We are in the process of upgrading the site to implement a content management system.

East Retford Poor Law Union

Poorhouses, Poor Law, etc.

  • In 1777 there was a parish workhouse in each of East Retford, Clarbrough and Sutton.
  • In 1782 the East Retford Incorporation was formed under the Gilbert Act. By 1818, the Incorporation had a poorhouse in Grove Street, East Retford, and by 1834 33 other parishes were using it.
  • After the Poor Law Ammendment Act of 1834, the East Retford Poor Law Union was formed on 1 July 1836 to serve 40 local parishes in Nottinghamshire. They were persueded to dissolve the old Incorporation. Additional parishes were added as they were formed in the region or boundaries changed. For more on the history of this Union, see the Peter Higganbotham website.
  • You should also check the information at The Institutions website.
  • The East Retford Poor Law Union (and Civil Registration District) was centered in East Retford, Nottinghamshire.
  • There were four sub-districts in the district: Clarborough, East Retford, Gringley and Tuxford.
  • Member parishes were: County of Nottingham: Askham, Babworth, Barnby Moor, Bevercotes, Bothamsall, Clareborough [Clarborough], Clayworth, Cottam, Darlton, East Drayton, West Drayton, Dunham, Eaton, Elkesley, Everton, Fledborough, Gamston, Gringley-on-the-Hill, Grove, Haughton, Hayton, Headon-cum-Upton, Laneham, North Leverton, South Leverton, Littleborough, Lound, East Markham, West Markham, Markham Clinton, Marnham, Mattersey, Normanton-on-Trent, Ordsall, Ragnall, Rampton, Ranskill, East Retford (2), West Retford, Scaftworth, Scrooby, Stokeham, Sturton, Sutton, Torworth, Treswell, Tuxford, North Wheatley, South Wheatley, Wiseton. Later Additions: Habblesthorpe (from 1836), North Retford (from 1894).
  • A new workhouse for 200 inmates was built in 1836-38 at the top of Spital Hill (at that time: open countryside) in Clarborough parish.
  • The Board of Guardians met on alternate Saturdays at 11Am at the Workhouse.
  • After 1930, the workhouse became the East Retford Public Assistance Institution.
  • After 1948, and the introduction of National Health Service the place became Hillcrest Hospital.
  • It was closed in the 1970s and demolished.
  • Search the Nottinghamshire Archives for the few Poor Law records that survived. There is a 100-year closure law for all documents for privacy reasons, but you can find the Guardians' minute books (1836- 1930) and the Vaccination registers (1871-1919).
  • Inmates who died in the workhouse were generally buried in their home parishes.


  • "The Book of Retford," James JOFFEY, 1991, Barracuda Books
  • "The Early Days of Retford Workhouse," Dorinda CLARK, 1969, Eaton Hall College of Education

District Population

Year Inhabitants
1831 20,071
1871 23,035
1881 23,271
1891 23,679
1901 25,619
1911 27,103

Staff and officers

  • 1838: Joseph CHEATER, workhouse master; Mrs. CHEATER, workhouse matron.
  • 1858: G. H. VERNON, Chairman; Charles S. BURNABY, clerk to the Guardians; Sturton JOHNSON, auditor; Rev. Charles HODGE, chaplain; Samuel MARSHALL, medical officer; Joseph CHEATER, workhouse master; Mrs. CHEATER, workhouse matron; Ann BICKERTON, schoolmistress.
  • 1868: Charles S. BURNABY, clerk to the Guardians; Rev. Edward S. SANDERSON, Chaplain; Samuel MARSHALL, surgeon; James SEALE, workhouse master; Mrs. Hannah T. SEALE, workhouse matron; Miss Jane SMALL, schoolmistress.
  • 1881: Charles Sherard BURNABY, clerk to the Guardians; Edward Dring PIDD, workhouse master; Mrs. Maria PIDD, workhouse matron; Rev. L. D. ROWORTH, chaplain; George T. SAVILE, surgeon; widow Ann FISH, workhouse nurse.
  • 1891: Thomas William DENMAN, clerk to the Guardians; John Henry LAMBERT, Treasurer; Edward Dring PIDD, workhouse master; Mrs. Maria PIDD, workhouse matron; Rev. L. D. ROWORTH, chaplain; George Townsend SAVILE, surgeon.