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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): BG/H
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1717-1934
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 11.83 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Hendon Poor Law Union x Hendon Board of Guardians


Administrative/Biographical history:

Poor relief was based on the Act for the Relief of the Poor of 1601 which obliged parishes to take care of the aged and needy in their area. Parish overseers were empowered to collect a local income tax known as the poor-rate which would be put towards the relief of the poor. This evolved into the rating system, where the amount of poor-rate charged was based on the value of a person's property. Early workhouses were constructed and managed by the parish. However, this process was expensive and various schemes were devised where groups of parishes could act together and pool their resources. As early as 1647 towns were setting up 'Corporations' of parishes. An Act of 1782, promoted by Thomas Gilbert, allowed adjacent parishes to combine into Unions and provide workhouses. These were known as 'Gilbert's Unions' and were managed by a board of Guardians.

Under the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834, the Poor Law Commission was given the power to unite parishes in England and Wales into Poor Law Unions. Each Union was to be administered by a local Board of Guardians. Relief was to be provided through the provision of a workhouse. An amendment to the 1834 Act allowed already existing 'Gilbert's Unions' or Corporations of parishes to remain in existence, although they were encouraged to convert themselves into Poor Law Unions. Although there was some reorganisation of union boundaries, particularly in London, the majority of Unions created under the 1834 Act remained in operation until 1930. In March 1930 a new Local Government Bill abolished the Poor Law Unions and the Board of Guardians. Responsibility for their institutions passed to Public Assistance Committees managed by the county councils - in the metropolis either the London County Council or the Middlesex County Council.

Fostering - that is the arrangement whereby one person pays another for the care of a child - has always existed in one form or another. It had its abuses, the grossest of which was baby farming, the scandal of which necessitated legislation in the form of the Infant Life Protection Act 1872 which made it compulsory for persons taking for hire two or more infants less than a year old to register with the local authorities, who were the Councils in the care of the boroughs and the Justices in the case of counties. Child life protection as a whole was transferred to the Poor Law authorities, whose duties comprised the receiving of notice where a person undertook for reward the nursing and maintenance of an infant under the age of 7; the appointment of visitors to inspect such children; the limitation of the number in a dwelling; the removal of such infants improperly kept; and the receiving of fines imposed from offences.

Hendon Poor Law Union was founded in May 1835. It was formed from parishes in Edgware, Harrow-on-the-Hill, Hendon, Kingsbury, Pinner, Great Stanmore, Little Stanmore and Willesden. Harrow Weald, Wealdstone and Wembley parishes were added in 1894. Willesden separated in 1896.

In 1838 the Hendon Union workhouse was built at Burnt Oak on the north side of the Edgware Road. In 1930 it was taken over by Middlesex County Council and became Redhill Public Assistance Institution, and later Redhill Hospital, which was renamed Edgware General Hospital. Hendon Union Schools were erected near the workhouse in 1859 and later became part of the hospital.

Source of information: Peter Higginbotham at The Workhouse website.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Hendon Poor Law Union, 1717-1949, including minutes of meetings of the Board of Guardians; papers relating to poor relief including dietary sheets for Hendon Union Schools; financial accounts; papers relating to the appointment of assistant overseers; papers relating to property ownership including correspondence, contracts and legal papers; poor rate charges; agreements and tenders for maintenance work and utilities supply; building plans for Hendon Union Workhouse, Hendon Union Schools and Redhill Schools; papers relating to legal cases and rates assessment; registers of persons undertaking the nursing and maintenance of infants; report books of infant protection visitors; registers for Hendon Union Edgware Workhouse and Middlesex County Redhill Institution.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

In 11 sections: Board and Committees; Poor relief; Finance; Staff; Matters relating to title; Rates; Agreements and tenders; Building plans; Legal and Assessments; Infant Life Protection.

Conditions governing access:

These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information are subject to access restrictions under the UK Data Protection Act, 1998.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright: City of London

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Records received with the records of the successor County Council. Further financial records received in 1986 (ACC/2393).

Allied Materials

Related material:

For the records of the Middlesex County Council, who took over Hendon Board of Guardians institutions, see MCC.

Publication note:

For a detailed history see website 'The Workhouse' (

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:
April to June 2009

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