Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section

Electronic Newsletter

Issue No. 17 Autumn 2009


The Manuscripts Section of Guildhall Library has been publishing its quarterly electronic newsletter since the Autumn of 2005. Increasingly, our closer ties with London Metropolitan Archives have been reflected in more content relating not only to the City of London, but also to the whole of the Metropolitan area. From 2010, we are going to make the newsletter officially archives service wide (ie covering the archive collections of Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section, London Metropolitan Archives and the former Corporation of London Records Office). We will be using PatronMail to send it out (some of you may already receive events information this way) so it will look more stylish and we will be able to include some illustrations. We will also be able to increase our circulation five-fold at a stroke by including London Metropolitan Archives’ email subscribers. The newsletter will continue to be edited by Philippa Smith, Principal Archivist.


EC1+2: current access arrangements to Guildhall Library Manuscripts material at London Metropolitan Archives

Measuring up: access and enquiry service statistics for 1 August to 30 October 2009

Acquisitions highlights: Guardian Royal Exchange Assurance additional; Pollinger Limited, authors’ agents

Cataloguing news: Bogle-L'Ouverture Publications Limited and Eric and Jessica Huntley

Access to online catalogues

Three new series available on the online catalogue for the City Archive

The history of the Lord Mayor’s Show (Dr Tracey Hill)

The Foundling Hospital Records at London Metropolitan Archives: Part One   (Janette Bright and Gillian Clark)

Civil Registration Indexes to Births, Marriages and Deaths now available at London Metropolitan Archives

Archives Online: London parish registers; AIM25; marriages of British subjects overseas

Forthcoming events: Gala screening in Greenwich of Thamesmead: 21st Century Town (5 December 2009); Reel London at London

          Metropolitan Archives – Tea, Cake and Locks: films from the business collections (18 December  2009)

We welcome your views!

EC1+2: current access arrangements to Guildhall Library Manuscripts material at London Metropolitan Archives


It is worth repeating a few general points about current access and enquiry arrangements to Guildhall Library Manuscripts material at London Metropolitan Archives (LMA).

Ordering Guildhall Manuscripts documents to view at LMA

At least two working days’ advance notice is required for the production at LMA of original manuscripts from the Guildhall Manuscripts collections. This is because the documents themselves remain at Guildhall. You may order up to ten items (i.e. volumes, bundles or files) per day from the Guildhall stores to view at LMA.

Orders should be emailed to us, ideally to reach us by 11.30am (e.g. to see documents on a Wednesday, we need to receive the order by 11.30am on the Monday). You are also welcome to email us with lists of documents to consult over a number of days, again provided at least 48 hours' notice is given.

Alternatively, you can place your order in person at LMA. Please wait for staff to check the tickets in case there are any access restrictions or other queries.

If you would like information on access to specific collections, please do not hesitate to contact us.

From November 2009 all visitors who wish to access original material at LMA will require a History Card. You can register on-line at or when you arrive at LMA. In order to complete your registration at LMA you will require an acceptable form of identification. Please see for further information.

Access to restricted collections

Records where the catalogue states “Access subject to special conditions” are now available on presentation of a History Card.

However, where the catalogue states “Restricted access”, you will need to obtain permission from the depositor before we can order the documents for you. Please email us at the address above for further advice.

Please note that access to a very few selected “iconic” manuscripts will be by appointment only.

Original Guildhall Manuscripts collections available at LMA without pre-ordering

Due to their popularity, certain series of original manuscripts have been transferred to LMA. You can view the following at LMA without the need to pre-order:

Lloyd’s Captains Registers (Ms 18567)

Sun Insurance Office fire policy registers (Ms 11936 and 11937)

Sun Insurance Office policy endorsement books (Ms 12160)

Stock Exchange applications for listing card index (Ms 18001)

Index to transcripts of baptisms, marriages and burials in selected overseas Anglican chaplaincies (Ms 15061)

All microfilms previously available in the Guildhall Manuscripts reading room are on open access in the Information Area at LMA and similarly do not need to be ordered in advance.

Changes to the distance enquiry service

Document orders will be acknowledged within two working days. General enquiries will be forwarded to the LMA Enquiries team and you will receive a response within ten working days.

If you are not able to visit us at LMA you may be able to take advantage of LMA’s paid research services. We can now offer print-outs from microfilmed parish records (where exact dates are given) or more detailed research into family history sources which usually includes print-outs or scans of original documents. For more information, please see

We recommend that you telephone LMA direct on 020 7332 3820 with all Guildhall Manuscripts enquiries. Staff are happy to provide general collections advice over the phone, but if your enquiry is more complex you will be advised to email us. Please note that we cannot take document orders over the telephone.

Saturday opening and Christmas closure

LMA is not open every Saturday; for a list of Saturday dates in 2009 and 2010 when we are open, please see However, there are late-night openings until 7.30pm every Tuesday and Thursday.

LMA is closed on all Bank Holidays, and also over Christmas and New Year from 3.30pm on 24 December 2009 until 9.30am on 4 January 2010.

Access to the collections of the Prints and Maps Section of Guildhall Library

The Prints and Maps Section of Guildhall Library permanently transferred to LMA at the end of April. The two largest collections of topographical material relating to London are now combined under one roof, forming what must be one of the largest municipal graphic collections in the world. To enquire further about the graphic collections at LMA, email LMA or telephone 020 7332 3820.


Wendy Hawke, Senior Archivist, Access and Enquiries, writes about the continuing high use of Guildhall Library sources in the LMA reading room:

Access and enquiry services for Guildhall Manuscripts collections continue to be run from LMA, and many customer service performance indicators, such as visitor numbers and distance enquiry statistics, are now measured with those of LMA.

A rough estimate suggests that, once again, over 1000 emails have been sent out in response to document orders or to general enquiries about Manuscripts sources in the last three month period.

The document production figures below relate to the daily van collections from Guildhall. They do not include productions of Sun policy registers and Lloyd’s Captains Registers which are stored at LMA and counted with LMA productions:

August 2009:        605 Guildhall productions                            

September 2009:   595 Guildhall productions                            

October 2009:       449 Guildhall productions

Many enquirers unable to make a personal visit have taken advantage of our fee-based Family History Research Service to have records searched for them (more details at In particular, we are now able to search the Lloyd’s Captains Registers and provide copies of the voyage details given. This has proved very popular!

Our Image and Design team offer an extensive range of reprographics services to readers who require copies of manuscripts. Please email us for further advice. Please be aware that fees and charges applied to services offered by the Heritage Services Division (including reprographics services) will increase with effect from 1 January 2010. Further details will appear on the LMA website at in due course.

With thanks as ever to Mick Wilson, Principal Services Assistant, for the document production number-crunching!

Acquisitions highlights

Richard Wiltshire, Senior Archivist, Business Archives, reports on two major acquisitions of business records:


Guardian Royal Exchange Assurance (accession reference 2009/19)

Over the Summer, we received 65 linear metres of additional archives of Guardian Royal Exchange Assurance. These were formerly held at the company's administrative offices at Lytham Hall, near Blackpool.

The records include life policy registers from 1870s and further archives of companies absorbed by Guardian Assurance and Royal Exchange Assurance including Atlas Assurance Company and Caledonian Insurance Company. Highlights are two volumes of Guardian Assurance surveyors reports and maps of houses in London in the 1820s, pen and ink sketches of Fire Office and other staff by an employee of the Royal Exchange, 1860s-70s, and the life policy of Benjamin Disraeli.

Royal Exchange Assurance was established by royal charter in 1720. Its business comprised marine, fire and life insurance, and general accident insurance in Britain and overseas. In 1968 the company combined with Guardian Assurance Company Limited to form Guardian Royal Exchange Assurance. The company had offices at the Royal Exchange until ca. 1999 when Guardian Royal Exchange Assurance was taken over by AXA.

The records complement existing catalogued records which contain fire policy registers, minutes and other records, and expand further the City's existing holdings of insurance companies and associations. For further details of these see Access to the uncatalogued records is by appointment only.


Pollinger Limited, authors’ agents (accession references B08/076, B09/128)

Dating from ca. 1935, this large collection (44 linear metres) was deposited in 2008 and 2009. The archive consists of correspondence, authors' contract files, biographies and photographs. A highlight is a complete series of detailed account ledgers. These volumes are arranged by author/title of work and give details of payments and royalties. Also included in the archive are sales reports and card indexes relating to the use of authors' works in books, films and rights in other countries. Access to the collection is by appointment only. Permission is required from Pollinger Limited for all records dated after 1950.

Pollinger Limited began as Pearn, Pollinger and Higham in 1933. The firm was continued by founder member Laurence Pollinger and renamed as Laurence Pollinger Limited in 1958. Offices were established at Norfolk Street and later in Bedford Street, Covent Garden. Key British writers on their books include Graham Greene, H E Bates, D H Lawrence and John Wyndham. The firm became agents worldwide and have had a major presence in United States of America representing Scott Fitzgerald among others. The company was later renamed Pollinger Limited and as of 2009 is managed by Lesley Pollinger, granddaughter of Laurence Pollinger at 9 Staple Inn, Holborn. For further information on history of the firm see

The records build on existing catalogued collections of publishing companies which include Hodder and Stoughton held at Guildhall Library and Bogle-L'Ouverture Publications Limited held at LMA (see below).


Richard Wiltshire writes about Bogle-L'Ouverture Publications Limited (LMA/4462) and Eric and Jessica Huntley (LMA/4463), two related LMA collections which have recently been catalogued.

Bogle-L'Ouverture Publications Limited (LMA/4462) and Eric and Jessica Huntley (LMA/4463) were the first deposit at LMA from the African Caribbean community, made in 2005. They comprise the extensive and eclectic archive of Eric and Jessica Huntley, the founders of Bogle-L’Ouverture Publications and proprietors of the Walter Rodney Bookshop in Ealing, London. The Huntley archives document not only the publishing business, but also the rich variety of political, educational, community and family activities which the business supported.

Eric and Jessica Huntley, a Black Caribbean couple, emigrated from British Guiana, now Guyana, to London in the late 1950s. In 1969 they founded Bogle-L’Ouverture Publications Limited, a radical Black publishing house, as a reaction to the ban of their friend Dr Walter Rodney, academic and political activist, from Jamaica in 1968. The Jamaican government had banned Rodney for teaching students and Rastafarians about African history. The business was used to publish important post-colonial texts by Rodney including Groundings with My Brothers and How Europe Underdeveloped Africa which have publicised the message of black empowerment all over the world.

Bogle-L'Ouverture Publications Limited (LMA/4462)

Dating mainly from 1968, the publishing business archives comprise published authors, artists and poets files containing correspondence, manuscripts and art work relating to the publication of works, permission rights and publicity. Files include Dr Walter Rodney and the publication of his works Groundings with My Brothers and How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, Robert Hill's edition of the Rastafarian Bible and Linton Kwesi Johnson's Dread Beat and Blood (series reference: LMA/4462/C/01). In addition there are over 400 unpublished manuscripts (series reference: LMA/4462/D/01-02) which were submitted by writers or their agents for review or potential publication relating to African Caribbean culture, politics and natural history.

Other records concern business organisations jointly founded by Bogle-L'Ouverture Publications, New Beacon Books and Race Today and others. These include Bookshop Joint Action (LMA/4462/J), a committee formed to protest against a series of attacks on Black run, community, independent, and socialist bookshops in London and beyond in the late 1970s, and International Bookfair of Black and Third World Books (LMA/4462/M). There are also donated papers of Andrew Salkey, writer, poet and essayist (LMA/4462/Q) relating to the business, and those of the Huntley's friends, Lionel and Pansy Jeffrey, community workers (LMA/4462/P).

A free leaflet “Researching Walter Rodney in the Huntley archives” is available. You can download it at

Eric and Jessica Huntley (LMA/4463)

Dating from the 1952 Windrush period, papers include those of organisations which the Huntleys founded and/or contributed to relating to political campaigning, the local community, supplementary education, environmental and other initiatives.

Highlights are the Black Parents Movement Ealing Section's case files on the Southall Riots (LMA/4463/B/02/02), and minutes and related records of the Committee Against Repression in Guyana (LMA/4463/B/03), an organisation which was founded in 1979 to protest against the arrest of members of Guyana's leading opposition party, the Working People's Alliance. 

In addition, there is detailed personal correspondence between Eric and Jessica Huntley covering the period when Eric was a newly arrived immigrant in England and Jessica was resident in British Guiana (Guyana) with their two sons in 1956-1958 (series reference: LMA/4462/F/01). Topics important to a family recently affected by emigration including family relationships, housing, employment, financial arrangements, education, weather, social opportunity, life in British Guiana and cultural differences and similarities with England. Upon arrival in England in December 1956 Eric wrote to his wife: "London is a lonely place for us colonials, not only from the point of view of our own senses but also as part of a cold and sophisticated environment" (LMA/4463/F/01/01/001).

Related collections relating to New Beacon Books and John La Rose, who worked closely with the Huntleys and their business are held by the George Patmore Institute, 76 Stroud Green Road, London N4 3EN (


Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section’s catalogues are currently available online via the City of London’s library catalogue.

London Metropolitan Archives’ catalogues are available online at The online catalogue now incorporates some new features and improved searching so take a look!

As mentioned in the previous newsletter, the merger of the City of London’s archive services has provided us with a golden opportunity to unite all the archive catalogues in one bespoke archival catalogue. To this end, work is going on behind the scenes to prepare the Manuscripts Section’s data for uploading into LMA’s Online Collections Database. We are currently working on parish, livery company and business records and you may already have seen entries for these appearing on the LMA catalogue at as the data is uploaded. We are making good progress and in the first four months have edited the data for 44,563 records, around 35.5% of the final total.


Only once all the Manuscripts data has been fully uploaded into the Online Collections Database will it be removed from the library catalogue. In the meantime, please continue to use the library catalogue for access to the catalogues of Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section’s collections. The easiest way to search for the Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section’s documents mentioned in this newsletter is to either enter the name of the person or institution in an Author search, or the Manuscript number in a Classification search.


Please note that we are not adding any new cataloguing to the Manuscripts Section’s existing online catalogue. New cataloguing for the rest of 2009 will appear only as paper catalogues in LMA’s Information Area for now, but will appear in LMA’s Online Collections Database with the existing Manuscripts Section’s catalogues in 2010.


Nicola Avery, Principal Archivist, writes about three large series relating to the City archive previously in the custody of the Corporation of London Records Office (CLRO) which have recently been made available on LMA’s electronic catalogue for the first time.

These were series which, due to their bulk and complexity, did not have their catalogues retrospectively automated as part of the main project to automate the CLRO catalogues between 2005 and 2006. Over the past months the original index cards have been gradually input from scratch into our cataloguing software.

The series are:

City Assessments (LMA reference: COL/CHD/LA/03). These were assessments carried out on the financial position of inhabitants of the City for taxation purposes. The taxes involved included hearth tax, poll tax, royal and military aid, houses, windows and lights, and orphans tax. The majority of the assessments relate to a specific parish and a specific tax. The assessments date from around 1670 to the early 19th century and there are 1,462 individual assessments altogether. The series was originally available to CLRO users under the title “Assessment boxes”, with each box containing a two-part reference number. These two-part numbers have been retained, but the “Assessment box” part has been replaced with a prefix which sets this series in its archivally correct position within the Loans and Assessments section of the City Chamberlain’s Department. For example, where a box had the former title “Assessment box 4/12”, the new reference will be COL/CHD/LA/03/004/012.

City Lawsuits (LMA references: COL/CCS/SO/01 for “large” suits, COL/CCS/SO/08 for “medium” suits and COL/CCS/SO/09 for “small” suits).  This series contains papers for each lawsuit in which the city was involved, as a plaintiff, defendant or other party. The suits date between the 1590s and the 18th century. There are 639 altogether and, like the assessments, the old CLRO box numbers have been retained. For example, if a suit was previously “small suits box 4/12” it will now be COL/CCS/SO/09/004/012, to set it within the City Solicitor’s office within the Comptroller’s Department.

City Acts and Bills of Parliament (LMA references: COL/RMD/PA/05 for Acts of Parliament, COL/RMD/PA/06 for Bills of Parliament).  This series contains copies of acts and bills which involve, or have repercussions for, the City of London.  The acts are arranged in a chronological series dating from 1394 to 1950 (COL/RMD/PA/05/02) and a general series of statutes at large and statutes of the realm (COL/RMD/PA/05/01).  The bills are in a general series ranging in date from 1621 to 1985.

The history of the Lord Mayor’s Show

This year marked the 749th Lord Mayor’s Show. Dr Tracey Hill, Head of English and Cultural Studies at Bath Spa University, writes about the history of this most ancient and colourful of London's traditions, much of which she has gleaned from the records of the City of London livery companies held by Guildhall Library:

The London Lord Mayors’ Show can be traced back to the 13th century, but its heyday was in the 16th and 17th centuries. They were – and remain – high profile and very lavish entertainments, staged annually in late October (now early November) to celebrate the inauguration of the new Lord Mayor. The impact of the Shows has been testified to in various contemporary sources, perhaps most valuably in the eyewitness accounts that survive in surprisingly large numbers. The Shows themselves also survive in the printed texts often produced as part of the event (these texts were written by a body of professional writers, often well-known dramatists, including Thomas Middleton, Thomas Dekker, Anthony Munday, Thomas Heywood, John Taylor and John Webster, who worked in collaboration with artificers and others to design and stage the entertainment).

The Shows did not follow exactly the same format every time, but they were broadly similar from year to year from the late 16th century onwards. First thing in the morning, both the new and previous incumbent Lord Mayors were escorted in a formal procession across Cheapside and along Soper Lane down to the river Thames. Here the party embarked on barges, usually at Three Cranes Wharf, to be taken up river to Westminster for the oath-taking in front of the representatives of the Crown at the Exchequer. The journey along the river to Westminster was marked by fireworks and cannon set off from the river banks, and the barges themselves were ornately painted and decorated with flags, banners, and the like; musicians usually travelled in the barges too. A series of emblematic figures and/or mythical beasts usually called the “water show” entertained the Lord Mayor and his entourage on the river. On arrival at Westminster, the new Lord Mayor was presented by the Recorder of London to the Barons of the Exchequer for the oath-taking. The barges then returned to the City, usually disembarking at Barnard’s Castle or Paul’s Stairs.

Once back in the City, the procession moved up from the river to Paul’s Churchyard and then continued along Cheapside. This part of the day was usually composed of an eclectic mixture of extravagantly staged emblematic tableaux, music, dance and speeches, together with disparate crowd-pleasing effects such as fireworks and giants on stilts. In the afternoon there was a formal feast at the Guildhall, hosted by the new Lord Mayor and his sheriffs. After the feast, the pageantry continued as the Lord Mayor and entourage made their way back to St Paul’s for a sermon marking the inauguration. By then darkness would have fallen, and one can gain from the printed texts a rich image of the torchlit procession escorting the Lord Mayor back to his house at the end of the day, with one final speech of farewell traditionally presented at “his Lordship’s gate”. The effect of speech, music, song, pyrotechnics, cannonfire and lavish costumes comes across very powerfully from the printed texts of the Shows, as well as from the eyewitness accounts and – perhaps surprisingly – from the livery company archives, many of which are held by Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section. Quite a large number of extracts from these records were transcribed and published in the 1950s, but my research has demonstrated that it is always worth going back to the originals.

In researching my book on the Lord Mayors’ Shows I have therefore drawn extensively on the archives of the “Great Twelve” livery companies from whose ranks the Lord Mayor was chosen, and who commissioned and paid for the entertainments on Lord Mayor’s Day. As well as being beautiful artefacts in their own right in many cases (the Grocers’ Company Triumphs Accounts from 1613, Ms 11,590, especially so), these accounts and minute books contain an extraordinary amount of information. They tell us about the financing of the Shows (members of the livery companies were assessed for a contribution to the costs), about the people who brought the Shows to life, from porters to poets, and about all the other various details that made the day such a magnificent spectacle. They present a vivid story of how the Lord Mayors’ Shows came to be realised.

Although one of the major concerns of the livery companies was raising the money required to stage the Show – which could total as much as £1500, a fortune in this period – they are more than dry bureaucratic accounts. Indeed, one of the most compelling aspects of these archives is how much human incident survives. For one thing, the records show that the Companies were prepared to pursue members for unpaid contributions for years after the Show, sometimes threatening them with prison. The Skinners’ Company recorded in 1585 that obstinate defaulters would “forthwith … be committed to prisone” until they paid up (Ms 30,708/2, fol. 122r). The impact of the Shows on the wider London population is also evident in these archives. In 1602, for instance the Merchant Taylors’ Company reimbursed “a poore woeman … towardes the buying of a hatt, her husband having lost one” (Ms 34,048/8). More serious incidents are also recorded. The Skinners’ Company paid one William Adames twenty shillings in 1585 “towardes his releife because he was maymed at Baynardes Castle on Symon and Iudes daye aboute the Companynes Busynes”. Richard Lambert was even unluckier: in December 1619 his widow Alice was granted a weekly pension by the Skinners in recompense for the loss of her husband, a gunner “who was slaine on the banck side by the breaking of one of the chambers on the daie of triumph” (Ms 30,708/3, fol. 38v). William Stokes, another gunner, was lucky to escape the carnage on that occasion with only “splinters in his hand”. Another fatal incident was also recorded by the Vintners’ Company in 1593: 9s (a paltry sum, in the circumstances) was paid to “Singwills wyfe the Auncient [ensign] bearer whose husband died flourishinge the Auncient in the Hall” (Ms 15,333/2, fol. 184).

My book covers many other aspects of the Shows, including the printing of the books which were probably used as souvenirs, and I also examine the political dimensions to these productions in the context of a time of turmoil between the City and the Crown, but the heart of the book centres around the roles played by so many people from many ranks of London society. It is here that the livery company archives have proved themselves to be priceless.

Dr Hill’s book, Pageantry and Power: a cultural history of the London Lord Mayor's Show, 1585-1639 will be published by the Manchester University Press early in 2010. You can contact her at

The Foundling Hospital records at London Metropolitan Archives: PART ONE

Janette Bright and Gillian Clark begin the first part of a two-part series on the Foundling Hospital at LMA by looking at its history and the records it engendered.

Thomas Coram’s Foundling Hospital is the longest-established children’s charity in England, founded in 1739 and still providing care today under the name of Coram.  Since that date it has kept its records, its music and its art collection safely. The administrators set a consistently high standard of record keeping and record retention. There are long runs of documents of all kinds and entries in one series cross check with those in another with a high level of accuracy. This collection of paper records, with exceptions that include the current Coram client records, now occupies 800 linear feet of shelving at the LMA (LMA reference: A/FH). The closure period for all records with personal data, including governors’ minutes, is 110 years.

The Foundling Hospital opened in Hatton Garden and moved to Lambs Conduit Fields.  During the 1750s it expanded with residential units at Ackworth (Yorkshire), Shrewsbury, Aylesbury, Barnet, Chester and Westerham (Kent). It was supported by the arts world, notably by William Hogarth and George Handel, whose work was on show or performed for the benefit of the children.  Charles Dickens, who lived nearby, was a patron. In the 20th century the Thomas Coram Foundation for Children moved to Redhill, and then to Berkhamsted, becoming the Thomas Coram School. In 1950 the school became Ashlyns, managed by Hertfordshire County Council, while the Foundation returned, with its art treasures, still a child care charity, to 40 Brunswick Square, part of original Bloomsbury site. The rest of that site became Coram Fields, a play area for children in perpetuity. At the beginning of this century Coram Campus was built next door to No. 40, to house Coram’s child care work, leaving this building to become the Foundling Museum.

The Foundling Hospital was established for the “maintenance and education of exposed and deserted young children” with an executive Committee of Governors and about 300 well-placed non-executive Governors, who were prepared to use their influence to promote its cause. They were responsible for the running of the London site and for a network of wet nurses in rural areas who looked after the babies for the first five years of their lives and who were supervised by volunteer inspectors, often family and friends of the non-executive Governors.

The Governors met regularly and recorded all their decisions in the minutes of the meetings and in Books of Regulation. They arranged for registers to be created to record the admission of each child and the token it brought in, its placement at nurse, the inspector supervising the nurse in her home parish, illness, smallpox inoculation, death or survival of the child to apprenticeship. They kept incoming correspondence and accounts from the inspectors, copybooks of out-letters, receipts for the wages of the nurses, infirmary records, burial certificates for babies who died; petitions for admitting and for reclaiming a child and so on.

In 1801 (and after 18,000 children) the Governors changed the objective of caring for exposed and deserted children to that of caring for illegitimate children. They were admitted only if the petitions submitted by their mothers made a sufficiently strong case for their ability to make a new start in life. Children were with foster mothers during their early years, returning to London for schooling and moving on to apprenticeships. The governors recorded all their decisions and kept applications they received for the posts of school master, drill master, matron, steward, apothecary, preacher and organist – and copies of the rules of conduct that they created for them all. They kept the orders of service for chapel, sermons that were preached, books of household goods and provisions ordered, school masters’ and weekly lesson reports. For 150 years they maintained registers of children with foster carers and in their apprenticeships, the apprentice indentures and testimonials from the masters. In about 1850, some of the tokens left with the children as identifiers in the 1700s were separated from the admissions records and put in display cases in the building alongside the art collection to attract interest in the charity. 

The work of the charity in the 20th century moved to the support of single mothers through day care, fostering and adoption. Administrative and client records were deposited at LMA. Coram continues these services today and has extended into working with both parents and with vulnerable children. In 2004 the Foundling Museum opened to display some of the documents, photographs and artefacts, notably a re-creation of the room where the General Committee met, the tokens in their display cases, and to house the substantial art collection, including Hogarth’s portrait of Coram, and the music collection, among which is Handel’s copy of Messiah.

An account of the use to which the collection is being put by researchers, and its importance to the surviving children whose records LMA holds, will follow in the next issue of the newsletter.

You can find a quick guide to tracing a foundling in the records of the Foundling Hospital at LMA at

Civil Registration Indexes to Births, Marriages and Deaths now available at LMA

The full range of the General Register Office’s Indexes for England and Wales were made available at LMA in early December 2009. The indexes, which are held on microfiche, include the following event types: Births, Marriages and Deaths from 1837 to 2008, Overseas Events from 1761 to 2008, Adoptions from 1927 to 2008, Civil Partnerships from 2005 to 2008, and the most recent indexes for Births and Deaths up to September quarter 2009. LMA will receive indexes for more recent events as and when they become available.

As part of the launch of this new service, staff from GRO will be attending LMA over a 2 day period to talk to customers about the work of the office and provide demonstrations on their on-line certificate ordering system:

Join us for one of the FREE drop-in sessions taking place throughout the day on Monday 25th January 2010 10.00am - 4.45pm and Tuesday 26th January 2010 10.00am - 7.00pm.


London parish registers

The next phase of LMA and Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section's partnership with Ancestry™ to digitise genealogical sources has been launched online.

More than 10,000 Greater London parish registers of baptisms, marriages and burials containing more than 18 million entries have been digitised and are available on the Ancestry website. These date from the mid 1530s to the 20th Century. Births and baptisms 1813-1906, marriages and banns 1754-1921 and deaths and burials 1813-1980 have been indexed. Earlier registers are available to view, but are currently unindexed.

Famous people who can be found in these records include Samuel Pepys who was baptised on 3rd March 1633 in St Bride Fleet Street and Thomas Hardy who was married on 10 February 1914 in the registers of St Andrew, Enfield.

The registers are available on Free access to view the indexes and images through Ancestry is available on the computer terminals in the public rooms at LMA.

Please note this project has not included parish registers held by the City of Westminster Archives Centre.


Katharine Higgon, Archivist, updates us on progress with AIM25, another important project with which the City of London archives services are involved:

There are now 2196 collection level descriptions of LMA records uploaded to the AIM25 website. The most recent batch comprised records of businesses as well as Diocesan papers. In addition, descriptions of Guildhall Library Manuscripts records have been uploaded to the website for the first time: only Livery Company records have been uploaded to begin with, although it is anticipated that other record classifications will follow. At the time of writing, these new LMA and Guildhall Library Manuscripts descriptions are not yet “live” on the website, but it is hoped they will be accessible by the end of November, alongside the records of the Corporation of London, London hospitals, non-conformist chapels, and the records of the London County Council, the Greater London Council, the Middlesex County Council and other local government bodies such as the School Board for London and various Boards of Guardians and Poor Law institutions.

The LMA records on AIM25 continue to attract high hit-rates, with 47776 views in October alone. This high level of interest has ensured that LMA records have been the most popular on the AIM25 site every month since July 2009.

marriages of British subjects overseas has just added miscellaneous foreign marriage returns from 1861 to 1921 to their online service. More than 38,000 British marriages worldwide are covered. This collection includes marriages recorded by foreign registration authorities, churches and British embassies. Marriages by British servicemen abroad, including First World War servicemen and former prisoners of war, are also listed.

Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section also holds records of births, baptisms, marriages, deaths and burials overseas. For more information go to our leaflet. In addition, The British Overseas: a guide to records of their births, baptisms, marriages, deaths and burials available in the United Kingdom (3rd edition, 1994) published by Guildhall Library gives full details of sources held by: Guildhall Library; The National Archives; the Society of Genealogists; and other record offices and libraries throughout the United Kingdom. It is available in the Guildhall Library Bookshop and online at


Saturday 5 December 2009 - Greenwich Picture House, Greenwich High Road, London - 4pm

Gala Screening of the documentary Thamesmead: 21st Century Town. A collaborative project by LMA and Chocolate Films funded by Film London. This documentary is about the GLC's films of the building and early years of Thamesmead Town. The documentary follows the journey the films take back to Thamesmead to be shown to community groups, and looks at the reactions of the residents of the town today and the memories that these films evoke. This documentary explores the social aspects of this “new town”, and its history from its origins to its regeneration, through an exploration of the experiences of its residents.

Admission is free, but places are limited so contact Chocolate Films to reserve a place at

Friday 18 December 2009 - Reel London at LMA, 1 - 4pm

LMA proudly presents Free Friday Flicks - clips from the Audio Visual collections which will be shown on the third Friday of the month from September 2009 through to April 2010. The film clips will be shown on a rolling loop, next to the public reading rooms, for anyone to drop-in and view, from 1-4pm. Stop by and watch our wondrous walk-in free monthly matinees and see what treasures we hold.

On Friday 18th December 2009 we are showing Tea, Cake and Locks: Films from the Business collections. Some of the business collections held by the City of London include film and video material alongside their written records.  This selection of film clips includes items from the Lyons, Tetley and Chubb companies and shows how these businesses informed the public and promoted their products.

Other events

Talks, workshops, poetry readings, exhibitions, walks, conferences, tours, children’s activities and many other events at the City of London’s Libraries, Archives and Guildhall Art Gallery are listed in its regularly published events brochure. To download a copy go to

Archives for London organises a number of events, including a series of free seminars held, usually, on the first Thursday of the month at 5.30 pm at LMA. For details of forthcoming events go to


Do you have any comments about this newsletter? Do you have anything to contribute about your research, or experiences of working with archives that you would like to share? If so, please contact the editor, Philippa Smith.

Last updated December 2009

Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section