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Workhouses / Board of Guardians Collection

he Boards of Guardians were established under┬áthe Poor Law Act, 1838. This Act divided the country into a number of Poor Law Unions each of which had a Board of Guardians and a Workhouse. County Waterford had four poor law unions: Dungarvan, Kilmacthomas, Lismore and Waterford City. The members of the Board of Guardians were local landowners. The Boards of Guardians were given the responsibility for the “social welfare” and public health of the people within the poor law union.

The City and County Archive holds the minutes of the meetings of the Boards of Guardians. At the beginning of the meetings held each week statistics are filled in detailing the number and categories of people admitted and dying in the Workhouse. This is naturally of interest in determining the effect of the Famine in the local area. The minutes also provide information on the food consumed in the Workhouse and the manner in which the “inmates” spent their days. The minutes also provide information on outbreaks of disease in the area and events affecting the area.

The Registers for the workhouses do not survive or have not been found to date, so there is no record of the admittances to each of the Workhouses.

The Boards of Guardians and the Workhouse system were abolished in 1919/1920.