Union Records ~ Our Relief

Support could be given to individuals out of the workhouse depending on what rules were in operation at the time. The provision of out relief (or out-door relief as it was also called) could be made in kind (bread, clothing, etc) and money, which was sometimes given by way of loan. In general, if someone had a temporary problem in supporting themselves they were more likely to be given out relief rather than be offered admission into the workhouse.

Minutes of the Board

Some Union Minutes give great detail on the amount and reasons for giving or refusing Out Relief to people, including reasons why they were given a loan. They can also give the names of people who were too poor to pay the Poor Rate (which was the means by which money was raised to support the operation of the Union) and were therefore excused payment. Some of these people would be receiving out relief but others could be just about managing on their own means.


These records may contain copies of letters from individuals requesting relief (possibly from another part of the county or country) and other correspondence supporting or dismissing their case.

Financial Ledgers

Where someone has been provided with a loan the details may be recorded in these records, with their possible repayment. Also payment for cases of midwifery attended to by the Union Medical Officer may be recorded.

Relief Order Books/Outdoor Relief Books/Application and Report Books

These books were used to record the details of persons receiving out door relief authorised by the Board of Guardians to be given out by the Relieving Officer of the Union. They would record whether it was given in kind (ie bread) or money or both and should include such information as the name of the person receiving the relief, where they are residing and for what period of time the relief was given.

Medical Officers Relief Books

Entries in these books should include the name of the pauper to whom medical relief was being given, their age, residence and the nature of the disease. It may also record the result of the treatment.