Workhouse children

This guide was last updated in 2012

From the 1840s onwards, the central poor law authorities encouraged boards of guardians to provide separate children’s accommodation away from the ‘taint’ of the main union workhouse.

A number of different types of establishment gradually evolved for this purpose, including district schools, cottage homes, and scattered homes. Each type of establishment kept its own admission/discharge and other records, with inmates usually also being recorded during a short initial stay in the workhouse. The surviving records are now usually located in the relevant county or metropolitan record office – has details for each union.

After boards of guardians were abolished in 1930, many former workhouse children’s homes continued in operation now run by county and county borough councils.


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