Gloucester Town Government 1483-1547.
Among the communal responsibilities for which the
stewards accounted were the maintenance of public buildings, street paving and
cleaning, the upkeep of the town water supply, the expenses of the members of
parliament, and the costs of litigation in which the town was engaged with other
communities or individuals over such matters as the charging of tolls.94
Other concerns of the town government at the period were illustrated by
ordinances made by the frankpledge jury in 1500 for the regulation of trade 95
and for the upkeep of public order and morality. Strumpets were to be carted
around the town and, together with those who consorted with them, put on public
display in the market place. Only town officers were to wear swords or long
knives in the town; no inhabitant of the town was to be retained by any county
gentleman, a practice said to have caused much trouble; and beggars were to be
registered at the Boothall by the town clerk. 96The problem of
beggars was mentioned in 1493 when the mayor received a Royal command to keep
watch for vagabonds,97and in 1504 all paupers were ordered to leave
town except for 36 people, mainly women, who had been registered and badged.98
94 G.B.R., F 4/2-3.
95 Below, regulation of trade and ind.
96 G.B.R., B 2/1, ff. 17, 19, and v., 20v.
97 Ibid. F 4/2.
98 Ibid. B 2/1.f. 233v.
Gloucester 1720-1835 Government
Under the earliest improvement Act, that of 1750 for
removing buildings in Westgate Street, a body comprising the whole corporation,
the cathedral clergy, and various prominent citizens was empowered 13 and
apparently financed its operations by raising subscriptions. 14 Later
Acts authorized the levying of rates and linked the parish vestries with the
corporation in an often uneasy partnership. Parish surveyors appointed from 1777
to supervise paving and street cleaning were chosen by the city magistrates from
lists nominated by the vestries, 15 and a body of commissioners
appointed in 1781 to remove some of the city gates and build a new gaol was
composed equally of corporation members and parish representatives elected by
the vestries. 16 An Act of 1821 established a night watch, to be
chosen by the magistrates from lists nominated by the vestries; 17 earlier
schemes for a watch had failed because of opposition from some of the parishes,
though some had given their support. 18 The Act of 1821 also set up a
body of street improvement commissioners, comprising the aldermen and elected
parish representatives. It proved an ineffectual body, apparently because of the
reluctance of the parish representatives to commit large sums from the rates.
For the first three years its meetings dealt only with procedural matters, and
after another four years only two fairly minor projects had been completed. 19
The independent character of the parish vestries became
evident once again in their attitude to the board of health set up by Privy
Council order in May 1832 to deal with the cholera epidemic raging in the city.
The 20 strong body included the mayor and four aldermen (three of whom were
surgeons), some of the other city medical men, the bishop of Gloucester, and
various gentry and clergy. 20 Some of the parishes gave unqualified
support 21 but three of the most populous, St. Nicholas, St. Mary de
Crypt, and St Michael, were antagonized by the lack of parish representatives on
the board and urged that the governor and guardians of the poor should act in
its stead. The St. Michael's vestry appointed its own committee and health
inspectors to carry out the recommended measures independently of the board. 22
In their efforts to maintain law and order in 18th
century Gloucester the main concerns of the city authorities were discouragement
of vagrants and control of alehouses. In the earlier parts of the century some
responsibility for enforcing the vagrancy laws was taken by the governor and
guardians of the poor under powers given by an Act of 1703. They managed the
city bridewell at the east gate and in 1727 also fitted up a house of correction
at the new workhouse. 23 Following the vagrancy Act of 1740 the bench
of magistrates (composed of 12 aldermen, the recorder, the bishop of Gloucester,
the dean and two cathedral prebendaries) took sole responsibility for vagrancy,
levying a separate rate on the parishes for that purpose. 24
The large number of alehouses in the city was
identified as an encouragement to vagrants and a general cause of disorder in
1730, when the magistrates refused to re- licence some of them. Undesirable
characters expelled from the city could, however, find similar haunts just
beyond the magistrates' jurisdiction, and the Gloucestershire magistrates were
pressed to take parallel action against alehouses in the suburbs. 25
In 1747 the city magistrates launched a campaign to establish tighter control
over the alehouses. Licences were to be granted only to city freemen; a limit of
90 was placed on the number of licensed houses, which were to be restricted to
the more central parts of the city; and there were to be regular inspections of
the houses and examinations into the character of their keepers. 26
Vagrancy and the other petty offences that provided
much of the business of the city quarter sessions were usually punished by
public whippings through the streets on market days. In the 1760's a person
characterized as `idle and disorderly' might be whipped from the prison at the
north gate round the wheat market near the entrance to Southgate Street, while a
person convicted of a more serious offence, such as obtaining money by false
pretences, might be whipped the length of Westgate Street and back. More
persistent offenders were put to hard labour in the bridewell. The pillory and
stocks in Southgate Street were still used occasionally in the early 19th
century, but the usual punishment for petty crime was then imprisonment in the
new city gaol, 27 built under an Act of 1781. 28 The new
gaol, in Southgate Street south of St. Kyneburgh's Hospital, 29 was
built with separate cells on the lines advocated by John Howard. 30 It
was considerably enlarged to the west c. 1816 when a house of correction was
built adjoining it and a treadwheel installed. 31
In the later part of the period the magistrates, who by
1802 met twice a week at the Tolsey, attempted more effective policing of the
city. 32 A regular challenge for them and for the city police
comprising 12 ward constables and the minor corporation officers, was provided
by the fairs, which encouraged an influx of disreputable characters. In the mid
1780's the magistrates began the practice of searching the cheap lodging houses
on those occasions and rigorously excluding likely offenders; the Gloucester
Journal co-operated by issuing
warnings against pickpockets and tricksters and against the footpads who lay in
wait on the outskirts of the city for farmers returning from the fairs. 33 In
1786 a system of rewards for arrests by the city police was introduced 34
and a night watch was instituted. The watch was not, however, established on a
permanent basis until the Act of 1821 35 and even then was not found
particularly effective. The funds to cover its expenses were severely restricted
by a clause in the Act, and the problem of villains taking refuge beyond the
city boundary remained, particularly as few county magistrates lived in the
immediate vicinity. 35 Voluntary efforts to combat crime included a
prosecution society, established by 1800. 37
On the whole Georgian Gloucester was a peaceful place.
The occasional riots reflected national political issues or regional unrest
rather than internal tensions. In 1734 a mob destroyed all the turnpike gates
outside the city; 38 during the bread riots of 1766 weavers from the
Stroud area invaded the market in an attempt to lower the price of corn; 39
there were minor disturbances at elections, as in 1780 when reformist zeal was
directed against the sitting member George Selwyn; 40 and in 1792 a
`Church and King' mob burnt Tom Paine in effigy. 41 In 1804 and 1811
some journeymen shoemakers were proceeded against under the Combination Acts for
holding meetings to seek higher wages 42 but the radical movements of
the early 19th century made little impact in the city, where there
was only a small industrial workforce. At the autumn quarter sessions of 1819
the city magistrates congratulated themselves on the absence of disturbance in
recent years. 43 The only riot of the early 19th century,
in 1827 over tolls charged at Westgate bridge, had, it was said, the tacit
support of many respectable inhabitants and the demands of the rioters were
speedily conceded. 44
As in other cities, public health did not become a
cause for concern until the national cholera epidemic of 1832. A voluntary board
of health formed in November 1831 to meet the threat found the city at risk
through inadequate water supply, scavenging, and sewerage. Highlighted in
particular was the state of some of the western districts - the Island,
Archdeacon Street, and around the quay - where there were crowded courts of poor
housing, whose inhabitants took water directly from the Severn. Those districts
suffered most during the epidemic, which between July and September 1832 killed
123 people out of a total of 366 who contracted the disease. Measures taken by
the voluntary board and the new board that succeeded it in May 1832 included the
opening of an isolation hospital in Barton Street, the issue of regulations and
advice, and the encouragement of subscriptions to a relief fund. The epidemic
prompted the establishment of a society `for bettering the condition of the
industrious poor'. Which instituted a clothing and coal charity, but otherwise
promoted only the vague aims of encouraging sobriety, industry, and cleanliness.
Concrete measures for improvement were not forthcoming,
and at municipal reform in 1834 the city still awaited adequate systems for
sewerage and water supply.
13 Glouc. Improvement Act, 23 Geo. II. C. 15
14 Glouc. Jnl. 9 Jun. 1752.
15 Maisemore Bridge and Glouc. Improvement Act, 17 GEO. III. C. 68.
16 Glouc. Gaol and Improvement Act. 21 Geo. III. c. 74.
17 Glouc. Market and Improvement Act. 1 & 2 Geo. IV. C. 22.
18 Glos. R.O., P 154/11/VE 2/1; 12/VE 2/1; 14/VE 2/2.
19 Glos. Colln. 22415.
20 Glouc. Jnl. 30 June 1832.
21 Glos. R.O., P 154/9/VE 2/2; 12/VE 2/1.
22 Ibid. 11/VE 2/1; 14/VE 2/2; 15/VE 2/1; Glos. Colln. 18747; cf. Glouc. Jnl. 25 Aug., 1 Sept. 1832.
23 G.B.R., B 6/5; Glos. R.O., D 3270/19712,pp. 37, 48, 96, 133-4.
24 Glos. R.O., P 154/11/OV 2/3; 15/OV 2/3.
25 Ibid. D 3270/19712, pp. 137, 142-3.
26 G.B.R., B 3/10, ff. 89v-97.
27 G.B.R., G 3/SO 8-10; and for the use of the stocks, Glouc. Jnl. 10 July 1820.
28 Glouc. Gaol and Improvement Act, 21 Geo. III. c. 74; G.B.R., F 4/13, pp. 50, 191.
29 Cole, Map of Glouc. (1805).
30 Fosbrooke, Glouc. 218; Glouc. Guide (1792), 85.
31 G.B.R., F 4/15, pp. 351, 539; Delineations of Glos. 15; Counsel, Glouc. 172'; cf. G.B.R., G 3/AG 1. The gaol is illustrated in copy of Fosbrooke, Glouc. In Glos. Colln. 10675.
32 Glouc. New Guide. (1802), 21; G.B.R., J 4/12, no.1.
33 Glouc. Jnl. 29 Nov., 6 Dec. 1784; 3 oct. 1785.
34 Ibid. 4 dec. 1786.
35 Below, Public services.
36 Rep. Com. Mun. Corp. 63-4.
37 Glouc. Jnl. 30 Mar. 1801.
38 Glos. N. & Q. iv. 493-4.
39 Glouc. Jnl. 15 Sept. 1766.
40 Trans. B.G.A.S. lxxviii. 149-50.
41 Glouc. Jnl. 31 Dec. 1792.
42 G.B.R., G 3/SO 9-10.
43 Glouc. Jnl. 25 oct. 1819.
44 Ibid. 29 Sept., 6 Oct. 1827.
45 Ibid. 29 Oct. 1831 to 3 Nov. 1832.
Source: Quoted from the Victoria County History, Gloucestershire, volume 4, pages 150-151, by permission of the General Editor. Submitted by Alan Longbottom
Gloucester 1720-1835: Social & Cultural Life
The evangelical movement in the established church was
already well represented among the Gloucester citizens in 1812, when a branch of
the British and Foreign Bible Society was formed, 47 and it gained
much impetus after the appointment of Henry Ryder as bishop of Gloucester in
1815. Ryder was active in promoting lectures in the city churches and he took
the lead in forming a National school in 1816 and a penitentiary for reforming
prostitutes, 48 the Magdalen Asylum in a house in St. Mary's Square,
in 1821. 49 His influence presumably also lay behind the formation of
a Sunday observance society, which in 1817 was attempting to get city employers
to pay their workers on Friday rather than Saturday night; payment on Saturday
was thought to lead to shops opening on Sunday and to low attendance at
services, following heavy drinking on Saturday night. 50 In 1818 the
society was said to have almost put a stop to traffic on Sunday's even extending
its objections to the use of velocipedes. 51 The provision of more
church accommodation for the poor was also discussed at the period, 52
but in the event the first new church built in the 19th century was a
proprietary church for the wealthy inhabitants of the Spa, opened in 1823. 53
A later bishop of Gloucester, James Monk, was active in
similar fields, lending his support to a dispensary opened in 1831 54
and to a local branch of a national temperance society established in 1832. 55
Following the cholera epidemic of 1832 he formed a society for improving
the condition of the poor. 56
47 Glouc. Jnl. 7, 21 Sept. 1812.
48 W.J. Baker, `Hen. Ryder of Glouc. 1815-24' Trans. B.G.A.S lxxxix 139-40; Glos. R.O., P 154/VE 2/2, mins. 1821-3; Hockaday Abs. ccxv, 1820; ccxx, 1822.
49 Counsel, Glouc. 178-9.
50 Glouc. Jnl. 10 Mar. 1817.
51 Ibid. 2 Nov. 1818; 10 May 1819.
52 Ibid. 22 Feb. 1819.
53 Below, Churches and Chapels.
54 Glos. Colln. N 19.3; NF. 19.1.
55 T. Hudson, Temperance Pioneers of the West (1888), 74; Glouc.Jnl. 1 Dec. 1832.
56 Glouc. Jnl. 3, 10, Nov. 1832.
Source: Quoted from the Victoria County History, Gloucestershire, volume 4, page 158, by permission of the General Editor. Submitted by Alan Longbottom
Gloucester 1720-1835 : Topography.
At the close of the period, however, there were still
only widely scattered buildings in outer Barton Street; Gothic Cottages were
judged suitable for use as an isolation hospital in the cholera epidemic of
1832, and to go beyond the junction with Park Road was then regarded as `going
into the country'. 72
72 Glos. Colln. 6587' cf. Glouc. Jnl. 11 Aug 1832.
Source: Quoted from the Victoria County History, Gloucestershire, volume 4, page 168, by permission of the General Editor. Submitted by Alan Longbottom
Gloucester 1835-1985 : Government
Apart from the payment of its officials and the
management of its property, financial demands on the new corporation were few.
Its main duties were in the enforcement of law and order, notably in the
provision of a city police force, which cost £851 in its first full year.
Another major burden was the maintenance of the city gaol and lock-up in
Southgate Street. 44 For a few years the council superseded the
magistrates in regulating the gaol, and as the building was unsuitable on the
grounds of size, security, and sanitation convicts were sent to the county gaol
when accommodation there allowed. 45 The city gaol was closed in
1858. 46 The police force did not contain lawlessness, 47
and the council, unwilling to add to its financial commitments, did little to
improve policing. In 1846 it dismissed a proposal for a police station in
Archdeacon Street, a notoriously turbulent area. 48 The failings of
the police service, which was described as `rotten from beginning to end' and
the prospect of financial support from central government convinced the council
of the benefits of a merger of its force with that of the county in 1859. 49
police salaries remained an item of considerable expenditure after that date.
44 Abstracts of Treasurer's Accts 1836-41; copies in Glos. Colln. NX 12.3.
45 G.B.R., B 4/1/5 passim 2/1. B 3/15, min. 23 Jan. 1837; 16, pp. 266-76.
46 Ibid. G 3/6. 2/3.
47 cf. Ibid. B 4/1/5, f. 57.
48 Ibid. B 3/17, pp. 138-9; Glouc. Jnl. 20 June 1846
49 Glouc. Jnl 31 Jan. 1857. Below. Public Services.
Source: Quoted from the Victoria County History, Gloucestershire, volume 4, page 192, by permission of the General Editor. Submitted by Alan Longbottom
Gloucester Poor Law and Workhouse
Poor Law Guardians - Lighting
An early measure to provide street lighting was taken
by the council in 1685, when it ordered all householders paying at least 2d a
week in poor rates to hang lanterns outside their doors on winter evenings. 99
St. Nicholas's parish was maintaining public oil lamps in the 1720's 1 as
was St. Mary de Crypt in 1734, when the governor and guardians of the poor
decided to take responsibility for all the public lamps of the city. 2
The responsibility was returned to the parish vestries
in 1755, 3 but once more taken by the guardians under the Act
reconstituting them in 1764. 4 By 1790 the guardians were maintaining
c. 160 lights and employing a lamplighter. 5
By an Act of 1819 the governor and guardians were
empowered to provide gaslighting in the city, the rates levied by them to be
authorized by the corporation.
99 G.B.R. B 3/3. p 896
1 Glos.R.O., P. 154/15/OV 2/3.
2 Ibid. D 3270/19712, pp. 229-31.
3 Ibid. P 154/11/OV 2/3; 15/OV 2/3.
4 Glouc. Poor Relief & Lighting Act 4 Geo III. c.60.
5 Glouc. Jnl. 5 July 1790.
Source: Quoted from the Victoria County History, Gloucestershire, volume 4, page 266, by permission of the General Editor. Submitted by Alan Longbottom
Poor Law Guardians
Gloucester 1720-1835 : Government.
Among various statutory bodies which played a part in
the government of Gloucester during the period the poor-relief corporation was
the most important. It had a chequered history in the first part of the century.
After the failure of the original workhouse scheme in 1707, the functions of the
governor and guardians of the poor were confined to running a charity school and
managing property left by Timothy Nourse. Plans for reviving the workhouse were
prompted partly by bequests made to the guardians, principally by Alderman John
Hyett (d. 1711) and his son Joseph. A. bill was promoted in 1722 81
and after much debate in the city, 82 was passed in 1727. By the Act
the governor and guardians were reconstituted to include the mayor and the five
senior aldermen, the Bishop of Gloucester, the dean with other cathedral
vestries and a meeting of residents in the close. The main differences from the
system set up in 1703 by the original Act were that the outlying hamlets were
included in the scheme, which made it necessary to substitute the parishes for
the four city wards as the units for electing guardians; the voting
qualification was changed from payment of 3d a week in poor rates to occupancy
of a house valued at £5 a year; and the elected guardians' term of office was
lengthened from one year to six. The city corporation's distaste for the
frequent held under the former system lay behind the last-mentioned change. 83
The workhouse was opened in 1727 in the former New Bear
Inn 84 at the corner of Quay Street and Castle Lane 85, and the
able-bodied inmates were put to work at heading and packing pins under an
agreement with a local manufacturer. 86 The finance from parish rates
was supplemented by the proceeds of land, 87 mainly the estate at
Longford left by Timothy Nourse, 88 an estate in Tyanton left by
Dorothy Cocks, and an estate in Miserden bought in 1733 with part of the Hyetts'
bequest. 89 The guardians also found it necessary on occasion to
borrow money at interest. 90Their main problem was in collecting the
rate income from the parish officers. Particularly recalcitrant were some of the
hamlets beyond the city boundary, where the situation was complicated by the
fact that it was the county magistrates, rather than those of the city, who had
to authorize and enforce collection. 91 In the late 1720's the total
annual sum assessed on the parishes was £859, of which £209 came from the
outlying hamlets; 92 an increase of one eighth on that sum in 1741, a
time of high food prices, apparently raised the assessment to the limit imposed
by the Act. 93 In 1755 the guardians were attempting to put the
workhouse with its c. 160 inmates out to farm. 94 By 1757 they were
in debt for £830 and, after some of the parishes had resisted a proposal to get
parliamentary sanction for higher rates, the workhouse was closed. The poor were
returned to the parishes, 95 two of the most populous of which, St.
Nicholas and St. Michael, opened their own workhouses in 1760.96
In 1764, in spite of opposition from some of the parish
vestries, 97 the city workhouse was revived by an amending Act of
Parliament. The hamlets, except for Kingsholm, were excluded from the scheme and
the city magistrates were given wider powers for enforcing payment of rates;
however, the parishes were given greater control by a return to annual
After 1764 the workhouse functioned without further
interruption. The poor were employed principally by arrangements with the
pinmakers, but in the early 19th century some were employed in
ropemaking and flaxdressing, and children were offered as apprentices to cotton
manufacturers. 99 In the year ending March 1803, a time of particular
scarcity, 216 paupers were maintained in the house and 578 people were given
the period 1813-15 there were 70-100 adults in the house, c. 185 people each
year received out relief, and occasional relief was given to numbers of others. 2
In the year ending March 1803 the guardians' expenditure, including the
cost of their charity school and property expenses, was £2,290, while their
income, made up of the assessments on the city parishes (c.£1,660), rents (£267),
and interest from investments, was £2,335. 3 In 1813, after it had
become apparent that the school was the sole object of the gifts by the Hyetta
and Dorothy Cocks, the rents of the Miserden and Taynton estates were applied
exclusively to a reorganized charity school. 4
The cost of the city's poor was reasonably well
contained until the difficult years at the end of the period. Between 1813 and
1827 the total annual sum required from the parishes remained at c. £2,500, but
by 1834 it had risen to £4,617; 5 as well as the sums raised for the
workhouse, those figures included the cost of settlement and removal, for which
the parishes were individually responsible and for which the larger parishes
found it necessary to employ paid assistant overseers in the early 1830's.
The burden of the poor on the guardians and the
parishes was eased by the wide array of parish charities, and by the corporation
almshouses, which supported c. 90 poor people. 7 In times of
particular need, such as hard winters, food shortages, and the severe Severn
floods of 1770, 1795, and 1809, when the western part of the city up to the
cathedral close was inundated, relief funds were organized and were usually
opened by substantial donations from the corporation. 8
On a regular basis the corporation also continued its
supply of cheap coal for sale to the poor. Until 1829, when it was decided to
give £20 to the poor at Christmas instead, 9 one of the city's
wharfingers was given the use of a coalyard at the quay and an interest-free
loan of £70 to stock it. 10
Source: Quoted from the Victoria County History, Gloucestershire, volume 4,
pages 147-149, by permission of the General Editor. Submitted by Alan Longbottom
81 Glouc. Poor-Relief Act, 13 Geo. I, c.19; Rudder, Glos. 129. G.D.R., wills 1711/212; 1713/42
82 G.B.R., B 3/9, ff. 142v,-143; J 1/199A; Glos. Colln. (H) F 1.2.
83 Glouc. Poor-Relief Act, 13 Geo. I, c. 19.
84 Glos. R.O., D 3270/19712, pp. 1, 28.
85 Cf. G.B.R., J 3/8, ff. 215v-252; Hall and Pinnell, Map of Glouc. (1780).
86 Glos. R.O., D 3270/19712. pp.27, 31-2, 207.
87 Ibid. pp. 204, 211; Glouc. Poor-Relief Act, 13 Geo. I, c. 19
88 G.D.R., wills 1700/57.
89 Below, Educ. Elem. Educ., Poor's sch.
90 Glos. R.O., F 3270/19712, pp. 131, 144, 208, 308.
91 Ibid. pp. 211, 297, 327, 334; Glouc. Poor-Relief and Lighting Act, 4 Geo. III, c. 60.
92 Glos. R.O., D 3270/19712, pp. 72-7.
93 Ibid. pp. 308, 327; cf. Ibid. pp. 398, 401, 403.
94 Glouc. Jnl. 4 Mar. 1755.
95 Glouc. Poor-Relief and Lighting Act, 4 Geo. III, c.60; Glos. R.O., P 154/11/CW 2/4' 14/VE 2/1
96 Glos. R.O., P 154/14/VE 2/1; 15/OV 2/4.
97 Ibid. 11/OV 2/3; 14/VE 2/1.
98 Glouc. Poor-Relief and Lighting Act, 4 Geo. III, c.60.
99 Poor Law Abstract, 1804, 186-7; Glouc. Jnl. 5 July 1802; 11 Jan. 1808; 11 Mar. 1816.
2 Ibid. 1818, 158-9.
3 Ibid. 1804, 186-7.
4 Below, Educ. Elem. educ., Poor's sch.
5 Poor Law Abstract 1818, 158-9; Poor Law Returns (1830-1), 72; (1835), 71.
6 Glos. R.O., P 154/9/VE 2/1; 11/VE 2/1; 15/VE 2/1.
7 Below. Char. for Poor.
8 Glouc. Jnl. 22 Jan. 1740; 26 Nov. 1770; 16 Feb. 1795; 20 Oct 1800; 30 Jan., 6 Feb. 1809; 18 Nov. 1816; G.B.R., F 4/9. P. 261; 11, p. 383; 12. P. 57; 13.pp. 118, 400; 15, p. 60; K 4/4.
9 G.B.R., B 4/1/4, f. 39.
10 Ibid. B 3/9, f. 304; 10. F. 113; 11. F. 260 and v.
Source: Quoted from the Victoria County History, Gloucestershire, volume 4, pages 147-149, by permission of the General Editor. Submitted by Alan Longbottom
Poor Relief & Pauperism
The corporations' range of activities widened in the
late 19th and early 20th century and the council obtained
from parliament several extensions of its powers. 49 In 1889 the
city, as a county of itself, assumed county borough status and the council took
over some administrative functions from the magistrates. 50 In 1896
the city took in the county prison and the council acquired the powers of the
city's civil parishes, which were consolidated to form the civil parish of
Gloucester. 51 For the new parish the council appointed four
overseers from among its members and employed an assistant overseer. 52
The change equalized rating throughout the city. 53 The overseer's
duties lapsed in 1927 when rating powers for poor relief in the city passed to
the corporation. 54
49 Glouc. Corp. Act, 1894, 57 & 58 Vic. C. 91(Local); 1911, 1 & 2 Geo. V, c. 92 (Local).
50 Local Govt. Act, 1888, 51 & 52 Vic. c. 41.
51 Glouc. Corp. Act, 1894, 58 & 58 Vic. c. 91 (Local); Census, 1901.
52 G.B.R., B 3/30, pp. 163-4.
53 Ibid. 35, rep. Of finance and gen. Purposes sub-cttee.
54 Glos. R.O., P 154/15/VE 2/3; G/GL 52A.
Poor Law and Pauperism
In the late 19th and early 20th
century general hospital accommodation in the city was divided between the
Gloucester Infirmary and the poor-law union infirmary. In 1912 the board of
guardians started a new infirmary opposite the workhouse and opened a new
block of casual wards to increase overnight accommodation for wayfarers. 24
In 1930 on the abolition of the board of guardians, the city corporation became
responsible for poor relief in the city, 25 and a joint committee of
the council and other local authorities in south-western England was established
to deal with vagrancy. 26 The corporation's new duties involved a
range of welfare services, and it took over the former union buildings,
including the infirmary and two children's homes, and an estate in Tuffley. 27
24 Glouc. Jnl. 17 Feb. 1912; below, Hosp.
25 Local Govt. Act, 1929, 19 Geo. V, c.17.
26 Glos. R.O., G/GL185/12.
27 `Rep of Public Assistance Cttee. 1930-1' (TS in Glos. Colln. NF 12.383
Source: Quoted from the Victoria County History, Gloucestershire, volume 4, page 203, by permission of the General Editor. Submitted by Alan Longbottom
Workhouse - Gloucester 1835-1985 : Topography.
Industrial development continued in the Island and
behind the quay, 68 but in Quay Street the site of the city workhouse
demolished in 1839 remained empty until after 1850. 69 The area to
the south was dominated by the county gaol. 70 The Gloucester
poor-law union erected its workhouse on the east side of the city and outside
the built-up area in 1837 and 1838. 71
68 Glos. Hist. Studies, xii.3; Power's Glouc. Handbk. (1862), 73.
69 Glos. R.O., D 3270/19713, mins. 17 Jan., 11 May 1839, 31 Dec. 1850.
70 Causton, Map of Glouc. 1843); Bd. of Health Map (1852); for the gaol, below, Glouc. Castle.
71 Above, city govt.
Source: Quoted from the Victoria County History, Gloucestershire, volume 4, page 221, by permission of the General Editor. Submitted by Alan Longbottom
Gloucester Poor Law Union - Gloucester 1835-1895 : Topography
In 1889 the road leading from London Road to the
workhouse was widened by the G.W.R. for goods traffic and was renamed Great
Western Road. 42 The poor-law union began building on the east side
in 1912. 43
42 Glos. Chron.9 Nov. 1889; the road was extended c. 1895: Glouc. Jnl 2 Feb. 1895
43 Glouc. Jnl 17 Feb., 13 Apr. 1912.
Source: Quoted from the Victoria County History, Gloucestershire, volume 4, page 223, by permission of the General Editor. Submitted by Alan Longbottom
Poor Law Guardians; Elementary Education.
Apart from the 20 boarding places at Sir Thomas Rich's
school, the earliest provision of free elementary education was in the Poor's
school founded in 1700 and later carried on by the governors and guardians of
The provision of weekday education for the poor was
much increased by the reorganization of the Poor's school in 1813 and the
opening of a national school for the city in 1817.
Page updated March 12, 2008 by Rossbret