A brief journey through time


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A brief history (According to Rob)


To start workhouses were small, local institutions where those out of work would temporarily be housed until they found some. However in 1834 an amendment to the Poor Law Act turned these into institutions that segregated families, destroying lives and what pride these individuals had.
John Beard in "My Shropshire days on Common Ways" recalls an account of a couple that had fallen on hard times and describes the fear that these people were going through at the thought that they might end up in the Workhouse. He also has the following:
“Marshall in The English Poor in the Eighteenth Century, says that “a chief cause of the failure of the workhouses to pay their way is to be found in the corrupt administration which prevailed in many of them, due to the fact that in the majority of cases the chief executive power, when not vested in a contractor, was in the hands of the churchwardens and overseers of the poor.
In many places trustees grew careless of their duties, so that real control slipped into the hands of the parish officers, and afforded them an excellent opportunity of indulging in jobbery, for the benefit of themselves and their friends. This was the case in Parishes where the workhouse was managed by vestries composed of local tradesmen, each of whom was apt to please his own private interests before that of an economical administration.”
Such was the position when big families were looked upon as a menace to the rates, when marriages were discouraged and illegitimacy rife, and to prevent the provision of living accommodation, cottages were pulled down, with people actually bribed to go to another parish - to prevent which, each parish watched its neighbours with suspicion.
But not all pauperism was due to a lack of work, so much as to the system which had spread widely of paying labourers a small sum of money, or in kind, by the parish and then hiring them out at lower rates to the farmers, the parish making up the difference. It was due to this system that many paupers were made.
That a workhouse was not popular with the well-to-do in High Ercall parish may be presumed from the geographical position of the buildings which still exist. These were pushed into a corner as near to the border as was physically possible, and some three miles away from the parts where the “better-offs” lived.
That it was near the small parish of Waters Upton would not matter, especially as differences sometimes occurred between these parishes.”
By the 1881 census the Workhouse in Rowton was being lived in by the Tudor family and was being called the Old Workhouse.

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   01 Jan 09

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