Ongar Poor Law Union, Essex Genealogy

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A parliamentary report of 1777 recorded parish workhouses in operation at

Lamborne (for up to 40 ) see Lambourne with Abridge, Essex
Navestock (25) see Navestock, Essex
and Willingale Spain (12).see Willingale Spain, Essex

Constituent Parishes

Abbess Roding, Essex
Beauchamp Roding, Essex
Berners Roding, Essex
Blackmore, Essex
Bobbingworth, Essex
Chipping Ongar, Essex
Doddinghurst, Essex
Fyfield, Essex
Greenstead, Essex
High Laver, Essex
High Ongar, Essex
Kelvedon Hatch, Essex
Lambourne with Abridge, Essex
Little Laver, Essex
Moreton, Essex
Navestock, Essex
Norton Mandeville, Essex
Shelley, Essex
Shellow Bowells, Essex
Stanford Rivers, Essex
Stapleford Abbotts, Essex
Stapleford Tawney, Essex
Stondon Massey, Essex
Theydon Mount, Essex
Willingale Doe, Essex
Willingale Spain, Essex


  •  Essex Record Office, Wharf Road Chelmsford CM2 6YT. Relatively few records survive. Holdings include: Guardians' minute books (1836-1930); Relief order books (1911-12, 1922-31).
  • Records for the Union are held at Essex Record Office reference G/On Title [ONGAR UNION]
    The Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 removed responsibility for the poor from parishes (see D/P.../11-18) and transferred administration to Boards of Guardians of the Poor. The Guardians administered groups of parishes or Poor Law UNIONs. Each UNION had its own workhouse. In 1872 the Public Health Act created urban and rural sanitary authorities, with the Guardians constituted as the rural sanitary authority for those parts of each UNION not in an urban sanitary authority. The Local Government Act of 1894 replaced rural sanitary authorities with rural district councils (see D/R). The Local Government Act of 1929 abolished the Boards of Guardians and transferred their powers to the Public Assistance Committees of County Council (for minutes of Essex County Council Public Assistance Committee 1929-1948 see C/MPa 1-22)
    Many of the workhouse infirmaries continued as hospitals after 1930, continuing after the introduction of the National Health Service in 1948.
    For other records illustrating the work of the Guardians see D/P.../19.
    For orders, directions and declarations of Poor Law Commissioners responsible for grouping parishes into UNIONs, 1835-1837, see Q/RSW 2-5.
    For catalogue of correspondence between Poor Law UNIONs and Poor Law Commission (later Poor Law Board and Local Government Board) 1834-1900 see List and Index Society vol. 56.
    G. Cuttle The Legacy of the Rural Guardians (Heffer, 1934 E.R.O. Library 362.50942) provides a good account of the work of the Guardians in six mid-Essex UNION, together with the newscutting he collected and used in writing the book (T/P 181).
    For analysis of ledgers see Journal of the Society of Archivists 11, pp. 367-369.
    ONGAR UNION consisted of the parishes of Blackmore, Bobbingworth, Doddinghurst, Fyfield, Greenstead-juxta-ONGAR, Kelvedon Hatch, Lambourne, High Laver, Little Laver, Moreton, Navestock, Norton Mandeville, Chipping ONGAR, High ONGAR, Abbess Roding, Beauchamp Roding, Berners Roding, Shelley, Shellow Bowells, Stanford Rivers, Stapleford Abbotts, Stapleford Tawney, Stondon Massey, Theydon Mount, Willingale Doe, Willingale Spain


For more information on the history of the workhouse, see Peter Higginbotham's web site: and