How to look for records of... Workhouses
How can I view the records covered in this guide?
This is a brief guide to help you with your research into workhouse policy and administration. To find records of individuals in workhouses see our guide on workhouse inmates or members of staff.
What do I need to know before I start?
What records can I see online?
What records can I find at The National Archives at Kew?
What records can I find in other archives and organisations?
What other resources will help me find information?
Did you know?
The Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 combined small numbers of parishes to form Poor Law Unions, each with its own workhouse. The Poor Law Unions continued until 1930.
Workhouses were designed to be as repulsive as possible, in order to put people off from applying for help.
The records of the Poor Law Commission and the Poor Law Board are in The National Archives under department code MH. They are not particularly easy to use, as the file descriptions are very uninformative, so any search may be lengthy.
To find out in which union a particular parish was, read Poor Law Union Records: 4 Gazetteer of England and Wales by Gibson and Young.