Search for your ancestors who were admitted to and discharged from workhouses in the county of Cheshire between 1781 and 1911. Discover how they came to be admitted and their physical condition at the time of admission, and learn whether they were discharged or died in the workhouses.
Each record comprises a transcript and an image of the original Cheshire Workhouses Admissions and Discharges record.
The amount of information included varies, but these records usually contain the following information about your ancestor:
• First name
• Last name
• Birth year
• Admission year
• Admission date
• Poor law union
Records from some places may include further details. These may not always be transcribed, but you may be able to see them on the scanned image of the original record. These additional details may include:
• Pauper number
• Name of informant
• Physical Condition at time of admission
• Date of discharge or death
• Final meal before discharge
The record set comprises 51,790 records from workhouses in Cheshire, Chester, Macclesfield, and Northwich.
These records date from 1781 to 1911.
The 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act established nine poor-law unions in Cheshire, each with its own workhouse. Workhouses were supposed to be a deterrent to the able-bodied pauper. Under the Act, poor relief would only be granted to those who passed the “workhouse test”, in other words you would have to be desperate to enter a workhouse. They were there for the truly destitute, the so-called “incompetent poor” - an able bodied man could only enter if his family came with him.
The elderly, the infirm, orphans, the mentally ill and single mothers were all accommodated but life inside the workhouse was intended to be as off putting as possible. Men, women, children, the infirm and the able-bodied were all housed separately. Food was basic and monotonous - gruel, a watery porridge, or bread and cheese. Inmates had to wear the rough workhouse uniform and sleep in dormitories and baths were allowed, supervised, once a week.
The able bodied were given hard work, stone breaking or picking apart old ropes. Families were only allowed minimal access to one another and in the early days were not even allowed to speak to each other outside these access times. The workhouse came to be seen as the ultimate degradation.
Some people only stayed in the workhouses briefly, when there was no other option, others spent their entire lives in the same workhouse. As medical care in the home was expensive, the poorest women would sometimes come to the workhouse hospital to give birth.
The Cheshire Collection
The Cheshire Collection is an extraordinarily rich and comprehensive set of records provided by Chelsea Archives and Local Studies.
Findmypast has previously published about 40,000 records of births, baptisms, deaths and burials in Cheshire's workhouses.
Copyright images reproduced by courtesy of the Cheshire Archives and Local Studies Service, Chester, England.
The Cheshire Archives and Local Studies Service gives no warranty as to the accuracy, completeness or fitness for the purpose of the information provided.
Images may be used only for purposes of research, private study or education. Applications for any other use should be made to Cheshire Archives and Local Studies Service, Cheshire Record Office, Duke Street, Chester CH1 1RL. Infringement of the above condition may result in legal action.