Westmorland Poor Law Unions

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An Act of Parliament in the year 1834 took the responsibility of administering to the poor from the local parish church to the doorstep of civil government. The government grouped each civil parish into a union of parishes. There were nearly 600 such unions throughout England, each one comprising close to 20 or more parishes, and were specifically setup to meet the demands of the poor among their local populations, with a workhouse on the premises. The responsibility was transferred from local parishes to a Board of Guardians in each union. These groupings or unions were known as poor law unions. Westmoreland had the following poor law unions within its boundaries:

The Poor Law Unions[edit | edit source]

  • East Ward
  • Kendal
  • West Ward

The Records[edit | edit source]

Records from the poor law unions, which were created from this time forward include the following:

  1. Guardianship
  2. Creed Registers
  3. Rate books
  4. Workhouse Lists of Inmates
  5. Register of Apprentices
  6. Register of Births
  7. Register of Deaths
  8. Vestry Rate Books
  9. Admission and Discharge Registers
  10. Board of Guardians' Records

Records at The Family History Library[edit | edit source]

To determine records availability for each poor law, search the FamilySearch Catalog under the name of the county (Westmorland), and then under the name of the poor law union, i.e. East Ward; then search under the term[s] "poor law" or "poor houses".

Online Transcriptions Relating to Poor Law Records[edit | edit source]

1) For more information on the history of the workhouse, see Peter Higginbotham's website: www.workhouses.org.uk, a 'gateway' website with some information on Westmorland's poor

2) Here is a website with approximately 10 percent of the county's poor