Find your ancestors in Cheshire Workhouse Records (Deaths)

Discover whether your ancestor had fallen on hard times in the records of those born in the Cheshire workhouses in Britain in the 19th century. Search 18,946 records to find those who died in one of Cheshire’s 9 Poor Law union workhouses.

The 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act established nine poor-law unions in Cheshire, each with its own workhouse. Workhouses were supposed to be a deterrent to the able-bodied pauper. Under the Act, poor relief would only be granted to those who passed the “workhouse test”, in other words you would have to be desperate to enter a workhouse.

Some people only stayed in the workhouses briefly, when there was no other option, others spent their entire lives in the same workhouse. If an inmate died in the workhouse their family was notified and would be given the option to organize a funeral themselves. Many were unable to do so because of the expense. If no one else came forward the Guardians of the workhouse would arrange a burial in a local cemetery or burial ground usually the parish where the workhouse stood but later rules did allow for the deceased’s own parish if such a wish had been expressed.

The burial would be in the cheapest possible coffin in an unmarked grave, often a communal one. Bodies that were unclaimed for 48 hours could also be donated for medical research or training, a form of disposal allowable under the terms of the 1832 Anatomy Act for any institution whose inmates had died within its care. All deaths were registered in the normal way.

These records cover those who died in the Poor Law Unions of Bucklow, Cheshire, Congleton, Macclesfield, Nantwich, Northwich, Runcorn, Stockport and Tarvin.