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Atcham Poor Law Union and Workhouse

The Parish Book of St Chad's
Tibham's Directory of Salop 1828
History of Pontesbury
Atcham Union
Report on the state of Pauperism

The Parish Book of St Chad's Shrewsbury 1722-1785.

The provision for the maintenance and employment of the poor appears to have been a frequent source of trouble in the parish: the assessments, commencing at 6d in the pound in 1728, rose to 5s-6d in 1785; the management of the workhouse does not appear to have been in competent hands, and to have been rendered difficult by the interference of unauthorised persons in its affairs:       disputes as to the accounts and the assessments were continually taking place, and the entries suggest that there was very much mismanagement in the care of the poor.         In 1728 the Corporation made an order that "St Chad's" parish should have the Jersey House for "their workhouse" ; this building still exists (as at 1912) in St Austin's Street, and  was used for that purpose until the removal of the poor to      Kingsland in 1785. 
On the offer of the Corporation a parish meeting was held, and the following gentlemen appointed "to order the place, and in what manner the poor shall be employed with work" :-

        John Fownes Esq.                Mr Thomas Lindop.

        Henry Edwards Esq.            Mr James Millington.

        Edward Gosnel Esq.            Mr Samuel Bennett.

        Humphrey Sandford Esq.    Mr Joseph Mucklestone.

        Mr John Skrymsher.              Mr Price. - Collector.

        Mr Richard Wollaston.           Mr Vincent Price.

        Mr Edward Jones.                 Mr Bold Wilding.

        Mr William Turnor.                 Mr Abel Shepheard.

        Mr Thomas Morhall.              Mr Richard Morgan.

        Mr James Blakeway.             Mr Thomas Talbot.

        Mr Edward Gregory.              Mr John Gorton.

        Mr Michael Brickdale.            Mr Thomas Wolley.

In 1730 the parishioners "agreed that the above Committee should not have any power, directly or indirectly, for the future, in the management of the workhouse, but in conjunction with the rest of the parishioners and officers for the time being" In September of the same year it was decided to give "to ye woman at ye workhouse a month's notice to make up her accounts with the officers and deliver the assets of the parish to such person as the officers shall place in her room." 
"The woman at the workhouse, (presumably the person described in modern times as the matron), refusing to comply" was referred to the committee - with, what results are not stated. In 1731 trouble arose, owing to the assessment having been made by the four overseers without "the consent or assistance of the Wardens and Assessors, contrary to the ancient custom and usage" and twelve persons were appointed to make an assessment in        defiance of the order of the overseers. To this resolution a     long list of signatures is appended. In 1732 it was agreed that the Wardens "shall contract with George Alker of Wigan for the uniting with other parishes in erecting a        workhouse, employing and providing for the poor of the parish for 7 years pursuant to certain articles agreed at the yearly sum of £220," which the parishioners undertook to provide. To this resolution is again appended a long list of signatures, but apparently the arrangement was not entirely carried out, as there is no further reference to it, except a payment of £130 to Mr Alker in 1737, "for ye year 1733" 

In 1733 a very lengthy resolution was approved, to which there are 85 signatures, refusing payment of an assessment of "one and twenty pence" in the pound made by the justices in defiance of an assessment of 6d made by the parish officers. 
In 1738 it was agreed that "the parishioners indemnify the Wardens from any lease for term of years that they should make with Mr Cole for the Workhouse." 
In 1741 a Committee was appointed "to consult and inquire into Acts of Parliament in order to erect a general workhouse for the maintenance and employment of the poor in the severall parishes of Salop." The persons appointed were :-

In 1742 "It was ordered that notice be given to every Apothecary in the parish of St Chad to send in proposals for supplying the poor with medicine by the year, and that the Wardens shall have power to agree with that Apothecary who will do it cheapest"

In 1744 it was decided "to purchase three messuages in Barker St," probably for the extension of the workhouse, on which £60 was expended in repairs.

In 1746, Mr Newell was appointed master of the workhouse at a salary of £20 a year.

In 1750 the parish meeting decided by the votes of 55 persons against 16, all of whose names are given, to take proceedings against the late overseers - "Robert Evans, Thomas Prosser and others" to recover the sum of £41-10s-0d "lent to or laid down for the discharge of debts of Bernard Dean, late Master of the Workhouse, being more money than was due to him for necessary maintenance of the poor." It was also decided "to indict the said Overseers for wilful and corrupt perjury."

In 1752 a special meeting was held to legalise an assessment of 2 shillings in the pound, which was "illegal by reason of omitting proclaiming the said assessment" as required by law.

In 1754 it was decided to take counsel's opinion as to "whether ye Mayor and Justices have a right to make more than four overseers for the parish."

In 1755 "It was agreed that the Wardens employ Council, and pursue such methods as shall be directed, to have the legality of the appointment of five overseers by the Justices determined." Again there are a long list of signatures, with a foot-note that it was also "unanimously agreed" that the wardens are not "to lend the Benches belonging to the Church, on any account."

In 1756 it was resolved that "in case of an illegal assessment  being made by Thomas Loxdale, Thomas Presland, Edward Tipton, William France, and Richard Plumer, reputed Overseers." the parishioners shall be defended at the cost of the parish in any action that may be taken against them.

In 1756, at a meeting held "after evening service at the toll of  the bells." it wasdecided to employ, Mr Abraham Jones, attorney-at-law, to make application "to the King's Bench to seek relief by reason of the Justices having settled and passed the Vagrant Accounts for 14 years and upwards, notwithstanding many material objections there-to." The "poor lewn" at this time was 2s in the pound, and gradually    rose to 5s in 1778. In August 1779, the poor-rates having generally increased, and meetings having been held in all the parishes of the town to consider a plan for uniting the parishes as far as concerns the employment and maintenance of the poor, and proposals having been         received from the Governors of the Orphan's Hospital in London for letting their house, buildings and lands on Kingsland for a term of three years; and the wardens and overseeers were appointed jointly with the representatives of the other parishes to enter into a contract with the Governors of the Hospital. A special meeting of the parishioners confirmed this decision, to which the Vicar (Thomas Humphries), the Wardens, (Thos Powell, Richard Spendlove, Joseph Field), the Overseers (John Steventon, Jos Wickstead, Thomas Cook), and a dozen parishioners  appended their signatures.

In October of the same year an agreement was considered to "demise to the Commissioners of Sick and Wounded Seamen, and for the exchange of Prisoners of War, the Hospital buildings and lands on Kingsland" It was "resolved that in the opinion of this parish it will not (all circumstances being considered) be for the benefit of the parish to enter into any agreement with the Commissioners touching the said Hospital, but that the Governors and Guardians of the    Foundling Hospital in London be desired to accept the thanks of the parish for their generous offer and preference of a lease, and that they beg leave to give up their interest therein."

In March 1783, a meeting was held "to consider the propriety  of purchasing or leasing the Orphan Hospital for a General House of Industry, for the use of the several parishes of the town; and it was decided that the same should be purchased."

The following gentlemen were appointed a committee, to act with the other parishes and to carry out the resolution :- 

Rev Mr Humphries and the officers for the time being.
Charles Stanier Esq.        
Mr Samuel Harley.
Mr Thomas Powell.          
Mr Samuel Pritchard.
Mr Joseph Gittins.          
Mr Edward Parry.
Robert Pemberton Esq.      
Mr John Bather.

At a general meeting, held in October 1783, the report of the committee was considered, recommending an average of the payment to be made by St Chad's Parish, based on an average of the outlay on poor relief during the past twelve years, from 1769 to 1781, the yearly average expenditure being £1,276-15s-11d. and the total average expenditure of the six parishes of St Chad, St Mary, St Alkmund, St Julian, The Abbey and Meole Brace, being £2,761-16s-8d

This was agreed as the basis for the proportion of the expenditure required for the purchase and fitting up of the buildings, and the committee was authorised in a lenghty resolution to take the necessary steps to complete the transaction. The purchase was completed in January 1784, for £5,500-0s-0d and arrangements made for raising the money.

In 1785 the old workhouse was leased for a term of lives to Mr James Baker and others; and the last entry in the book was made in July of the same year, appointing the following gentlemen Directors of the House of Industry :- Mr Edward Parry, Mr John  Scott and Major Bevan.

Source: Submitted by Alan Longbottom
Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Natural   History Society 4th Series, Vol 2 4th Series 1912 385 pp
p iii   The Parish Book of St Chad's Shrewsbury 1722-1785.  Part III. by J A Morris.

History Of Pontesbury
by the Late Rev John B Blakeway MA. FSA. Edited by Rev W G D Fletcher MA. FSA.
p 252 Charities -

The Charity Commissioners' Report 1815-1839 mentions the following Charities relating to the Parish - Including :-
John Davies who died in 1723 left £50 for the Poor, which was laid out in providing a workhouse in 1732.

Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and  Natural History Society 1878-
Submitted by Alan Longbottom

Atcham Union

The Board of Guardians meet at the Union Board Room, St John's Hill, Shrewsbury, on the Saturday before the first Monday in each month at 10.30am, and on the 3rd Monday at the Workhouse at 11.45am. The population of the Union in 1891 was 48,346, area 130,653 acres, and rateable value in 1900 £358,028.

The Atcham Union comprises the following parishes;
Acton Burnel, Alderbury with Cardiston, Albrighton, Astley, Atcham, Battlefield, Bauseley, Berrington, Bicton, Church Preen, Church Pulverbatch, Condover, Cound, Cressage, Criggion, Eaton Constantine, Fitz, Ford, Frodesley, Habberley, Hanwood, Harley, Holy Cross & St Giles, Hughley, Kenley, Leighton, Melverley, Meole Brace, Minsterley, Montford, Pitchford, Pontesbury, Preston Gubbals, Ruckley, St Alkmond, St Chad, St Julian, St Mary, Sheinton, Shrawardine, Stapleton, Sutton, Uffington, Uppington, Upton Magna, Westbury, Withington, Wollaston and Wroxeter.

The boundary of the Borough of Shrewsbury is coterminous with the boundaries of the parishes of Holy Cross & St Giles, St Chad, St Julian and St Mary.

Union Officers 1900
Chairman of the Board of Guardians Rev. Algernon Godfrey Burton
Clerk to the Guardians and Assessment Committee, also Superintendent Registrar Joseph Everest
Relieving Officer - Atcham District James Edwin Heathcote
Relieving Officer - Ford District John Phillips
Relieving Officer - Shrewsbury District Frank Hamilton
Treasurer George Butler Lloyd

The Workhouse, at Crosshouses, Berrington, is an edifice of brick, erected under the provisions of an Act passed in 1792. It was purchased by the Atcham Union in 1836 and enlarged about 1871 and will now have accommodation for 550 inmates.

Workhouse Staff 1900
Workhouse Master William George Fulcher
Workhouse Matron Mrs Amy Fulcher
Chaplain Rev. John Wollen Lee
Medical Officer Wm. Herbert Packer M.D.

Report on the State of Pauperism 
as exemplified in the Atcham Union by William Day, esq Assistant Poor Law Commissioner dated February 1840 App B 1 p 118-137 

Pt III Tables of Pauperism in Atcham Union
The following tables of Pauperism in Atcham Union contain all those classes of the Quarterly Abstract, defined as Able-bodied from Class 5 to Class 8 both inclusive, viz :-
A - Orders of Removal
86 named persons with Observations.

1 Meredith Richard & Sarah
2 Tomlins Humphrey & Sarah + 5
3 Stedman E and Sarah + 4
4 Ducket R & Hannah
5 Davies John & wife
6 Davies E & Mary
7 Rogers W & Ann + 3
8 Parker Elizabeth
9 Doricutt S & Sarah + 4
10 Bell Elizabeth
11 Harrington J & Mary
12 Morgan F + 2 age 63
13 Speake E & Hannah + 1 ages 26/26
14 Williams Thomas & Milly + 1 age 32
15 Littleford Sarah age 36
16 Davies Betty
17 Lamb J & Sarah + 5 age 37
18 Thomas Mary + 1
19 Williams Mary + 1
20 Evans E & Frances + 5
21 Rogers W & Jane + 3 age 29
22 Jones W & Ann + 4
23 Hughes J & Martha + 3 age 32
24 Jones Mary age 28
25 Griffiths W age 39
26 Morris W & Mary + 4 
27 Habberley W & Hannah age 52
28 Granger G age 45
29 Preece T & Anne
30 Ellis J & Elizabeth age 62
31 Simms Martha + 1
32 Littlehales Edmund & Mary + 5
33 Lounds Thomas & Elizabeth + 4 age 50
34 Jones William & Charlotte age 59
35 Hayward Martha

Orders Suspended
36 Elsom T age 44
37 Powell R & Elizabeth + 1 age 50
38 George Margaret age 19
39 Davies Jane age 20
40 Evans Margaret + 1 age 26
41 Passant J & Margaret 
42 Phillips Rachael age 14
43 Humphreys R age 87
44 Lloyd J & Elizabeth + 2
45 Jones J & Phoebe + 2 age 24
46 Preece Thomas & Sarah + 4
47 Downton Mary age 19
48 Jones Sarah + 1 age 33
49 Humphreys Eliza age 11
50 Marsh J & Anne + 3 age 45
51 Roberts Anne + 2 age 23
52 Thomas J age 34
53 Thomas R & Elizabeth + 4
54 Madelin Elizabeth age 30
55 Hicken R age 21
56 Madeley J + 4
57 Johnson W age 57

Cases where the Order has been Executed but the Paupers
have not thereby become permanently chargeable.

58 Bright J & Elizabeth + 2
59 Cope Anne + 1 age 24
60 Evans Esther + 1 age 22
61 Richards Anne + 2 age 30
62 Hall alias Broster H + 2 age 25
63 Edwards J & Sarah age 78
64 Bagley H & Jane + 4 age 28
65 Morgan Harriot + 4 age 33
66 Hazlewood John & Elizabeth age 50
67 George Margaret age 21

Orders where Paupers died Previous to Execution of Order
68 Dias E
69 Drayton Susan
70 Edwards Anne
71 Lawley J age 80
72 Mapp F 
73 Frazier Sarah age 53 
74 Weaver S 

Orders where the Paupers became Permanently Chargeable
75 Williams Sarah age 76
76 Bowdler P & Elizabeth age 60
77 Tomlins H & Sarah + 5 age 34
78 Davies Ann 

Not Suspended ?
79 Davies Isaac age 6
80 Rogers Martha & Edwin & Elizabeth ages 4/3/2
81 Howels T age 60
82 Harris J age 67
83 Reynolds Anne age 71
84 Newell Martha & Mary Anne ages 14/10
85 Williams T + 1 age 61
86 Gough Ellen + 1 age 32

B - Class 5 viz Illegitimate Children under 16 relieved in the
Workhouse with their mothers.
27 named mothers.

Age Children
1 Davies Emma 22 2
2 Dulson Mary 24 1
3 Bedsmore Hannah 42 1
4 Jones Mary 30 1
5 Thomas Anne 27 1
6 Dakin Mary 26 1
7 Edwards Sarah 21 1
8 Bergoine Sarah 26 1
9 Jones Mary 25 2
10 Ward Sarah 22 1
11 Thomas Mary 31 1
12 Crippin Jane 26 2
13 Parker Sarah 24 1
14 Greenough Sarah 42 2
15 Baker Mary 27 1
16 Edwards Jemima 28 2
17 Jones Sarah 35 2
18 Wellings Charlotte 24 1
19 Roberts Caroline 24 2
20 Glover Elizabeth 25 1
21 Simmons Anne 28 2
22 Ruscoe Hannah 30 1
23 Harris Martha 17 1
24 Jones Margaret 20 1
25 Hall Harriet 25 2
26 Evans Margaret 22 1
27 Dulson Elizabeth 26 1

Example -
No 3 Hannah Bedsmore aged 42 1 child 95 days in Workhouse
Has had 7 bastard children.

No 8 Sarah Bergoine aged 26 1 child 6 days in Workhouse
This woman is reported to have been living a disreputable life
in Shrewsbury for a considerable length of time. She returned 
there after leaving the workhouse.

C - Class 6 of Abstract viz - Widows and Deserted Wives, having a Child or Children dependent upon them. In-door 17 named mothers.

Age Children 

1 Speake Hannah 27 1
2 Fox Mary 52 1
3 Williams Mary 40 2
4 Ashley Mary 41 4
5 Hodges Letitia 41 2
6 Thomas Elizabeth 57 2
7 Davis Jane 29 1
8 Price Martha 61
9 Bradley Mercy 28 3
10 Large Anne 26 2
11 Purslow Elizabeth 49 3
12 Hyde Mary 28 3
13 Morris Mary 34 3
14 Groom Jane 24 2
15 Higgins Elizabeth 29 4
16 Davies Mary 31 3
17 Kay Mary 28 3

D - Class 6 - Out-door 18 named women.
Age Children

1 Haynes Mary 42 2
2 Chetwood Mary 34 2
3 Caswell Mary 47 2
4 Sherry Susan 42 1
5 Morgan Zilla 47 3
6 Jones Sarah - 1
7 Bradley Elizabeth 46 3
8 Bellingham Anne 36 4
9 James Mary - 1
10 Jones Martha 39 4
11 Nicholas Anne 45 2
12 Richards Margaret 50 2
13 Littlehales Elizabeth 47 2
14 Cheshire Jane 47 2
15 Lewes Johanna 42 3
16 Tipton Catherine 52 1
17 Tipton Letitia - 5
18 Warren Elizabeth - 2 

E - Class 7 viz :- On account of Sickness or Accident
7 named Persons.

1 Brazier Richard 52
2 Francis Elizabeth 43
3 Billingsley Thomas - 5
4 Littlefoot Sarah 35
5 Humphreys Elizabeth 22
6 Williams William 60
7 Bagley Henry 28 4

F - Class 8 viz := Able-bodied relieved on account of want of
work or other causes. 24 named Families.

Age Children

1 Pearce Mary 44
2 White Mary 56
3 Peters Elizabeth 58
3a Peters Richard 17
4 Thomas Mary 24
5 Jones Mary 24
6 Wellings Elizabeth 29
7 Powel Richard + w 51 1
8 Marsh John + w 46 3
9 Perkins Richard 64
10 Martin Thomas + w 37
11 Hall Anne 47
12 Bowen Samuel + w 39 2
13 Pickins Samson 62
14 Hughes James + w 31 1
15 Kent John + w 47 4
16 Humphreys Edward 59 4
17 Warren Thomas 57
18 Taylor James + w 32 3
19 Jones John 59
20 Price Mary 32
21 Madeley John 51 4
22 Griffiths Mary 29 2
23 Davis Francis female 18
24 Morgan Michael 21

Source: 6th Report of the Poor Law Commissioners 1840
England and Wales plus Ireland pp 1-486
Submitted by Alan Longbottom


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