Inmates of the Workhouse

Once the building had been completed and the officers appointed, the board of guardians took over the workhouse and issued an order declaring it fit for the reception of the destitute poor of the union and giving a date for its opening. People applying for admission to the workhouse came from many different backgrounds, entered the workhouse for a variety of reasons and stayed for varying periods of time.

People entering Milford workhouse were from different religious denominations, although the majority were Roman Catholics. The inmates came from a wide range of occupations. The Register of Admissions to Milford workhouse lists every job description from acrobats, musicians, artists and ballad singers to the more common labourers, mendicants, beggars, shoemakers, chimney sweeps, farmers, servants, seaweed collectors and smiths. Many people entered the workhouse for one night only and some people travelled huge distances, some from Dublin, Cork and one person had just returned from America, though the majority simply came from the surrounding electoral divisions or from the town itself.

The health of those seeking admission also varied, from people with minor ailments like sore eyes and ears to people with fever and cancer. Some people were described as being infirm due to old age

The majority of people are listed as having no residence and as a result are charged on the union as a whole. In some cases entire families were admitted to the workhouse while in others single girls entered the workhouse, gave birth to illegitimate children and then left again a few weeks later with the children. Cases where the illegitimate children were left behind seem to be very rare and when it did happen the children were usually boarded out to other families in the neighbourhood and their upkeep charged on the union.

Many people entered the workhouse never to leave it again and their deaths were recorded in a 'Record of Deaths'. The age of those who died in the workhouse varied from the very young to the very old. The images here show this stark contrast with the youngest death being a child of two and a half years old and the oldest a person of ninety.

These images are extracts from the Record of Deaths of Milford Workhouse covering the years 1899 - 1917. It includes name, gender and age of the people who have died as well as the cause of death and date of last admission to the workhouse. (BG/119/3/6)

Extract from the Register of Admissions and Discharges of Milford Workhouse, 1881 - 1897. (BG/119/3/4)

Click here to view a transcribed version of these images


Indoor Relief Register (2b) - Copyright of Donegal County Archives Service. No reproduction without permission�

Records of Deaths (1) - Copyright of Donegal County Archives Service. No reproduction without permission

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