This series consists of correspondence of the Poor Law Commission, the Poor Law Board and the Local Government Board with Poor Law Unions and other Local Authorities. It covers the years 1834 to 1900.
Poor law unions were collections or groups of parishes brought together to administer poor relief. Earlier 'unions' were refered to as 'incorporations' and some of these existed until the 1860s (which is why for some areas there are no correspondence until the old incorporation was dissolved and the new union organised).
The Victorian poor law was predicated on the 'workhouse test'. This is where poor relief would be offered via the 'deterrent workhouse', designed to be an institution of last resort. Most Victorian workhouses were built in the late 1830s/early 1840s. However, a small number were built later and many additions were made to existing workhouses throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
The papers range through the whole field of poor law and (after 1871) local government and public health administration. The material will refer to all aspects of poor relief; workhouse administration, finance, indoor- and outdoor poor relief, information on individual paupers etc.
Digital copies of selected 19th Century Poor Law Union and Workhouse records from MH 12 can be searched and downloaded. The research guide Poverty and the Poor Laws lists the poor law unions which have been digitised and are available through Discovery.