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STEPNEY BOARD OF GUARDIANS

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): STBG
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
  Click here to find out how to view this collection at https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/london-metropolitan-archives/Pages/ ›
Full title: STEPNEY BOARD OF GUARDIANS
Date(s): 1836-1943
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 151.28 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Limehouse Poor Law Union x Limehouse Board of Guardians
Mile End Old Town Poor Law Union x Mile End Old Town Board of Guardians
Saint George in the East Poor Law Union x Saint George in the East Board of Guardians
Stepney Poor Law Union x Stepney Board of Guardians
Whitechapel Poor Law Union x Whitechapel Board of Guardians

Context

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.

Stepney Poor Law Union was formed in December 1836, consisting of the parishes of Limehouse, Mile End Old Town, Ratcliffe, Shadwell and Wapping. In 1857, Mile End Old Town left the Union to become a separate Poor Law 'Hamlet' and set up its own workhouse.

The Stepney Union was known as the Parish of Limehouse for a short period from 1921 to 1925. In 1925, the Hamlet of Mile End Old Town, the Parish of St George In The East, and the Whitechapel Union were added to the Stepney Union which was then renamed the Parish of Stepney Union in 1927.

Institutions managed by the various Unions, and finally by the Parish of Stepney Union, included Mile End Old Town Workhouse, Wapping Workhouse, Limehouse Workhouse, Ratcliffe Workhouse and Casual Wards, Saint Leonard's Street Workhouse, and the Stifford Children's Homes.

Source of information: Peter Higginbotham at The Workhouse website.

Content

Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Stepney Poor Law Union (called the Limehouse Poor Law Union from 1921-1925), 1836-1936, including minutes of the Board of Guardians and various Committees; correspondence; orders of removal to and from other Unions; registers for the Limehouse Children's Establishment, the Mile End Old Town Workhouse, the Ratcliffe Workhouse and Bromley House; registers of admission for the Stifford Children's Homes; financial accounts and staff records.

Records of Parish of Stepney Poor Law Union, 1910-1936, including minutes of the Board of Guardians and various Committees; correspondence; admission orders for lunatics; registers for Bromley House and the South Grove Institution; registers for Gray Scattered Homes and Stifford Homes; financial accounts; staff records; plans of Gray's Children's Homes and contract works ledger.

Records of the Mile End Old Town Poor Law Union, 1848-1930, including minutes of the Board of Guardians and various Committees; correspondence; settlement examinations; orders of removal to and from other Unions; registers for the Mile End Workhouse and Infirmary; apprenticeship indentures; registers for the Bancroft Road School and the Mile End Scattered Homes; financial accounts; staff records and monthly returns of infant deaths.

Records of Saint George in the East Poor Law Union, 1836-1927, including minutes of the Board of Guardians and various Committees; correspondence; settlement examinations; orders of removal to and from other Unions; registers of lunatics in asylums; registers for the Saint George in the East Workhouse and Infirmary and the Raine Street Workhouse and Infirmary; registers for the Plashet School and Drouet's Home, Tooting; financial accounts; staff records and tradesmen's accounts.

Records of Whitechapel Poor Law Union, 1837-1943, including minutes of the Board of Guardians and various Committees; correspondence; orders of removal to and from other Unions; admission orders for lunatics; registers of lunatics in asylums; registers from the Whitechapel Infirmary and the South Grove Workhouse; registers of children; financial accounts and staff records.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:
English

System of arrangement:

STBG/L: Limehouse Union; STBG/ME: Mile End Old Town Union; STBG/SG: Saint George in the East Union; STBG/SP: Stepney Union; STBG/WH: Whitechapel Union.

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: http://search.lma.gov.uk/opac_lma/index.htm

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Records received with the records of the successor County Council. Further records received in 1955 (AC/55/056; AC/55/075; AC/55/126).

Allied Materials

Related material:


Publication note:

For a detailed history see website 'The Workhouse' (http://www.workhouses.org.uk).

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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