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Link back to main ROSSBRET websiteWolstanton and Burslem


Victoria County History of Staffordshire


Relief of the Poor.

Burslem relieved its poor through its own parish vestry, independently of the mother parish of Stoke.24  There were three overseers of the poor, one each for Burslem, Sneyd, and Hulton, during most of the 18th century at least, 25 but in 1793 the vestry appointed a salaried overseer for the whole parish. 26  By 1835 there were four overseers with tow paid assistant overseers  27

With the establishment of the Wolstanton and Burslem Union in 1838 Burslem was given a representation of eight on the board of sixteen guardians. 28  In 1922 the ten civil parishes of the union joined with the five of the Stoke Union to form the Stoke and Wolstanton Union. 29

The expenditure on poor relief increased in the course of the 18th century. Thus in 1714 one levy raised 1-7s-8d from Hulton and 12s-6d from Sneyd. 30  in 1802-3 the parish rates, assessed at 10s in the on houses and 20s. on land, brought in 2,125-11s-10d. and the expenditure on the poor amounted to 1,726-14s-5.5d in out-relief and 326-2s-0.75d in workhouse relief. 31

There was considerable fluctuation in expenditure in subsequent years: nearly 7,400 was spent in 1817-18, just over 2,500 in 1823-4, and just under 4,000 in 1836-7. 32  Burslem's contribution to the union in the first half of 1857 was fixed at 3,629-5s-7d.;  33  its contribution for the second half of the financial year 1921-2, the last before the amalgamation with Stoke, was 9,520, out of a total of 46,637 from the ten parishes then comprising the union.  34

In the early 18th century the main form of relief was monthly or weekly pay. In 1707 there were 24 poor in the parish in receipt of such relief - 14 in Burslem, 4 in Sneyd, and 6 in Hulton; the largest individual payment was 1s-3d a week.  35  Occasionally relief took the form of payment of rent.  36  In 1802-3 184 adults and 165 children under 15 were given out-relief, 413 persons occasional relief, and 39 work-house relief.  37  By 1834 there were two parish surgeons.  38

 There was a parish workhouse by 1741  39  with a capacity of 60 in 1775.  40  A new workhouse was built at Greenhead in 1780  41  and was enlarged in the 1830's to hold 300. 42   It had only 152 inmates in 1838, but this figure was a large increase on the average for the previous few years.  43   The union workhouse in Turnhurst Road, Chell, was built c. 1838-9.  44  The old parish workhouse was leased out as in infantry barracks by the early 1850's  45   and was sold by the guardians in 1857 for 1,000 after several unsuccessful attempts to secure more. It was bought by James Vernon who converted it into the Scotia Pottery. 46.  This was demolished  in  1958.  47.

24 Ward - Stoke, 217-18, 467, and app. pp. xxx-xxxi; St John's Burslem, Churchwardens' 
25 Churchwardens' and Overseers' Accts. 1700-95, passim to p 122. This evidence applies 
26 Churchwardens' and Overseers' Accts. 1700-95, p. 156.  
27 Staffs. Advertiser, 28 Mar. 1835.  
28 Staffs. Advertiser, 8 Apr. 1838; H.R.L., Wolstanton and Burslem Union Mins. 1854-8 p. 36.  
29 Wolstanton and Burslem Union Mins. 1919-22, p 32 : See p 199  
30 Churchwardens' and Overseers' Accts. 1700-95, p. 21.  
31 Returns on Maintenance of Poor, 1803, H.C. 175, p 468 (1803-4), xiii. the rates consisted of 
32 Rep. Sel. Cttee. on Poor Rate Returns, 1822, H.C. 556. p 160 (1822) v; 1825 H.C. 334 p. 197 
33 Wolstanton and Burslem Union Mins. 1854-8, p. 323.  
34 Ibid. 1919-22, p. 381.  
35 Churchwardens' and Overseers' Accts. 1700-95, p. 14.  
36 Ibid. p. 15.  
37 Maintenance of Poor, 1803, 469.  
38 Staffs. Advertiser. 28 Mar. 1835. There were still two for the parish after the union. ibid. 7 Apr. 
39 Burslem Par. Reg. i. 211, 212.  
40 5th Rept. Cttee. on Poor Laws, 1777 (reps. of Cttees of H.C., 1st ser. ix) 458.  
41 Churchwardens' and Overseers' Accts. 1700-95, p. 139; Ward - Stoke 270, 271; Hargreaves - 
42 Ward - Stoke, 271.  
43 Ibid.  
44 See p.97.  
45 Wolstanton and Burslem Union Mins. 1854-8, pp, 2, 9, 204. White - Dir. Staffs. (1851) 
46 Wolstanton and Burslem Union Mins. 1854-8. pp. 9, 12, 24, 46, 98, 143, 211, 215, 218,
47 Warrilow - Stoke, 241 pl. 4.  

Quoted from the Victoria County History, Staffordshire, volume VIII,
pages 129-130, by permission of the General Editor.
Submitted by Alan Longbottom


Relief of the Poor.

The poor of Tunstall were relieved by the officers of  Wolstanton parish until 1838 when Tunstall became part of the new Wolstanton and Burslem Union.  73  The union workhouse was built in Turnhurst Road, Chell, c. 1838-9 `a palatial structure' costing 6,200 and providing accommodation for 400 inmates.  74  A range was built to the south as a hospital in 1894.  75

The workhouse remained in use after the amalgamation with Stoke Union in 1922  76  and is now the Westcliffe Institution. The original structure of yellow brick with stone dressings in the `Tudor' style of the period, still forms part of the large group of buildings on the east side of Turnhurst Road.

73 Tunstall originally formed part of the northern division of the parish, but the N. and S. divisions were eventually amalgamated and the rates paid into a common fund. Ward - Stoke 121. White - Dir. Staffs. (1834)  
74 Ward - Stoke, 271: White. Dir. Staffs (1851). For a picture of life in the workhouse soon after it was established see [Shaw] - When I was a Child.  
75 Kelly's Dir. Staffs. (1900). inscription on building.  
76 Kelly's Dir. Staffs. (1924, 1940) see p 129.

Quoted from the Victoria County History, Staffordshire, volume VIII,
page 97, by permission of the General Editor.
Submitted by Alan Longbottom


Workhouses, List of those visited in 1867 With Name of the Workhouse and numbers of  insane, idiotic, and imbecile inmates.
Wolstanton and Burslem 8 8 16
Source: 22nd Report of the Commissioners in Lunacy to the Lord Chancellor. Submitted by Alan Longbottom.


Page updated March 12, 2008 by Rossbret