From Westminster City Libraries, London
The documents in this collection are, in effect, small biographies of people who are normally hidden from the historical record by virtue of their humble status. They record the many aspects of the lives of those who migrated to London during one of the most rapid phases of its expansion. This edition of the Westminster Parish Examinations rescues from obscurity an outstanding yet little-known resource vital to all urban historians.
During the Industrial Revolution the poor flocked to London from many areas of the country, seeking the better wages and opportunities they believed the city had to offer. Individual parishes were responsible for dealing with vagrancy and settlement and their boards considered the cases of those who wished to take up residence or work in London. Records of parish examinations are therefore a central source for the study of migration to London and illustrate the city's growth in the 18th century.
Every aspect of the life of the laboring and artisan population is documented. The social background of individuals and families is recorded, along with their reasons for moving to London. A wide range of topics is covered--wage trends, unemployment and seasonal employment, mobility of labor, desertion and the breaking up of families, male and female apprenticeship, literacy, settlement practices and the occupational structure of the area.
Of particular importance are the settlement examinations of St. Martins-in-the-Fields and St. Clement Danes which contain unbroken runs of material. Among the most extensive records of this kind to survive in Britain, they form an extremely valuable source for statistical research.
Part One: St. Martin in-the-Fields
Part Two: St. Clement Danes; St. Paul; Covent Garden; St. Margaret; and St. John
Complete Collection: 32 reels