Updated 8 Apr 2004

WIRKSWORTH Parish Records 1600-1900

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Board of Guardians 1837-51

The Board of Guardians examined the Woes of the Poor and decided who was to pay for their improvement.
This information about the Board originated as a collection of emails between Mike Spencer and the DERBYSGEN mailing list. Mike's records, comments and his overview of the subject are given here with his permission. Thanks Mike.
When Mike finishes his transcriptions, I will compile an Index of surname, firstname, place and year, and add it to this page.

Use your browser's search facilty to find the SURNAME you want.
History of the Board of Guardians.. Vagrant wanderers
Bakewell: 1- 4- 11- 18- 20- 22- 26- 27- 30- 33- 36- 41- 42- 43- 47- 55- 56- 59- 61- 66- 69- 71- 72- 76- 81- 89- 102- 103- 104-
Belper: 2- 7- 10- 13- 15- 21- 25- 34- 38- 45- 48- 49- 54- 62- 64- 65- 70- 73- 77- 78- 79- 80- 91- 92- 98- 100- 101-
Shardlow: 3- 12- 14- 19- 24- 28- 29- 31- 34- 35- 39- 46- 50- 53- 57- 60- 67- 75- 82- 83- 85- 86- 87- 88- 93- 94- 96- 97- 99- 105-
Hayfield: 6- 63- 68- 74- 90- Ashbourne: 8- 9- 23- 37- 52- 84- Chesterfield: 17- 51- 58-
SWINDELL: 5- 32- VICKERS: 29- 39- 95- BARTON: 16-

From:  Michael SPENCER {mike@derow.fsnet.co.uk}
Subject:  [DBY] Before the Board -. what are they and further information.
Date:  Mon, 10 Mar 2003 14:32:45 -0000 
To:  {DERBYSGEN-L@rootsweb.com}  

Hi list,

Over the last few days I have noted and received many questions regarding "Before the Board " listings. I will attempt to answer some of those questions here, no doubt you may have more and no doubt I wont have the answers! Still here goes.

First let me thank all of you who have shown an appreciation for these listings. I knew that even before I had finished the Wills and Admins. that these were going to be the next project. In short they are a family historians dream, well in most cases, even though looking at it in the cold light of day someones family is suffering back then. I say in most cases because various Boards didn't always record as much as others did, some records are missing, and some parishes were dealt with by Boards outside Derbyshire. All will be made clearer. As with the Admins as I went along more and more information came to light as to how to use those documents and why an Admin was granted, it became a learning curve. The same I am sure will happen with the Board of Guardian lists.

A very brief history regarding the poor ,and it is brief, is that prior to 1834 and the Poor Law Amendment Act the poor were basically looked after by the parish, that is why we have an Overseer for the Poor. The Overseer had to make sure, particularly that people moving into the parish did not become a burden to that parish, if they did they could be removed to the place of their legal settlement, you have all heard of Settlement Certificates. Unless proved, basically money could be provided to keep such ones in their new parish they were removed to their place of legal settlement. All this went out in 1834 with the above Act. Prior to 1834 ,a good few years really, some Parishes built workhouses for the poor and to save costs some parishes shared workhouses. That is why a certain parish will have a workhouse and another nearby one will not. All that changed in 1834 although the local workhouses were still operative, the Board of Guardians making several references, and they were needed because some places were a little slow in building new Workhouses.

What took over, we now had the Poor Law Unions, several parishes grouped together to look after the poor. Some Unions went over County boundaries and as far as Derbyshire is concerned quiet a few parishes were involved. For instance, this is at 1857,it may also apply earlier, but Codnor Park, Heanor and Ilkeston are in Basford. So the records, should they survive for those parishes, should be in Nottinghamshire Record Office. Barlborough, Clowne, Whitwell and Elmton are part of Worksop Union, again the same dates apply as to Heanor etc and again should they survive they also should be in Nottingham. Beighton is found in Rotherham Union, Doveridge, Norbury, Marston Montgomery, Cubley, Boyleston, Sudbury and Somersall Herbert are in Uttoxeter Poor Law Union. A whole batch of parishes are in Burton Union. A number are in Ashby de la Zouch Union. Dore ,Norton, Beauchief and part of Dronfield in Eccleshall Bierlow Union.

The Records for Derby Union are -.lost. It may be they are in private hands but there is no proof of this. Sorry all you Derby folks. That leaves Glossop, Hayfield, Chapel en le Frith, and Ashbourne, these Unions no doubt had parishes over the County boundaries included in their Unions. Blore for instance in Staffordshire is in Ashbourne Union. These Union records leave a lot to be desired, only the modern and not acessible stuff surviving for some. Hayfield, Chesterfield and Ashbourne take a lot of wading through although there is a bit to be found. As for Bakewell, Belper and Shardlow these Unions are the ones you want to be in if you want to find something in detail. Shardlow in particular is very detailed. I will give further information later regarding what parish is in what Union.

The Records are held at DRO ,they are for the most part not indexed which is why they are hardly used. One Shardlow volume is over 2000 pages long. DRO charges curently set to rise in April are ten pounds and 50p if you cannot get there to see them for yourself. Alternatively contact me offline at mike@decc9.fsnet.co.uk, if you need any. I have currently before me thousands of names awaiting listing so do not give up hope. Some people whose parishes and Union (such as Basford) are "out County" and whose records are not in Derbyshire are mentioned by other Unions, people moved remember.So do not give up hope.

What can you hope to find, should an ancestor be mentioned he should be related to a particular parish, but the record may tell you where he now is, it may give his age, useful for those records around 1841 guess my age census time. If the person is a widow/er ,any children, ages, occupations and earnings. Illnesses, reason for relief, why other members of the family have not helped out. This is quiet interesting because in listing all the children, who in a lot of cases are married, themselves aged about 50 plus if they say something like "married has a wife and ten children" the majority of these families were left alone. Why, because having a large family meant you could not afford to keep your parents or brothers or sisters. Is this one reason why the Victorians had large families. True, many children died young, but in these listings there are an awful lot of big families surviving! Many folks were elsewhere throughout the county and country, fell on hard times and they in turn sought relief in the Parish they lived, they in turn got in touch with the Union they belonged to, either to ask for payment for keeping them or to let them know they would be sending them back.You will have seen the references to extra medical care, the truss, the fractured arm, childbirth and such like. It is doubtful that such information would be forthcoming elsewhere, so even if you do not track down where they came from or went to, at least you know that during 1840 Joe Cuppleditch had a bad case of scrofula. Sadly some folks were considered insane, they are usually mentioned as being sent to the Asylum or payment being made to the Asylum for their keep. Again it helps track down the people, some of whom did come out, and went back again,then came out and went back. Possibly cases of schizophrenia, I'm not medically inclined but stand to be corrected. The point is that some folks go missing for a few months then return home to society. These records may be able to identify where they went. I have gone on too long, and stand to be corrected on what is writ, this is basically observation and a bit of research but I know these records are absolutely brilliant. I hope that what you read makes sense and do not end up in the Asylum after trying to understand it.

(These folks were being considered by the Board of Guardians of the Bakewell Union in 1841): They either appeared personally or were discussed as a result of a letter from another Union or person concerned within a parish or as a result of a visit by an Overseer into the families affairs. Many people because of lack of work or illness, injury or a husband ,or wife, absconding fell into difficult circumstances and begged for relief from the Guardians. Relief came in the form of money. help with rent ,bread clothing, shoes and petticoats, help in costs to travel to seek employment. Some cases on being reviewed had either money or bread allowances deducted. Other cases were turned down completely and for some the only offer of help was the Workhouse and it's regime. Most of the people during this time were people asking for relief in the hope of staying out of the Workhouse. Originally no one was to receive any "out relieve" only by going to the Workhouse. The numbers applying was so vast that it failed from the beginning. Some Workhouses were not even built when the law was passed.



Deciphered, transcribed, compiled, indexed, formatted and copyright © 2003, John Palmer, All Rights Reserved.