Changing Names

In an attempt to avoid the stigma many workhouses also changed their names: Bolton Union Workhouse became Fishpool House while Southwell Union Workhouse eventually became Greet House. A Royal Commission in the early 1900s suggested that the board of guardians be disbanded and their work taken over by local authorities. But, because of widespread unemployment in the 1920s, this did not actually happen until 1930.

The existence of workhouse records is patchy with more highly populated areas better served than others. Fortunately, census records of 18411901 are a useful supplement. Besides microfilms of census records held at local studies libraries and CROs, more census records are becoming widely available online with sites such as www. and www.ancestry. Post-1837 parish records, which are often neglected in favour of civil registration records, can also be a good source of information. Baptisms of children born in the workhouse were carried out in local

churches, while burials were the responsibility of the original parish of an inmate. Both would be annotated as being from a union workhouse but be warned, sometimes this was disguised as a house number and street. Parish records can be found in local studies libraries, CROs and transcribed in publications by family history societies. ■

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