Each record contains both an image and a transcription of the workhouse birth record. The amount of information varies but you can find the following information about your ancestor:
Date of birth
Poor Law Union
Legitimacy of child
Please note that not all information is given on the transcript and it is always a good idea to look at the image as well.
The 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act established nine poor-law unions in Cheshire, each with its own workhouse. Workhouses were supposed to be a deterrent to the able-bodied pauper. Under the Act, poor relief would only be granted to those who passed the “workhouse test”, in other words you would have to be desperate to enter a workhouse.
They were there for the truly destitute, the so-called “incompetent poor” - an able bodied man could only enter if his family came with him. The elderly, the infirm, orphans, the mentally ill and single mothers were all accommodated but life inside the workhouse was intended to be as off putting as possible. Men, women, children, the infirm and the able-bodied were all housed separately. Food was basic and monotonous - gruel, a watery porridge, or bread and cheese. Inmates had to wear the rough workhouse uniform and sleep in dormitories and baths were allowed, supervised, once a week.
The able bodied were given hard work, stone breaking or picking apart old ropes. Families were only allowed minimal access to one another and in the early days were not even allowed to speak to each other outside these access times. The workhouse came to be seen as the ultimate degradation.
Some people only stayed in the workhouses briefly, when there was no other option, others spent their entire lives in the same workhouse. As medical care in the home was expensive, the poorest women would sometimes come to the workhouse hospital to give birth.
These records show children born in the Poor Law Unions of Cheshire, Macclesfield, Nantwich, Runcorn, Stockport and Tarvin.
The workhouses also recorded still births.
Cheshire is situated in the North West of England. On the west it borders Flintshire and Wrexham in Wales with Merseyside and Greater Manchester to the north, Derbyshire to the east and Shropshire and Staffordshire to the south.
Copyright images reproduced by courtesy of the Cheshire Archives and Local Studies Service, Chester, England.
The Cheshire Archives and Local Studies Service gives no warranty as to the accuracy, completeness or fitness for the purpose of the information provided.
Images may be used only for purposes of research, private study or education. Applications for any other use should be made to Cheshire Archives and Local Studies Service, Cheshire Record Office, Duke Street, Chester CH1 1RL. Infringement of the above condition may result in legal action.