The workhouse populations of Lancashire in 1881

Gritt, Andrew and Park, Peter (2011) The workhouse populations of Lancashire in 1881. Local Population Studies, 86 (-). pp. 37-65. ISSN 0143-2974

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This article investigates the characteristics of the workhouse populations in Lancashire in 1881. The analysis is based on the snapshot view provided by the 1881 census and, despite the limitations of such an approach, this large-scale survey reveals significant variations in the experience of poverty and local relief policies in a largely industrial region that had been at the forefront of the anti-poor law movement. The workhouse populations are shown to be diverse, and contrast markedly with pauper populations previously studied. Lancashire’s Poor Law Unions are divided into three types: conurbation, urban industrial and rural. These three groups appear to represent three different patterns of workhouse residency. The workhouse populations in rural Lancashire are broadly similar to those discussed elsewhere, being dominated by elderly males. However, urban industrial workhouse populations contained large numbers of adults of working age and the absence of children from workhouses in the conurbation is particularly striking.

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