Link back to main ROSSBRET websiteLondon Workhouses


Bethnal Green
City of London
Forest Gate School District
Mile End Old Town
St George in the East
St George
St Olave
St Pancras
West London Workhouse
Metropolitan Reports

London Poor Law Unions and Workhouses

Summary of Results.
Pauper inmates of Workhouse establishments in the Registration County number 46,646 persons of all ages, 25,011 Males and 21,635 Females. 
These represent approximately 1.0% of the general population.
At advanced ages the proportion is far higher; at 55 years and upwards the % is 6.6% and at 65 years and upwards is 11.2%.

Prisoners in the Local and Convict Prisons number 4,167.
Of these 3,537 were Males and 630 Females.

The Blind, Deaf and Dumb
The number of persons returned as Blind is 3,556, and of these 113 suffer from some other Infirmity also.

Deaf and Dumb persons including 132 returned simply as Dumb, number 2,057, and of these 33 suffer from some other Infirmity also.

Lunatics number 3,562, including 22 afflicted with some other Infirmity also; and the Imbecile and Feeble-minded 3,496, including 53 otherwise afflicted. The total of these classes is 7,058.

Source: Statistics submitted by Alan Longbottom
From Census Statistical Volume 1901
County of London in PP 1902 Cd 875

Commissioners Reports

p 255 J - Workhouses, List of those visited in 1867
With Name of the Workhouse and numbers of 
insane, idiotic, and imbecile inmates
London - Middlesex Male Female Total
Bethnal Green 46 63 109
Chelsea 18 15 33
Clerkenwell 49 55 104
Fulham 15 23 38
St Geo Hanover Sq Mt 6 1 7
St Geo Hanover Sq Lt Chelsea 0 3 3
St George in the East 21 29 50
Giles St & St George 11 15 26
Hackney 26 26 52
Holborn 6 6 12
Islington St Mary 12 2 14
St James Westminster 8 12 20
Kensington 8 25 33
London City of 41 59 100
London, East 28 56 84
London, West 30 35 65
St Luke Middlesex 37 46 83
St Mgt & St John Kensington 22 33 55
St Mgt Petty France 0 0 0
St Martin in the Fields 5 7 12
St Marylebone 39 53 92
Mile End Old Town 39 48 87
Paddington 4 8 12
St Pancras 47 112 159
Poplar 6 6 12
Shoreditch, St Leonard 77 86 163
Stepney 27 33 60
Strand Cleveland St 9 4 13
Strand Edmonton 0 24 24
Whitechapel 37 62 99
Source: From PP 1867/68 Vol XXXI pp 1-301
Twenty Second Report of the Commissioners in Lunacy 
to the Lord Chancellor. Submitted by Alan Longbottom


p 255 J - Workhouses, List of those visited in 1867
With Name of the Workhouse and numbers of 
insane, idiotic, and imbecile inmates
Camberwell 35 56 91
St Ge the Martyr Mitcham 35 62 97
Lambeth 55 72 127
Newington St Mary 38 52 90
St Olaves 7 6 13
Rotherhithe 4 6 10
St Saviour's 4 26 30
Wandsworth and Clapham 9 4 13
Source: From PP 1867/68 Vol XXXI pp 1-301
Twenty Second Report of the Commissioners in Lunacy 
to the Lord Chancellor. Submitted by Alan Longbottom

London - Houseless Poor and Crime

An elaborate report in reference to the houseless poor in the City of London has been issued by the out-relief committee of the Board of Guardians of the City Union, in anticipation of the coming winter. It appears that the adoption of the plan by that Board of supplying warm broth, coffee, and soup in the daytime to wanderers had the effect of vastly increasing the number of that class applying for relief in the union. In a corresponding month in the present and past year there had been 8,101 and 6,101 cases respectively; whilst in 1866, before that plan was put into operation, there were but 1,513 cases.

The Board have just erected premises for the distribution of relief to casuals, in Northumberland Alley, Fenchurch Street, at a cost of 3,000 exclusive of the land. The accommodation is, however, very limited; and it will be necessary, as before, to send all except sick cases and very urgent ones to the workhouse at Bow every night, a distance of about 3 miles, to sleep. The City Union, though occupying a space of about a square mile only, has a yearly expenditure of from 48,000 to 50,000 for its 98 parishes. One parish that contributes for its quotas about 1,100 yearly has but one solitary pauper chargeable to it. The demolition of dwellings without any compensatory erections will have to bear a heavy share of the blame if the overcrowding lead to some terrible pestilence, as it is but too likely to do. And to blame such a cause is to blame the legislature which has not provided against it while authorizing such demolitions.

The directors of convict prisons in England report a great increase in recent years in the proportion of convicts who are of a weakly and diseased constitution. Of 6,552 male convicts in confinement on the 7th of April 1868, no less than 1,981 were either confirmed invalids or fit only for light labour. Of 1,237 convicts disposed of from Millbank prison in the year 1867, only 688, or 55 per cent, were removed to the public works prisons as fit for hard labour, and 136 to public works for light labour; the remainder being sent to the invalid prisons. The great majority of these prisoners are either men of originally feeble constitutions or the subjects of diseases or infirmities which they have contracted through circumstances over which they have had no control. The numbers of depredators, offenders, and suspected persons at large in England and Wales last year was 112,403, against 113,566 in the preceding year. All persons who have been living honestly for one year at least subsequently to their discharge after any conviction, are not included in the above number.

The returns for 1866/67 lately issued, show that of 22,889 known thieves and depradators, 3,944 were under 16 years of age; of 2,959 receivers of stolen goods, 31 were under 16 years of age; of 28,378 suspected persons, 4,086 had not reached their 16th year of age; and of 32,588 vagrants and tramps, 5,709 were under 16 years of age The total number of these classes at large in 1866/67 shows a decrease of 3,243 or 2.8 per cent, compared with the average number in the 3 years 1864-66. In the number of known thieves and depredators there is an increase, compared with the preceding year, of 83, but a decrease of 70 as compared with the average. The following are the proportional numbers of the criminal classes in the different groups of town which have been classed together for comparison in former years. In the metropolis the proportional number in 1866/67 was 1 in 220 of the population as against 1 in 222 in the preceding year, showing an increase of 1%. in the pleasure towns such as Bath, Brighton, Dover, Ramsgate etc. the proportion was 1 in 89 against 1 in 79 in 1865/66 or a decrease of 11.2 per cent.
Source: The Builder 1868 Vol XXVI 31st October 1868 p.799
Submitted by Alan Longbottom

Medical Officers for the London Poor 

A Return prepared by the Poor Law Board shows that the Unions and Parishes in the Metropolis have 55 Medical Officers of workhouses and 159 of districts. Their remuneration for the year ending Michaelmas last amounted to 28,609 and the guardians paid 6,796 for the cost of medicines. The number of sick poor attended in the year was 79,375 in-door and 268,135 attended out-door. 
NOTE - Average remuneration was 133. 
Source: The Builder 1869 Vol XXVII 10th April 1869 p.293
Submitted by Alan Longbottom. 

Extract from an account of a London soup shop

In April 1796, there being a deire of supplying the labourers on the Foundling estate, and the poor of the neighbourhood, with food at a cheaper rate, and in more plenty than they had been able to obtain it, I received a proposal for my opening a soup shop on the Foundling estate, from which the poor might be supplied by tickets with soup, pudding, and meat. A Rumford roaster, 16 and a  half inches wide, 12 inches high, and 32 inches deep, and 2 Rumford boilers, one of 35 gallons, and the other of 46 gallons, divided into two unequal parts were fitted up for me, under Count Rumford's
direction, by the gentleman who made the proposal. This was placed in my back kitchen, a room 11 feet by 13 feet, and was calculated to be sufficient for a daily supply of 400 persons. 
Previous to opening the shop, there were hand-bills printed,
announcing my situation, and my prices; which were as follows :-
for a mess of boiled beef and vegetables 3d ; for half a pound of rice plum pudding 1d ; and for a pint of pease soup 1d -.
* (Note) 
The price at which Hillyer sells his soup is much more than that at which it is supplied at the subscription soup shops; but there is a great difference between a soup shop, by the profits of which a man is to maintain himself and his family, and a soup shop, the expences of which are to be supported by a liberal subscription. 
The latter is an excellent and useful charity; but it requires a
constant and liberal support; the other, as will appear by Hillyer's account, may with a little attention, be established wherever it is wanted; and will not only maintain itself, but will give maintenance to a deserving family.

Three thousand tickets were prepared for these different articles at three shillings a dozen for the meat tickets; and one shilling a dozen for the others. With these advantages, and the purchase of as many tickets of me, as put me into a little ready cash, I opened my soup shop in the new colonnade, near the Foundling, on the 19th of May 1796. Among the best of my customers were the Irish labourers
who worked at the buildings on the Foundling estate; these men, with a pint and a half of the pease soup, and a half-penny worth of bread for breakfast, and the same quantity at dinner, which cost  them four pence a day, were equal to the hard labour, in which they were employed.

In making the soup, and indeed in dressing all the food, the Rumford kitchen enabled me to supply the public at a cheaper rate than I could otherwise have done, with profit to myself. - For some months my shop went on very well; but the progress of the buildings being gradually retarded, and at length greatly checked, by the war, my business insensibly diminished, many of my customers having gone into the sea service; so that at Lady-day 1797, with the approbation of my friends, I moved to Fulwood's Rents, Holborn, a neighbourhood that promised me a regular and increased custom for my shop.

My business has in consequence greatly increased; and with still more advantages to me from my Rumford kitchen, which enabled me to extend it a great deal further, than I could in the common way of dressing. My average consumption of butcher's meat in my shop, is from 400 to 500 pounds weight a week; so that by the large quantities of meat (such as hams, beef, mutton etc.) boiled in the water, of which the pease soup is afterwards made, a considerable quantity of animal nourishment is added to the ordinary ingredients of the soup, which are in themselves, and independent of that  addition, nutritious and wholesome. This makes the generality of customers prefer the soup to the pudding, except during summer; and as those who have penny tickets for soup or pudding, may always have which they please, the quantity of soup used is much greater than that of pudding.

The prices of the differnet articles to be had now at the shop, 
neat and of the best quality, are as follows :-
A mess of roast meat with vegetables 4d
A mess of boiled meat with vegetables 3d
A pint of leg of beef stew with meat 2d
A pint of soup 1d
Half a pound of pudding 1d
Bread .5d
Table beer .5d

For the best company there is a neat comfortable room, with tables properly set out, where any gentleman may order soup, boiled meat and vegetables, and plum pudding, the price of the whole dinner, including bread and beer being six-pence. If he has roast meet there is the addition of a penny; and if porter, three-farthings more.

Besides the quantity of soup daily made for tickets and chance customers, there are orders from the country, and for some public buildings, to a considerable amount. From one parish, that of Beddington in Surrey, there is a regular order for 32 gallons a week. This comes from a subscription of gentlemen, who find they can be supplied with it in this way better, and at less expence, than they can make it; and that the poor like it very much, and are extremely thanfful for it. I send this soup at 8d a gallon in casks of 16 gallons each, to the place in the Borough, from whence the waggon sets off; but where any subscription, or poor-house, or public body, orders a certain weekly quantity at a fixed hour,  and sends a cask or other vessel for it, it will be delivered at the reduced price of 7d a gallon. 

For the convenience of supplying the poor at the west end of the town, another soup shop is now opening opposite St Ann's Church Soho, where the poor in that, and the western parts of the town, may be supplied with tickets, issued in the same manner, as at Fulwood's Rents.

Observations :-
For the benefit of any persons, who may be induced to set up soup shops like the above, I hope I may be allowed to observe, that it is essential to the success and permanence of the shop, that the materials should be good of their kind, and wholesome; and that there should not only be apparent but real cleanliness in every part of the business. In order to make it answer, a Rumford Kitchen also appears to me to be necessary, for economy of food and labour as well as of fuel; and that, in using the fuel, the strictest limitation is requisite to prevent the increase of the quantity of coals; of which, if too much is used, there is not only a waste of food and fuel, but the apparatus is very soon worn out.
I have only to add, that the real comfort with which the poor,
(whether they come with a ticket, or with a penny) enjoy their 
evening mess of soup, is to me a constant source of pleasure; and that I have the satisfaction of reflecting, that while I am making a comfortable provision for myself and my family, I am, in my humble station, contributing, in some degree, to the comfort  of my fellow creatures. 

The Reports of the Society for Bettering the Condition and Increasing the Comforts of the Poor. Vol 1 1798 446 
28 Extract from an account of a London soup shop. by 
William Hillyer. pp 205-212 dated 24th January 1798.
Submitted by Alan Longbottom

Record Offices

London Metropolitan Archives
40 Northampton Road, 

Corporation of London Record Office
PO Box 270, 

City of Westminster Archives Centre
10 St Ann's Street,
London SW1P 2DE
Telephone: (020) 7641 5180


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