Link back to main ROSSBRET websitePlymouth


Link back to main ROSSBRET websitePlymouth


Plymouth Poor Law Union and Workhouse

Erected in 1852 to 1858 at Freedom Fields, Longfield Terrace, Plymouth. It became Greenbank Infirmary in 1909 and then under the NHS it formed part of Plymouth General Hospital (Freedom Fields)

1851 census Plymouth, St Andrew, Devonshire.
HO/107/1879             Folio 881     Page 1

Robert Burnard - Master (occupation also listed as Scrivener)
Elizabeth Burnard - Matron

Hospital of Poors Portion or Workhouse  

By an Act of Parliament, passed in 6 Queen Anne (1708) for erecting a Workhouse in Plymouth for the 2 parishes, all almshouses belonging to the mayor & commonality were vested in the Corporation of the Guardians of the Poor, established by that Act. 

Among other property transferred to them was the hospital, or workhouse, called the Poor' s Portion, built in 1630, & endowed with land & tenements now let for upwards of 20 a year, & given by various donors. This property is let on 99 years leases, determinable on lives; & subject to fines on every renewal. The Guardians of the Poor are also in receipt of 5 a year in 3 annuities. The Act of Queen Elizabeth was amended by 3 other acts passed in 32 George 11, & 26 & 53 George 111, & under them the 2 parishes still maintain their poor, without any interference from the New Poor Law Commissioners. 

The Workhouse has been enlarged at various periods, & comprises an extensive range of buildings, partly ancient & partly modern, but many of the older parts have been altered or rebuilt. It stands in St Andrew's parish, & has room for more than 400 paupers. The able bodied are employed in teazing oakum, making mats etc. The guardians are elected annually, on the second Tuesday in May, 14 from the Town Council, 20 from the ratepayers of St Andrew's, & 18 from the ratepayers of the parish of Charles. The total cost of maintaining the poor of the 2 parishes was 11,580 in 1838; 16,529 in 1848; & 15,014 in 1849. 

The governor, deputy governor, treasurer & receiver are appointed yearly by the guardians; Robert Burnard, clerk; H Wotton, cashier; Thomas Scammell, store keeper; Elizabeth Burnard, matron; F A Pardon & Thomas Edwards, relieving officers; J P Williams & Mary Harris, teachers of the schools.  
Source: Plymouth - White Directory 1850 p.662-3
Submitted by Betty Longbottom


Workhouses, List of those visited in 1867 With Name of the Workhouse and numbers of  insane, idiotic, and imbecile inmates.
Plymouth 29 20 49
Source: 22nd Report of the Commissioners in Lunacy to the Lord Chancellor. Submitted by Alan Longbottom.

Records Available

Devon Records Office Web Site 

Castle Street, 

Unit 3, 
Clare Place, 

Page last updated 12 March, 2008 by Rossbret