Like many parishes Whittington, near Lichfield, had no workhouse. Instead, it relied on providing outdoor relief, paying rent on properties to house some of its poor and sending paupers to Rosliston Workhouse in Derbyshire.
Around 1802, Rosliston together with the parishes of Caldwell, Coton-in-the-Elms, Croxall, Linton and Stretton-in-the Fields united under the terms of Gilbert’s Act of 1782 to provide for the poor. Arrangements were made with other parishes, including Whittington, whereby paupers could be sent to the workhouse with the costs borne by the parish to whom the pauper had the legal right of settlement.
In 1818 Whittington paid Rosliston Workhouse for twelve weeks board for Catherine Johnson. As with most people from this time we know little about Johnson, but we do know that by 1820 at the latest she had been joined in the workhouse by Catherine Godwin, also from Whittington. For the next two years overseers’ vouchers provide glimpses into their lives. Bills were submitted each quarter by Rosliston for Johnson and Godwin’s board, soap and coal.
Johnson and Godwin contributed to their own maintenance through their needlework skills. Several bills list thread, tape, bindings, linings for bodices, the spinning of flax and the provision of calico, worsted and fustian cloth. One bill of 3 January 1820 notes ‘cutting out and assisting Johnson to make cloth’. Other clothing related items include the provision of aprons, stockings, capes and gowns for both women.
There were also medical bills. One in 1820 was for ‘dressing for Johnson’ and ‘dressing for Godwin’ from a Dr Adams. The services of a midwife were paid for by Whittington for Catherine Godwin at the start of 1821, but all did not go well for we find payment for laying the child out, taking the child to church, a coffin and a burial. Nothing further is then recorded about either Johnson or Godwin in the vouchers.
SRO, Whittington Overseers’ Vouchers,
D4834/9/3/4/31, 3 Jan. 1820
D4834/9/3/4/32, 3 Jan. 1820
D4834/9/3/4/2, 20 Mar. 1820
D4834/9/3/4/3, 25 Mar. 1820
D4834/9/3/2/40, 30 Dec. 1820
D4834/9/3/2/41, 21 Jan 1821
D4834/9/3/2/42, 24 Mar. 1821
D4834/9/3/2/43, 24 Mar. 1821