"St Mary's parish is the largest of the three parochal divisions of the town, and county of the town of Nottingham, as it contains about four-fifths of the buildings and population, and the whole of the forest and burgess lands. It includes all the buildings and land on the south side of the Leen, betwixt the Trent and the parishes of Sneinton and Lenton, and all that part of the town on the north side of the Leen, lying east of Sussex Street, Middle Hill, Market Street and Fletchergate; whence the boundary turns westward, and includes all the buildings north of Bottle Lane, Poultry, Timber Hill, Beastmarket Hill, Chapel Bar and the Park, until it joins the parish of Radford. Its principal streets are the High Pavement, St Mary's Gate, Stoney Street, Carlton Stret, George Street, Pelham Street, Clumber Street, Parliament Street, Derby Road and Mansfield Road. Its most important public buildings consist of the Exchange, the Post Office, the Town Hall, the churches of St Mary, St Paul, Trinity and St John; St Barnabas Catholic Church, Wesleyan Chapel, and many other dissenting places of worship; the Dispensary, the Theatre, the Grammar, National, Lancasterian and British Schools; Town Gaol and House of Correction &c.&c. The County Hall and Prison are within the boundary, but the ground on which they stand is exempted from the jurisdiction of the town, by a charter of Henry VI." [WHITE's "Directory of Nottinghamshire," 1853]
Bastardy cases would be heard in the Nottingham petty session hearings.
St Mary's parish set up workhouse in 1723 on land between York Street and Mansfield Road.
By 1808, the building had deteriorated and the parish began to plan for a new workhouse. Initially, a larger site on Dog Kennel Hill was considered, but eventually the replacement was built on the old site at a cost of more than £5,000.
In 1819, in the midst of a depression and high unemployment in Nottingham, the parish appointed Absalom BARNETT as its full-time Overseer. Barnett introduced a variety of new measures in the parish's treatment of the poor. He ended all wage supplements, allowances for large families, or the payment of rents. Able-bodied unemployed were offered relief through entry into the workhouse.
Under Barnett's plan, the workhouse capacity of 400 was quickly exceeded and the able-bodied soon were offered employment outside the workhouse. The work was low-paid.