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Link back to main ROSSBRET websiteLeeds


Leeds Poor Law Union and Workhouse

Leeds Township was declared 10 December 1836.

The Workhouse, for Leeds township, is a large and well conducted establishment, at the top of Lady lane, erected in 1629, and considerably enlarged in 1636, 1736 and subsequent years.  For some time it was called the "house of correction" and for many years it was employed only as a hospital for the reception of the aged poor.  As early as 1740, it had no fewer than 100 inmates; but during the present century it has often had as many as 250, including men, women and children.  The poor rates levied in 1832, amounted o 34,812; and in 1835, to 29,962.  In the former year, the average number of paupers in the house was 254; and in the latter, 217.  The parochial affairs of the township was managed by a committee consisting of 13 overseers, and 8 churchwardens, with the co-operation of 12 trustees, chosen yearly at the vestry meetings, by the rate payers; but on the 12th of Jan 1837, they were vested in the administration of a Board of 20 Guardians to be elected yearly, in accordance with the New Poor Law.
History, Gazeteer and Directory of the West-Riding of Yorkshire, with the City of York and Port of Hull.
By William White Printed 1837.
Submitted by Sue Johnson


The parish & borough of Leeds does not form a union under the new Poor Law; but in 1844, the Poor Law Commissioners instituted a Board of 18 Guardians for the Township of Leeds, three each to be elected for Millhill & West Wards, & two each for the other six wards. 

Leeds township had previously maintained its poor under a local act. Its Workhouse at the top of Lady Lane, was built in 1629, but was enlarged in 1636, 1736, & subsequent years, & has now often from 250 to 300 inmates.
Submitted by Betty Longbottom

Aged Irishman's Death in Leeds Workhouse - Leaves nearly 800
Four years ago Michael Cairns, a labourer left his home in Co. Roscommon and commenced a nomadic life in England at the age of 80 years. On the 28th May he was found sitting on a doorstep in Marsh Lane, Leeds suffering from injuries to the head. The old man was taken to the workhouse by the police. He was found to be also suffering from chronic phthisis. In the ordinary way his clothing was searched in the workhouse, and to the great surprise of the officials, there was found stitched up in his clothing deposit receipts and a bank book representing a value of 790. He lingered on for some weeks in the institution but his death took place on Friday week from the effects of the fall. A verdict of accidental death was recorded.
Source: Yorkshire Weekly Post 1903 27th June 1903 page 019
Transcribed by Alan Longbottom

Strangers Friends Society
The Benevolent Society, or Stranger's Friends Society, was established in 1790, by the Wesleyan Methodists.  It dispenses about 350 per annum, raised by subscription; seeks out the abodes of the wretched, and relieves their wants through the medium of its visitors.  The Church of England District Visiting Society, was formed in 1830, and not only relieves the necessitous poor, but inculcates a provident care, by giving premiums on all sums deposited with them by such poor families as have it in their power to lay by a small portion of their weekly earnings against a time of need.
Source: History, Gazeteer and Directory of the West-Riding of Yorkshire, with the City of York and Port of Hull. By William White Printed 1837.
Submitted by Sue Johnson

Link to Leeds Union Workhouse 

Page updated 12 March, 2008
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