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WESTMINSTER BOARD OF GUARDIANS

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): WEBG
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: WESTMINSTER BOARD OF GUARDIANS
Date(s): 1802-1936
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 135.53 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Westminster Poor Law Union x Westminster Board of Guardians
Strand Poor Law Union x Strand Board of Guardians
St Martin in the Fields Poor Law Union x St Martin in the Fields Board of Guardians
St George's Hanover Square Poor Law Union x St George's Hanover Square Board of Guardians
St Margaret and St John Poor Law Union x St Margaret and St John Board of Guardians
City of Westminster Poor Law Union x City of Westminster 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.

The Westminster Boards of Guardians were formed of several smaller Unions in the Westminster area which merged:

Saint George's Hanover Square Poor Law Union:
1789: Care and management of the poor vested in a body of Governors and Directors elected by the vestry of St George Hanover Square
1867: Superseded by a Board of Guardians for the parish
1870: Became part of Saint George's Union

Saint Margaret and Saint John Poor Law Union:
1851: Governors and Directors of the poor appointed for parishes of St Margaret and St John the Evangelist
1867: superseded by Board of Guardians for the united parishes
1870: became part of Saint George's Union
1875: Close of the Collegiate Church of St Peter added to Saint George's Union

City of Westminster Poor Law Union:
1913: Saint George's Union amalgamated with the Strand and Westminster Unions to form the City of Westminster Union

Strand Poor Law Union:
1836: Union formed of the parishes of the Liberty of the Rolls, Saint Clement Danes, Saint Mary le Strand, Saint Paul Covent Garden and the Precinct of the Savoy
1837: Parish of Saint Anne added
1868: Parish of Saint Anne removed to form part of the Westminster Union, and the parish of Saint Martin in the Fields added
1913: Strand Union amalgamated with Westminster Union and Saint George's Union

Westminster Poor Law Union
1727: poor of parish of Saint James in the care of the Vestry Parochial Committee
1762: Governors and Directors of the Poor appointed
1868: amalgamated with parish of St Anne to form Westminster Union. NB Vestry of St James continued to elect Governors and Directors until 1889 when they were abolished
1913: Westminster Union amalagamated with Strand and St George's Union to form City of Westminster Poor Law Union

Source of information: Peter Higginbotham at The Workhouse website.

Content

Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the City of Westminster Poor Law Union, 1889-1936, including minutes of meetings of the Board of Guardians; minutes and papers of Committees including the Buckingham Palace Road Workhouse Committee, Edmonton Workhouse Committee, Hospital Committee, Visiting Committee and Settlement and Revision Committee; correspondence and standing orders; registers for the Belmont Workhouse, Chelsea Workhouse, Edmonton Workhouse and Fulham Road Workhouse; registers of children sent into service; financial accounts and personnel files.

Records of the Saint Margaret and Saint John Poor Law Union, 1864-1870, including minutes of the Board of Guardians; minutes of Committees including the Kensington Workhouse Visiting Committee; correspondence; orders of removal to other Unions and financial accounts.

Records of Saint George's Hanover Square Poor Law Union, 1836-1924, including minutes of the Board of Guardians; minutes of Committees including the Buckingham Palace Road Workhouse Committee, the Fulham Road Workhouse Committee, the Kensington Workhouse Visiting Committee, the Mount Street Workhouse Committee, the Petty France Workhouse Committee, and the Milman Street Receiving Home for Children Committee; orders of removal to and from other Unions; registers of lunatics; registers from the Buckingham Palace Road Workhouse, Fulham Road Workhouse and Mount Street Workhouse; registers of children in care including indentures of apprenticeship, registers of children on the Exmouth Training Ship and registers of children at the Milman Street Receiving Home for Children; financial accounts and staff records.

Records of the Saint Martin in the Fields Poor Law Union, 1824-1870, including minutes of the Board of Guardians; correspondence; relief order books; settlement examinations; registers for the Castle Street Workhouse; registers for the Norwood Schools and financial accounts.

Records of the Strand Poor Law Union, 1802-1928, including minutes of the Board of Guardians; minutes of Committees including the Edmonton Workhouse Committee and the Sheffield Street Workhouse Committee; correspondence; settlement examinations; orders of removal to and from other Unions; registers of the Cleveland Street Workhouse, the Edmonton Workhouse, the Saint Giles Workhouse and the Sheffield Street Workhouse; registers of Edmonton Schools; financial accounts and staff records.

Records of the Westminster Poor Law Union, 1833-1914, including minutes of the Board of Guardians; Committee minutes; correspondence with government departments; settlement examinations; Relieving Officer's reports; orders of removal to and from other Unions; registers of the Westminster Union Workhouse; indentures of apprenticeships; registers of Westminster Union Schools, Tooting; financial accounts and staff records.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:
English

System of arrangement:

WEBG/CW: City of Westminster Union; WEBG/MJ: St Margaret and St John Union; WEBG/SG: St George's Hanover Square Union; WEBG/SM: St Martin in the Fields Union; WEBG/ST: Strand Union; WEBG/WM: Westminster 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 financial records received in 1955 (AC/55/075).

Allied Materials

Related material:

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


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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