Dudley Poor Law Union, Staffordshire Genealogy
History[edit | edit source]
A fund of £63. 18., arising from a bequest of John Tandy and others, is distributed every year in clothing to the poor; and £16. 9., bequeathed by Jasper Cartwright, are annually distributed in bread. Richard Foley, in 1650, founded almshouses for sixteen people, to which is now added a workhouse. The union of Dudley comprises four parishes, three of them in the county of Stafford, and one in that of Worcester; and contains a population of 86,028. 'Duddon - Duncton', A Topographical Dictionary of England (1848), pp. 96-102. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=50929 Date accessed: 25 March 2011.
For more information on the history of the workhouse, see Peter Higginbotham's web site: www.workhouses.org.uk and http://www.workhouses.org.uk/index.html?Dudley/Dudley.shtml
Parishes in the Union[edit | edit source]
Coseley, Staffordshire Dudley St Thomas, Worcestershire Dudley Castle Hill, Worcestershire Dudley St Edmund, Worcestershire Ettingshall, Staffordshire Eve Hill, Worcestershire Gornal, Staffordshire Kate's Hill, Worcestershire Netherton St Andrew, Worcestershire Ocker Hill, Staffordshire Reddal Hill, Staffordshire Rowley Regis, Staffordshire Sedgley, Staffordshire Tipton St Martin, Staffordshire Tipton St Paul, Staffordshire Upper Gornal, Staffordshire
After the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act, Poor Law Unions were established with elected Guardians of the Poor. These unions were formed by the amalgamation of several parishes. The Dudley Union consisted of the parishes of Dudley, Sedgley, Rowley Regis and Tipton, each of which had their own workhouse already, and the Stourbridge Union covered Stourbridge, Halesowen and Kingswinford.
The Dudley Poor Law Union was created in 1836 and poor relief was then administered by the Board of Guardians. This usually took the form of “indoor” relief, in the workhouse. There was some initial dispute in the Dudley Union regarding building a union workhouse and it was 1859 before the Burton Road Workhouse was completed and the inmates of the parish workhouses transferred there. The four old workhouses were then disposed of.
Money for the relief of the poor was raised by the "Poor rate" from the parishes within the area.
Dudley Archives and Local History Service holds the surviving records of the Dudley Union, including minute books, ledgers, letter books, registers of admission and discharge (now issued on microfilm), and registers of religious creed. The surviving records of the Stourbridge Poor Law Union and its workhouse are held at Staffordshire Record Office, as the workhouse was in Wordsley.
The Local Government Act of 1929 dissolved the Boards of Guardians, and the functions of each poor law authority were transferred to the appropriate County Council or County Borough . Responsibility for the administration of poor relief in Coseley, Rowley Regis and Tipton was then transferred to Staffordshire County Council's Public Assistance Committee, whilst in Dudley it went to the Dudley County Borough. Many of the officials e.g. Relieving Officers were retained by the Councils. Finance would now be provided out of the County Rate. Dudley Union workhouse became Burton Road Hospital and Stourbridge Union workhouse became Wordsley Hospital.
In Dudley the Welfare Committee took over from the Public Assistance Committee in February 1947. In 1948 (1 July) the National Assistance Board took over from the local authorities such responsibilities for the payment of relief as still remained. This was funded by central government which raised money by taxation.