Parish Workhouses up to 1834

English workhouses have their origins in sixteenth-century European ideas, when anxieties about vagrancy and unemployment prompted the generation of compulsory work schemes.  The first experiment in this vein in the British Isles was founded at the former palace of Bridewell in London during the 1550s, where food and lodging were offered in exchange for labour.  Provincial towns opened their own ‘bridewells’ from the 1560s onwards.

Bridewell Hospital: a ruined corner of the courtyard and staircase, with a vignette of a room. Engraving by B. Howlett 1813 after T.H. Shepherd: Wellcome Images https://wellcomecollection.org/works/epp3bkxn

The Elizabethan poor laws of 1598 and 1601 incorporated the idea of setting the poor to work, to be funded by an annual local tax.  Parishes were permitted to acquire a stock of materials for employing paupers.  In the case of textiles, for example, a parish might buy wool and then insist that poor people spin it into yarn in exchange for a small cash payment or other benefit.  Most parishes that tried to apply this policy quickly found it too expensive to maintain.  The money earned from selling the finished produce, such as spun wool, rarely covered the costs of the materials.  The law had not specified a location for work, and parishes did not try to supply a single workplace for this activity.

The second half of the seventeenth century saw the rise of a new ideology, that of setting the poor to work at a profit.  It was thought that proper management of the right sort of work would not only cover costs but also remove the need to raise a local tax.  This encouraged some towns to apply for an individual Act of Parliament to become a Corporation of the Poor.  Corporations allowed multiple urban parishes to work together to raise a tax and run a large institution collectively.  Bristol was the first town to take up this option, and Exeter was the first place to construct a large, purpose-built workhouse. 

It soon became apparent to Corporations that it was not possible to render the workhouse poor self-supporting.  The sorts of people who required relief – the young, the elderly, the sick or disabled – were often not well-placed to undertake work of any kind.  Nonetheless, the hope of finding the right formula for making the poor profitable remained beguiling, and parishes continued to establish workhouses on this basis throughout the eighteenth century.  A workhouse policy was promoted early in the century by the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge, or SPCK, and the process of opening a workhouse was made easier by a general Act of Parliament in 1723. This Act allowed parishes to buy, rent, build or collaborate with each other to run workhouses.  The Act also introduced a new element to the use of workhouses, because it enabled parishes to insist that poor people enter them, if they wanted to receive parish poor relief (rather than receiving cash or other benefits in their existing homes).  This workhouse ‘test’ was applied inconsistently, with some places never making relief dependent on workhouse entry and others trying to impose the rule sporadically. Nonetheless, it became a very important precursor to the insistence on delivering relief only in workhouses, that dominated ideas from the 1820s onwards.

Regulations for the workhouse at Dymock, Gloucs: Wellcome Images https://wellcomecollection.org/works/ma25kafs

By 1800 it was no longer thought feasible to make the workhouse poor generate a profit, but a new goal emerged to render the poor as efficient and cost-effective as possible. Benjamin Thompson, an American known to history as Count Rumford, devised a workhouse diet based around soup that yielded the maximum number of calories for the lowest possible cost.  After 1815 and the economic disruption that followed the Napoleonic wars, sentiments towards the poor became more harsh.  Selected parishes made their workhouse as punitive as possible: Southwell in Nottinghamshire followed this policy, and became a model for the ‘reformed’ workhouses established after 1834. 

Sir Benjamin Thompson, Count von Rumford: Wellcome Images https://wellcomecollection.org/works/w3tavr7h

Many parishes made use of workhouses in the approximate century 1723-1834 but not all of them were influenced by these ideas about workhouses, or applied them consistently.  A parish might begin with the intention of delivering all poor relief in the workhouse, and setting the poor to work, but would typically lose enthusiasm for both of these requirements.  Instead workhouses became places to accommodate the elderly poor, and offer nursing to them at scale, or to give homes to the young and orphaned poor before they were apprenticed at parish cost. By 1776 there were around 2000 workhouses across England, with some in every county.  The majority were fairly small-scale, housing 20-50 people, and did not have stringent rules.  Some paupers even used them flexibly, seeking admission to their local workhouse in winter or in times of unemployment or sickness and moving out as opportunities came their way for independence. 

Detail from ‘A Consultation’ by C.J. Winter (1869), after Rowlandson: Wellcome Images, https://wellcomecollection.org/works/d2xacjzt

Therefore, it should be no surprise that this project has already revealed a number of different parish approaches to workhouse management.  Volunteers in Staffordshire have contrasted the Uttoxeter workhouse, which set adult men to work in a brickyard, with the Tettenhall workhouse that held around 30 residents at one time who tended to be elderly or very young.  Cumbria volunteers have studied parishes with or without workhouses, and archival volunteers in East Sussex working on East Hoathley have encountered no workhouse so far.  This level of variation is what we would have expected, but the vouchers allow us to look in much greater detail at the way workhouses operated for their resident poor and for their local economies.  Even when there was no work in workhouses, they represented an important component of parish relief.

Ann Keen and Catherine Keen, boot and shoe dealers, Lichfield

Ann Keen’s listings in trade directories from 1818 to 1851 and her listing in the 1851 Census as a boot and shoe dealer (mistress) belies the notion of the short-lived female-owned business.

Ann Keen was born to William and Mary Keen in Eccleshall, Staffordshire, and baptised on 30 December 1771. She died, unmarried, in 1853, and was buried at Christ Church, Lichfield.

Parson and Bradshaw’s 1818 directory lists a William Keen, ironmonger, grocer, druggist and tallow chandler, with premises in Eccleshall’s High Street. By this date Ann Keen was already established as the proprietress of a shoe warehouse in Market Street, Lichfield. She was one of two female shoe dealers listed in the town; the other being Margaret Pinches of Boar Street. In comparison, ten male boot and shoemakers are listed.

Thus far 11 bills covering the period 1822 to 1829 have been discovered linking Ann Keen’s business to the overseers of St Mary’s, Lichfield. More may come to light. She was supplying men, women and children with ready-made shoes rather than making them. The vouchers show that Ann was assisted by Catherine Keen. What relation Catherine was to Ann is not clear at present, although Catherine might have been the daughter of Ann’s brother Walter baptised in Eccleshall on 31 March 1769. Until Catherine’s Keen’s marriage in 1823, it was Catherine who drew up the bills for the supply of shoes and took payment from the overseers. Following Catherine’s marriage to Moses Smith, a tobacconist from Hanley, Staffordshire, Ann initially employed an assistant J. Beattie, who like Catherine drew up the bills. Later, Ann took to signing the bills herself, or they were initialled by ‘WB’. At the time of the 1851 Census Ann Keen was living on her own in a property on the south side of Market Street.

Catherine’s marriage to Moses Smith was relatively short-lived. Smith died in 1831. By his will Catherine inherited all his stock-in-trade, money, securities for money, debts household furniture, plate, linen, chattels, and personal estate and effects, upon trust during her natural life. His unnamed children (a son and daughter) were to inherit on Catherine’s death. Catherine Smith and George Keen (Moses Smith’s brother-in-law and assistant in his tobacco business) were appointed the executors. An entry in White’s 1834 directory shows that Catherine continued her husband’s business as a tobacconist in Slack’s Lane, Hanley.

Sources

Staffordshire Record Office

BC/11, Will of Moses Smith of Hanley, Staffordshire, proved 7 March 1832

D20/1/11, St Mary’s Parish Register, Lichfield, 30 June 1823

D286/2/11, Christ Church Parish Register, Lichfield, 9 July 1853

D3767/1/5, Holy Trinity Parish Register, Eccleshall, 31 March 1769, 30 December 1771

LD20/6/6/21, Lichfield, St Mary’s Overseers’ Voucher, Ann Keen, settled 18 June 1822

LD20/6/6/, no item number, Lichfield, St Mary’s Overseers’ Vouchers, 14 August 1822, 25 June 1825, one undated [1825], and 29 June 1826, for example

TNA, HO107/2014, 1851 Census

Parson, W. and Bradshaw, T., Staffordshire General and Commercial Directory presenting an Alphabetical Arrangement of the Names and Residences of the Nobility, Gentry, Merchants and Inhabitants in General (Manchester: J. Leigh, 1818), 165, 175, 184, 188, 189

White, William, History, Gazetteer and Directory of the County of Staffordshire and of the City of Lichfield (Sheffield: 1834), 157, 569

White, William, History, Gazetteer & Directory of Staffordshire, 2nd edn. (Sheffield, printed by Robert Leader, 1851), 5

Description of Lichfield from the Universal British Directory

The following is an edited version of the entry in the third volume of the Universal British Directory.

Lichfield is a pretty large town, one hundred and seventeen miles from London.

This city is uninfluenced in the election of its members of parliament.

The city has power of life and death within their jurisdiction, a court of record, and a picpowder court. Here is a gaol for both debtors and felons, a free school, and a pretty large well-endowed hospital, for a master and twelve brethren. The county of the city is ten or twelve miles in compass, which the sheriff rides yearly on the 8th of September, and then feasts the corporation and the neighbouring gentry.

The cathedral, which stands in the Close, was originally built about 300. It was rebuilt and enlarged in 766. In 1148 it was rebuilt, and greatly enlarged in 1296. In the Civil Wars it was several times taken. When the civil war broke out the nobility and gentry garrisoned the close and defended it against parliament.

Here are three other churches, one of which St Michael’s, has a churchyard of six or seven acres. In the neighbourhood are frequent horse races.

A bill is now about passing for a canal from Wyrley canal to Lichfield, to join the Coventry canal at Huddlesford. A considerable manufactory of horse-sheetings is carried on here by Mr John Hartwell.

The late Dr Samuel Johnson was born in this city, 1709. His father Michael was a bookseller. He more than once held the office of chief magistrate. When arrived at a proper age for grammatical instruction Samuel was placed in the free school of Lichfield. Mr Garrick, so famous for his talents in the dramatic line, received the first rudiments of his education at the same free school.

Markets here are on Tuesday and Friday.

The principal inns are the George kept by Mr Burton; Swan kept by Mr Luke Ward; and Talbot, kept by Mr Jackson for gentlemen travelling on horseback.

Bankers: Catharine Barker and Son, and Francis Cobb.

Seats in the neighbourhood are Elford Hall, the seat of Lady Ann Andover; Fisherwick Hall, the seat of the Marquis of Donegal; Packington, the seat of Thomas Levett; and Freeford, the seat of Richard Dyott.

Source

Peter Barfoot and John Wilkes, Universal British Directory, vol. 3 (London: c.1794)

Frederick Morton Eden on Lichfield in 1795

The following is an edited version of the entry in the second volume of Eden’s State of the Poor.

Lichfield contains three parishes, viz. St Mary’s, St Chad’s and St Michael’s: the first has most houses and inhabitants, but no land; the other two have few houses but a considerable quantity of land.

In 1782 the number of houses in Lichfield was 722, and of inhabitants about 3,555; it is supposed, that, since that period, the population has considerably increased.

In the whole city 408 houses pay the window tax; the number exempted could not be ascertained.

The prices of provisions are: beef and mutton, 5d the lb; veal, 4½d; bacon, 9½d and 10d the lb; milk ¾ of a quart for 1d; butter 1d the lb; potatoes, 4d the bushel; bread flour, 5d the stone; coals, 6d the cwt.

Farms are generally small: the principle articles of cultivation are, wheat, barley, oats, turnips and clover.

The poor are maintained in their own houses: about 23 pensioners, at present, receive £2.17s.6d a week; six of these are bastards: several house rents are paid, and casual reliefs are given to many of the necessitous.

St Mary’s and St Chad’s each have a workhouse. In St Mary’s workhouse there are, at present, 41 Paupers; they manufacture a little blanketing for the use of the house. The bill of fare till very lately included puddings and bread and cheese dinners about 3 days a week. On account of the scarcity of bread and flour the following diet is used: Breakfast—every day, milk pottage. Dinner — Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, meat and vegetables; Monday, Wednesday, Friday, broth and cold meat; Saturday, bread and cheese. Supper—every day, bread and cheese.

It is necessary to observe, that a great part of the other parishes bury at St Michael’s [see separate entry on Thomas Clerk], and children at their own churches: it is owing to this circumstance that burials greatly exceed births [at St Michael’s].

In 2 or 3 small parishes in this neighbourhood, which consist of large farms, there are very few Poor: the farmers, in order to prevent the introduction of Poor from other Parishes, hire their servants for 51 weeks only. I conceive, however, that this practice would be considered by a court of justice, as fraudulent, a mere evasion in the matter, and that a servant thus hired, if he remained the 52 week with his master, on a fresh contract, would acquire a settlement in the parish. August 1795

Source

Frederick Morton Eden, The State of the Poor, A History of the Labouring Classes in England, 3 vols (London: 1797), II.

John Summerland (b.1767), Uttoxeter

John Summerland was the son of Joseph and Hannah Summerland. He was born in Uttoxeter in May 1767. He has entered historical consciousness through Michael Foucault’s Madness and Civilisation in which Foucault describes Summerland’s treatment at the Quaker Retreat in York for mental illness. Using William Tuke’s description of John Summerland as a being a man of Herculean size and strength, restrained by chains upon arrival and subsequently rehabilitated through Tuke’s treatment, the case is often present as a pivotal moment in the treatment of mental illness. In 2015, however, Jon Mitchell used the archives of the Retreat to present a different image of the ‘wild’ John Summerland, as a man prone to periods of instability, but also a man capable of reasoned thought, contemplation and conversation.

From the correspondence between the Summerland family and the Retreat, it is evident that his father Joseph, his brother William, and his uncle Samuel Botham, all took an active interest in John’s progress organising his admission, funding his stay and hoping that he could gain useful employment as a gardener. Moreover, in his father’s will provision was made for John’s inheritance to be placed in trust. In the correspondence of Samuel Botham it is revealed that John had recently returned to Uttoxeter from America and whilst both in Uttoxeter and in America he had attended Quaker meetings on a regular basis.

Sources 

Borthwick Institute, University of York, Retreat Archives, RET 1/5/1/7 Correspondence.

Michael Foucault, Madness and Civilisation.

Staffordshire Record Office, BC/11, Will of Joseph Summerland, 29 April 1808; B/C 11, Letters of Administration for William Summerland, Uttoxeter, 13 January 1835.

Jon Mitchell www.blog.wellcomelibrary.org/2015/03/setting-the-record-straight-mania-or-sick-man? accessed 10/07/2016.

www.quakersintheworld.org/quakers-in-action/92  accessed 11/07/2016.

N.B. This  is a work in progress, subject to change as new research is conducted.

The State of Uttoxeter Workhouse, 1831

Uttoxeter has had several parish workhouses. One of them  was built on the Heath in 1789 and remained until it was replaced in the late 1830s. To be strictly accurate, it was not a union workhouse in the sense that such places were to become after the 1834 Poor Law Act, but in addition to the paupers it received from Uttoxeter, it also accommodated paupers from Doveridge and Rocester. White’s 1834 trade directory informs us that the workhouse had a brickyard and a garden extending to one and a half acres in which the inmates were employed. The assistant parish overseer at the time was Thomas Norris. A summary of the workhouse’s finances at the end of March 1831 provides a glimpse into this world. There were 44 inmates: 18 men, 13 women, 8 boys (of whom, 4 were under nine years of age), and 5 girls all under the age of nine). We know that 2 of the inmates worked in the kitchens and 8 of the men worked as labourers or scavengers. The remaining adult inmates were listed under headings of ‘infirm’, ‘sick, lame and blind’ and what to modern minds is the rather offensive ‘idiots’.

The brickyard account shows a total of £270 1s 6d received, and £248 10s 8d paid out. The inmates working in the  yard earned £19 18s 6d, although it is unclear whether they actually received this amount or whether it went into the overall workhouse coffers. In addition, the workhouse received money from the sale of butter and vegetables and for the carding of wool. The existence of the brickyard and garden offer a different perspective on how workhouse paupers occupied their time. More common images are  of stone breaking (which is also mentioned in the accounts) and of picking apart old ropes to make oakum, used in caulking ships.

Amongst the workhouse expenses, more than £308 was spent on provisions, £25 on the governor’s and matron’s salary, £32 17s 10d on clothing and shoes, and £9 8s 8d on coffins and funeral fees. These figures do not include the amounts expended on the out poor (parish paupers who were not in the workhouse).

Description of Wednesbury from the Universal British Directory

The following is an edited version of the entry in the fourth volume of the Universal British Directory.

Wednesbury is a market town, eight miles from Birmingham, six from Wolverhampton, three from Walsall and five from Dudley. The church is a very fine old Gothic structure. This place is rendered famous for its coal, the best in the kingdom for smiths work, on account of its extreme heat. It runs from three to fourteen yards in thickness, which makes it very valuable to its respective owners, who clear from one to three hundred pounds a week from the sale of that article only. This place also produces that sort of iron ore called blond-metal, used to make nails and horse shoes, and all sorts of heavy tools, as hammers, axes, &c. There are several vessels of diverse sorts made here, which are painted with a reddish sort of earth dug hereabouts, which they call slip. One of the collateral branches of the Birmingham Canal enters this parish about half a mile, to some coal mines not yet opened, and to the iron-works of Messrs. Samuel and John Hallen, iron masters. About two miles from hence are the very extensive iron-works of John Wilkinson, Esq. at Bradley Moor. Its principal manufactories are, guns, coach-springs, coach-harness, iron axel-trees, saws, trowels, edge-tools, bridle-bits, stirrups, nails, hinges, wood-screws, and cast iron goods. Enamel paintings are also done here in the highest perfection and beauty.

Here are three meeting houses, namely, Presbyterians, Quakers and Methodists.

The mail from Ireland, Shrewsbury, and a great part of Wales, passes and repasses through this place every day: the post office is open at all hours.

Source

Peter Barfoot and John Wilkes, Universal British Directory, vol. 4 (London: 1796)

Description of Uttoxeter from the Universal British Directory

The following is an edited version of the entry in the fourth volume of the Universal British Directory.

Uttoxeter is a market town. It stands on a hill of easy ascent, near the river Dove. The town is rather rich, by means of its fine meadows and cattle; neat and handsome in respect of buildings: it has formerly suffered much by fire. The market is reckoned one of the greatest in these parts, for cattle, sheep, butter, cheese, corn, and all sorts of provisions: some of the London cheesemongers, by factors here, lay out five hundred pounds in a day. The town is pretty large, and the market place neat and commodious; three streets issue from the angles of the open area, and the market extends a considerable way into each of them. The market day is Wednesday; fairs May 6, July 31, September 1 and 19.

The town is surrounded with iron forges, and several considerable ironmongers carry on a great trade here in that manufactory; and it is remarkable for the longevity of its inhabitants. By the late inland navigation, it has communication with the rivers Mersey, Dee, Ribble, Ouse, Trent, Derwent, Severn, Humber, Thames, Avon &c.

The excise office is at the White Hart and New Star inn: Mr Fryer, Supervisor; Mr Trougher and Mr Freer, Officers; George Prosser, Riding-officer.

Uttoxeter contains five hundred and fifty houses.

Source

Peter Barfoot and John Wilkes, Universal British Directory, vol. 4 (London: c.1796)

Richard Hayne’s (1723–1787) Memorandum on Uttoxeter Workhouse, 1782

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Amongst the papers of the Fitzherbert family of Tissington, Derbyshire, there is a bundle of miscellaneous items including a description of Uttoxeter workhouse, its management and the activities of its inmates in the second half of the eighteenth century. From the document, it is not clear why the memorandum was written or to whom it was addressed, but it may have been prompted by planned changes to the way in which workhouses were established as a result of Gilbert’s Act of the same year.

Richard Hayne was the second of five children born to John Hayne (b. circa 1688) of Uttoxeter and his wife Lettice Leighton (bapt. 11 Jan 1690). Richard was baptised on 26 March 1723. He was apprenticed to a Derby attorney William Turner in 1742 and appointed as a Justice of the Peace for Derbyshire in 1755, the year after he married Mary Newton at St Oswald’s parish church, Ashbourne. He spent some years living in Uttoxeter, but his main residence was Ashbourne Green Hall. The Hayne family also owned a number of other properties in Ashbourne including the Green Man inn and the Old House in Church Street used as a dower house. Richard died at Bath in 1787 and was buried in the churchyard of All Saints’, Weston. After Richard’s death, his widow moved to the Old House, remaining there until her death in 1802.

The memorandum offers one person’s perspective of the state of the Uttoxeter workhouse and its management before the construction of the one designed by Thomas Gardener which opened in 1789. Hayne’s views emphasise its poor state before his appointment as an inspector, the improvements made whilst he was in post and its decline once again after he left.

He starts the memorandum by recalling events of more than thirty years previously when Uttoxeter’s numerous poor were ‘constantly erecting cottages and enclosing small [plots] of land which they considered as their own, making careful not to change their place of settlement’. The workhouse itself was ‘mostly filled with old persons and children perhaps from 40–60’. Many other poor people received outdoor relief ranging from one to three or four shillings a week. The overseers, chosen usually from ‘the lower sort of Trades People’, sent provisions to the workhouse where ‘some of the old men there distributed it’, not just to the inmates but to others who came for their dinners. The problem was exacerbated, according to Hayne, because those who went to the workhouse for their meal had a tendency to pocket the victuals and carry them away.

Hayne’s other main concern was that the ‘Poor of the workhouse had no employ and ran about the town at pleasure by which habit the children were ignorant, idle and impudent’. The problem of how to ‘amend this bad and expensive conduct’ was discussed frequently by the gentlemen of Uttoxeter who attended the parish vestry. Remonstrating with the overseers proved ineffectual. Consequently the vestry proposed that ‘two Gentlemen should be added to the official overseers who could spare time to inspect’ the workhouse. Hayne and a Major Gardener were thus appointed. ‘Our first step’, wrote Hayne, was to ‘advertise for a person as Manager of the Workhouse’. They got one from Wolverhampton at £24 a year ‘or thereabouts for himself, his wife and his daughter’.

Hayne’s and Gardener’s next step was to inspect the workhouse where they ‘found a room full of broken spinning wheels … We directed these implements to be thoroughly repaired’. The boys and girls were then taught to spin and knit linen and wool, and the ‘old people as were able had their allotment of such work as suited them best’. The House was ‘whitewashed and cleaned in a wholesome manner’. Rooms were inspected on a weekly basis. As the workhouse manager was ‘qualified to instruct the children … in reading, writing and accompting’, copy books and reading books were procured for their education. For the sake of their health the children were permitted to play in a large yard attached to the workhouse where a palisade and locked gate were fixed. A boy, seated in a box, was to unlock the gate and admit in or out ‘all proper persons’.

Gardener’s and Hayne’s role as inspectors lasted for a year, during which time they alternated their duties every two weeks. Hayne claimed that he scarcely missed a day, sometimes carrying out unannounced inspections twice a day. He visited the market to see the butcher’s meat (usually animal muscle tissue) being weighed and put his mark next to the entry in the general account book. He also did this for the flour, wool, hemp and other materials brought into the workhouse. Outdoor relief (except during sickness) was stopped as was the practice of feeding any other than workhouse inmates.

As a result of the inspectors’ endeavours the workhouse was transformed: ‘From a most filthy, dirty place the House became perfectly sweet, clean and wholesome’. The inmates became industrious and the children ‘attained an attention to Business & were (from Parental Homebread (sic)  Brutality) Civilised and fited (sic) to be put out as Parish Apprentices into any decent families’. The spinning of linen yarn for shirts and worsted produced a sufficient amount to make stockings and ‘to be sent out to be woven into liney wolsey for coats and waistcoats for the Men and Boys and Gowns and Petticoats for the Women and Girls’.

After his term of office Hayne removed to Ashbourne, the major returned to his regiment and a contested county election ‘divided the friendship of the Gentlemen [of Uttoxeter and the] workhouse gradually sunk into its former state’.

How much of Hayne’s account we accept at face value is difficult to say. Frederick Eden’s State of the Poor certainly confirms many of the practices Hayne found on his arrival at Uttoxeter workhouse, but the extent to which the workhouse and its inmates were transformed within the space of a year is open to question.

Sources

Derbyshire Record Office, D239/Z/6, Fitzherbert of Tissington Papers, Memorandum Uttoxeter Workhouse 10 May 1782

Frederick Morton Eden, The State of the Poor, A History of the Labouring Classes in England, 3 vols (London: 1797)

Adrian Henstock (ed.), A Georgian Country Town: Ashbourne 17251825:  Fashionable Society (Ashbourne: Ashbourne Local History Group, 1989)

Alannah Tomkins, The Experience of Urban Poverty, 1723–82 (Manchester: MUP, 2006)

www.archerfamily.org.uk/family/hayne.htm accessed 6 Mar 2018

www.batharchives.co.uk/sites/bath_record_office/filesWES%20Inscriptions accessed 6 Mar 2018

This is a work in progress, subject to change as new research is conducted.

Royal Approval for Uttoxeter Workhouse

In November 1840 the Derby Mercury reported, in glowing terms, the visit of Queen Adelaide (widow of William IV) to the new Uttoxeter Workhouse. At the time she was living at Sudbury Hall. With her ‘accustomed benevolence’, reported the paper, ‘Her Majesty … has graciously consented to become the patroness of the Uttoxeter Provident District Visiting Society [and] has intimated her intention of giving an annual subscription of ten pounds to the society’. The queen also ‘paid a visit to the Uttoxeter Union Workhouse, and conveyed … her … intention to bestow a substantial meal of roast beef, plum pudding, and ale, upon the poor inmates on Christmas day. Her Majesty was pleased to inspect the house, and to express her approval of the general arrangements made for the accommodation and convenience of the poor people, who, with numerous other objects of compassion, will have cause to bless the Christian sympathy of the Queen Dowager.’

Source

Derby Mercury, 25 November 1840