Poor House or Work House?

Did you know that there was a Poor House in the new village of Milton Abbas? This was not called a work house in our records until 1804, and was built after the houses in the Street but before the map of 1806. 

One of the people in this poor house may be your ancestor. If their name was one of these then get in touch and tell us more about them.












We have quite a lot of records about the people at this time, including the Overseers of Poor and the Surveyors of the Highways, so we know if they were working ‘on the roads’, how much they were being paid, and whether they were receiving benefits.

By the 1841 Census it was called the ‘Old Poor House’ and was then housing fourteen families, their names can be found in the opcdorset transcription. There were 68 people living here in one large house which is no longer there, but occupied the land between what is now the Hambro Arms and the Post Office. We have an image of it from about 1810 with men outside in ‘stovepipe’ hats. It must have been crowded as there were 14 men, 14 women and 40 children. There were some young couples included, and most of the men were able bodied and their occupation is given as ‘Agricultural Labourer’, probably working on the Milton Abbas estate and its six farms. It seems that even when it was called a workhouse the inmates were not forced to work at picking oakum or other menial task. That all changed after 1836 when paupers were sent to the Blandford Union Workhouse, and we know the names of some of the people who went from Milton Abbas there.  From our transcriptions of the Overseers of the Poor accounts we know that bread, butter, beef and cheese was being supplied to the ‘workhouse’, so it appears that they had a reasonable diet compared with the dreaded Union Workhouses where gruel was the order of the day.

If you would like to share more of the social or family history of the rural poor then we would love to hear from you.

If you would like to use our transcriptions of the Overseers of the Poor, or the bills and receipts of the shopkeepers and suppliers to the poor, then you can join our group for £10 per annum.

This entry was posted in family history, Milton Abbas, Old Town of Milton Abbas, Overseers of the Poor, social history. Bookmark the permalink.

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