Richmond Poor Law Union

Scope and Content

Records of the Richmond Poor Law Union, including the administrative and inmate records of the Richmond Union Workhouse, and annual reports of the Board of Guardians.

Administrative / Biographical History

The national Poor Law Act of 1834 removed administration of workhouses from parish control, and instigated the creation of Poor Law Unions. Richmond Poor Law Union came into being on 6th June 1836, and was responsible for providing support for the poor of Richmond, Petersham, Kew, Barnes, Mortlake, and, from 1894, North Sheen. This support was divided mostly between indoor relief (workhouse accommodation) and outdoor relief (payments to people who needed help to support themselves, for reasons such as ill health or old age).

The first workhouse in Richmond was built in 1729 in Petersham Road. It was initially administered by the Parish General Vestry, but in 1766 a new elected body called the Parish Trustees was established. The Parish Trustees took on many of the roles previously undertaken by the General Vestry, including the running of the workhouse. In 1786, George III granted Pesthouse Common and land on Richmond Hill to the Parish on the condition that the land be used for the support of the poor and the relief of the ratepayers of Richmond. As part of this arrangement, the workhouse was moved the following year to the new site, in what became Grove Road. Workhouse inmates who were able worked the land and the farm on Pesthouse Common. In 1836 the Richmond Poor Law Union took over the running of the workhouse, which was now obliged to take inmates from Barnes and Mortlake, as well as from Richmond, Petersham, and Kew. A separate infirmary for the workhouse was built in 1902. In 1913 the name of the workhouse was changed to the Richmond Poor Law Institution. In 1948 workhouses were officially abolished, and the main Richmond building became Kingsmead Old People's Home, while the infirmary became Grove Road Hospital.


The Richmond Poor Law Union Collection contains one sub-fonds, Richmond Union Workhouse, which is arranged into nine series records:

  • RPLU/WH/1 Admission and Discharge, 1843-1948
  • RPLU/WH/2 Creed Registers
  • RPLU/WH/3 Birth and Death Registers
  • RPLU/WH/4 Masters' Report Books
  • RPLU/WH/5 Inmates' Property Registers
  • RPLU/WH/6 Indoor Relief Lists
  • RPLU/WH/7 Matrons' Reports
  • RPLU/WH/8 Inspections Registers
  • RPLU/WH/9 Registers of inmates with mental health conditions

Access Information

Some records within this collection are open for access and can be viewed at Richmond upon Thames Local Studies Library and Archive.
The opening times and address for Richmond upon Thames Local Studies Library and Archive can be found online at:
Please note that some records within this collection are closed and not currently available for research. For further information, please contact Richmond upon Thames Local Studies Library and Archive through any of the contact methods listed at:

Other Finding Aids

A more detailed catalogue of this collection can be found online at

Related Material

Richmond Local Studies holds Richmond Union Annual Statements and Parochial Lists, 5 volumes, 1852 - 1915 (ref: R 29:1), and a collection of records for Kingsmead Old People's Home and Grove Road Hospital (ref: H1).