‘sample of potatoes’

A pauper letter to the local Board of Guardians for Polar Workhouse, listing a series of complaints. According to the letter, a potato was sent in as evidence of the rotten food that workhouse inmates were given to eat23rd November 1888, Catalogue ref: MH12/7700 

Poor Law Union: Poplar 

Union counties: Middlesex 

Modernised Transcript  

Poplar Union Workhouse 

23rd November 1888 

The Local Government Board 


I beg again to call your attention to our grievances in the Poplar Workhouse. 

  1. To the sample of potatoes (of which a specimen I forward on to you for your opinion) which is issued out to us. Many of which are rotten, and on stew-days after being boiled, peeled are put in our stew. 
  2. The meat which we are allowed on soup days and pie days, if sent in, seldom is ever issued or served up to us. 
  3. To the beastly state of the clothes which are given to the men to put on admission, dirty, ragged and thread bare. 
  4. Only two towels provided in the receiving ward for the use of perhaps from 24 to 40 new admissions after bathing. 
  5. The continual bad cooking and no heed paid to complaints made. “Take it or leave it” anything is fit for such as you! 
  6. The bread oft times [deficient] in weight, issued out by the 5 or 4 [ounce] loaf instead of by weight. These reports have been brought forward again and again, but no redress is given. The continuation of the same old game’ Cheating paupers of a small allowance of their dietary.

Further, after giving 72 hours’ notice for discharge, a pauper cannot get out before 10 o’ clock to look for work. Sundays are not counted in the three days, but have to go 96 hours or a day more. How can men look for a new job of work when a good ½ of the day is gone, this gives him no opportunity of getting work? If it was 7’o clock it might enable him. In conclusion I trust that our complaints will be looked into by you for the Guardians are in the Majority led to believe paupers complaints are exaggerated by a not over scrupulous Master to his own interests or whims.    I remain, Gentlemen,  

Your Obedient Humble servant,  

J.W. Mouleynes, [Esquire] 

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