A wide range of primary sources for eighteenth-century London has just been made available online (by a consortium led by the Universities of Sheffield and Hertfordshire) in fully searchable form at http://www.londonlives.org. These sources include the minutes of the Court of Governors of Bridewell and Bethlem Hospital from 1689 to 1800.
The search capability of this new resource makes it particularly useful. After all, the minutes of the Court of Governors from 1559 to 1792 have been available online at http://www.bethlemheritage.org.uk for some years now. But it would be a labour of love, as well as a palaeographical challenge, to browse through them looking for something particular.
Now there is a much easier way, as long as your interest is in something that is recorded in the Bridewell and Bethlem court book minutes (or indeed in any of the other London records digitised as part of the project) between 1689 and 1800.
Say you wanted to find references in the court books to Edward Tyson, Bethlem’s Physician from 1684 to 1708. Just go to the Search Form, type in ‘Tyson’ and ‘Edward’ in the name fields, choose Bridewell Royal Hospital > Minutes of the Court of Governors in the ‘Search in Document Type’ field to limit your search (if that’s what you want to do), and click on ‘Search’.
You should get seven results (the earliest dated 1691), and be able to click through to a transcription and digital image of the original minute book entry for each one.
The London Lives homepage gives details of a conference that will take place on 5 July 2010 at the University of Hertfordshire to celebrate the launch of this new resource. Scholars, take note!