The Workhouse

Many of you researching will find a link to an ancestor that spent time in the Workhouse. Below are various websites with regard to workhouses together with a link to a newspaper article printed today about Bolton Workhouse and a memorial in honour of the paupers buried there. ( links at the bottom of the post).

I have also included some personal information about my ancestors who both died in the workhouse. It is to be noted that both had professions.


My 4x Great Grandfather George Pearson who died in a workhouse aged 58.

1841 – Windmill Lane, Foleshill

  • George Pearson, 40, Baker
  • Mary Pearson, 40
  • George Pearson, 15
  • Henry Pearson, 10
  • Louisa Pearson, 5
  • Sarah, 4

1851 – New Road, Foleshill

  • Joseph Hilton, Head, Mar, 62, Silk Winder, Foleshill, Warwick
  • Phoebe Hilton, Wife, Mar, 62, Silk Winder, Foleshill, Warwick
  • Francis Hilton, Son, U, 24, Silk Winder, Foleshill, Warwick
  • Wm Clarke, Lodger, U, 25, Brick Maker, Streeton, Warwick
  • George Pearson, Lodger, Widower, 60, Baker, Sowe, Warwick
  • Benjm Gilbert, Lodger. U, 28, Silk Cleaner, Foleshill, Warwick
  • H0107 piece 2066 folio 271 page 4

Despite the discrepancy in the age difference between the two census returns – rather than 10 years showing 20 it should be remembered that in 1841 the ages were rounded up or down by 5 years and actually he was around 45
So I do believe they are the same person – the profession is correct and the place of birth is correct.

Notes – 17th June 2011
On checking an online transcription of St Lawrence Church, Foleshill burial records a George Pearson is listed as being buried 5th September 1852. His age is given as 60 and place of death Foleshill Workhouse.

I called at the Nuneaton Registry Office who have the registry books for Foleshill. The lady said she had two George Pearsons (both as Bakers) listed for around that date and went off to check the registry book itself. She bought it back to say it would appear that the same person have been listed twice, a very rare occurrence.

The first entry the informant is the surgeon, the second entry the informant is the master of the workhouse. She let me look at the entries for these dates so I could decide which copy to order. What was striking is that on the page where the informant is the Master of the workhouse – there are five entries for the workhouse, all with the same cause of death ‘ diarrhoea’. I can only assume that there was either a food poisoning outbreak or a stomach bug.

Dying in the workhouse must be a very sad ending to ones life. Do the family get informed?

Notes – 24th June 2011
Extracted from Foleshill Warwickshire Minute Books, kept at The Herbert History Centre, Coventry

1st September 1852
The Guardian called the attention of Mr Richard Rudland the medical officer of Foleshill Workhouse to the cases of diarrhoea in the house and requested his opinion as to having further medical afsistance which he thought unnecessary as the inmates were all very old and everything was being done for them that could be required.

Rev Henry Bellaird

My 4x Great Grandfather was only 58.

There is an entry for the purchase of a quart of brandy – to be given to the inmates dealing with the outbreak of diarrhoea. I’m sure that helped!!


My 3x Great Grandfather in law, Richard Attenborough (yes a very distant relation to Sir Richard Attenborough) died in the workhouse in 1865.

In 1851 Richard is residing in Nottingham Workhouse listed as a pauper, married, aged 36 and a plumber by profession. His wife and children are living in Leicester.

In 1858 an entry in the Admission and Discharge Book shows that Richard was admitted on Thursday 11 November 1858 being of unsound mind brought from Leicester. How he got to Leicester, when, or if he managed to meet with his wife will never be known.

The 1861 census shows that Richard is still living in at the workhouse, he is listed as Rich Attenborough, Plumber and Glazier aged 47 – position in the workhouse is no longer listed as pauper but he is now listed as insane.

Richard died in the workhouse on 26th May 1865 from diseased gums and blood poisoning – he was 50 years old.

Bolton News 24th February 2015

General Information

Burton on Trent Workhouse

Derby Union workhouse residents in 1881 – including a nurse from Australia

Southwell Workhouse

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