The Ballymoney Borough Council Logo

visit ballymoney

European Regional Development Fund Logo

Boards of Guardian Records

The new English system of Poor Law administration was applied to Ireland in 1838. Destitute poor who were previously granted relief at parish level were to be accommodated in new workhouses, where conditions were to be as unpleasant as was consistent with health.

Ireland was divided into 137 Poor Law Unions. These ignored traditional divisions, such as the county, barony and parish, and were centred on a market town where a workhouse was built. Each workhouse kept registers of those admitted to it; these give the name, religion and residence of each the inmate.

The 1847 Act also permitted Poor Law Commissioners to permit boards to give food to the able-bodied poor for limited periods, though excluding persons holding more than a quarter-acre of land. The object of this limitation is not clear, but it may have been intended to force the large number of farmers occupying uneconomically small holdings to give up their holdings and become wage-earners.

These records reproduced with kind permission of Deputy Keeper of Records, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.