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User Guide 22 - Paupers' Records
Revised: April 2002

Introduction

This User Guide details sources relating to the poor, including Poor Law, Guardians and Overseers records. See also User Guides 7 (Guilds), 9 (Medicine) and 14 (Law and Order) for related material.

Until 1597 there was no statutory poor relief, although parishes and religious houses dispensed alms and some ran 'hospitals' where paupers could gain relief. Following the Poor Law Act of 1597, parishes first appointed Overseers of the Poor, but it was the Poor Law Act of 1601 which formally constituted what became known as the 'Old Poor Law'. According to this second piece of legislation, parishes were responsible for levying a rate with which to dispense outdoor relief to their poor. Growing costs led to the Settlement Act 1662 which restricted relief to those paupers who could prove settlement in a particular parish.

The continued spiraling cost of administering the poor law eventually led to the Poor Law (Amendment) Act 1834, also known as the 'New Poor Law'. This created unions of parishes, each with a board of guardians. The unions provided both outdoor and more notably indoor relief to the poor, the latter via the workhouse system.

Unions and Guardians were abolished by the Local Government Act 1929 and their functions transferred to public assistance authorities run by county boroughs and county councils. These authorities were short-lived, however, and the poor laws were finally repealed in 1948. Note that the Old Poor Law continued to operate until this date as well as the New Poor Law; settlement cases can be found latterly in Petty Sessions records.

This user guide generally takes the reforms of 1948 as its end date, although later records are outlined in the case of some collections to indicate continuity.

Access to unlisted collections requires at least 2 days notice.
Permission may be needed to view some records referred to in this Guide.

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Contents:

  1. Regional sources
  2. Gateshead
  3. Newcastle
  4. North Tyneside
  5. South Tyneside
  6. Sunderland

Note: sections B to F are divided under the following sub-headings: Parishes and Townships; Guardians / Public Assistance; Charities.

A. REGIONAL SOURCES

Asylum for Female Penitents for Northumberland and Durham, Newcastle and Gateshead
Financial / administrative records 1841-1919
[586]

Northern Counties Joint Poor Law Committee
Minutes 1912-1930
[227/79-93]

Northern Poor Law Unions
Conference reports etc 1918-1927
Poor law records 1890-1927
[604/902-909]

Petty Sessions courts
NB overseers and unions were accountable to the justices.
Registers include poor law cases to 1948
[MG/; see User Guide 14]

Quarter Sessions courts:
NB poor law cases were occasionally referred to quarter sessions, although this decreases with the formalisation of petty sessions courts in the mid 19th century
[QS/ ; see User Guide 14]

Children North East
Records, incl. homes 1888-1989
[CH/CNE]

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B. GATESHEAD

Parishes and Townships

Birtley St John / civil parish
Apprenticeship indentures 1886-1895
Overseers accounts 1797-1818
Poor rates 1848
Valuations 1833-1837
Vestry meetings 1818-1936
[CP/BI/1, 20-23]

Chopwell township
Overseers meetings 1856-1927
overseers accounts 1826-1849
[CP/CH, DX1048/1/1-2]

Gateshead St Mary / civil parish
Examinations / removal orders c1843-1848
High Ward out-relief book 1830
Low Ward payment accounts 1827-1828
Opinions re poor rate assessment n.d.
Overseers accounts 1910-1929
Overseers meetings 1869-1901, 1925-1927
Poor rate 1860
Valuation list c1826-1829
[3419/CXXIII (unlisted); CP/GA/1-6; T371/10-12; T440 (unlisted)]

Lamesley St Andrew / civil parish
Apprenticeship indenture 1761,1834
Bastardy bonds 1771-1819
Payments to paupers 1821-1831
Permission to pay relief 1796
Poor accounts 1814-1815, 1830
Poor distributions 1851-1864
Vestry meetings 1833-1886
[819; MF440-441, MF447]

Ryton civil parish
Correspondence re settlement appeal 1795
Overseers meetings 1914-1927
[CP/RY/2; T214/173]

Ryton Urban District
Poor rates 1914-1921
Unpaid rate statements 1911-1925
[UD/RY/41-42]

Whickham St Mary / civil parish
Overseers accounts 1725-1837, 1849-1927
Overseers meetings 1895-1904
Poor rates 1677-1926 (incomplete)
Vestry meetings 1818-1871
[CP/WH/2-3; T213/322-331, 412-488; MF901-903]

Whickham Urban District
Poor rates 1875-1926
Relieving officer's accounts 1881-1911
Vaccination registers 1872-1912
[T213/169-185, 278-331]

Winlaton township
Poor rates 1853, 1911-1927
Valuations 1869-1926
[T214/112-117, 132-133]

Guardians / Public Assistance

Gateshead Borough Council
Public assistance minutes 1929-1974
Slum clearance minutes 1930-1932
[CB/GA/44-49; HA/GA]

Gateshead Union
Children placed in homes 1906-1949
Correspondence etc 1837-1891
Guardians minutes 1836-1930
Plans of Poor Law Institution, 1922
[1266/27; T371]

Gateshead Union Workhouse (later High Teams Institution and Bensham General Hospital)
Admissions and other records 1921-1948
Papers re workhouse buildings 1885-1891
[HO/BS; T371]

Charities

Gateshead Dorcas Society
Minutes 1916-1936
[CHX32]

Guilds
Charity records (incl. poor relief)
[GU/ ; see User Guide 7]

King James' Hospital
Records, incl. membership 1800-1967
[CH/KJH]

Pickering Trust
Minutes 1888-1948
[CHX33]

Robert Spence Pensioners Charity
Records 1880-1938
[CHX26]

Thomas Powell's Almshouse Charity
Secretary's correspondence 1900-1913
[CHX34]

Winlaton Christmas Charity
Minutes and subscriptions 1863-1931
[CHX27]

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C. NEWCASTLE

Parishes and Townships

Benwell township / parish
Overseers accounts 1868-1913
Overseers meetings 1913-1914
Poor rates 1870-1900
Valuation lists 1884, 1888
Vestry meetings 1851-1908
[183/566-575; MF398]

Byker township / parish
Overseers accounts 1796-1805 1895-1907
Poor rates 1731-1891
Valuation lists 1880-1901
Vestry meetings 1820-1913
[183/576-606; 593/65; MF392-395]

Coxlodge township
Poor rates 1880-1901
[UD/GO/64]

East Denton civil parish
Overseers and assistants 1908-1920
Poor rate collection accounts 1917-1926
Vestry meetings 1870-1911
[CP/ED/1-5]

Elswick township / parish
Overseers meetings 1897-1914
Poor rates 1850-1880, 1906
Vestry meetings 1847-1872
[183/607-617, 850-853; MF395-397]

Fawdon township
Poor rates 1891-1896
[UD/GO/64]

Gosforth Urban District
Poor rates 1880-1928
Relief minutes 1914
[UD/GO/38, 64-65]

Heaton township / parish
Poor rates 1860-1890
Valuation list 1895
Vestry meetings 1890-1914
[183/618-622; MF398]

Jesmond township / parish
Overseers accounts 1821-1836
Poor rates 1851-1900
Vestry meetings 1867-1914
[183/623-633]

Newcastle All Saints parish
Agreement for poor house at Manors 1735
Applications for relief 1836
Apprenticeship register 1790-1844
Bastardy bonds 1783-1827
Charity school records 1807-1909
Examination books 1820-1837
Guardians meetings 1840-1848
Overseers accounts 1778-1914
Pandon Ward overseers accounts 1797-1808
Poor house accounts (incl. clothing) 1788-1835
Poor house admissions / discharges 1779-1809
Poor house minutes 1801-1828 (incomplete)
Poor rates 1766-1880; 1805-1811
Quayside ward overseers accounts 1796-1812
Removal orders 1771-1826, 1833-1836
Select vestry meetings 1819-1844
Vestry meetings 1766-1914
[183/1-188; 465/13-42; 466/10-12; 544/8; 595/54; E/NC36; T241; MF355-357]

Newcastle St Andrew parish
Overseers accounts 1903-1904
Poor rates and valuations 1811-1870, 1906
Valuation list 1895
Vestry meetings 1851-1882
[183/189-225, 854; MF388-392; MF1782]

Newcastle St John parish
Overseers accounts 1872-1901
Poor rates and valuations 1829-1907
Vestry meetings 1800
[183/234-299]

Newcastle St Nicholas parish
Apprenticeship register 1802-1844
Correspondence re poor relief 1817
Papers re apprenticeship case (Gloucester Quarter Sessions) 1724
Poor rates 1742-1911
Poor relief accounts 1791
Vestry meetings 1819-1914
[43; 183/300-537; 1236; MF371; MF382-385; MF657; MF1807]

South Gosforth township
Poor rates 1883-1902
[UD/GO/64]

West Brunton township
Township meetings 1872-1937
[T75/38]

Westgate township
Overseers accounts 1900-1914
Rate book 1861
Vestry meetings 1856-1904
[183/731-733]

Walker township / parish
Poor rates 1866-1882
[183/635-640]

Guardians / Public Assistance

Cottage Homes, Ponteland
See Newcastle Union

Highfield House
See Newcastle Union

Manors Poor House
See All Saints parish

Newcastle Borough / City Council
Maternity and child welfare records 1934-1944
Non-settled poor accounts 1922-1939
Public assistance, financial, relief and institutional records c1930-1948
Rate department poverty appeals 1914-1944
Vaccination registers 1935-1948
Vagrant's pass 1653
[51; 183/805-840; 392/4; 492/11-13; MD/NC/280-283]

Newcastle Union
Apprenticeship / children's records 1808-1930
Bastardy registers and orders 1844-1961 [568]
Birth registers 1840-1923
Chaplain's hospital reports 1921-1931
Committee (various) minutes (including some admissions/discharges/deaths) 1905-1930
Correspondence 1895-1923
Emigrants records 1922-1930
Financial and rating records 1838-1930
Guardians minutes 1836-1930 (sometimes include information concerning admissions/discharges/deaths)
Lunacy records 1848-1928
Medical / vaccination records 1907-1930
Miscellaneous printed material 19th-20th centuries
Old people's records 1895-1931
Property and institutions' records (incl. workhouse) 1752-1930
Records of the unemployed 1888-1928
Relief and resettlement records 1848-1930
Staff duties 1880-1896
Staff records 1873-1929
Vagrancy records 1864-1921
Workhouse inventory 1930
Workhouse punishment books 1893-1913, 1923-1936
[359; 444/12-13; 568; 1699; 3493 (unlisted); HO/NGH; T1]

Newcastle Union Workhouse (later Newcastle Wingrove Hospital and Newcastle General Hospital)
Administrative / property records 1868-1948
Deeds 1835-1901
Patient records 1889-1948
[646/1-16; HO/NGH]

Charities

Brandling Place Home for Penitent Women
Records, incl. minutes and reports c1860-1897
[584]

Cathedral Nursing Society for the Sick Poor
Reports 1886-1948
[CHX20]

Davisons' Hospital
Pay books 1727-1940
[595/36-40]

Dispensary
Administrative records 1777-1980
[HO/ND]

General Hospital
Minutes and inventory 1764-1785
[595/54]

General Soup kitchen
Financial records 1820-1901
Minutes 1862-1901
[CHX3]

Gosforth WJ Sanderson Home for Destitute Crippled Children (later Sanderson Hospital):
Administrative records 1890-1970
Financial records 1938-1948
Minutes 1904-1973
[HO/SA]

Guilds
Charity records, incl. poor relief
[see GU/ ; User Guide 7]

Holy Jesus Hospital
Lists of poor c1695-1801
Miscellaneous records 1683-1874
[595/49-51]

Hospital of the Blessed Virgin Mary (later St Mary the Virgin)
Acts 1846,1888
Deeds and rentals c1183-1952
Minute books 1882-1960
Miscellaneous property record 1810-1938
Printed material 1908, 1925
Register of leases 1575-1829
[158; 459; 1688; 1944]

Newcastle Aged Female Society
Minutes and financial records 1873-1995
[CHX5]

Newcastle City Relief Fund
Minutes and ephemera 1885-1886
[CHX30]

Newcastle Corporation
Records re various charities 1863-1956
[604/126-136]

Newcastle Ragged and Industrial Schools
Records, incl. admissions 1847-1970
[174]

Newcastle West End Poor and Aged People's Association
Minutes 1922-1964
[CHX8]

Poor Children's Holiday Association (later Children North East)
See Regional Sources

Poor Women's Lying-In Hospital (later Princess Mary Maternity Hospital
Records, incl. re patients 1760-1990
[HO/PM]

Rev William Turner's School
Pupil register 1785-1825
[2122; MF1216]

Richard Thompson's Bequest
List of applicants 1868-1869
Petitions for loans 1855-1872
[595/105-106]

St Mary Magdalene Home for Incurables
Records, incl. property / patients 1611-1932
[547; 595/52-53; 604; HO/HM]

Sir Thomas White's Charity
Financial records 1647-1884
[595/77-103]

Sir Walter Blackett's Hospital
Pay books 1727-1940
[595/36-40]

William Warmouth's Charity
Bond 1742
[595/104]

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D. NORTH TYNESIDE

Parishes and Townships

Backworth township
Overseers correspondence 1890-1911
[PU/TY/1 (unlisted)]

Camperdown civil parish
Poor rate 1905
[643/193]

Chirton township
Overseers meetings 1849-1908
Poor rates 1847 1850-1900
Valuations (supplemental) 1906-1908
[T22/1, 165-179, 275; T171/210]

Cullercoats township
Poor rates 1890-1907
Valuations 1906-1908
[T22/180-182, 272, 275]

Longbenton St Bartholomew parish
Overseers account 1779-1798
Poor rates 1779-1806
Vestry meeting 1713-1895
[MF497-498]

North Shields township
Poor rates 1816-1900
Valuations 1860, 1895-1908
[T22/183-212, 266-275; T45; T171/124-209]

Preston township
Poor rates 1860-1909 (incomplete)
Valuation 1860, 1906-1908
[T22/213-219, 265-274]

Tynemouth township / parish
Overseers accounts 1836-1843
Overseers meetings 1908-1927
Poor rates 1813-1901
Valuations 1860, 1896-1919
[T22/3-4, 18, 220-275A; T45; T171/1-122]

Wallsend St Peter parish / civil parish
Overseers accounts 1849-1864
Poor law rating papers 1895, 1907-1921
Poor rates 1838-1839
Valuation list 1858
Vestry meetings 1759-1939
[609/7-9; 1131/274-277; 1954; T14/69; MF506]

Wallsend Borough
Poor rates 1862-1865
[259/14-18]

Willington civil parish
Overseers accounts 1895-1911
Poor law rating papers 1895, 1907-c1917
[259/21; 1131/274-278]

Guardians / Public Assistance

Northumberland Village Homes
Records 1879-1960
Registers, financial / administrative material c.1890-1975
Reports, rules, photographs etc 1866, 1879-1956
[865; 1831 (unlisted); T375 (unlisted)]

Tynemouth Borough Council
Poor rate accounts 1908-1936
Public assistance correspondence 1929-1949
Public assistance minutes 1929-1948
[644/242-247; 1913/58; T22/292-295]

Tynemouth Union
Administrative / financial records, including workhouse (and see below) 1890-1951
Guardians minutes 1836-1931 (incomplete)
Paupers' outgoing book 1857-1859
Porter's book 1854-1855
Posters 1834-1843
Records re new nurses home 1926-1930
Staff service register 1894-1930
Vaccination registers (North Longbenton) 1877-1892
[1131; 1913/37; 2086; 2090; 3277 (unlisted); T286]

Tynemouth Union Workhouse (later Preston Hospital)
Financial / administrative records (incl. staff) 1899-1972
Master's records 1902-1949
Medical records, incl. vaccinations 1890-1951
Patients' registers, incl. admissions, births, deaths, lunatics 1866-1948
Plans c1930
Workhouse committee minutes 1884-1888, 1908-1929
[913; 1131, 1913/22-38; 1940; T286/2]

Charities

Royal Victoria Charity School
Minutes 1810-1836
[T83/15]

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E. SOUTH TYNESIDE

Parishes and Townships

Boldon civil parish
Poor rates 1914-1921
[UD/BO/58; T180/269]

Boldon Colliery civil parish
Poor rates 1914-1921
[UD/BO/58]

Harton civil parish
Poor rate c.1920
[T180/270]

Hedworth township
Poor rates 1855-1856, 1880, 1887-1900
[263/54-59; T23/139]

Jarrow St Paul parish / township
Overseers minutes and accounts 1908-1927
Poor rate 1787, 1880, 1887-1900
[263/54-59; 3419/CXIX (unlisted); T23/75-76]

Monkton township
Poor rates 1887-1906, 1914, 1919
[263/36-59; T23/140-141]

South Shields St Hilda parish
Apprenticeship indentures 1791-1800
Charity (incl. school) records 1769-1958
Overseers appointments 1902-1926
Poor law papers 1788-1917
Poor rates 1660-1791
Select vestry meetings 1824-1837
Vestry meetings 1794-1954
[T179/491-492; MF858-859; MF872-875; MF878; MF893]

Westoe township
Cash book 1804
Poor rate 1879
[T81/94; T180/187]

Whitburn civil parish
Overseers meetings 1923-1927
Poor rates 1914-1915
[CP/WB/12; UD/BO/58]

Guardians / Public Assistance

Cleadon Cottage Homes
Punishment book 1909-1949
Register 1920-c1944
[PU/SS/3; see also E/CL1]

South Shields Borough Council
Blind assistance sub-committee minutes 1929-1948
Case files 1933-1970
Public assistance minutes 1929-1948
[T179/417-419, 452-453; 227]

South Shields Union
Correspondence and scrapbooks 1836-1929
Guardians minutes 1836-1930
Objections to rating assessments 1914
Property papers 1876-1929
Securities register 1876-1897
Staff wages books 1923-1926
[PU/SS; T179/652; T180/304]

South Shields Union Workhouse (later Harton Institution and South Shields General Hospital)
Administrative records 1889-1948
Admissions / patient records (incl. lunatics, births, deaths) 1877-1948
Committee minutes 1875-1904
[PU/SS; HO/SSG]

South Shields and Westoe Dispensary
Minutes 1846-1874
[HO/ING/1]

F. SUNDERLAND

Parishes and Townships

NB Bishopwearmouth parish contained the townships of Bishopwearmouth, Bishopwearmouth Panns, Burdon, Ford, Silksworth, Tunstall and Ryhope; Monkwearmouth parish contained Monkwearmouth, Monkwearmouthshore, Fulwell, Southwick and Hylton townships.

Bishopwearmouth township
Apprenticeship indentures 1765-1920
Poor rates 1802-1831,1844-1891
Valuations 1862-1901
[209/89-94; 212; 849; T26/3-35, 162ff]

Ford township
Poor rates 1847-1914
Slum clearance files 1935-1939
Valuation lists 1862-1901 (incomplete)
[T12/109-176, 544-582; T26/163ff]

Fulwell township
Valuations 1863-1901
[T26/167ff]

Great Eppleton civil parish
Poor rates 1914-1915
[CP/GE]

Hetton-le-Hole township
Poor rate 1837
[T18/147]

Houghton-le-Spring St Michael and All Angels parish / civil parish
Overseers accounts 1774-1818
Poor rates 1914
Vestry meetings 1853-1927
[CP/HS; MF765]

Hylton township
Overseers accounts 1849-1885
Poor rates 1904, 19124, 1924
Valuations 1863-1895, 1906
[209/75; T12/114, 177-181; T26/168ff]

Little Eppleton township
Poor rates 1862-1866
[CP/LE]

Monkwearmouth township
Overseers accounts 1809-1837
Overseers correspondence 1833-1837
Poor house admissions / discharges 1813-1836
Poor rates 1781-1891 (incomplete)
Settlement examinations 1812-1822
Valuations 1864-1895
[209/95-102; T26/21-36, 171ff]

Monkwearmouthshore township
Poor rates and overseers accounts 1776-1806
Poor rates only 1842-1891
Settlement and bastardy papers 1807-1843
Valuations 1863-1895
[209/103-105; T26/2-37, 169ff]

Moorsley township
Poor rates 1821-1837
[T18/150]

Newbottle civil parish
Poor rates 1914
[CP/NE/2]

Offerton civil parish
Poor rates 1914
[CP/OF/2]

Ryhope township
Poor rates 1884-1924
Slum clearance files 1935-1939
Township meetings 1834-1894
Valuation lists 1864-1901
[209/76; T12/115-121, 182-220, 482, 584-635; T26/172ff]

Silksworth civil parish
Poor rates 1914
[CP/SI/4]

Southwick township
Poor rates 1837-1838
Valuations 1862-1901
[209/79; T26/164ff]

Sunderland Holy Trinity parish
Apprenticeship indentures 1765-1920
Overseers accounts 1807-1819
Overseers meetings 1885-1897
Poor house / governor's accounts 1809-1818, 1830-1837
Poor rates 1779-1818
Vestry meetings 1719-1918
[209/80-88; 212; 849; 1231; MF577-578]

Sunderland-near-the-Sea township
Poor rates 1838-1890
Valuation lists 1864-1895
[T26/1-287]

Tunstall township
Overseers accounts 1839-1907
Poor rates 1851-1924
Valuation lists 1862-1907 (incomplete)
[T12/122-129, 221-245, 377-380; T26/165ff]

Usworth Holy Trinity parish / civil parish
Poor rates 1837-1914
Relief accounts 1832-1857
Removal order 1834
Vestry meetings 1857-1894
[CP/US/1, 5; PU/CS/3-4]

Warden Law civil parish
Poor rates 1913-1915
[CP/WL]

Washington Holy Trinity parish / civil parish
Overseers accounts 1767-1835
Overseers papers 1844-1850
Poor rates 1829-1833, 1846-1914
Valuations 1908-1928
Vestry meetings 1823-1894
[PU/CS/5-6; MF774-775]

West Herrington civil parish
Poor rates 1914
[CP/WHG]

West Rainton civil parish
Poor rates 1914, 1926
[CP/WR]

Guardians / Public Assistance

Chester-le-Street Union
Poor rates (Barmston, Usworth, Washington only) 1837-1928 (incomplete)
[PU/CS]

Sunderland Borough Council
Public assistance minutes 1943-1947
[1481/1]

Sunderland Union
Contracts 1903-1938
Correspondence 1848-1872
Financial records 1837-1931
Guardians minutes 1839-1930
Lunacy records 1877-1916
Outdoor relief lists 1839, 1917-1940
Settlement records 1895-1914 (incomplete)
Staff records 1853-1912
[209/445-635]

Sunderland Union Workhouse (later Highfield Hospital)
Indoor relief lists 1866-1947
Inmate registers (incl. lunatics and deaths) 1866-1974 (incomplete)
List of officers 1895-1933
[1481/1-15; T87]

Charities

Bishopwearmouth St Thomas Parish Invalid Kitchen
Annual reports 1867-1944 (incomplete)
[CHX22]

George Hudson's Charity
Records, incl. admissions 1875-1966
[2017]

House of Recovery
See Sunderland Royal Infirmary

Humane Society
See Sunderland Royal Infrmary

Sunderland Independent Sick Society
Patients and relief register 1838-1919
[CHX17]

Sunderland Orphan Asylum
Records, incl. admissions 1861-1964
[2018]

Woodcock Charitable Institution Fund for Poor and Shipwrecked Mariners, Sunderland
Minutes 1843-1931
[CHX10]

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