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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): LA/HW
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1684-1934
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 36.42 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Harrow Local Board of Health
Harrow Urban District Council
Hendon Rural Sanitary Authority
Harrow Parish Vestry


Administrative/Biographical history:

Two keepers and guardians of the goods of the parish church of Saint Mary in Harrow are mentioned in 1467. There was a parish clerk by 1521, and two churchwardens signed the parish registers as early as 1559. A vestry was mentioned in 1701. The annual number of vestry meetings gradually rose from five or six in the first decade of the 18th century to twenty in 1829. By the early 20th century the vestry met every three or five years. The last meeting was held in 1924, by which date the vestry had been superseded by the parish church council, formed in 1911. Most of the business concerned out-relief or the workhouse. The vestry authorized rates for the church, the poor, and the highways. It kept a firm control over the parish officers. The surveyors of the highway, first mentioned in 1718, were elected annually by the vestry. A highway-rate, levied by the vestry, is first mentioned in 1722. After finding the highway surveyors' accounts unsatisfactory in 1823, the vestry appointed a salaried man to superintend the highways and act as an assistant overseer.

From 1684 to 1896 three overseers of the poor were appointed by the vestry. During the late 17th and early 18th centuries poor relief took the form of monthly allowances, usually in money but occasionally in clothes or fuel. Poverty was alleviated by remitting or reducing rents and by providing rent-free parish houses for poor widows. These 'poor houses' survived until the vestry's decision to sell them in 1845. After an unusually large meeting in 1724 a workhouse was built in West Street, opposite the Crown Inn.

Apart from charities and exceptional measures the burden of poor relief was normally borne by the poor-rate. From 1684 to 1722 twice yearly rates, usually at 5 pence in the pound, raised 200-300 each year. From 1723 a 6 pence rate was usual, the number of rates varying from one in 1760, which raised 172, to three in 1740, which raised 521. From 1800 to 1826 there were usually five or six rates, which raised about 1,660-2,040 a year, and the number increased from seven in 1827 to ten in 1831 and 1832, finally bringing the total raised to 3,331. The 1834 Poor Law Act confined outdoor relief to the sick and old. The able-bodied poor were offered work in the workhouse or in the parish, at wages fixed by the guardians. Harrow therefore spent less in casual relief and labour on the roads in 1835 than in 1834; only widows' pensions cost more. Under the union there was a decline from nine 6 pence rates in 1835 to five in 1837 and 1839. In 1834-35 Harrow raised 2,888, of which 2,272 was spent on the poor; a year later 2,002 was raised and 1,655 was spent. A sharp increase in 1841 was due to the opening of the workhouse at Redhill and to the large numbers applying for outdoor relief. In 1835 Harrow and Pinner became constituent parishes of Hendon Union, created by the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834. The Harrow workhouse was too small to be used as a union workhouse or as an infirmary, as proposed by the guardians, and after 1840 it was occupied by children only. The main union workhouse was in Hendon.

Harrow Local Board of Health was created in 1850. Outbreaks of cholera in Hog Lane in 1847 and 1848 resulted, at the instigation of Harrow School and its surgeon, Doctor Thomas Hewlett, in an inquiry which revealed the insanitary conditions of the most populous part of the parish and the need for such a board. The board administered about 1,000 acres, comprising the whole of Harrow-on-the-Hill, most of Greenhill and Roxeth, and north Sudbury. A clerk was appointed at 20 a year and a surveyor and inspector of nuisances at 40 a year. By 1870 there were committees for sanitation, sewage irrigation, slaughterhouses, gas, street-watering, street-naming, and the fire engine. A medical officer of health was being paid in 1877, and during the 1880s and 1890s committees were appointed to deal with roads and footpaths, plans and works, finance and rate defaulters, legal questions and by-laws, boundaries, and allotments. A mortuary, public baths, and a steam roller were also provided. The board was financed by general and special district rates, and money was raised by the sale of crops from the sewage farms. The board's sanitary functions passed to Hendon Rural Sanitary Authority, which was set up under the Public Health Act of 1872.

Under the Local Government Act of 1894 Harrow Local Board of Health District became Harrow-on-the-Hill Urban District Council (U.D.C.). Harrow-on-the-Hill U.D.C. at first comprised nine members. At the beginning of the 20th century its nine committees were reduced to three, arranged according to the permanent officers, the clerk, surveyor, and inspector, and in 1903 the number of councillors was increased to 12. In the last years of its existence, 1933-34, the council still worked through committees attached to the clerk and surveyor, but separate committees for housing, public health, and maternity and infant welfare had replaced the inspector's committee; there were also six other committees.

From: 'Harrow, including Pinner : Local government and public services', A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 4: Harmondsworth, Hayes, Norwood with Southall, Hillingdon with Uxbridge, Ickenham, Northolt, Perivale, Ruislip, Edgware, Harrow with Pinner (1971), pp. 237-249 (available online).


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Harrow Local Board of Health, 1853-1894, comprising rate books and financial accounts.

Records of Harrow Parish, 1684-1927, including rate books; financial accounts of the Overseers of the Poor; valuation lists; minutes of Parish Officer's meetings; rules and orders for the Harrow Parish Workhouse; correspondence and minutes of the Vestry and sub-committees; papers relating to charities and papers relating to highways including rate books and financial accounts.

Records of Harrow Urban District Council, 1895-1934, including financial accounts; poor rate books and general rate books.

Records of Hendon Rural Sanitary Authority for Harrow Parish rural area, 1873-1894, comprising rate books.

Records of Hendon Rural Sanitary Authority for Harrow Parish, 1891-1894, comprising rate books.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Arranged in 6 sections: Harrow Local Board; Harrow Local Board of Health; Harrow Parish; Harrow Urban District Council; Hendon Rural Sanitary Authority (Harrow Parish Rural Area); Hendon Rural Sanitary Authority (Harrow Parish).

Conditions governing access:

Available for general access

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright: City of London

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Records received along with the records of the successor organisation.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

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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