London Lives chronicles the lives of Londoners through the exploration of a variety of sources including criminal registers, apprentice records, coroner inquests, workhouse minutes, clerks’ papers and much more. Discover the lives of your English ancestors and add further colour to their biographies.
Each record will have a transcript with the vital details of the document and a link to the image of the document provided by London Lives.
Extract – a brief extract of the text in which your ancestor’s name appears. Use the link to the image to view the full document.
Document date range
Archive and reference
London Lives, funded by the Economic and Social Research, is a project that has digitised more than 1.6 million records from six archives. The project has scanned and digitised numerous record types including a range of primary sources, such as criminal registers, session papers, coroner’s inquests and ordinary’s accounts from Old Bailey. The records detail the lives of ordinary and common Londoners and describe a London beyond the popularised portrayals in media and literature.
London Lives, Culture & Society 1680-1817 is a selection of those sources related to society and culture. The full list of documents is available below. The records are from St Botolph Aldgate, St Clements Danes, St Dionis Backchurch, St Martin in the Fields and St Luke Chelsea parishes, as well as one London guild, the Carpenters’ Company, and one royal hospital, St Thomas’ Hospital. Below are some examples of the information you will find in the assorted record types. You can discover if your ancestor was an apprentice, made a court appearance, listed as a parish pauper, supplied goods for a workhouse or imprisoned.
Minutes of the court of governors, Bridewell & Bethlem
27 Mar 1775
‘Sarah Reynolds was brought to court for pilfering from Alice Watts, an old linen shift of small value and being a loose, idle and a disorderly person.’
Churchwardens’ vouchers and miscellaneous papers, St Dionis Backchurch parish records
9 September 1755
‘Mr William Wooloy, son of Jon Wooley, was buried in the north churchyard.’
Court summons, St Dionis Backchurch parish records
28 Jun 1817
Sarah Jefferies, single woman and pregnant with illegitimate child, upon examination, was ordered to be removed from the parish of Croydon and returned to the parish of Saint Diones Backchurch.
Carpenters’ Company, court minute books
6 Mar 1787
‘John Terwin of Saint George Hanover Square and son of John Terwin, deceased, bound to George Shakespeare of Oxford Street, citizen and carpenter of London, made free on the testimony of his master.’
Coroners' Inquests, city of London coroners' inquests
3 Apr 1790
An inquisition into the death of Ann Smith on 31 March 1790 found that Smith had taken a half ounce of the drug Laudanum, unknowing its poisonous nature. Ann Smith became mortally sick and died. Laudanum is an opiate and it was used by the Victorians, in small quantities, as a pain killer.
Alphabetical lists of paupers/list of weekly pensioners
Annual register of apprentices placed by parish/register of apprentices
Annual register of poor infants
Churchwarden's account books
Churchwardens’ and overseers of the poor miscellaneous account books/account of the treasurer to the overseer/quarterly accounts of disbursements
Churchwardens’ vouchers and miscellaneous papers
Clothing books, children at nurse
Clothing books, names of paupers
Court minute books/grand committee minute books
Court summons: loose sheets/clerks papers/miscellaneous parish papers
General orders of court
Letters seeking pauper relief
List of persons in the workhouse
List of weekly governors takers in
Minute book of meeting re poor parish children/churchwardens and overseers of the poor committee book/minutes of Churchwardens and Overseers of the poor
Minutes of the court governors/court of governors minute books
Out letter books
Overseers order book
Parish register of the casual poor/register of passes
Pauper examination books/examination books
Record of monthly payments to pensioners/payments to monthly pensioners
Register of admissions to workhouse
Register of apprentices
Register of passes
Register of poor children under 4/parish register of poor children
Register of removal orders etc.
Register of securities for maintenance of bastards
Vestry minute books/vestry minutes
Workhouse inquest minute book