Northamptonshire Poor Law Unions

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An Act of Parliament in the year 1834 took the responsibility of administering to the poor from the local parish church to the doorstep of civil government. The government grouped each civil parish into a union of parishes. There were nearly 600 such unions throughout England, each one comprising close to 20 or more parishes, and were specifically setup to meet the demands of the poor among their local populations, with a workhouse on the premises. The responsbility was transferred from local parishes to a Board of Guardians in each union. These groupings or unions were known as poor-law unions. Northamptonshire had the following poorlaw unions within its boundaries:

  • Brackley
  • Brixworth
  • Daventry
  • Hardingstone
  • Kettering
  • Northampton
  • Oundle
  • Peterborough
  • Potterspury
  • Thrapston
  • Towcester
  • Wellingborough

Records from the poorlaw unions, which were created from this time forward include the following:

  1. Guardianship
  2. Creed Registers
  3. Rate books
  4. Workhouse Lists of Inmates
  5. Register of Apprentices
  6. Register of Births
  7. Register of Deaths
  8. Vestry Rate Books
  9. Admission and Discharge Registers
  10. Board of Guardians' Records

To determine records availability for each poorlaw, search the FamilySearch Catalog under the name of the county (Northamptonshire), and then under the name of the poorlaw union, i.e. Peterborough; then search under the term[s] "poorlaw" or "poorhouses".