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  1. #1
    Valued member of Brit-Gen emmteeyess's Avatar
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    Default Died in the PoorHouse

    One for the social historians out there -

    I've come accross a Burial Register entry for Sunderland Parish church, 8th April 1820, which has Ann Emerson's address shown as 'PoorHouse'
    However my impression is that the family were employed and relatively well off. The husband remarried in 1821. There is a death of a child in 1823 with an 'outside' address given.

    So, Is Poor House synonymous with work house? Why would Ann be in the Poor House without the family? Could it be an Infirmary of some sort?

    I've seen this site https://www.workhouses.org.uk/Sunderland/ but can't see a definitive answer to my queries.

    Any thoughts?

    Cheers, MTS

  2. #2
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    Workhouses often had an infirmary which was used by the townsfolk as well as the inmates. I think it was probably cheaper than a 'proper' hospital, so to speak. I have a couple of ancestors who died in the workhouse infirmary but who weren't actually residents of the workhouse itself.

    Emeltee

  3. #3

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    One of my muti-great grandfathers died in the Dundee Poorhouse, but not because he was especially poor. He'd lived in a nearby parish and, like many shoemakers, was crippled with rheumatism. On the day after his wife's funeral, he was moved to Dundee - the local Parish council recorded that this was a temporary measure because there was no room for him at the local Almshouse. They promised that he'd be brought back to his home Parish when a bed became available, but that didn't happen before his death 2 years later.
    At least 4 of his 5 children (including my gggran) outlived him, 3 in the same parish. None of them was obviously poor, although one (another shoemaker) had been in the Edinburgh Insane Asylum before dying in the Almshouse that his father should have been in.. Moreover, about half of his siblings outlived him, again not particularly poor. He wasn't short of family.

    I've gained the distinct impression that the Poorhouses/Almshouses were used as a simple health system, at least in Scotland.

  4. #4
    Valued member of Brit-Gen emmteeyess's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by emeltee View Post
    I have a couple of ancestors who died in the workhouse infirmary but who weren't actually residents of the workhouse itself.

    Emeltee
    Thanks for that - it's kind of the impression I had from reading round - but it's interesting to find it's been your experience too.

    Cheers, MTS

  5. #5
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    But 1823 was under the old Poor Laws. So far as I am aware, the sort of hospital services that developed later in the 19th century under the New Poor Laws would not then have existed.

  6. #6
    Valued member of Brit-Gen emmteeyess's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Goodey View Post
    But 1823 was under the old Poor Laws. So far as I am aware, the sort of hospital services that developed later in the 19th century under the New Poor Laws would not then have existed.
    D'oh



    Cheers, MTS

  7. #7
    Knowledgeable and helpful thewideeyedowl's Avatar
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    Default Old Poor Law pre-1834

    To answer the initial question in post #1: Poor House and Work House were not the same thing, though there were some similarities. By about 1820, the old parish-based Poor law system could no longer cope, because of pressures caused by mechanisation/industrialisation and soldiers being discharged because no longer needed when the wars with France were finally over.

    Under the old system, the village Poor House could provide refuge and help for folk who had been born in the parish. (This is all about 'right of settlement', which is very complicated - run some searches(!) I'm not up to tackling it here/late in the evening.) The village Poor House was the responsibility of the Overseers of the Poor, who were elected within the parish - typically, in a country area, they would be farmers. The old Poor Law was generally considered to be a 'kinder' system than the new post-1834 Poor Law. It is the new Poor Law that brought in Work Houses - parishes were grouped into 'Unions' and a single large workhouse built to meet the needs, but it was a punitive system where life was made unpleasant.

    There were differences between the north and the south of England, as explained here on Dr Bloy's website: https://www.historyhome.co.uk/peel/poorlaw/plaa.htm. Obviously, it is the North of England that is of interest to you. Sorry that I cannot specifically answer your question, but you really need to read about the old and new systems - and run lots of searches for 'Poor House' in particular.

    Off to roost.

    Owl
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    Whilst agreeing with Owl about the Poor Law I would add if the new Poor Law had not been in place and grouped into Unions we would not have Civil Registration today.
    Civil Registration had been suggested in 1833 using tax collectors as registrars but the idea was dropped due to cost. The advent of the Poor Law Unions provided a "cheap" alternative and made Civil Registration possible.

    Cheers
    Guy
    As we have gained from the past, we owe the future a debt, which we pay by sharing today.

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