Clements Hall
Queen Victoria St  with tram

Clements Hall Local History Group

Exploring the Scarcroft, Clementhorpe, South Bank and Bishophill areas of York

Clements Hall Local History Group

Exploring the Scarcroft, Clementhorpe, South Bank and Bishophill areas of York

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Making ends meet on Nunnery Lane: revealing local poverty in the Victorian period

Orphan ballad singers

Our research project is investigating poverty and hardship in the mid-19th century, in a part of our area of York to the south of the City Walls, Nunnery Lane.

'A group of orphans sing ballads in the street. Engraving by J. Romney after W. Gill.' . Credit: Wellcome Collection. CC BY

York Union Ledgers

We're using a new resource at Explore York Archives, where the cataloguing of post-1834 Poor Law records has revealed one of the best collections of out-relief records in Britain. These offer names, addresses, occupations, ages, and type and details of relief, both cash and in kind (for example flour and clothing).

Despite research on the workhouse little attention has been given to the many who received support at home.

Records are organised by parish and we're looking at St Mary’s Bishophill Junior. Our project aims to research social change in the period from 1837 to around 1882. Our team of volunteer researchers are tracking individuals of interest, such as orphans, or families. 

We've now produced the following blog posts about our researches. You can also read further information using the links on the left.

Update report April 2022 Children and young people in York workhouse, 1879-1887

Update report April 2022 Apprentice and domestic servant bindings from York Workhouse 1879-87

Update report Nov 2021 York Poor Law Union Apprentice Indentures 1879-83

Update report Oct 2021 York waifs and strays

Update detailed report May 2021 From stray cows to iron horses: how Francis Bean escaped poverty

Update blog post Feb 2021 Stray cows and iron horses: How Francis Bean escaped the Poor Law Union

Update blog post Feb 2021  Orphans and nurse-children: growing up poor in mid-19th century York

Update blog post Nov 2020 Railway employment in Dale St, Dove St and Swann St 1841-81

Update report Oct 2020 Researching poverty in 1841 in York

Update blog post June 2020 Poverty Research Project: sources for 18th century family history

Update report April 2020 Paupers and the York Poor Law Union

Update report Oct 2019 A hand to mouth existence: the story of Eliza Seymour

Update report Aug 2019 Making ends meet: exploring mid 19th century poverty in our area

Update report Feb 2019 A Poor Law Relief Case Study: George Haw (1822-1891)

Update report Oct 2018 What was is like to be poor in 19th century York

If you would like to know more please contact Dick Hunter on