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Spilsby Poor Law Union

Poorhouses, Poor Law, etc.

  • The town of Spilsby had its own workhouse as early as 1797. Prior to 1834, each parish in the area was expected to tend to its own poor.
  • After the Poor Law Amendment Act reforms of 1834, the Spilsby Poor Law Union was formed on 19 March 1837 to serve the needs of 66 local parishes. The new Union Work House was erected in 1837-8 on the north side of town in Hundleby parish. It was a large brick building designed to accommodate 250 paupers. The Workhouse was about 18 miles northeast of Boston.
  • The Spilsby Poor Law Union was divided into three subdistricts: Alford, Spilsby and Wainfleet. Over time the number of subdistricts for civil registration and poor relief has varied.
  • The Board of Governors for the Union met on alternate Thursdays at the workhouse.
  • Of the original and subsequent construction, only the central portion of the main block now remains.
  • The best source for history of the Workhouse is the Peter Higganbotham web site.
  • Much of the red brick structure still stands, including the Infirmary Building.
  • Relatively few records remain. The Lincolnshire Archives has the Spilsby Poor Law Union Guardians' minute books (1837-72, 1876-1930) and Assessment committee minutes (1862-1927).
  • We also have a text file of Spilsby Union Minutes you can review (and add to!).
  • For more on researching Poor Law records, see our Poor Law records list.

District Population

    Year  Inhabitants
1801 15,122
1831 23,316
1851 28,937
1871 29,246
1881 27,887
1891 25,899
1911 27,181

In 1911, there were 7 "officers" and 95 inmates in the Workhouse.

Staff and officers

  • 1871: Rev. Edward RAWNSLEY, chairman of the Board of Guardians; George WALKER, clerk to Board of Guardians; Rev. C. G. RIDLEY, chaplain; J. IRONMONGER, master; Mrs. Emma IRONMONGER, matron; Edward CASH, relieving officer; John PARKINSON, relieving officer.
  • 1881: Rev. Edward RAWNSLEY, chairman of the Board of Guardians; George WALKER, clerk to Board of Guardians; Rev. W. W. LAYNG, chaplain; John IRONMONGER, master; Mrs. Emma IRONMONGER, matron; Edward CASH, relieving officer; John PARKINSON, relieving officer.
  • 1889: John L. IRONMONGER, master; Mrs. Emma IRONMONGER, matron; Rev. Harry GREENWOOD, M.A., chaplain; John West WALKER, M.D., medical officer; Miss Elizabeth WOODLEY, schoolmistress; George WALKER, clerk to Board of Guardians; Thomas Cheney GARFIT, Treasurer; Henry Brown FARNSWORTH, relieving officer; Christopher MILLER, relieving officer.
  • 1900: John L. IRONMONGER, master; Mrs. Emma IRONMONGER, matron; Rev. Harry GREENWOOD, M.A., chaplain; Francis John WALKER, M.D., medical officer; Miss CLARKE, schoolmistress; Henry Brown FARNSWORTH, relieving officer; Christopher MILLER, relieving officer.
  • 1912: Lieut.-Col. Charles Arthur SWAN, master; George Beaumont WALKER, clerk to the Board of Guardians; Henry HEWER, treasurer; Henry Brown FARNSWORTH, relieving officer; Christopher MILLER, relieving officer.
  • 1913: Alfred ORMISTON, master.