Nottinghamshire Archives - Poor Law Records by sdfsb346f


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   County Council

Poor Law Union Records
Introduction                                         clothes to paupers whilst they lived in their
                                                     own or a relative’s home. This was known as
Nottinghamshire Archives holds Poor Law              ‘outdoor relief’.
Records for the eight Nottinghamshire Poor
Law unions:                                          A variety of records exists among parish
                                                     records documenting the relief of the poor,
  •   Basford                                        including overseers’ account books,
                                                     settlement records and apprenticeship
  •   Bingham
  •   East Retford
  •   Mansfield
  •   Newark                                         After 1834: The New Poor Law
  •   Nottingham                                     In 1834 the Poor Law Amendment Act was
  •   Southwell                                      passed which altered the system of poor relief.
                                                     This was due not only to increasing expense,
  •   Worksop
                                                     but also to prevailing beliefs that people were
                                                     trying to avoid work and live off the parishes,
The types of document are varied and a range
                                                     and that employers paid low wages knowing
of different information is recorded. It is
                                                     the parishes would ensure that workers did
important to remember that the type and
                                                     not starve.
quantity of records for each poor law union
varies and a large amount of documentation
                                                     Parishes were now grouped into about 600
has simply not survived.
                                                     Unions throughout the country, and
                                                     responsibility for the poor now rested with a
The Poor Law                                         Board of Guardians, members of which were
                                                     elected from local ratepayers. The Boards of
The Parish                                           Guardians reported to the Poor Law
                                                     Commission in London (which became the
During the Middle Ages the church was seen
                                                     Poor Law Board in 1847 and then the Local
as having moral responsibility for the poor,
                                                     Government Board in 1871).
and religious houses regularly distributed
alms. After the suppression of the
                                                     Each union was divided into districts. The
monasteries by Henry VIII a statute was made
                                                     union was administered by a body of paid
in 1536 which placed the responsibility of the
                                                     officials: clerk, treasurer, workhouse master,
poor upon the parish, and the office of
                                                     matron, chaplain, collector, relieving officers
Overseer of the Poor was created in 1572.
                                                     and medical officers. There was a ‘relieving
The Poor Law Act of 1601 created a system of
                                                     officer’ for each union, who was responsible
poor relief, in which the overseers were
                                                     for considering the circumstances of anyone
required to levy a poor rate on the parish
                                                     who applied for relief.
householders in order to provide expenditure
for the poor. One way of providing for the
poor was the provision of money, food and
The Workhouse                                           Nicholls was closer in view to Reverend
The 1834 Act also required each union to                Robert Lowe of Bingham (1811 – 1892), a
erect a workhouse. Workhouses had first                 neighbouring magistrate. Lowe and Nicholls
appeared in the late seventeenth century                both became ardent supporters of the
when authorities felt that the ‘idle poor’ should       abolition of outdoor relief and the workhouse
be dissuaded from living off the parish. These          as a harsh test of destitution, and were
early workhouses were generally used to                 influential in developments in the poor law
accommodate the sick, aged and orphaned                 leading up to the 1834 Act.
poor, instead of the parish paying for their rent
and food.                                               There were eight unions in Nottinghamshire,
                                                        but the boundaries of the unions often ignored
Under the 1834 Act the able-bodied poor were            historic county boundaries, and so some
no longer given outdoor relief, but were                parishes at the edge of the county were in
instead admitted to the workhouse. The old,             unions centred in adjoining counties. These
the sick, and widows with dependent children            unions were Shardlow in Derbyshire, Melton
could still receive outdoor relief; and the             and Loughborough in Leicestershire,
guardians of some unions also granted                   Gainsborough in Lincolnshire, and Doncaster
outdoor relief to paupers whom they                     in Yorkshire. There is a map of the Union
considered to be the ‘deserving poor’.                  boundaries at the front of the Poor Law Union
                                                        catalogue binders.
The conditions of individual workhouses
varied. Some were humane and clean.                     Under the pre-1834 parochial poor law system
Others operated under strict and harsh                  Nottingham had three workhouses, one in
regimes and were often little more than                 each parish: St Mary, St Peter and St
prisons. As a result, entering a workhouse              Nicholas. After 1834 the three parishes
was, for most people, only a last resort.               combined to form the Nottingham Poor Law
                                                        Union. In 1843 a new union workhouse was
                                                        opened in York Street, but this building was
The End of the Poor Law                                 pulled down in the late 1890s for the erection
In 1919 the Boards of Guardians became part             of Victoria Station and was replaced by a new
of the Ministry of Health. The introduction of          workhouse at Bagthorpe, which was
old age pensions in 1908 and unemployment               completed in 1903. Some of the original
insurance in 1911 largely did away with the             buildings at Bagthorpe now form part of the
need for the poor law and workhouses. In                City Hospital.
1930 poor law administration was given to
local authorities, and the Boards of Guardians
were abolished. Many workhouses did                     Poor Law Records
continue after this date, though the poor law
was finally abolished in 1948. Many                     The following are the main types of poor law
workhouses subsequently became hospitals                records held at Nottinghamshire Archives:
or asylums.
                                                          •   Guardians’ Minute Books: these are
In Nottinghamshire                                            the principal administrative record of
Nottinghamshire and in particular the                         the union. They contain a range of
Southwell district was of major importance                    information, including:
during the years leading up to the 1834 Act.                      • principal decisions
This was owing to the work of the                                 • appointments
‘Nottinghamshire Reformers’. The Reverend J                       • expenditure
T Becher (1770 – 1848) was responsible for                        • financial contributions from
reforming poor relief at a local level in                            parishes
Southwell. He appointed Sir George Nicholls                       • new building
(1781 – 1865) as overseer of the poor in                          • maintenance
Southwell in 1819. Both men shared similar                        • problems of workhouse inmates
views on poor relief as a deterrent, but
       •   the administration of sick wards             taken on 26
           and infirmaries                              September
                                                        1863 and
    We hold minute books for:                           again on 24
      • Basford, 1836 – 1930                            September
      • Bingham, 1836 – 1930                            1865, both
      • East Retford, 1836 – 1930                       of which
      • Mansfield, 1838 – 1930                          serve as a
      • Newark, 1836 – 1930                             sort of
      • Southwell, 1836 – 1930                          census of
      • Worksop, 1848 – 1930
                                                        on those
    Other administrative records include
    sub-committee minutes, such as
    finance, visiting, dispensary, boarding-
                                                        We hold
    out and vaccination; yearbooks;
    registers of officers and servants; staff
    insurance policies; staff testimonials;
    orders of the poor law commissioners;
                                                        registers for:
    letter books; and returns of persons
    receiving relief                                       • Basford, 1854 – 1857
                                                           • Newark, 1919 – 1946
•   Admission and Discharge Registers:                     • Claypole Workhouse (in
    these record details of people entering                    Newark Union), Lincolnshire,
    and leaving the workhouse. The                             1882 – 1894
    following may be included:                             • Nottingham, 1856 – 1920
        • Dates of admission and
           discharge                                    There are gaps in these series.
        • Name
        • Occupation                                •   Indoor Relief Lists: these record
                                                        details on inmates in the workhouse.
        • Religion
                                                        We hold indoor relief lists for
        • Year of birth or Age
                                                        Nottingham, 1858 – 1910, with some
        • Parish from which admitted                    later information. They are divided into
        • Cause of seeking relief – can be              the parishes of St Mary, St Peter and St
           very specific or very general                Nicholas, and later also include
        • Class of diet – from this it is               Radford, Sneinton and Lenton. They
           often possible to determine time             are arranged alphabetically by
           of admission and discharge, as               surname. We also hold indoor relief
           the next or last meal is stated              lists for Mansfield, 1911 – 1912 and
        • Discharge due to death, if                    Newark, 1949 – 1952. They record:
           relevant                                          • Name
                                                             • Occupation
    The registers are arranged in                            • Year of birth
    chronological order and usually form a
                                                             • Religion
    single sequence. For Nottingham,
                                                             • The number of days in which an
    however, duplications occur during the
                                                                inmate was present, entered into
    period between 1896 and 1903 as the
    new Bagthorpe workhouse was being
    built and the inmates were temporarily                   • Discharge due to death, if
    housed in other buildings.                                  relevant

    The Nottingham registers also include a             It is possible to work out the
    complete list of all workhouse inmates              approximate date of admission or
    discharge by counting the weeks from                   •   Where the vagrant slept on the
    the time of year that the register is                      night prior to admission
    known to have started or ended. Each                   •   Where the vagrant was going to
    register usually covers a six-month                        next
    period, ending on Lady Day (25 March)                  •   Tasks the vagrant was set whilst
    or Michaelmas Day (29 September).                          in the workhouse. These
                                                               included sawing, chopping,
•   Registers of Death: these contain                          cleaning or bundling wood, filling
    entries that also appear in the registers                  boxes and cleaning the wards
    of discharge. They record:                             •   Amount of money the vagrant
        • Date of death                                        was carrying. This column is
        • Name                                                 rarely entered, although there is
        • Age                                                  more detail after 1930
        • Parish to which the person is
           chargeable                                   We hold registers for:
        • Cause of death, for the period                  • Nottingham, 1892 – 1939
           1851 – 1852 and 1861 – 1862
                                                    •   Workhouse Plans: these include plans
    We hold registers of death for:                     of workhouses, sick wards, and
      • Nottingham, 1864 – 1926                         infirmaries.

•   Creed Registers: these are registers                We hold plans for:
    compiled recording people’s religious                 • Basford, 1913 – 1927
    creed, and are arranged alphabetically                • Mansfield, 1908 – 1924
    by surname. They contain:                             • Newark, c 1915 – 1930
       • Patient’s name                                   • Southwell, c 1930
       • Parish                                           • Worksop, c 1930
       • Dates of admission and
       • Religious creed

    Later registers may also contain:
       • Occupation
       • Year of birth or age
       • Last address of the inmate
       • Name and address of the
           nearest relative

    We hold creed registers for:
      • Mansfield, 1888 – 1891;                     Other workhouse records include master’s
         1905 – 1908                                report books, punishment books, dietaries
      • Mansfield, 1913 – 1935                      and inventories of fixtures (see also below).
         (cottage home)
      • Nottingham, 1881 – 1942                     •   Outdoor Relief Lists: these record
                                                        payments granted to persons needing
•   Registers of Casual Vagrants: these                 poor relief within the union’s districts,
    record admissions and discharges of                 but outside the workhouse. The
    vagrants. They contain:                             relieving officer was responsible for
       • Dates of admission and                         administering these payments. The
           discharge                                    lists include:
       • Name                                                • Name
       • Occupation                                          • Parish
       • Year of birth or Age                                • Pauper Classification
       •   Relief payments granted                       •   Bingham, 1866 – 1921
                                                         •   East Retford, 1871 – 1919
    We hold outdoor relief lists for:                    •   Mansfield, 1923 – 1930
      • Basford, 1900 – 1930                             •   Newark, 1881 – 1932
      • Mansfield, 1898 – 1920                           •   Southwell, 1871 – 1879 and
         (abstracts)                                         1901 – 1921
      • Southwell, 1923 – 1928                           •   Worksop, 1902 – 1925

    Other records of the relieving officer            Other vaccination records include
    include application and report books,             returns of births and returns of deaths
    memorandum books and abstracts of                 of infants, report books and summary
    relief.                                           totals.

                                                  •   Apprenticeship Records: poor law
                                                      unions had the power to apprentice
                                                      pauper children. This meant that the
                                                      child was looked after and provided for
                                                      by a tradesperson who would also
                                                      teach their trade to the child.
                                                      Apprenticeship indentures record:
                                                          • Name of the child
                                                          • Age of the child
                                                          • Parish
                                                          • Name of the Tradesperson
•   District Medical Relief Books: these                  • Trade
    record medical treatments administered                • Period of time for which the
    by the medical officer, on a weekly                      apprenticeship was to last
    basis. They contain:
        • Patient’s name                              We hold apprenticeship indentures for:
        • Parish                                        • Basford, 1845 – 1903
        • Nature of disease (accident,
           injury or illness)                         Apprenticeship Registers also list:
        • Treatment                                      • Address of master of mistress
                                                         • Dates of visit
    We hold district medical relief books                • Remarks, e.g. on conditions
         • Basford, 1857 – 1928                       We hold an apprenticeship register for:
         • Nottingham, 1899 (workhouse                  • Worksop, 1879 – 1909

•   Vaccination Registers: these registers
    provide details on children vaccinated.
    They record:
       • Name of child
       • Place of birth
       • Date of birth
       • Father’s name or, if illegitimate,
           mother’s name
       • Profession or occupation of

    We hold registers for:
      • Basford, 1896 – 1916
  •    Settlement Records: when a person                  •   List of boarded-out children
       requested poor relief, it was possible                 Newark, 1919
       that they could be examined to                     •   Boarded-out children maintenance pay
       determine their place of settlement.                   list
       Settlement was determined by a variety                 East Retford, 1924 – 1930
       of legal aspects, such as duration of                  Southwell, 1922 – 1930
       residence in a parish. If a person was             •   Relief order books and lists
       not found to be settled in a parish, they              Mansfield, 1924 – 1930
       could be removed to their previous                 •   Relieving officer application and report
       parish of residence. Settlement cases                  books
       can include correspondence and other                   Nottingham, 1910 – 1911
       papers. We hold records for:                           Southwell, 1923 – 1928
           • Nottingham, 1901 – 1907                      •   Training Institute children’s history book
                                                              Nottingham, 1896 - 1913
Other Sources
The following is a selection of other Poor Law
sources which may also be useful.                      Finding Aids
                                                       There is a catalogue of all listed poor law
   •   Annual lists of guardians and paid
                                                       records available in the archives search room.
       Mansfield, 1839 – 1921
                                                       The following records are available on
   •   Registers of officers                           microfiche:
       Mansfield, 1874 – 1919
                                                          • Nottingham Admission and
   •   Records of salaries and wages                          Discharge Registers, 1856 – 1920
       Mansfield, 1907 – 1930
                                                          • Nottingham Death Registers, 1851 –
       Nottingham, 1912 – 1946
       Worksop, 1911 – 1930
   •   Guardians’ attendance register
       Newark, 1915 – 1930
   •   Register of births
       Bingham, 1837 – 1930
       Mansfield, 1866 – 1894
       Newark, 1914 – 1946 (closed until
   •   Register of children maintained in the
       Basford, early twentieth century
       Worksop, 1901 – 1930
   •   List of children in the workhouse
       Basford, 1915
   •   Register of deserted children
       Nottingham, 1900 – 1911
   •   Register of lunatics in the workhouse
       Southwell, 1891 – 1928 (closed until
   •   Bathing registers
       Southwell, 1914 – 1931
   •   Workhouse punishment book
       Southwell, 1852 – 1936 (closed until
   •   Registers of boarded-out children
       Basford, 1926 – 1930
       Worksop, 1911 – 1929

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