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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): H14/BLI
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1749-1914
Level of description: subfonds
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Extent: 2.32 linear metres
Name of creator(s): The British Lying-In Hospital x The Lying-In Hospital for Married Women x The British Lying-In Hospital for Married Women


Administrative/Biographical history:

The British Lying-In Hospital was founded in November 1749 by a group of governors of the Middlesex Hospital who were dissatisfied with the resources allocated by that hospital to lying-in women. They purchased a house in Brownlow Street, Long Acre, and ordered it to be furnished with twenty beds. They decided that it should be staffed with "2 physicians who practise midwifery, 2 Surgeons who practise midwifery, a Chaplain, an Apothecary, a Secretary, a Matron well skilled in midwifery, and nurses and other inferior servants as shall be found necessary." Women were to be received in the last month of their pregnancy on production of a letter of recommendation from a subscriber, an affidavit of their marriage and their husband's settlement. No money was to be received from them. On the approach of any labour, the Matron was to send to the Physician or Surgeon whose week of attendance it was so that he might judge whether the case required his assistance or might be left to the Matron. The Matron was to deliver women in easy natural labour. From 1752 female pupils were admitted to the hospital for periods of six months in order to learn midwifery.

A General Meeting or Court of the Governors was held every quarter to make the laws and rules of the hospital. A committee of fifteen governors was chosen at each Quarterly General Court to meet at the hospital once a week to receive patients and to direct the ordinary affairs of the hospital. From 1806, except for the years 1811-1820, the General Court met half-yearly instead of quarterly. A new constitution was approved on 9 July 1869. This provided for an annual general meeting of governors who were to elect fifteen of their number to form a Board of Management that was to meet once a month. The Board was to appoint such standing committees as might be advisable including a ladies committee.

In 1756 the name of the hospital was changed from "The Lying-In Hospital for Married Women" to "The British Lying-In Hospital for Married Women". This was in order to avoid confusion with the City of London Lying-In Hospital founded in 1750 and the General Lying-In Hospital, later Queen Charlotte's Hospital, founded in 1751. In 1828 the hospital decided to start sending midwives to deliver outpatients in their own homes. In 1849 it moved to a new building in Endell Street, Holborn.

By the beginning of the 20th century the hospital was facing serious problems. Its buildings were unsatisfactory and old fashioned. It was in financial difficulties. The population of the area was decreasing and the teaching hospitals in the neighbourhood had opened maternity wards. Rather than rebuilding in the same area, King Edward's Hospital Fund advised amalgamation with another maternity hospital, preferably the Home for Mothers and Babies in Woolwich. Agreement between the two institutions was soon reached, though legal difficulties delayed the signing of the Charity Commission Scheme approving the amalgamation until 29 January 1915. The British Lying-In Hospital closed on 31 May 1913 and the Matron, nurses and other staff received gratuities in recognition of their service. The Home for Mothers and Babies was renamed the British Hospital for Mothers and Babies but otherwise continued as before under the guidance of its three founders, Miss Gregory, the honorary secretary, Mrs Parnell, the Matron and Miss Cashmore, the senior sister. The Charity Commission Scheme established a new constitution for the hospital, which was to be controlled by a Managing Committee. Six out of the first fourteen members of the Committee were nominated by the British Lying-In Hospital. The hospital buildings in Endell Street were sold. The money raised by the sale and other endowments assisted the British Hospital for Mothers and Babies to build specially designed and much larger premises in Samuel Street, Woolwich, opened in 1922.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the British Lying-In Hospital, Holborn, London, including Governors' minute books, 1749-1914; rules and regulations, 1763-1910; general reports, 1767-1849; annual reports, 1880-1909; papers relating to the amalgamation with the Home for Mothers and Babies, Woolwich, 1912-1914; volume of papers about the Hospital's history collected together for interest, covering the dates 1792-1846; delivery book, 1856-1860; casebooks, 1905-1909 and Treasurer's account book, 1808-1820.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The records are arranged as follows: A = Administration, B = Patient's Records, D = Financial Records.

Conditions governing access:

These records are open to public inspection, although under section 5(4) of the 1958 Public Records Act administrative records are closed for 30 years and patient records for 100 years.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright: Depositor.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:


Allied Materials

Related material:

In 1874 the Board of Management decided to ask the Registrar General to take into his custody the registers of births and baptisms at the hospital. Accordingly the registers of admissions 1749-1868 and the registers of baptisms 1750-1830 were deposited in the General Register Office in July 1874. They are now in the care of The National Archives (reference RG8). Four casebooks (1767-1780) have been deposited in the library of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
February 2009

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