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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): FBG
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1842-1931
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 24.4 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Fulham Poor Law Parish x Fulham Poor Law Union x Fulham 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.

From 1837 to 1845 Fulham parish was one of the parishes controlled by Kensington Poor Law Union. In 1845 it united with the parish of Hammersmith as Fulham Poor Law Union. However, in 1899 the Fulham Poor Law Union was dissolved and the Board of Guardians for the separate Parish of Fulham was constituted. The Fulham Palace Road Workhouse was constructed in 1848. In 1884 an infirmary was added to the north of the site, facing Saint Dunstan's Road.

In 1908 the Union took over management of school buildings in Sutton, renaming them the Belmont Workhouse. In the 1920s this institution began a scheme training inmates in key skills to improve their chances of gaining employment. When the London County Council took over the building it continued this work, renaming the institution the Sutton Training Centre.

Source of information: Peter Higginbotham at The Workhouse website.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Fulham Poor Law Union, 1842-1931; including minutes of meetings of the Boards of Guardians; minutes and reports of various Committees; financial accounts; staff records; correspondence with and orders from Government departments; general correspondence, particularly relating to the Belmont Institution; plans of Fulham Workhouse; contracts; orders of removal to and from other Unions; registers of lunatics; receiving officer's report on lunatics; registers of Fulham Palace Road Workhouse and Saint Dunstan's Road Infirmary; registers of apprentices; registers of children in various schools, institutions and children's homes.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

In 12 sections: Board and Committees; Reports; Orders and Correspondence; Miscellaneous Correspondence; Contracts; Settlements; Lunatics; Workhouse and Institutions; Children and Schools; Finance; Staff; Statistics.

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.

Allied Materials

Related material:

For the records of the London County Council, who took over Fulham Board of Guardians institutions, see LCC.

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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