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WorkHouses



From The Workhouses of Ireland: The Fate of Ireland's Poor, by John O'Connor. (Dublin, Anvil Books, 1995). Among the available documents cited in the study were the following:

A. "The Indoor Workhouse Registers," available for 23 Poor Law Unions. These Registers include:
1. Date of Admission
2. Name and Surname
3. sex and age,
4. status, if adult, married, single, deserted, or bastard.
5 occupation
7. religion
8. name of spouse and number of children.
9. electoral division or townland of residence.
10. date when left the work house or died.
11. date of birth, if born within the work house.


B. "Outdoor Relief Registers," (similar info., available for eight unions),
C. "Rate Books" for 5 unions,
D. "Rough Minute Books" (the original hand-written records under the headings stipulated by the Poor Law Commissioners.)

"The Indoor Workhouse Registers" are a goldmine of genealogical information on huge numbers of Irish ancestors for the period around the time of the famine. They are located in the local county libraries in the Irish Republic and in Public Records Office in Northern Ireland ("PRONI").

The Irish work house system was created with the Work House Act of 1838, despite the overwhelming opposition by Irish members of Parliament. Eighty-six petitions from Ireland were presented to the Parliament. They totaled 36,221 signatures against, and only 593 signatures in favor of the work house act. All of Ireland, north and south, Protestant as well as Catholic, were opposed to the Bill. Daniel O'Connell was cheered as he spoke against it. It passed anyway.

Parliament based it on The English Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834, with one important exception. The English law granted the English poor with the right, under the law, to be granted relief. In Ireland, the destitute were not granted any such rights. One of the provisions under the act established and defined new political boundaries, called "Poor Law Unions," as centers for administration of the Act.

"The Poor Relief (Ireland) Act of 1838 extended the English system to Ireland against the advice of a previous Commission of Inquiry. It divided Ireland into 130 Unions, with workhouses run by Boards of Guardians consisting of representative ratepayers, administering indoor relief only. The Famine provided horrific proof of the system's irrelevance to Irish conditions... The Irish Municipal Reform Act (1840) dissolved fifty-eight Municipal Corporations and reconstituted ten; towns that had a valuation of less than one hundred pounds were administered by the Poor Law Guardians." Foster Modern Ireland Footnote p310


By August 1846 there were 128 work houses built. They were only half full. With the onset of the famine, by 1847 they were crammed beyond capacity with 115,000 poor living in the work houses. By 1851 the numbers reached 215,000. Work houses built to handle hundred held thousands. . A work house in Femoy, for example, constructed to house 800 swelled to 1,800 inhabitants in inhumane, squalid conditions. By the end of the famine, there were 163 work houses in Ireland, with over a quarter million destitute people.

By 1872 a series of laws were proposed which were aimed at gradually phasing out the work houses. By the time of Irish independence, only a few remained.

from Tony Riordan
Co. Antrim:
Antrim: Indoor workhouse registers - PRONI
Ballycastle: Indoor workhouse registers - PRONI
Ballymoney: INdoor workhouse registers - PRONI
Larne: INdoor workhouse registers - PRONI
The records in LDS for the Ballymena Workhouse exist for 1843 to 1947
The FHLC film covering the Famine years is 0259181 coded
Indoor relief register, BG IR 1-3, 1843-1857.
From 1899-1947: Outdoor Relief Register BG OR 1 1899-
1947 on FHLC film 0259185.


Co. Armagh
Armagh: Outdoor workhouse books - PRONI
Armagh: Indoor WOrkhouse registers - PRONI
Lurgan: Indoor workhouse books - PRONI
Newry: Outrelief lists for Ballymoyler

Co. Cork
Cork: Indoor workhouse register - Cork Archives Institute
Kinsale: Indoor workhouse register - CAI
Middleton: Indoor workhouse books - CAI

Co. Donegal
Glenties: Indoor workhouse register - Co. Library
Inishowen: Indoor workhouse register - Co. Library
Letterkenny: Outdoor register - Co. Library

Co. Dublin
Dublin North: Indoor workhouse registerts - National Archives
Dubin south: Indoor workhouse registers - NA
Rathdown: Indoor workhouse registers - NA

Co. Fermanagh
Enniskilen: Out relief registers - PRONI
Enniskillen: Indoor workhouse registers - PRONI
Lowtherstown (Irvinestown): Out relief register - PRONI
Lowtherstown (Irvinestown): Indoor workhouse registers - PRONI
FHLC film #0259187-90 Indoor Relief Register 1845-1918 and
Record of Births 1846-1918 and Deaths 1899-1918
(part of Lowtherstown is in Co's Tyrone and Donegal)

Co Derry (Londonderry)
Magherafelt: Indoor workhouse register - PRONI

Co Monaghan
Castleblayney:
FHLC film #1279323 records on a film containing other
documents relating to County Monaghan.

Co. Offaly (King's co.)
Parsonstown (Birr): Indoor workhouse register - Co. Library
(part of this covers part of co. Tipperary)

Co. Tipperary
Thurles: Indoor workhouse rgisters - Co. Library

Co Tyrone
FHLC film # 0259164 and 0259165
Indoor Relief Registers 1862-1883
Strabane Poor Law Union which was partly in County Tyrone and partly in County Donegal.

Co. Wicklow:
Rathdrum: indoor workhouse registers - Courthouse, Wicklow




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