5. The Workhouse

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Our ancestors dreaded the idea of having to go into the workhouse but, for those who had reached a state of desperation, it offered a very basic level of existence.  The parish authorities had looked after the poor in their area for centuries until, in 1834, Poor Law Unions were set up to take control.

This chapter briefly covers the early history of poverty, the institution of the Boards of Guardians and Poor Law Unions, life in the workhouse and the records that you hope have survived for your region.  You will find examples of a variety of documents including:

  • elected members of the Board of Guardians
  • workhouse hours
  • workhouse master’s journal
  • admission and discharge registers
  • register of births
  • pauper description books
  • register of maintenance cases
  • registers of apprentices
  • punishment book
  • outdoor relief books

An Appendix lists all the parishes in each Poor Law Union.

Index to Chapter 4.  The Workhouse.

  •  Admission Register                                    10, 12
  • ALLEN                                                                   6
  • ANSTICE                                                             10
  • APERLEY                                                              9
  • apprenticeships                                          10, 14
  • ARKELL                                                                 6
  • Arlingham                                                          10
  • ARNOLD                                                            10
  • asylum                                                             6, 15
  • AYRES                                                                 14
  • BAKER                                                                   6
  • BALDWIN                                                          14
  • BERRY                                                                 12
  • birth certificate                                                   14
  • births                                                                    10
  • Board of Guardians                                 4, 5, 16
  • Bristol                                                          3, 5, 18
  • buildings                                                               7
  • BUTLER                                                               14
  • CANDY                                                                  9
  • chapel                                                                     7
  • chaplain                                                            7, 9
  • Charlton, Wilts                                                    9
  • Cheltenham                                     5, 10, 14, 15
  • Chepstow                                                              5
  • Cirencester                                                       3, 5
  • CLUTTERBUCK                                                10
  • committee minutes                                             9
  • CRISP                                                                   15
  • CURTIS                                                                10
  • DAVIS                                                                  10
  • deaths                                                                   10
  • deeds                                                                       9
  • Discharge Register                                     10, 13
  • DRINKWATER                                                    6
  • Dursley                                        3, 5, 7, 9, 10, 12
  • Eastville                                                               18
  • ELLIOTT                                                              14
  • Evesham                                                         5, 10
  • Faringdon                                                              5
  • FLETCHER                                                         14
  • Gloucester                                         3, 4, 5, 6, 18
  • HAIR                                                                    10
  • HARE                                                                   10
  • HARRIS                                                                 6
  • HAY                                                                        6
  • Holy Trinity                                                          6
  • House of Industry                                               7
  • infirmary                                                               7
  • JEFFS                                                                     14
  • Keynsham                                                            5
  • Kingswood                                                           5
  • ledgers                                                                    9
  • letter books                                                            9
  • Lord of the Manor                                               2
  • lunatics                                                         10, 15
  • maintenance                                         10, 15, 16
  • MARTIN                                                              14
  • master                                                                7, 9
  • matron                                                                    7
  • meals                                                                      8
  • medical officer                                          7, 9, 10
  • MILLARD                                                           14
  • Monmouth                                                            5
  • MOYLE                                                                10
  • NAIR                                                                    10
  • Newent                                                     5, 11, 13
  • Northleach                                                            5
  • official visitors                                                     9
  • OLIVER                                                                  6
  • outdoor relief                                                      10
  • out-relief                                                          2, 17
  • Overseers of the Poor                                         2
  • parish workhouse                                               3
  • PARKER                                                                6
  • pauper description books                        10, 12
  • paupers                                                                  9
  • pay books                                                              9
  • PHILLIPS                                                               6
  • plans                                                                       9
  • Poor Law Acts                                                      2
  • Poor Law Amendment Act                              5
  • Poor Law Union                                              5, 7
  • poorhouse                                                             3
  • public assistance institutions                       18
  • public vaccinator                                              10
  • punishment                                                        15
  • rate books                                                              9
  • reception                                                                7
  • records                                                                    9
  • Register of Inmates                                           10
  • relatives                                                               15
  • removals                                                              10
  • RICKETTS                                                             9
  • Ross                                                                         5
  • Sandhurst                                                             6
  • schoolroom                                                           7
  • schoolteacher                                                       7
  • service                                                                  14
  • settlement                                                       6, 16
  • Shipston                                                                5
  • Sodbury                                                                 5
  • St Catherine                                                         6
  • St Mary de Lode                                                 6
  • St Michael                                                             6
  • Stapleton                                                            18
  • Stow                                                                        5
  • Stratford                                                                5
  • Stroud                                                            3, 5, 9
  • TATLOE                                                                 6
  • Tetbury                                                                  5
  • Tewkesbury                                           5, 15, 17
  • Thornbury                                                        5, 9
  • tramps                                                                    7
  • Uley                                                                         5
  • unmarried mother                                            13
  • vagrants                                                                 7
  • valuation lists                                                      9
  • visitor’s Journal                                                 10
  • Warmley                                                                5
  • Westbury                                                               5
  • Wheatenhurst                                           5, 9, 14
  • WHITFIELD                                                       14
  • WILKINS                                                               9
  • Winchcombe                                                        5
  • workhouse                                                      7, 15
  • workhouse master                                            14
  • Wotton under Edge                                            9
  • YEEND                                                                14