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Finding out about poor relief that my ancestors may have received

Ancestors who were poor and dependent on the support of the authorities often left detailed information about their lives.

You may find surviving records in our Anglican parish archives. They include settlement and removal papers that may give details of your ancestor's transfer. Bastardy records, including bonds, sometimes survive for illegitimate children. The records of workhouses, which were run by the parishes, include registers of inmates' admission and discharge, births, marriages and deaths. There may also be lists of patients treated in the workhouse infirmary.

The poor relief work of the individual parishes was gradually taken over by unions of parishes run by boards of guardians. The records of these bodies can contain the same information as those of the parishes. Their descriptions are to be found among the local government archive lists.