The Coventry Workhouse Death Registers 1845-1943 transcribed by Beverly Wishart. c. 1997. 20 pp. Softcover booklet and 2 microfiche. Published by Coventry Family History Society, “Twin Oaks,” 88 Howes Lane, Finham, Coventry CV3 6PJ, England. £3.20 includes airmail postage.

The 20 page booklet describes the Workhouse, its construction, its rules and gives examples of life in the Workhouse. For example, it describes the three ways in which a person could enter the Workhouse, how the paupers were classified inside the house and how they were segregated, even to the extent of separating husband and wife, or children and parents. It describes what the inmates would have worn, ate and when meals would have been served. This was a harsh environment but the records do show acts of kindness. Some events in the life of the Workhouse are highlighted such as the 1855 death of a foundling, 1888 acquittal of the Matron of charges of stealing provisions from the Workhouse but her husband was involved in voter fraud and fled to California.

The two microfiche contain information on the deaths of 8,381 inmates who died between 1845 and 1943. The registers between 1845 and 1914 provide name, age, date of death, parish of belonging and burial arrangements. The registers from 1914 to 1943 contain name, age, date of death, address of the deceased and cause of death (not included in transcription) and burial arrangements. If a coroner’s inquest occurred this is also noted and may lead to newspaper reports.

This is a valuable index for those seeking the poor and elderly in Coventry.

Reviewed by Paul Milner
BIGWILL v.6 no.1, 1999