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Poor Law Union / Boards of Guardians, 1840-1923

Poor Law Union / Boards of Guardians, 1840-1923

Under the Poor Law Act of 1838 the country was divided into poor law unions, each one run by an area Board of Guardians. The principal responsibility of the boards was to supervise the running of the workhouses.

Workhouses in Donegal were in Letterkenny, Ballyshannon, Stranorlar, Dunfanaghy, Carndonagh (run by the Inishowen board), Donegal, Glenties and Milford.

There are over 800 surviving minute books, admission registers and other archival items relating to the eight Boards of Guardians in Donegal, dating from 1840 to 1923. These records consist mainly of minutes recording the meetings of each board, but there are also admission and discharge registers, statistics, dietary records, correspondence, notices, registers of deaths, a punishment book, dispensary records, a visiting committee register, photographs, and volumes of accounts.

 

Letterkenny Workhouse Record of Deaths

Letterkenny Workhouse Register of Deaths 1906

 

Poor Law Unions: Records

 

Ballyshannon Union

  • 89 volumes of minutes and rough minutes of the meetings of the Board of Guardians of Ballyshannon Union, 1840 –1922;
  • 2 Indoor Relief Registers. Details include the date each person was admitted to or born in the workhouse, date discharged or died, name, address, age, state of health, occupation, 1906 – 1915;
  • 3 Indoor Admission and Discharge Registers, 1914 – 1918;
  • 46 Abstracts of accounts and other financial records, including a general ledger; account books, financial statements and receipt books for the Union, 1843 – 1921;
  • Separate Register of Persons admitted to and discharged from the Fever Hospital or Infirmary of the Workhouse, including members of the Royal Irish Constabulary Force and soldiers from Finner Camp, 1908 - 1924;
  • Abstracts showing the number and classification of paupers relieved, dating from 1844 – 1873;
  • Medical records, including Medical Return Books and Diet Sick books, 1913 – 1921;
  • Photographs of Ballyshannon Workhouse;
  • Combined workhouse record and statistical register relating to Ballyshannon area, 1923 – 1924.

 

Donegal Union

  • None of the 19th century records of Donegal Union have survived.
  • Only 14 volumes of the minutes of the meetings of the Board of Guardians of Donegal Union survive, 1914 – 1923;
  • 4 Indoor Admission and Discharge Registers, 1914 – 1921;
  • Indoor Relief Register, 1918 – 1924;
  • Special Diet and Stimulant Register, 1919 – 1920.

 

Dunfanaghy Union

  • 66 volumes of minutes and rough minutes of the meetings of the Board of Guardians of Dunfanaghy Union, 1841 – 1922 (12 volumes are missing);
  • Medical Officers’ Report Book, 1870 – 1899;
  • Indoor Relief Register, 1891 – 1915;
  • Attendance Register of Guardians, 1902 – 1925;
  • Treasurers’ Receipt and Payment Book, 1910 – 1922;
  • Labourers’ Acts Minute Book, 1883 – 1885;
  • Letter Book, 1904 – 1933;
  • Small file of correspondence, 1914 – 1915.

 

Dunfanaghy Workhouse Register

Dunfanaghy Workhouse Indoor Relief Register

 

Glenties Union

  • 72 volumes of minutes of the meetings of the Board of Guardians of Glenties Union, 1841 – 1922;
  • 2 Registers of persons admitted to and discharged from the workhouse, 1851 – 1866; 1884 – 1895;
  • Separate Register of Persons admitted to and discharged from the Fever Hospital, 1913 – 1922;
  • 2 Indoor Relief Registers, 1899 – 1907; 1914 – 1921;
  • Treasurers’ Pass Book, 1912 - 1921;
  • Items of correspondence relating to various issues, c.1880 – 1919.

 

Glenties Union Notice

Glenties Union Notice 1919

 

Inishowen Union (Carndonagh workhouse)

  • 61 volumes of minutes of the meetings of the Board of Guardians of Inishowen Union, 1840 – 1922;
  • 2 Registers of persons admitted to and discharged from the workhouse, 1843 – 1849; 1849 – 1858;
  • 3 Indoor Relief Registers, 1899 – 1907; 1907 – 1911; 1911 – 1918;
  • Volume of Accounts, 1892 – 1925;
  • Day Book, giving date of receipt of goods, name of persons or firm supplying goods, and other particulars, 1907 – 1909;
  • Outdoor Relief Admission and Discharge Register, 1908 – 1911;
  • Some items of correspondence, c. 1840 – 1922.

 

Poor Law Union Inishowen

Item of Correspondence

 

Letterkenny Union

  • 92 volumes of minutes and rough minutes of the meetings of the Board of Guardians of Letterkenny Union, 1841 – 1923;
  • Volume containing minutes of the meetings of the Letterkenny Relief Committee for March - August 1847; and also rough minutes of the proceedings of the Letterkenny Board of Guardians from 2 Jan 1857 - 6 August 1858;
  • Register of Letterkenny dispensary, Letterkenny Union, 1843 – 1858;
  • Guardians’ Treasure Book: Belfast Banking Company's Branch, Letterkenny, in account with the Poor Law Union of Letterkenny, 1917 – 1923;
  • Register of persons admitted to and discharged from Letterkenny workhouse (daily register finishes in October 1864 but the last page has approximately one entry per year from 1869 - 1899.) 1855 – 1864; 1869 – 1899;
  • Register of persons admitted to and discharged from Letterkenny workhouse, 1864 – 1878;
  • Indoor Relief Register, 1910 – 1915;
  • Record of Deaths, 1910 – 1922;
  • Letterkenny Estimate and Demand book from the Union to the County Council, with three tables for each year, 1899 – 1905;
  • Other notices, petitions, agenda and correspondence, c. 1841 – 1923.

 

Letterkenny Union Notice

Letterkenny Union Notice‌

 

Milford Union

  • 93 volumes of the minutes and rough minutes of the meetings of the Board of Guardians of Milford Union, 1841 – 1923;
  • Report and General Observations of Visiting Committee to Milford workhouse, 1846 - 1912;
  • 2 Registers of persons admitted to and discharged from the workhouse, 1855 –1874, 1881-1897;
  • 2 Outdoor Relief Registers, 1847 – 1899; 1899 – 1917;
  • Record of Sickness and Mortality, including name of patient, age, disease, treatment, event, e.g., 'died', 'relieved', 'cured', 1853 – 1893;
  • Record of Deaths, 1899 – 1917;
  • Register of Mortgages, 1880 – 1932.
  • Punishment Register, detailing name of adult/child concerned, offence, date of offence, opinion and/or punishment ordered by Guardians, date of punishment, 1879 – 1893;
  • 2 Treasurers’ Registers, 1869 – 1879, 1918 – 1923;
  • Indoor Relief Register, 1919 – 1922.

 

Milford Workhouse Minute Book Extract 1841

Milford Workhouse Minute Book Extract 1841

 

Stranorlar Union

  • 52 volumes of the minutes and rough minutes of the meetings of the Board of Guardians of Stranorlar Union (8 missing), 1845 – 1921;
  • Letter Book (copies of letters sent), 1886 – 1921;
  • 2 Dispensary (Killygordan and Stranorlar) minute books, 1852 – 1899;
  • Notices, correspondence, accounts, petitions and lists relating to the affairs of Stranorlar Union, c. 1840 – 1921.

All the Poor Law Union records to 1923 are open to the public.

 

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