Chadwick Papers

Scope and Content

Papers, 1798-1923, of Sir Edwin Chadwick. Over half of the collection consists of correspondence dating from around 1820, but most of the letters were written after 1834. Some of the earliest papers in the collection are notes on the police. There are papers relating to Chadwick's service as Secretary of the Poor Law Commission, including material on his troubled relationship with the Poor Law Commissioners and his unsuccessful attempts to be made a Commissioner. There is a good deal of material on public health and sanitation. There are also drafts and notes for many of his published writings to do with the reform of central and local government and military training and education.

Administrative / Biographical History

Chadwick was admitted to the Middle Temple in 1823. In 1832 he was appointed Assistant Commissioner to the Poor Law Enquiry and the following year Royal Commissioner to the same Enquiry, and to enquire into the employment of children in factories. In 1834 he was appointed Secretary to the Poor Law Commission, and in 1836 Royal Commissioner to enquire into a rural constabulary. In 1842 Chadwick published the 'Report on the Sanitary Condition of the Labouring Population' (known as the "Sanitary Report"). In 1847 he lost his position as Secretary of the Poor Law Commission, but was appointed Royal Commissioner on London sanitation, and Metropolitan Commissioner of Sewers. In 1848 he was created CB and was appointed Commissioner to the General Board of Health. He resigned from the Metropolitan Commission of Sewers in 1849 and from the General Board of Health in 1854. In 1857 he became interested in standing for Parliament and in 1859 stood as candidate for Evesham. In 1865 he stood as candidate for London University but withdrew before the poll. In 1868 he stood for Kilmarknock Burghs. He was created KCB in 1889. See also S E Finer, 'The life and times of Sir Edwin Chadwick' (London, 1952).


This collection is divided into papers and correspondence. Chadwick's correspondence is not listed in this online catalogue but an index of correspondents is available on request.

Access Information


The papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to Archives and Manuscripts material, after the completion of a Reader's Undertaking.

Acquisition Information

Presented in March 1898 by the executrix of Chadwick's friend and biographer Sir Benjamin Ward Richardson.

Other Finding Aids

A partial catalogue is available online. A more detailed list, including a name index is available: 'The papers of Sir Edwin Chadwick (1800-1890)', compiled by Janet Percival (The Library, University College London, Occasional Publication no 3, 2nd edition, 1983). Please contact Special Collections for further information.

Conditions Governing Use

Normal copyright restrictions apply.

Related Material

Some of Chadwick's papers on the Poor Law were among a group of the papers of Jeremy Bentham which Chadwick bequeathed to UCL and were transferred to the Library in 1892. A further group of letters to Chadwick were presented to the Library by Marion Chadwick in 1919. Both of these groups were added to the Bentham papers already in the Library and now form part of the Bentham papers (ref: BENTHAM).

University College London Special Collections also holds an undated fragment of a letter from Chadwick to an unnamed correspondent on the labouring classes [c1872] (Ref: MS MISC 3C); a letter to Chadwick from George Grote, 1838 (Ref: MS MISC 2G); inscriptions from Florence Nightingale to Chadwick [1859], 1871 (Ref: S.R.E.950.N4, S.R.E.950.N41); letters from Chadwick on University College London business, 1833 (Ref: COLLEGE CORRESPONDENCE 2826, 2903); books and 16 boxes of pamphlets (c500 items in total) collected by Chadwick and relating to his interests.