Glamorgan Poor Law Unions

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Wales Gotoarrow.png Glamorgan Gotoarrow.png Poor Law Unions

Under the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834 all parishes in Wales and England were grouped together into Poor Law Unions. Each Poor Law Union had to provide a place where people who were unable to support themselves could live and work, known as the workhouse. Conditions in the workhouses were deliberately made to be harsh, spartan and degrading so as to deter all but the absolutely destitute.

Before the 1834 Act, although some workhouses did exist, individual parishes provided relief in the form of money, food, clothing or goods, but the recipients continued to live independently.

The Workhouse system was not abolished until the 1930s.

These Poor Law Unions were based on neither county boundaries nor national boundaries, with many Unions along the Wales-England border covering parts of both countries.

The county of Glamorgan was covered by eight Unions:

Union Parishes & Townships included
Merthyr Tydfil  

Written on the Swansea Union wall by a tramp

Jesus Wept and well he might
To see us poor tramps in such a plight
A can of skilly in our hand
They call it relief in a Christian land
O God! defend the tramps say I
Send the Guardians to hell as soon as they die
We lie on boards at their command
They call it relief in a Christian land
O sweet spirit hear my prayer
Cut them from salvation bare
Feed them upon straw and sand
They will call it relief in a Christian land
transcribed by Noah Williams, 1889

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