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Nottingham Poor Law Union

Poorhouses, Poor Law, etc.

EDEN, in his 1797 survey of the poor in England, reported that:

Nottingham contains three parishes. In 1779, the population was 17,711 and is supposed to be now (May, 1795) about 22,000. St Mary's parish which is by far the largest, contains by estimation 1,200 acres of land, and about 100 acres of waste. 1,200 houses pay tax, 1,822 are exempt. Prices of provisions are: Beef, 5d. to 6d. per lb. ; mutton and veal, 5d. ; bacon, 9d. ; potatoes, 9d. and l0d. per peck; butter, 9d. per lb. ; flour, 2s. 6d. to 2s 10d. per st. ; oatmeal, 6s. per bush. ; wheat, 9s. 4d. per bush. ; barley, 42s. per quarter ; malt, 5s. per bush. ; milk, 11d. per quart. The price of labour is very variable, particularly in the stocking line. Some weavers earn 40s. a week, and others only 8s. This disparity is occasioned in some through want of industry, but chiefly from the nature of the different branches of the manufacture. It is thought that two-thirds of the weavers do not, on an average, earn more than 10s. weekly. Lace workers earn from 20s. to 40s. weekly. The women and children are chiefly employed in manufacturing cotton and silk, and earn from 10d. to 4s. weekly. Common labourers have 10s. and 10s. 6d. a week in summer, and in winter 8s. Hands cannot easily be procured in winter. There are 152 ale-houses, and 51 friendly societies, the number of members in which is limited to 41 or 51. There is a society called the Charitable Society, formed to relieve such cases as cannot be reached by general laws, such as relief of strangers in distress, or persons labouring under temporary disease, or other casual misfortune, either in loans or donations or both, the small annual subscriptions to Sunday schools, and in a few instances to the payment for the education of children of poor and deserving families. The society was founded by Quakers and has been principally under their management, though joined by many others. The subscription is 1s. (or 6d. at the pleasure of the subscriber) a month. The average rent of land is about £3 an acre. A modus is paid in lieu of tithes. The Workhouse is surrounded by other buildings, mostly much higher, so that the free current of air is completely obstructed. The rooms are close, and the beds partly of flocks, and partly of straw. A few more beds have been ordered, as in the summer 3 and sometimes 4 persons are obliged to sleep in one bed. This may probably be the reason why vermin prevail here, though the floors, staircases, etc., seem to be kept clean. A spotted fever rages in the house. There are 168 pauper inmates, viz., 42 boys between 6 months and 14 years, 35 girls under 20, 30 men from 20 to 60, and 61 women from 20 to 80. Among the above are 8 bastards, 456 weekly outpensioners receive £23 2s. 6d. weekly, and about £11 weekly are paid to casual Poor. The earnings are trifling. Most of the women are employed in nursing the young children, and few men who are able to work enter the house. The earnings, therefore, are chiefly from the children who work at the cotton mills, and amount to rather more than £60 a year.
  Bill of fare: Breakfast—Sunday, Tuesday, Friday, milk pottage; Monday, Wednesday, Saturday, water gruel; Thursday, bread and gruel. Dinner—Sunday, Tuesday, Friday, broth, beef and potatoes; Monday, Wednesday, Saturday, cold meat, broth and potatoes ; Thursday, puddings and sauce made of water, flour, alegar and sugar. Supper-every day except Thursday, bread and beer; Thursday, bread, cheese and beer. The average weekly consumption per head is 4lb. meat 31 pints beer. About 70 stone of second flour, at 2s. 6d. the stone, are made into bread weekly. About 11oz brown bread are allowed each grown person for supper, and about 2/3 of a pint of beer. 5 pecks of potatoes, at 9d. per peck, are used daily on meat days. About a bush. oatmeal weekly. Children and sick persons are often indulged with puddings and flour hasty puddings. At Thursday's supper about 2¾. of cheese are allowed each adult, and a proportionate quantity to children. Certificates are not willingly granted, about 4 or 5 in a year. There are about 14 removals a year, of which one or two are contested. Several small donations amounting to about £80 a year, are distributed annually to such Poor as do not otherwise receive parochial assistance. The other parishes are burdened with Poor in nearly the same proportion. Some years back it was proposed to erect a House of Industry for all the parishes, but differences of opinion and discordancy of interest caused the scheme to fail. The rates which in 1795 were 4s. 4d. on houses, and 10s. on land, have risen rapidly in recent years. No satisfactory reason could be assigned, as the principal stocking manufacturers say the war has not materially affected them, as their chief export is to America. The rise is generally attributed to the high price of provisions, the scarcity of common labour, and the great number of soldiers and militia men's wives and families who have lately become burdensome to the parish.


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District Population

    Year  Inhabitants
1831 50,680
1871 121,539
1881 159,263
1891 177,078





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[Last updated: 27-January-2015 - Louis R. Mills]

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