I am looking for records of my family who were in the Islington workhouse and Highgate Hill Infirmary (HHI or St. Mary's) around 1908-1909. I have already found many records including admissions and discharge into the workhouse, hospitals and children's homes plus a settlement exam. However there's a gap in the records on Ancestry just where I need info on the sudden disappearance of my great-grandfather.

I'm looking specifically for HHI records around February-March 1909, but e.g. I can't find the first half of ISBG/278/009 before May. I'm also looking generally for anything up to late 1910 when the remaining family moved to Shoreditch.

These are the London Metropolitan Archives records I'm most interested in:

Reference Code:  ISBG/278/008

Reference Code:  ISBG/278/009

I have found parts, but they are "continued from another roll" which I cannot find. I have looked across the various top-level collection which have different parts of the puzzle. (I don't know why Ancestry has split these LMA series up and scattered them between these collections).

In my travels I have found random parts of books under other items, so I have performed the laborious task of checking every single Islington item in in all collections in the image browser and checking it only contains one book (and documenting the mapping). Usually the giveaway is a high image count - e.g. these indexed 250 page books should be about 600 images, so seeing 900 images is suspicious. Some ancestry items have up to three LMA books hidden in them, depending on the length of the microfilm roll. The ancestry title is usually a best guess at the date range, taken from either the LMA intro slides or perhaps a look at the beginning and end which isn't always reliable.

What I've found so far (where "i" is image number, "p" is original page no).

"Workhouse Admission and Discharge Records, 1764-1930" (/londonadmindisch)

  • Islington; Islington Board of Guardians

    • "Highgate Hill Infirmary: Weekly Admission and Board Orders, 1910-1911" (902i not indexed)

      • i7: "continued from another roll" where!?
      • i9: ISBG/278/009(2/2) "HHI Weekly Ad. & Board Orders, 1909-1910"
      • → Duplicated under PoorLaw;Misc!
      • i12: Starts p150 14 May 1910
      • i227: Ends p251, 4.10.10
      • i238 = ISBG/278/010 "HHI Weekly Admission & Board Orders, 1910-1911" [LMA title] "Book 8." [cover] "4.10.1910 - 19.8.1911" [flyleaf]
    • "Highgate Hill Infirmary: Weekly Admission and Board Orders, 1912-1913" (910i)

      • group: "ISBG/278/01-23: HHI Weekly admission and board orders"
      • i12: (→ something continued.) p41 9.7.1912 - 1913
      • (I it's presume ½ of ISBG/278/012 ?)
      • i469 = ISBG/278/013 "Book 11". 24.2.1913 - 18.12.1913
      • i900: Ends short p140 12.8.13
    • "Highgate Hill Infirmary: Weekly Admission and Board Orders, 1913-1914" (961i)

      • i12: ISBG/278/013 (cont. p140) 12.08.1913
      • i265: End p250 17.12.13
      • i279 = ISBG/278/014 Book 12 (+ retake request from Gen Soc Utah)
      • i950: End p250, 30.10.1914
    • Then it continues with St. John's Road Workhouse (SJR).

  • Islington; Islington

    • Contains more workhouse records (SJR, CRW) but no HHI
    • Contains some ISBG/283, 272, 271, but no 278's

"Poor Law and Board of Guardian Records, 1738-1930" (/lmapoorlaw)

  • Islington; Islington; Miscellaneous

    • "Workhouses and Institutions, 1907-1908" (644i)

      • = ISBG/278/007: "HHI Weekly Admissions & Board Orders 1907-1908" "5.10.1907 - 12.10.1908" [fly]
      • complete book and contains my family
    • "Workhouses and Institutions, 1908-1909" (218i)

      • = ISBG/278/008: "HHI Weekly Admissions & Board Orders"
      • i208 ends p36 25.11.08
      • "continued on another roll…" where?!
    • There is a gap here of Nov 1908 to May 1910. Both 008 and 009 are missing halves.

    • "Workhouses and Institutions, 1909-1910" (234i)

      • = ISBG/278/009 "HHI Admissions & Board Orders 1909 - 1910"
      • "...continued from another roll" where?!
      • i11: cont. p150 14.5.1910
      • i234: Ends p251 4.10.10
    • → This same range is duplicated under LondonAdminDisch

    • "Miscellaneous Workhouses and Institutions, 1910-1911" (668i)

      • = ISBG/278/010: "HHI Weekly Admission & Board Orders" (No cover, presume No.8), "4.10.1910 - 19.8.1911" [fly]
      • → Duplicated under LondonAdminDisch
    • "Miscellaneous Workhouses and Institutions, 1910-1911" (668i)

      • = ISBG/278/011
      • → duplicated under Islington Board of Guardians section.
    • "Workhouses and Institutions, 1912-1913" (228i)

      • = ISBG/278/12(½)
      • i219: ends short p41
    • "Workhouses and Institutions, 1914-1915" (659i)

      • = ISBG/278/15 - OK
    • "Workhouses and Institutions, 1915-1916" (134i)

      • = ? Just the index (presumably of 016)
    • "Workhouses and Institutions, 1916-1918" (408i)

      • = ISBG/278/17 - to p130 15/1/17 "cont..." but not.
    • "Workhouses and Institutions, 1918-1919" (445i)

      • = ISBG/278/18 +retake, 11.10.1918-29.10.1919
      • ends short p180
  • Islington; Islington Board of Guardians; A & D

    • Lots of CRW, more 270, 271, 272, mostly well organised.
    • "Highgate Hill Infirmary: 1911-1913" (893i)

      • i1 = ISBG/278/011 "20.8.1911 - 16.5.1912"
      • → duplicated above under Misc
      • i664 = ISBG/278/012 "11.5.1912 - 23.2.1913"
      • ends short p41 Jul 12
    • "Highgate Hill Infirmary: 1914-1916"

      • = ISBG/278/15
      • cover reads: "St. Mary Islington Infirmary Highgate Hill. Weekly Admissions & Orders Thereon No 13" 10.1914 - 6.1915 [fly]
      • i661 = ISBG/278/16(1/2) 6.1915 - 10.1916 (ends 20.8.15)
    • "Highgate Hill Infirmary: 1915-1918"

      • = ISBG/278/16(2/2) (continued p30.)
      • i470 = ISBG/278/17 7.1916 - 10.1918 (ends p130 Jan 17)
      • interestingly LMA doesn't say this is on Ancestry, but it is...
    • "Highgate Hill Infirmary: 1916-1918" (915i)

      • i1 = ISBG/278/18 "11.10.1918 - 29.10.1919" (retake)
      • i490 = ISBG/278/18 "11.10.1918 - 29.10.1919" (dirty version)

It then continues here with SJR, ISBG/281 records, most similarly split up and continuing between the overlapping ancestry items.

I think I thoroughly covered all the Islington records in the four mostly relevant collections:

So I am missing ISBG/278/008 p36-250 and ISBG/278/009 pages 1-149.

I know my family are in these pages, because the original index in 278/008 lists them on p47, p66, p126, p131 - but the images stop at page 36!

2 Answers 2


I finally found one of them, under an area I thought I'd already checked but I now find there are a huge amount of un-indexed records there. These contain re-take fragments of other records mixed in with more normal sequences of books.

And my family are listed on the pages p47, p66, p126, p131 as expected from the index.

I haven't found 009 yet, but I'm guessing it's around here somewhere.

"Poor Law and Board of Guardian Records, 1738-1930"

  • Islington; Islington; Admission and Discharge

    • "Workhouses and Institutions, 1901-1929" (1218 images not indexed)
      • i10: p36 - i468 p250 22.06.09 = ISBG/278/008 second half
      • i484: p41 9.7.12 - 22.2.13 = ISBG/278/012
      • i934: p140 12.8.13 - i1211: p250 17.12.13 = ISBG/278/013

The vital clue was the occasional large, overlapping spans in some of the item date-ranges, mixed in amongst more regular sequences of books. Any change in the date sequence indicates another type of book, different institution or just a random collection of stuff. It's easy to miss, as they're listed by the first date, but the second date can easily span into the period you're looking for.


Workhouses and Institutions, 1866-1870 
Workhouses and Institutions, 1866-1931   <-- This is 30,000 unindexed images!
Workhouses and Institutions, 1867-1868       (containing 20 books)
Workhouses and Institutions, 1869-1871 
Workhouses and Institutions, 1870-1872  
Workhouses and Institutions, 1871-1873 
Workhouses and Institutions, 1872-1874 
Workhouses and Institutions, 1872-1901  <-- another suspect
Workhouses and Institutions, 1873-1876 
Workhouses and Institutions, 1874-1875 
Workhouses and Institutions, 1875 
Workhouses and Institutions, 1875-1876 
Workhouses and Institutions, 1876-1879 
Workhouses and Institutions, 1900       <-- regular 6 month books...
Workhouses and Institutions, 1900-1901   
Workhouses and Institutions, 1901 
Workhouses and Institutions, 1901-1902 
Workhouses and Institutions, 1901-1929   <-- IT'S HERE! 1,200 images,three books
Workhouses and Institutions, 1902 
Workhouses and Institutions, 1902-1903   <-- sequence continues...
Workhouses and Institutions, 1903 
Workhouses and Institutions, 1903-1904 
Workhouses and Institutions, 1904 

I've now mapped out the 30,000 images under "1866-1931" looking for "009". I didn't find it, but found approximately 20 books from the ISBG/281 collection "St. John's Workhouse Weekly Admissions" including all of ISBG/281/011 to 038. They're not exactly in date order, as the LMA sequences themselves aren't, but are fairly well organised.

Amazingly out of this entire group there's only one missing part - the second half of ISBG/281/031, which of course is the end of 1908 into 1909 - exactly when I'm interested in! The book is the weekly register of the St. John's Road Workhouse starting with an index listing my family at p10, p30, p60, p47, p112, p136, p137, p209, p219. So while I get new records on p10 the microfilm ends at p30 right in the middle of the second two-page spread! I then found p460-p475 in this item, and duplicated in another area, but cannot find the middle pages. So while I solve one mystery, another opens up.

My process and tips for mapping out these image collections:

Checking the flyleaf collection stamp (LMA ref) is the first thing I do on each book, and noting it down with the image number. Not all books have their covers or flyleaves scanned though, but some can be guessed in a good sequence.

Then skip the handwritten index (unless I'm looking for someone), usually 100 odd pages, to Page 1 of the register.

Then you skip ahead by say 100 images at a time, checking the page number at the top is incrementing predictably usually by 2 images per page (both sides). Usually these date sequences have similar sized books each year, e.g. 250 or 500 pages as the workhouses had similar levels of activity every year. So you can guess and skip ahead say 400 images and expect to be 200 pages further on. Continue until you reach the end of the book, and note the date. Then you can see the next book start after the microfilm intro slides (which I don't always trust! All of these records have leading slides entitled "City Board of Guardians" which is wrong).

If your page prediction is wrong - stop! If the page number has gone down, it means the microfilm roll has been stopped early, and you're now in a different book. Similarly keep an eye on the dates - sometimes it'll suddenly flick to a different year or decade. So you have to go back and find the end of the book. I do that by skipping 50, 20, 10... Then note down the image numbers again, and move forward. Repeat. It's a bit tedious, but you learn stuff along the way about the workhouse processes, and see some interesting things.

I also normalise the numbers: e.g. ISBG/278/8 should be ISBG/278/008 so I can search for it reliably later in my map. The LMA's index PDF all have these padded zeros, so I adopted that. But in the older books they are written more "human" without the leading zeros.

This is a bit tedious, but sometimes I find it relaxing to do boring work, taking a break from hard thinking. Then later you have this amazing index to help you when you need facts fast!


I have now found ISBG/278/009 which was under a mixed "1909-1910" item with some Cornwallis Road records. The CRW books are 250 pages, some with their original indexed, so they are either 400 or 600 images. A couple of the items in this area are bigger indicating other books mixed in:

Workhouses and Institutions, 1906-1915 (12)     empty!
Workhouses and Institutions, 1907 (410)         ISBG/270/25 p70- CRW
Workhouses and Institutions, 1907-1908 (1204)   ISBG/270/26 & 27 CRW
Workhouses and Institutions, 1908  (12)         empty!
Workhouses and Institutions, 1908-1909 (494)    ISBG/270/28 p102- CRW
Workhouses and Institutions, 1909 (618)         ISBG/270/29 idx- CRW
Workhouses and Institutions, 1909-1910(1053)    <== AHA THIS ONE!
... etc

which in detail is:

"Poor Law and Board of Guardian Records, 1738-1930"

  • Islington; Islington; Admission and Discharge

    • "Workhouses and Institutions, 1909-1910" (1053 images not indexed)
      • i8: ISBG/270/30 p70- CRW
      • i608: ISBG/278/009 "Highgate Hill Infirmary, weekly A&D 1909 - 1910", 25.10.1909 - 4.10.1910 (flyleaf)

My great grandfather is not listed in this record (at least not in the original handwritten index), which is important information to me. We know he was in this hospital in Feb-March 1909 which is the last record we have of him. We have his discharge record in March (and the death of his son there), but we've always wondered if we was re-admitted and died later during 1909 or 1910. Now we can move on to look elsewhere.


This is a stub of an answer, since I haven't explored this collection, but based on my experience with other records on Ancestry, it might be useful to you to take the information you've given us and put it in a table or spreadsheet, starting with the archive references and mapping them to the corresponding images on Ancestry.

Because of the way Ancestry describes items in the browse box, and sometimes re-arranges the images, I find it much easier to start with the Archive references or FamilySearch film notes (the known quantity) as my reference point.

I know my family are in these pages, because the original index in 278/008 lists them on p47, p66, p126, p131 - but the images stop at page 36!

I've seen this happen in other collections, where pointers to data exist in index pages, but the pages holding the data are not online. In some cases, those pages are not available due to a rights issue -- not because of privacy restrictions for the pages you need, but because there are later records on the same microfilm roll that are too recent to be put online. In most cases it is easier to simply stop microfilming, or not put those images online, than to publish a partial register book or roll of film. Maddening, isn't it?

Can you reach out to London Metropolitan Archives to see if that data was provided to Ancestry? Another option is to ask Crista Cowan. Try emailing her at [email protected] -- perhaps she can direct you to the right product specialist.

  • Thanks Jan I will try that contact address. I've tried the support form before but just get vague canned responses that don't even sound like they've read my question!
    – scipilot
    Aug 19, 2019 at 0:19
  • I agree that some records are not online due to the 100 year rule, and I've seen the census records struck-out, but in this case there are many records afterwards in the same sequence going even up to 1920. And considering the scattering of records and multiple books per roll, I think it's more of a mix up than redaction.
    – scipilot
    Aug 19, 2019 at 0:20
  • 1
    Yes, I now have a spreadsheet! I have mapped out the whole area in a document, (similar to the format above), but I have started moving it to a spreadsheet for a more structured reference. And to be able to sort by different columns etc. I think I'll keep both, as the document format is richer. I began the spreadsheet for the same problem I'm having with the Shoreditch records, which you helped with. But now I've turned back to look at the earlier years in Islington, I've reused that approach.
    – scipilot
    Aug 19, 2019 at 0:22
  • @scipilot I've had bad experiences with Ancestry support also (e.g. telling them I've already taken all the steps in a particular support article, only to have them direct me back to that article). Be on the lookout for Ancestry 'publishing' pages out of order, which they've apparently done multiple times with US Census records.
    – Jan Murphy
    Aug 19, 2019 at 0:28

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