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Norwich children's homes and children in care

Norwich Incorporation of Guardians of the Poor, 1712-1834

All parishes and hamlets of Norwich (apart from St Mary’s in the Marsh in the cathedral precincts) were united for Poor Law purposes by a 1712 Act of Parliament.

The resulting Incorporation of Guardians of the Poor ran two large workhouses.

One was in the former Palace of the Duke of Norfolk and was known as St John’s Workhouse, because it was in the parish of St John Maddermarket.

The other was nearby in part of the former Friary of the Blackfriars and was known as St Andrew’s Workhouse, because it stood in that parish.

W Chase’s Norwich Directory of 1783 (p67) stated:

“Seven or eight hundred souls are supported in the two workhouses at about £10,000 a year, in all expenses; and near £3,000 yearly is paid in weekly allowances to poor out of the houses.

“By a late regulation, the children of St John’s workhouse are employed in rooms fitted up for them in Colegate-street; in which street also, the children of St. Andrew’s workhouse are employed in spinning yarn.

“About 250 poor children are hereby enabled to contribute towards their own maintenance - their health and morals improved, and the public much benefited!”

Two further local Acts of Parliament, in 1827 and 1831, modified the workings of the Incorporation and the Court of Guardians.

Records, 1712-1834

  • Guardians of Poor Court minute books (including references to apprenticing of pauper children), 1712-1714/15, 1723-1804, 1813-33 (NCR Case 20e/1-15, available on microfilm MF/X/356-357)
  • Workhouse register of births, 1769-1814 (N/GP 1/78, available on microfilm MF/X 358/1)
  • Workhouse admission and discharge register, 1802-09 (N/GP 1/61, available on microfilm MF/X 358/7)
  • Norwich Coroner’s inquests (including references to workhouse inmates who had met with sudden deaths), 1669-1835 (NCR Case 6a, indexed catalogue available)