Kinship and Poverty in Early Modern Britain Log In Home Search About Us



Center for Family History and Genealogy - Historical Financial Aid Research

Finding Kinship among the Poor in Britain, 1600-1834

Path to historical inspiration

About Us

Kinship and Poverty in Early Modern Britain is an ongoing research project meant to gather data on recipients of poor relief and their kinship connections. There has been an enormous amount of historical scholarship written about poor relief efforts in early modern England and Wales (the Old Poor Law, or Elizabeth Poor Laws) and Scotland (kirk sessions). Similarly, the family and kin have been a subject of intense historical study. Studying family life and kinship among the poor, however, has received less attention due to the paucity of records or information. This project uses technological advances in digitization and indexing to gather information about hundreds of poor families in order to better understand the patterns and rhythm of their family life.

It is founded on both historical and genealogical research methods. The information collected here is drawn from the Overseers of the Poor records from English parishes. That information is then connected with parish registers’ account of christenings, marriages, and burials to determine the family relationships of those listed as recipients, or potential recipients, of poor relief. Currently it concentrates on a selection of parishes in Dorset, but we will be adding information over the coming years.

We appreciate the computing and programing support of the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences, particularly that of Ken Millard and his student assistants.

Research conducted under the direction of Professor Amy Harris.

Past research assistants: Shanna Besendorfer, Becca Curtis, Kelsey Jackson, Rebecca Johnson, McKall Ruell, Rebecca Strein, and Amy Wallace.

Current research assistant: Christopher Devenport, Elizabeth Harper, Seth Haws, Alana Parry.

We are looking to network with others working on similar projects. If you are a scholar interested in early modern poverty and family life in Britain who would be interested in participating in this project, please contact Prof. Harris directly at

2015-2021 - Kinship and Poverty
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