WORK­HOUSE RECORDS

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - QUESTIONS & ANSWERS -

TIPS FROM THE SHOW by Sara Khan, lead genealogist on Who Do You Think You Are?

Ac­tor Brian Blessed was keen to learn more about his pa­ter­nal an­ces­tors in the 2014 se­ries. He al­ways be­lieved that the Blessed line was deeply rooted in York­shire, and wanted to learn how far back it went.

How­ever, it wasn’t long be­fore his in­ves­ti­ga­tions took him back to his 3x great grand­fa­ther, Barn­abas Blessed, a book binder who ac­tu­ally hailed from Lon­don. Dig­ging deeper, he then came across the sad story of Barn­abas’s son, Jabez Blessed.

Much of Jabez’s child­hood was spent in the no­to­ri­ous St Mar­tinin-the-Fields Work­house. Af­ter leav­ing he was ap­pren­ticed to a master mariner and set­tled in Brigg, Lin­colnshire, just a short dis­tance from the York­shire town where Brian was raised.

The first clue about Jabez’s life in poverty was in­di­cated by his bap­tism record on an­ces­try.

co.uk which sim­ply gives his place of abode as “work­house” and his father’s oc­cu­pa­tion as “pau­per”. The Who Do You Think You

Are? team then fol­lowed this up by con­sult­ing the St Martin-in-the-Fields Work­house reg­is­ters, also avail­able on An­ces­try as part of its Lon­don Work­house Ad­mis­sion and Dis­charge Records (1764–1930) col­lec­tion: bit.ly/anc-lon­don­work­house. The site has sev­eral work­house col­lec­tions cov­er­ing dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try, as does find­my­past.co.uk. If one of your an­ces­tors was in a work­house, the ex­cel­lent web­site work­houses.org.uk has his­to­ries of in­di­vid­ual in­sti­tu­tions.

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