Contented Reader

just point me toward the nearest library

Web review: London Lives

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London Lives is a web site that collects, in a searchable and easy-to-browse form, a variety of available records about the lives of London’s lower class from 1690 to 1800.  There are parish records, charity reports, workhouse records, and court proceedings.  There are also biographies of some people, assembled from all the available records about that person- here’s a fascinating record of the life of Mabel Hughes, who went to the workhouse after the deaths of her husband and children, was put in charge of children there, and… definitely should not have been put in charge of children.  Don’t miss reading the harrowing transcript of the court case.

It would not be hard to lose hours or days on this site.

So often, what we know about the past is the lives of the wealthy and lettered, the people who started wars and ruled countries, who wrote books and had their portraits painted.  This is a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the poor, who so rarely make it into the history books except as cannon fodder.

Of course, this is selective, too- these records tell about the lives of people who begged for charity, who committed crimes, who lived in the workhouse.  It still remains for someone to tell the story of the working people  who didn’t get sentenced to be transported to America, or hanged.


Written by Contented Reader

July 19, 2011 at 8:39 am

Posted in Reviews


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