There was a Market Harborough workhouse for the poor prior to 1780. At that time it had 20-25 paupers in the workhouse. Children of paupers were taught to read. The poor primarily worked at woold and spindle making. Most of the paupers in the poorhouse were on out-relief. This workhouse was reuilt around 1801.
The Market Harborough Poorlaw Union was established by the 1834 Poorlaw Amendment Act and was formed on 6 February 1836.
The union workhouse, built in 1836/1837, was situated in Great Bowden about a half mile north of the town of Market Harborough and was capable of housing 200 inmates. However, it rarely housed even half that number. The 1871 census shows 53 paupers in residence.<
The Board of Guardians meet alternate Fridays at the Union House, at 11am.
The Market Harborough Poorlaw Union was comprised of 42 civil parishes. The original parishes were: Great Bowden, Welham, Lubenham, Foxton, Kibworth-Beauchamp, Church-Langton, Cranoe, Glooston, Stonton Wyville, Shangton, Husbands Bosworth, Fleckney, Saddington, Gumley, Langhton, and parts of Knaptoft and Theddingworth, electorally in Leicestershire; and the parishes of Sibbertoft, Sulby, Marston-Trussell, Little Bowden, East Farndon, Great Oxendon, Clipston, Kelmarsh, Arthingworth, Braybrooke, Dingley, Brampton Ash, Stoke-Albany, Wilbarston, Ashley, Sutton-Bassett, Weston-by-Welland, part of Theddingworth.
In 1891 the Poorlaw Union covered 66,659 acres.
In June, 1895, Slawston Civil Parish was transferred from Uppingham Union to the Market Harborough Poorlaw Union.
In June, 1897, Welford Civil Parish was transferred from Lutterworth Union to the Market Harborough Poorlaw Union.
1849: Thomas ABBOTT, clerk to the Union; Rev. Richard Miles MATTHEWS, chaplain; Thomas HEYGATE, medical officer; John TEBBUTT, workhouse master; Mrs. Sarah TEBBUTT, workhouse matron; Miss Mary Ann COXON, schoolmistress.
1881: Charles BURGOINE, clerk to the Board of Guardians; Rev. John Edward STOCKS, chaplain; Stephen CLARK, workhouse master; Mrs. CLARK, matron; Frederick GRANT, medical officer, P. ORTON, schoolmistress.
1899: John C. HIGGINS, workhouse master; Mrs. Mary HIGGINS, matron; Thomas A. DURRANT, medical officer, Rev, Robert GUINNESS, chaplain.
1911: Rev. A. W. PULTENEY, chairman of the board of guardians; Charles BURGOINE, clerk to the Board of Guardians; William James HORN, treasurer; Frederick George HOOPER, workhouse master; Mrs. HOOPER, matron; James Hugh THOMAS, medical officer, Rev. Maurice Theodore BROWN, chaplain.
1925: Rev. A. W. PULTENEY, chairman of the board of guardians; Frank TASLER, clerk to the Board of Guardians; Edward Palling BETTS, treasurer; Frederick George HOOPER, workhouse master; Mrs. HOOPER, matron; Charles Tillard SCOTT, medical officer, Rev. Henry James Theodore EACOTT, chaplain.