Union Records ~ Inmates

These are the records in which information can be found on those individuals who were admitted into the Union workhouse and record the details of what happened to them whilst they were in there. They also usually show the reason why they left.

Admission and Discharge Registers (A&D)

These vary very much from Union to Union as to how much information is recorded but can contain much useful information such as why someone entered the workhouse, if they had any disability, and the reason for leaving the workhouse. In general they are in date order, but this can be a bit haphazard so be careful! A separate register may also have been kept for Causal/Vagrant inmates who only stayed one night and left usually after some kind of work had been performed, (but sometimes these persons are recorded in the general A&D).

Creed Register

Originally introduced in 1869 to record the religious beliefs of an inmate these are useful records as the names are listed alphabetically which makes it easier to find someone, but it only gives the age and date(s) of admission and discharge, with sometimes a reason for the discharge. However, they can be used as either an index to the A&D Register or as a replacement where the A&D is missing.

Indoor Relief List

A useful substitute where the A&D Registers do not survive as they give a year of birth and how many days per week for that quarter they were in the workhouse, therefore giving a rough date as to when they entered or left the Workhouse.

Register of Births/Baptisms

The vast majority of children born in the workhouse would have been baptised in the parish in which the Union Workhouse was situated (unless the Workhouse had its own chapel and the chaplain was licenced to perform baptisms there). Sometimes the Birth Register of the Workhouse will detail the place and date of Baptism.

Register of Deaths/Burials

Very few of the Kent Union Workhouses had their own burial grounds and burials would therefore have normally taken place in the parish of settlement of the deceased and if not there then in the parish in which the Union Workhouse was situated.

Minutes of the Board of Guardians

Not all have survived but where they do they vary in the content of information recorded from the meetings of the Guardians. Some have enormous amounts of information on individuals but others tend to concentrate mainly on the financial aspects of running the Union.


Where the Union has surviving records of correspondence they can contain either copies of letters recorded in a book or the original letters themselves and can be from/to individuals, other Unions and the government body of the time. Individuals may be mentioned in this correspondence.

Punishment Books

Where these books survive they detail the offences committed by an inmate and the punishment given by the Master, Guardians or even the Magistrates.

Medical Officers Report Book

These may have some mention of the inmates, but are mainly concerned with the state of the buildings in the workhouse and making recommendations for changes in the running of those aspects of the workhouse relating to the health and wellbeing of the inmates.

Master’s Report Book

These books can include details such as temporary leave given to inmates, deaths, leave given to Officers, persons admitted to the house, gifts to the inmates, inmates with illness and many other details.

Porter’s Book

These detail the names of people entering the workhouse, including inmates being admitted and discharged, staff, tradesmen and children going to school.