Atherstone Poorlaw Union


NOTE: Atherstone is NOT in Leicestershire (it is in Warwick), but this page is presented to assist those researching their Leicester county roots.


  • "The History of Atherstone" by Brenda Watts and Eleanor Winyard (1988).


  • The Poorlaw Union was the census Registration District. It made sense to use an existing political structure to manage the census. In the early 1800s, the Bristish government was working to reduce the number and complexity of civil ruling bodies.


  • The Poor Law Act of 1723 caused Atherstone to build a poorhouse on Long Street. Four bays were added in 1737 to meet the increasing demands of the population.
  • The Atherstone Poorlaw Union was established by the 1834 Poorlaw Amendment Act and was formed in March, 1836. The existing poorhouse in Atherstone was initially used as the Union Workhouse.
  • The Atherstone Union included, at first, 14 parishes: Ansley (WAR), Atherstone (WAR), Allerton, Baddesley Ensor (WAR), Baxterley (WAR), Bentley (WAR), Fenny Drayton, Grendon (WAR), Mancetter (WAR), Merevale (WAR), Oldbury (WAR), Polesworth (WAR), Ratcliffe Culey, Sheepy Magna, Sheepy Parva and Witherley.
  • Hartsill parish (WAR) was a later addition
  • The number and names of parishes in the Union would vary over time
  • The Board of Guardians met every other Tuesday, normally at the Union House at 9.30am.
  • A new hospital was opened on the south side of the workhouse in 1911. This was extended in 1914 when a new kitchen and Master's residence were also erected.
  • After the abolishment of the Poorlaw Unions in 1930, the site sat unused for a while and all the original buildings have now been demolished.
  • The area where the workhouse stood is now occupied by modern flats.

Inventories, Registers, Catalogues

Poorlaw documents can be viewed at the Warwickshire Record Office, Priory Park, Cape Road, Warwick, CV34 4JS. Tele: +44 (0)1926 412735.

Remember that some records may be restricted by the 100-year closure laws and regulations, established to protect individual privacy.

The Warwickshire Record Office hold the Minutes of the Board of Guardians from 1867 to 1930.


These figures are the total for all the parishes in the Atherstone Poorlaw Union. The Workhouse often held only about 55 inmates.



  • For a complete list of officers, staff and inmates in 1881, see the Ross Brett Workhouse site.
  • 1892: Joseph K. FIELDERS, clerk to the Board of Guardians; Joseph BISHOP, Superintendent Registrar; Robert MEARS, medical officer; Rev. G. F. MATTHEWS, chaplain; Robert TRIFFIT, workhouse master; Mrs. Lucy TRIFFIT, workhouse matron.


HMS Atherstone was a Hunt-class mine countermeasures vessel of the Royal Navy, the third ship to bear the name. She was launched on 1 March 1986..