishopsgate Street (PMG).
St Bride Fleet Street
The ASW entry for St Bride Fleet Street dated September 1731:
A Workhouse for the Poor of this Parish was set up Anno 1727, in Peterborough Court, Fleet-street, wherein there are now employed 82 old and young People, of which about 30 are Children under 9 Years of Age, in spinning Mop Yarn, and Yarn for Stockings for the House.
THE Vestry raised half a Year's over-Rate towards the Expence of hiring, repairing, and furnishing the House, at the taking of it, and the Poor are not only better provided for, but 'tis computed that they are kept at one fourth part less of the Charge they put the Parish to formerly.
A Committee is Annually chosen by the Vestry, to inspect Weekly the management of the House, and to give Directions for providing what is necessary; they find that paying ready Money for what is expended on the House, has saved so much as to enable the Overseers to pay a considerable Debt on the Parish.
THE Poor that have been formerly Housekeepers in repute, are lodged in the best Apartments, and eat at a different Table, that they may not be incommoded by the noise of the common Poor, who are clamorous, and unaccustomed to good Manners.
THEY that are in Health, are allowed to go to Church every Sunday Morning, but in the Afternoon they attend Prayers and reading the Scriptures at home, to prevent their gosiping, and coming home late in the Evening, as they would be tempted to do, if they were not so restrained.
In 1796, the parish promoted an Act "to enable the Trustees for executing an Act passed in the Thirty-second Year of the Reign of His present Majesty, for repairing, altering, and improving the Parish Church of Saint Bridget, otherwise Saint Bride, in the City of London; and for providing a Workhouse."
St Dunstan in the East
In its entry dated August 28th, 1731, ASW recorded of St Dunstan in the East that:
A Parish-House near the Church, formerly let to a Wine-Merchant, is now fitted up, the greatest part of it, (except the Vaults) for the reception of the Poor of the Parish, and for 12 Charity-Children belonging to Tower-Ward School in Harp-Lane. The House was opened February 21. 1729/30 and at present there are wholly maintained in it 17 Men and Women, and 12 Children. The Women sew, and wash Cloaths for the House and Children, and the Churchwardens and Overseers of the Poor have under Consideration in what Work to employ the Children.
St Dunstan in the West
According to the ASW report on St Dunstan in the West dated 28th August 1731:
A New House was built 1728 joining to the Burying Ground in Fetter-Lane for the Reception of the Poor, wherein there are now 30 Men and Women, and 26 Children, of which 21 are daily sent to the Parish Charity-School, and work only out of School Hours. These and the grown Persons, who are not employed in keeping the House clean, and nursing the old and young, card Wool, and spin Mop Yarn for a Turner in the Parish, who furnishes the Wool for this purpose, allowing 14 pound of Wool for every 12 pound they return spun up, in regard of the Waste that is made, and the Turner pays 2d. for the carding and spinning every pound so returned.
THEY make and mend their own Cloaths for the House, and when there is Want, spin up a Quantity of finer Wool, which is wove into Serge, for the occasions of the House, of which they have seldom less than 100 or 200 Yards in the House.
THE Deputy of the Ward, 2 Churchwardens, 2 Overseers of the Poor, and 2 Collectors of Taxes, or any 5 of them, are a Committee appointed by the Vestry at Easter to take care of the House, and they meet once a Fortnight, to inspect the Management of it.
THEY have roast or boiled Beef 4 Days in the Week for Dinner, viz.. Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and other Days, Rice-Milk, or Dumplins.
Breakfasts of Broth, or Milk-Porridge, and Suppers of Bread and Butter, or Cheese.
FLESH for the whole Week is bought and laid in every Saturday; Bread and Beer are furnished at the cheapest Rates, by a Baker and 2 Brewers in the Neighbourhood, who serve them alternately.
ELEVEN Files hold all the Tradesmen's Bills in the Steward's Room, under the following Titles, viz. Grocer, Brewer, Butcher, Baker, Cheesemonger, Oylman, Shoemaker, Threadmaker, Tallow-chandler, Coal-Merchant, Turner, which being paid off every Quarter, the Steward has no Trouble, but to enter the Sum Total of each Bill, in the House Book of Expences.
PRAYERS are read in the House every Day, and they that are able, go to Church every Sunday.
In 1767, according to a report in the London Chronicle, a male inmate aged 105 died in the workhouse.
St Ethelburga Bishopsgate
St Ethelburga Bishopsgate is listed by ARMOP as operating a parish workhouse for up to 48 inmates.
St Faith under St Paul's
St Faith under St Paul's had a workhouse from 1745 (TEW).
St Giles without Cripplegate
According to ASW, St Giles without Cripplegate had two workhouses. The first, in the parish's Lordship Liberty, was
a commodious new Brick Building, on a piece of Ground in Bunhill-Fields, leased of the City for 61 Years, at the Rate of 20l. per Annum Ground Rent. The Charge of the Building was defrayed by Subscription. It was opened 1724, and last Year had 110 old Men and Women, and 53 Boys and Girls, chiefly employed in picking of Ockam, knitting, and spinning.
THE Government of it is in the Hands of two Church-Wardens, four Overseers of the Poor, twelve Trustees; and these Gentlemen have appointed a Master and Mistress to live in the House, and take Care for managing the Stock of Provisions and Materials laid in for Feeding and Employing the Poor in the most frugal Manner, according to the following Rules.
Rules and Orders to be Observed by the Master and Mistress of this House.
I. THAT the Master keep a just Account of all Provisions received into the House, and what is each Day expended, and how many Persons are provided for.
II. THAT he keep an Account of all Work received, what is delivered to each Person each Day, and what received back, in Order to know their Earnings, and to give an Account to the Trustees for the Time being, or to whom they shall appoint to inspect the Accounts, that they may know the Disbursements of the House, and also the Earnings.
III. THAT the Master and Mistress take Care that the Poor be kept to Work, from Lady-Day to Michaelmas, from 6 in the Morning to 7 in the Evening; and from Michaelmas to Lady-Day, from 7 to 5; and that they rife by 5, and go to Bed by 9, the Summer half Year, and the Winder half Year by 6 and go to Bed by 8.
IV. THAT they take Care the Provisions be cleanly and well done, and that all Persons have their Allowance at these Hours, viz.— Breakfast at 9, and half an Hour's Time to eat the same; Dinner at 1, and an Hour's Time allowed them; their Supper in the Summer half Year at 7, and in the Winter at 6; and the Persons that have not done their Day's Work by Supper, that they work after, to finish the same.
VI. THAT the Mistress take Care of the Washing, and keeping clean of the Boys and Girls, and that their Heads be comb'd every Day; and that she teach them, or cause them to be taught to read: And that every Child have an Hour's time allowed them to be instructed to read, and also cause them to learn to spin, or knit, or do some other Business, to keep them from Idleness.
V. THAT the Master see all the Men and Boys Candles out each Night, and the Mistress the same by the Women and Girls.
VII. THAT if any poor Persons refuse to work, being able, or mis-behave themselves, by fighting, or making a Disturbance, that he or she be kept at half Allowance, or upon Bread and Water; and, at the Expiration of two or three Days, that he or she be complain'd of to some Magistrate, in order to be sent to the House of Correction.
VIII. THAT neither the Master nor Mistress buy, sell, or suffer any distilled Liquors to come into the House; nor any of the Poor to smoak Tobacco in their Lodgings, or the Work-House: And when any of them are sick or lame, that the Master and Mistress give Notice to the present Officer, that they may have Care taken of them.
IX. THAT on Wednesdays and Fridays after Breakfast, the Master cause the proper Psalms for the Day, a Chapter in the Old and New Testament, the Litany, with other Prayers for the Day, to be read: And that every Sunday at 9 in the Forenoon, the same be read; and such as are able to go to Church, or other other Place of Worship, that they go, so they return in Time: And in Case any of them go to any House, or are found loitering their Time away in the Fields, or begging, that the Officer have the Offender sent to Bridewell.
X. THAT the Master and Mistress be under all such Restrictions as shall be thought necessary to be made by the Trustees, or the major Part of them for the Time being, relating to the Poor and Work-House. And the Master and Mistress be subject, if required by the said Officers, or the major Part of them, to make an Affidavit before a Justice of the Peace, that there hath been no Waste or Embezzlement made by them, nor by any other Person or Persons, with their Knowledge or Consent, of any of the Stores or Provisions committed to their Charge: And in Case the Matter or Mistress shall not be thought capable of the Trust, that then it shall be in the Power of the said Officers and Trustees, or the major Part of them, upon Notice given to each Officer and Trustee to meet at a Time appointed, signifying to each Person the Occasion of Meeting, to remove the said Master and Mistress, either by giving a Month's Warning to go out, or otherwise to discharge them immediately, and give them a Month's Salary.
St Giles' second workhouse, in it London Liberty, was:
set up 1726, in Moor-Lane, where there are wholly maintained 65 Men and Women, and 35 Boys and Girls.
THEY began to employ them with picking Ockam but have now dropped that Business, and apply themselves wholly to spinning of Mop Yarn, which proves an easie Employ, which all of them are capable of; though the Profit is not much, by reason many of the Poor are advanced in Years, and helpless, yet the Children are all in a way of being made useful Servants to the Publick.
The Moor Lane premises were rebuilt on a larger scale in 1758 and in 1776 could accommodate 260 inmates. In 1832, the residents comprised 143 males and 175 females, ranging in age from birth to 80 years or more. The men who were capable were employed in picking oakum, the boys in winding cotton, and the women and girls in needlework. The building was demolished in 1843 and St Bartholomew's church erected on the site.
St Gregory by St Paul's
St Gregory by St Paul's had a workhouse from 1732 (TEW).
St Helen Bishopsgate
St Helen Bishopsgate had a workhouse from 1734 (TEW).
St Katherine Coleman
St Katherine Coleman had a workhouse from 1728 (TEW). ARMOP lists the workhouse as able to house up to 30 inmates.
St Katherine Cree
St Katherine Cree (or Creechurch) is listed by ARMOP as operating a parish workhouse for up to 45 inmates.
St Lawrence Jewry
St Lawrence Jewry (or Jury) was the subject of a report in ASW dated September 1731:
THE Overseers of the Poor in this Parish, bought the remainder of a Lease of an old large House in Grub-Street, St. Giles Cripplegate without, being about 30 Years to come, and fitted it up Midsummer 1728 for the Reception of all their Poor receiving Alms of the Parish: And there are now in it 4 grown Persons, and 8 Children, under the Care of a Master and Mistress, to Diet and Lodge them. The old People help one another, and the Children go every Day. to the Ward-School of Cripplegate within.
THE Parish Officers have sav'd so much in their Taxes for the Poor, and the Poor by this Means are so well provided, that this Establishment is continued to their mutual Satisfaction.
St Martin, Ludgate
ASW, in a report dated October 1731, recorded that:
St Martin, Vintry
ASW, in a report dated September 1731, recorded that:
THE Officers of this Parish hir'd a House in Brickhill-Lane off Thames-Street, and opened it 1727, for the Reception of all their Poor. There are now in it under the Care of a Mistress, 6 grown People, and 4 Children, the last are sent daily to the Charity School of Cordwainers Ward, but are here lodged, and wholly maintained.
St Mary Aldermanbury
St Mary Aldermanbury had a workhouse from 1730 (TEW).
St Mary-le-Bow, Cheapside
ASW, in a report dated November 1731, recorded that:
THIS Parish being of late much burthened with Poor, the Vestry appointed a Committee to consider of Measures for taking a House to maintain them as one Family, and for setting such as are able to work. The Committee having made a Report of their Opinion, the Vestry have impower'd them to hire a House proper for the purpose.
St Michael Cornhill
St Michael Cornhill had a workhouse from around 1732 (TEW).
St Olave Hart Street
St Olave Hart Street had a workhouse from 1737 (TEW). ARMOP lists it as accommodating up to 56 inmates.
St Pancras Soper Lane
St Pancras Soper Lane had a workhouse from around 1731 (TEW).
St Peter Cornhill
St Peter Cornhill had a workhouse from around 1737 (TEW).
St Sepulchre Holborn
The workhouses of St Sepulchre Holborn (also known as Holy Sepulchre Without Newgate) date from around 1727. Details are on a separate page.
Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals.
The Ancestry website has two collections of London workhouse records:
- The London Workhouse Admission and Discharge Records (1738-1930) are searchable by name.
- The Poor Law and Board of Guardian Records, 1430-1930 are more extensive but only provide browsable page images.
- The FindMyPast website has workhouse / poor law records for Westminster.
London Metropolitan Archives, 40 Northampton Road, London EC1R OHB.
- Anon (1732) An Account of Several Work-houses for Employing and Maintaining the Poor
- Hitchcock, T.V. (1985) The English workhouse: a study in institutional poor relief in selected counties. l695-l750. (DPhil thesis. University of Oxford.)
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