Making ends meet on Nunnery Lane: revealing local poverty in the Victorian period
Our Poverty Project (2018-2023) used the Poor Law Records in York Explore as a basis for examining the lives of poor people in York, particularly in the parish of St Mary Bishophill Junior.
We covered three five-year periods: 1837-42, 1857-62, and 1877-82. Our research included data analysis, brief life stories and a detailed case study from each period. Blogs and reports of our findings are noted below. However, this is only part of our research.
We used many supplementary resources to underpin our project, and created some of our own. Future researchers can access our reading list of books, articles and guides here. Our transcripts of Application and Report Books, and Outdoor Relief Books are presented in Excel:
Application and Report Books for St Mary Bishophill Junior (Excel spreadsheets)
These books record people who sought relief from the York Poor Law Union. They note information about family members, addresses, occupations, and the reasons for application. The books record whether they were granted Out Relief, sent to the Workhouse or 'not entertained'. At first, costs were paid by the pauper’s Parish of Settlement (generally where they or their husband were born). The spreadsheets for the 1841 period record all applicants supported by the parish of St Mary Bishophill Junior. They include paupers living within the parish and also residents whose settlement was with St Mary Bishophill Junior but who lived in other parishes. Tweaks were made to this system as the century progressed, so the 1861 and 1881 periods show only applicants actually living in the Parish of St Mary Bishophill Junior. NB There are no books for the City Parishes after 1882.
1839 – 1843 Applicants from the Parish of St Mary Bishophill Junior
1859 – 1863 Applicants living in the Parish of St Mary Bishophill Junior
1873 – 1882 Applicants living in the Parish of St Mary Bishophill Junior
Outdoor Relief Books for St Mary Bishophill Junior (Excel spreadsheets)
These books record the amounts of money received each week by paupers on Outdoor Relief. Sometimes relief is provided in kind (eg flour). Personal information is basic – only name, amount given and category of pauper (eg adult male relieved on account of sickness, widow). Very occasionally other items are noted (eg money for a doctor, or a cab to the Workhouse). Street names are given in the 1873-1898 period
1839 – 1843 Recipients in the Parish of St Mary Bishophill Junior
1859 – 1863 Recipients in the Parish of St Mary Bishophill Junior
1873 – 1898 Recipients living in the Parish of St Mary Bishophill Junior
We also have detailed notes from Micklegate Girls’ School logbooks in the 1880s.
Minutes of School Attendance Committee meetings are particularly helpful on truant and industrial schools. We include a case study of Maria Louisa and Mary Jane Dixon, who frequently came before the Attendance Committee, and were eventually sent to Hull Girls’ Industrial School.
Over the last five years we've produced the following blog posts about our researches:
Update Report January 2023 York waifs and strays: Ina and Nancy Dixon are boarded out
Update Report January 2023 York waifs and strays: Ina and Nancy Dixon go to Micklegate School
Update Report January 2023 Micklegate School logbooks, selections from the 1880s
Update report October 2022 Broken families: the impact of poverty and transportation on mid-nineteenth century York lives
Update detailed report May 2021 From stray cows to iron horses: how Francis Bean escaped poverty
If you would like to know more please contact Dick Hunter on firstname.lastname@example.org