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Medway workhouse records from Victorian era can now be viewed online

More than 200,000 Medway workhouse records can now be viewed online.

The digital records include registers from the Strood Poor Law Union, the Medway Union - which features records from Chatham, Rochester and Gillingham - and Hoo during the Victorian era.

Each union had its own workhouse and kept registers recording the names of people admitted and discharged from them.

The workhouse records are now available online
The workhouse records are now available online

The record books, which are kept at Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre, in Strood, have now been digitised by ancestry.co.uk so users can search all 215,000 entries, to find relatives.

Alison Cable, archivist at Medway Archives, said: “People have been using these records for years, in the books and on microfilm.

“When the records came to us there were well-thumbed, they would have been in the clerks’ office and added into and amended. They were battered. About 20 years ago we put them on microfilm and Ancestry borrowed them and have digitised them.

“I posted on Facebook the records were online and someone commented they were going to have a look and half and hour later they replied that they’d found one of their ancestors.

Some of the Chatham workhouse records
Some of the Chatham workhouse records

“Although they are local records I anticipate there’s going to be national and international interest. It’s so exciting.

“I anticipate a lot of people will want to use the records as a lot of people’s ancestors would have needed help from the Poor Law Unions.”

The registers can be viewed on the database for free at Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre. Call 01634 332714 to book time on a computer. You can also access the archive at any of Medway’s libraries.

To view the registers online, visit the Ancestry website here.

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