Surrey Records now on Ancestry

Surrey Parish Registers GenealogyHot off the press is the news that Ancestry has added Surrey Parish records 1538 – 1987 to their collection. Surrey borders London/Middlesex so those with ancestors who lived in the capital should search these records also.

The collection consists of 4 sections

Baptisms, Marriages & Burials 1538 – 1812

Baptisms 1813 – 1912

Marriages 1754 – 1937

Burials 1813 – 1987

Many parishes combined the three types of records into one registers hence the 1538 – 1812 section, after Hardwick’s Act in 1754 separate registers for marriages had to be kept and then Rose’s Act of 1812 meant that separate registers were required for all three events.

If you want to learn more about parish registers go to my lesson page at

1911 Census now linked with Historic Maps

1911 census MapsAncestry have announced that the 1911 images that they have offered online for some time now have been replaced with images that have the previously hidden ‘Infirmity’ column disclosed. Good to have full access to all the 1911 census details.

The really exciting news is that they have linked the census forms to their UK Maps Collection dating from 1896 – 1904 that they have online. I tested this out using my grandparents Alfred & Ada Hawkins who lived in Farnborough, Hampshire. I’m pleased to report that none of family suffered from an infirmity, however the map attached to the census was for Farnborough in Warwickshire not Hampshire. I then tried a search for my other grandparents William & Eliza Elliott and found them on the census correctly with the right map attached.

It would have been helpful to be able to attached the map to the individuals on my Ancestry Tree, but perhaps this is a facility that Ancestry will introduce later. Overall a good addition to


London Poor Law Removal and Settlement Records 1828-1930

A few days ago I spoke about Ancestry adding to their UK collection without putting up a stand-alone advert box on their main page, they just add it under the What’s New page. Today I will talk about another new Ancestry database London Poor Law Removal & Settlement Records 1828 –1930.

If you have never used this type of records before then you are in for a treat. Basically they come about because some-one who didn’t ‘belong’ to a parish has fallen on hard times and is costing that parish money and they don’t want to pay out for food, clothes, medical treatment etc. for someone who isn’t their responsibility. The law concerning this is centuries old and it was by an 1572 Act that each parish had to appoint an Overseer of the Poor to handle such matters.

This set of records would have been created in consequence of the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act which grouped parishes in unions and appointed Boards of Guardians amongst it’s rate payers who oversaw the needs of the poor, sick and elderly. The system remained in place until 1930 when a further act handed the responsibility to borough and county councils.

The Poor Law system and workhouses were viewed with some dismay amongst those who felt there was a chance that they may end up in them and the phrase “You have us ending up in the workhouse” when someone did something wasteful or thoughtless was still to be heard partly as a threat and partly as a prediction well into the 1960’s.

A person’s place of rightful settlement was established by various means; by birth, father’s place of settlement, residence over a certain period, marriage (wives took on their husbands place of legal settlement), serving an apprenticeship and a number of other ways. This all altered over the years when amendments to the act were declared. If a person was living not in their place of settlement and had to call on the assistance of the Board of Guardians for assistance then an examination of the person and their situation was called with testimony from the person concerned and sometimes witnesses. Depending on the evidence given a removal order might be issued and the person returned back to the parish that was deemed to be their rightful place of settlement. 

This database contains the documents that have survived for the unions of Bethnal Green, Hackney, Poplar, Shoreditch, and Stepney.

The amount of information given in an individuals each set of documents varies greatly, but here is an example of a Removal Order and a Settlement Certificate.

Removal Order

The removal order is a pre-printed page with details entered and then a page written out by hand as to the circumstances leading up to the removal order. The facts given as as follows –

To the Guardians of the Poor St Leonards, Shoreditch

From Hackney Union

The Hackney Union is sending them all back to the Shoreditch Union.

27 October 1899

Mary Ann MATKIN, a pauper aged about 45 years who is in the Hackney Workhouse and her children William 11 years, George 9 years and James 7 years who at living at the Strand Union School, Edmonton.

Mary Ann is the lawful wife of John Matkin who is absent.

Mary Ann states that on 17th October she left her husband at 43 Abbotts Street, Kingsland, they had lived there for less than 3 months. There is then a list of other addresses where they had lived and the approximate length of time.

She goes onto say that on 10 May 1880 she married William Matkin at St Mary’s Church, Beverley, Yorkshire. There is then a list of places in Beverley where they clip_image002[7]lived and the approximate time periods. The names and birth months and years of their children are given.

William the father was in the Shoreditch Infirmary in 1885 and last year they applied for help from the Medical office of Shoreditch.

So it can be seen that whilst it was not easy for your ancestors to be the subject of a removal order they do provide some great genealogical information. By the way I couldn’t resist but search for Mary Ann and family in the 1901 census and she is living with her children in Spitalfields, none of them states they have a job so i suspect she is receiving out-relief – no sign of a husband!!

Settlement Certificate

3 March 1852

Mary Alpin aged 10 weeks has been left with Mrs Rogers at Mr Jeffreys, Grove Parsonage, Hackney. She doesn’t have settlement in Hackney.

Notes state that her mother has died and she has been deserted by her father John Alpin late of 24 Regents Road, Stepney at Mrs Welch’s. John Alpin last worked at the Central Gas Works, Bow. The father is to be apprehended.


Mary’s details have been written up in the Hackney Union Settlements of the Poor pre-printed book. As her mother has died and her father has deserted her they have written her in the settlement book because that is where she was born. However if her father can be found she will be handed over either to him or to his place of settlement. There will be court records regarding the order to find and apprehend John Alpin so that is another set of documents that could be searched for.

Again I couldn’t resist seeing what happened to baby Mary Alpin. In 1861 she is a nurse child with William & Rebecca Rogers living in Limehouse, they also have another nursechild. Sadly there is an entry in the GRO death index for Mary Ann Rogers Alpin in the June qrt of 1865 which is almost certainly her.


Do take a look at these records, they are a treasure house of great genealogy material. I assume that this collection may be added to as more records are indexed. The originals are held at the London Metropolitan Archive, London and they have been indexed by the Ancestry World Archives Project volunteers.


London Metropolitan Archive

Image – Gustave Doré London poor

London Overseer Returns 1863-1894

London Overseers Returns doesn’t seem to be announcing their new data releases with the normal trumpet fanfare and drum roll, so I was surprised to see that this set of valuable records for those with London ancestors was simply listed under this month’s feature. Never mind they are online  which is the important thing.

Although this data is headed Overseers Returns, and that indeed is what they are, we normally expect anything to do with the parish overseers to concern payments out of or into the poor funds. This set of records are in fact a list residents within the parish who are claiming a right to vote. The Reform Act of 1832 required voters to be registered and the parish overseers were used to collect the information to compile the registers.

What we are seeing in this dataset is the returns that were used to list all the voters in the registers. The London Metropolitan Archives which hold the originals calls them “raw material” which is a good description. The returns are organised in bundles by polling district and each bundle is for a set year. Within the bundle the parishioners are arranged alphabetically.

The information likely to be found is –

    • name
    • address
    • residence year
    • voting qualification
    • description of qualifying property

The records on can be searched by surname or can be browsed by location.

A search for any entries for the surname Pottinger came up with two results both for the same man John Pottinger one in 1885 and one in 1886.The information given is as follows

Full name John Pottinger
Place of abode 5 Strafford Road, Acton W
Nature of qualification Dwelling house
Description of qualifying property 5 Strafford Road
Full name John Pottinger
Place of abode 5 Strafford Road, Acton
Nature of qualification Dwelling house
Description of qualifying property 5 Strafford Road

The records are printed so there must have been forms that either the resident or the overseers filled in, I wonder whether they have survived? However there are plenty of names crossed out, names added to the bottom of the page and spelling corrected so this shows that what we are seeing is not the final copies.

This record set is useful for those years where the electoral rolls either haven’t survived or aren’t available online. A very useful tools for tracking families between the census. Remember that you will not find any of your female ancestors or men who did not qualify for the vote in this dataset.

London Metropolitan Archives

Ancestry Reference Desk

I’ve just come across the blog for the Ancestry Library Edition, a post by the Ancestry Insider pointed me in that direction as the PDF’s from some of the RootsTech  presentations are online there. Whilst you don’t have an audio of the talk, the PDF’s are interesting and it is easy to fill in the gaps. Not as good as being there, but better than nothing!

Anne Gillespie Mitchell is the author of the blog and she is obviously an experienced genealogist and know Ancestry’s website well. The posts sometimes have a short video attached  which is always good, others have screen shots. The posts I have read have all been interesting and helpful. Another good blog to add to my RSS feed.

Thank you to the Ancestry Insider!