Libraries Poor Law, workhouses and industrial schools

Poor Law records can provide invaluable information about your ancestors and are important for the study of changes through time in the poor relief system and socio-economic history.

The administration of the poor law can be divided into three periods:

  • The Old Poor Law - pre-1834, poor relief was the responsibility of the parish or township
  • The New Poor Law - between 1834 to 1930, it was the responsibility of the Poor Law Unions
  • Public Assistance Committee: between 1930 to 1948 poor relief was administered by the Public Assistance Committee of Manchester City Council.

During this period of time, poor people who had no job or home lived in workhouses where they earned their keep by working. Also in the workhouses were the sick, disabled, orphaned and abandoned children and older people.

From 1857, poor and neglected children were removed from their home environment to boarding schools - also known as industrial schools.

Some of our workhouse records and industrial school records up to 1911 are now available in the Manchester Collection on findmypast.

Records that contain personal information and are less than 100 years old are on restricted access.


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