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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): KBG
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1837-1931
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 42.62 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Kensington Poor Law Union x Kensington 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.

The Kensington Poor Law Union was formed in 1837 and constituted the parishes of Chelsea, Fulham, Hammersmith, Kensington and Paddington. In 1841 the parish of Chelsea separated, followed in 1845 by the parishes of Fulham, Paddington and Hammersmith. A parish workhouse existed in Kensington from 1726. This workhouse was used by the Union until 1846, when a new workhouse was constructed on Marloes Road. A branch workhouse was also constructed at Mary Place, Notting Hill.

Source of information: Peter Higginbotham at The Workhouse website.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Kensington Poor Law Union, 1837-1931, including minutes of meetings of the Board of Guardians and various Committees; standing orders; year books; orders from and correspondence with Government departments; settlement examinations; orders of removal to and from the Union; registers of lunatics; lunatic reception orders; registers of paupers in various hospitals; apprenticeship indentures; registers of children at the Kensington and Chelsea Branch School (Marlesford Lodge, Hammersmith), and the Kensington and Chelsea District School, Banstead; registers of boys and girls in employment; financial accounts and staff records.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

In 8 sections: Standing orders and Year Books; Orders and Correspondence; Workhouses and Institutions; Schools and children; Finance and statistics; Staff; Plans; Minutes of Board and Committees.

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 Kensington and Chelsea Branch School (Marlesford Lodge, Hammersmith) and the Kensington and Chelsea District School, Banstead see reference KCSD: Kensington and Chelsea School District. For Chelsea Union see CHBG, for Fulham Union see FBG, for Hammersmith Union see HHBG, and for Paddington Union see PABG.

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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