Find your ancestors in Warwickshire, Coventry workhouse admission and discharge registers 1853-1946

What can these records tell me?

Each records includes -

  • First name
  • Last name
  • Date
  • Admitted from
  • Workhouse

Additional information might be found on the image reason for seeking relief and observations.

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The 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act created fourteen poor-law unions in Warwickshire, each with its own workhouse meant to dissuade able-bodied paupers. The poor law union was established to oversee and administer relief for the poor which would previously been the responsibility of the individual parishes. Workhouses existed before the 1834 Poor Law Act, but their construction accelerated with the new legislation. The Coventry workhouse on London Road was first purchased by the Guardians of the Poor in 1801. The building had been used as a Cameline friary of Whitefriars. It reopened as a workhouse in 1804.

Relief was contingent on passing the "workhouse test," making entry a sign of desperation. Reserved for the truly destitute, only accompanied able-bodied men could enter. Workhouses accommodated the elderly, infirm, orphans, mentally ill, and single mothers but aimed to make life there unpleasant. Inmates were segregated by gender and condition, given basic, monotonous food, rough uniforms, and limited bathing. Hard labour like stone breaking was assigned to the able-bodied, with minimal family interaction allowed. Seen as the ultimate degradation, some stayed briefly while others spent their lives there, and poor women sometimes sought childbirth in workhouse hospitals due to the expense of home medical care.