Rotherham Workhouse

Rotherham Workhouse front cover
Rotherham Workhouse front cover

Rotherham Workhouse looks into the lives of the people who entered the workhouse either as inmates or staff. There is the process of entry, which is deliberately demeaning as a deterrent. The book describes the day to day lives of the workhouse officers, who because of the rules and regulations are as much prisoners of the systems as the paupers themselves. A list of some of the inmates is included. Published September 2009

Chapter List

Chapter One The Poor Laws and Life in the Rotherham Workhouse
Chapter Two The Board of Guardians
Chapter Three The Medical Officers of Health
Chapter Four The Workhouse Chaplain
Chapter Five The Master and Matron
Chapter Six Teachers and Education in the Workhouse
Chapter Seven Giving Birth and Children in the Workhouse
Chapter Eight Imbeciles and Lunatics
Chapter Nine Mismanagement and Allegations
Appendix One Some of the Inmates of the Workhouse

Extract from the book

Immediately upon admission, the new inmate’s were separated from their families, men from wives and children from their parents. Their clothing was removed, disinfected and stored until they left the workhouse. Paupers were admitted into the receiving wards where they were searched for any money, alcohol, cards or dice. They then washed themselves and were required to put on workhouse clothing. This was institutionalised clothing which was functional and basic. Studying the lists of provision for clothing, which changed very little over the years, the standard wear seemed to consist of men’s and boy’s worsted jackets, ‘trowsers’ and shirts. For women, materials such as gingham and checks were bought, possibly worn as aprons over dresses of unbleached calico. The usual footwear for men and boys were hob nailed boots, for women and girls they had shoes. On entering the house the pauper’s hair would be cropped by the workhouse barber, the same haircut given to men and women. Men would also be shaved by the barber on a regular basis as no sharp implements such as scissors or razors were allowed in the house. Applications for tenders for the barber was advertised in the local newspaper. The paupers would then be examined by the medical officer of health and if they showed any sign of illness they would be admitted into the hospital, otherwise they would be directed into the segregated day rooms and given work to do. This completed the hated initiation into the walls of Rotherham workhouse.

2 thoughts on “Rotherham Workhouse

  1. Dear Margaret Thank you for your fascinating writing. Can I ask which of your books contains the story of the Murder at the Star Hotel at Conisbrough please? I am not sure which book to order. Have you come across the landlord of the Star at that time, John Williams, in any other of your research? He was a station inspector at Rotherham and Sheffield before he became the landlord of The Star Hotel. His wife Hannah died in the South Yorkshire Asylum aged 44 from “Melancholia”. He rapidly remarried, and took over the Star. The second wife, Sarah, died within a few years and he again quickly remarried for a third time. His son Frederick George was the magistrates clerk to the court held at the Star Hotel, and he seems to have disappeared before John William third marriage, and a son from that marriage is given the same name. I can find no record of Frederick George after the murder at the Star. I am also looking forward to reading your book on the Rotherham Workhouse: John William’s brother, George was an inmate in the 1880’s – 90’s. Both John and George were Welsh, from Raglan in Monmouthshire.
    Many thanks

  2. Hello Valerie,

    Thank you for your comments and I hope that you enjoy reading the book on the Rotherham Workhouse. It was my first book to be published and remains my favourite.

    What a fascinating story about the Williams family, I take it that you are related in some way. However as regards the murder at the Star Hotel, Conisbrough you might have to give me some more details. Bearing in mind I have written about 44 books, up to press, I dont know where to even start looking. Have you got a date or the name of the persons involved? that might help? If you let me know those details, it will be easier to track down.

    Thank you for writing and best wishes


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