Manchester City Council

Libraries Poor Law and Workhouse Records

The Poor Law Unions 1834-1929

All Microfilm / Microfiche - available at Central Library - open access

Archives (items with prefix Archives) - available at Central Library search room - advanced notice required


The 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act replaced the old poor law with a national system for dealing with the relief of the poor. The new poor law was administered by the newly formed Poor Law Unions, each the responsibility of a Board of Guardians. In Manchester three Poor Law Unions were created: Manchester Union, Prestwich Union and Chorlton Union.

The original Manchester Union was formed in 1841. It consisted of the following Townships:

  • Manchester, Blackley, Bradford, Cheetham, Crumpsall, Failsworth, Harpurhey, Moston, Newton, Prestwich, Great Heaton and Little Heaton.

In April 1850 the Township of Manchester was constituted as a separate Poor Law authority and the remaining townships formed the Prestwich Union. The Township of Beswick was added in 1858 and Clayton in 1894. Great Heaton and Little Heaton were detached in 1891.

Chorlton Union was formed in January 1837. It consisted of the following Townships:

  • Chorlton-Upon-Medlock, Chorlton-Cum-Hardy, Openshaw, Ardwick, Hulme, Stretford, Moss Side, Levenshulme, Rusholme, Didsbury, Withington, Gorton, (divided in 1894 into Gorton and West Gorton) and Burnage.

Barton-upon-Irwell, Flixton and Urmston were added in 1841, but detached in 1849. Stretford was also detached in 1849. In 1910 the Poor Law Union was consolidated to form the Township of South Manchester for Poor Law purposes.

In 1915 the Poor Law Unions undertook a major reorganisation. The Township of Manchester, the Township of South Manchester and the Prestwich Union were joined to constitute the Manchester Union.

We hold some records of the Guardians of The Poor of The Manchester Chorlton and Prestwich Unions, 1837-1948 (ref: Archives GB127.M4).

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