As a direct result of the campaigning of Jonas Hanway, An Act for the keeping regular, uniform and annual Registers, of all Parish Poor Infants under a certain Age was passed by parliament in 1762.1 It stipulated that parish officers within the Bills of Mortality (the City of London, urban Middlesex, Westminster and Southwark) should keep a precise register of all children in parish care under the age of four years, and that an annual summary of these registers should be published by the Worshipful Company of Parish Clerks. This act legislated for the creation of the registers reproduced here, and stipulated the size ("Royal Paper", 25" x 20"), layout and content of each register. It also stipulated that the registers should be approved annually by the vestry, and lay down a series of fines for failure to comply.
In a further Act for the better Regulation of the Parish Poor Children, passed in 1767,2 the registers were extended to include children up to the age of fourteen, and the creation of a separate Register of Parish Apprentices (RA) was mandated. This second act also required that London parishes put their children to nurse in the countryside at least three miles from London. But the 1767 Act excluded the ninety-seven parishes within the City of London and four Westminster parishes from its provisions, leaving the parish of St Dionis Backchurch subject to the provisions of the 1762 Act alone. This exclusion was made on the basis that too few children were abandoned to City parishes to justify the effort - a conclusion largely confirmed by the small number of entries in the Register of Poor Infants produced by the parish officers of St Dionis Backchurch.
Consequently, these Registers of Poor Infants (RI), which only concern children up to the age of four, can be distinguished from the Registers of Poor Children (RC) kept by the parishes of St Botolph Aldgate and St Clement Danes.
The 1762 Act of Parliament included two schedules (A & B) that prescribed the information to be provided, depending on whether or not the parish had a workhouse.
The Registers of Poor Infants included on this website are laid out according to schedule A of the 1762 Act; and include the following information:
- The name of the child
- If a foundling, bastard or casual
- If the same child has been taken in more than once
- Their age - years, months, days since birth
- If they were born in the workhouse or when admitted
- Name of the officer, or parent who sent them
- If money was received with the child
- If the child died in the workhouse or was discharged
- If the child was nursed by its mother
- If removed or passed, to what place
- If delivered from the workhouse, to whom
- The child's nurse's name, and if a wet or dry nurse
- The address of the nurse
- The amount paid for nursing per week
- The nature of any rewards given to nurses
- If the child had died at nurse and when
- If taken from the nurse, when
- If brought back to the workhouse
- If delivered to the mother or father, or other person
These registers take the shape of a table spread across two pages, with the child's name in the left hand column. Because this text is difficult to read in transcribed form, you are advised to consult the associated original page images.
- Taylor, James Stephen. Jonas Hanway, Founder of the Marine Society: Charity and Policy in Eighteenth-Century England. London and Berkeley, 1985, ch. 8.
- George, M. Dorothy. London Life in the Eighteenth Century. 1925, 1965, pp. 58-60.
- London Metropolitan Archives For further reading on this subject see the London Lives Bibliography
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- Introductory Reading
- St Dionis Backchurch, Annual Register of Poor Infants, 1763-1806, London Metropolitan Archives, Ms. 11272/1, LL ref: GLDBRI30900, Tagging Level: D
1 2 George III c. 22. ⇑
2 7 George III c. 39. ⇑