Lists of Paupers Receiving Parish Relief (LP)

A page of an alphabetical list of paupers detailing those whose surnames begin with the letter N, and who entered the St Botolph Workhouse between 1790 and 1803 London Metropolitan Archives, St Botolph Aldgate, Alphabetical Lists of Paupers, 1790-1806,Ms 2694/1, LL ref: GLBALP104000048.


Alphabetical lists of paupers receiving relief from their parish of settlement, or of inmates in a local workhouse, form an important sub-category of parish records. These documents normally take the form of full volumes, frequently pre-printed with tabs for each letter of the alphabet on the edge of the page. The overseer or workhouse master could use these volumes to enter the details of new admissions to or discharges from the workhouse, or new provisions for cash pensions, creating in the process a relatively easy to use reference guide to the history of the relationship between the parish and an individual pauper and their family. This type of list allowed the overseer or workhouse master (and the modern historian) rapidly to generate a full case history of an individual or family by simply scanning down a single page.1

Document Organisation and Production

The earliest entry within any single letter category is normally found at the top of each new alphabetized section, and later additions were added below in date order. In some examples (see the version created by St Botolph Aldgate above) the left hand page is given over to workhouse admissions, while the right hand page is reserved for workhouse discharges. A similar layout was used in creating the documents that formed the basis for the databases of the St Martin's in the Fields Workhouse Register and St Luke's Chelsea Workhouse Register included on this website. In other examples, such as the series created for St Clement Danes, both left and right hand pages are used as parts of a single table, with the names of individual paupers entered along the left hand margin of the left hand (verso) page. Because of the tabular nature of the material, the transcriptions are difficult to decipher, and the associated images should be referred to in the first instance.

A double page table of monthly payments to paupers whose surname begins with A for 1764-1765 Westminster Archives Centre, St Clement Danes, Alphabetical List of Weekly Pensioners, 1764-65, Ms. B1232, LL ref: WCCDLP359000004&5.

To locate an individual the parish officer needed to scan down the whole list of names under a particular letter heading. While relatively labour intensive, this saved them from reviewing petty ledgers, accounts or similar documents that were organised by date alone.

In most instances, these kinds of documents were kept at the parish workhouse, or in the vestry of the parish, and filling in the information required formed an important part of the theatre of receiving poor relief.

Related Datasets

Introductory Reading

  • Hindle, Steve. On the Parish?: The Micro-Politics of Poor Relief in Rural England, c.1550-1750. Oxford, 2004.
  • Hitchcock, Tim. Down and Out in Eighteenth-Century London. 2004, ch. 6.
  • Murphy, Elaine. The Metropolitan Pauper Farms 1722-1834. London Journal, 27:1 (2002), pp. 1-18.
  • Neate, Alan Robert. The St Marylebone Workhouse and Institution, 1730-1965. Rev. edn, 2003.
  • Snell, Keith D. M. Parish and Belonging: Community, Identity, and Welfare in England and Wales, 1700-1950. Cambridge, 2006.
  • Tomkins, Alannah. The Experience of Urban Poverty, 1723-82: Parish, Charity and Credit. Manchester, 2006.

Online Resources

For further reading on this subject see the London Lives Bibliography.

Documents Included on this Website

  • St Botolph Aldgate, Alphabetical Lists of Paupers, 1790-1806, London Metropolitan Archives, Ms. 2694/1, LL ref: GLBALP10400, Tagging Level: D
  • St Clement Danes, Alphabetical List of Weekly Pensioners, 1764-65, Westminster Archives Centre, Ms. B1232, LL ref: WCCDLP35900, Tagging Level: C
  • St Clement Danes, Alphabetical List of Weekly Pensioners, 1757-58, Westminster Archives Centre, Ms. B1237, LL ref: WCCDLP35901, Tagging Level: C
  • St Clement Danes, Pew Rents, Alphabetical List of Pensioners, Certificates Register, 1710-50, Westminster Archives Centre, Ms. B1246, LL ref: WCCDLP35902, Tagging Level: C


1 For an example of modern scholarship based on this kind of record series see Tim Hitchcock, "Unlawfully begotten on her body": Illegitimacy and the Parish Poor in St Luke's Chelsea, in Tim Hitchcock, Peter King and Pamela Sharpe, eds, Chronicling Poverty: The Voices and Strategies of the English Poor, 1640-1840 (Basingstoke, 1997), pp. 70-86.