Overcrowding at the Workhouse

The Poor Relief Extension Act 1847 empowered Guardians to grant relief at their own discretion to the aged and infirm and to widows with two or more dependent children. The Guardians were also empowered to grant food aid to able-bodied persons for limited periods.

In Carlow the guardians were firmly against such measures. This attitude gave rise to the overcrowded conditions in Carlow Workhouse from late 1846. Towards the end of the year 1846, the Carlow Union Workhouse was steadily filling up. From a total of 566 inmates in early November of that year, the figure rose to over 700 one month later. The Board of Guardians Minutes for the month of December reported that "the Workhouse is now full of paupers".

It was decided to discharge some of the able-bodied males and members of their families and to accommodate "more destitute objects". The situation further deteriorated in the New Year when it was resolved that "every part of this house that can be made available for the reception of paupers be fitted up".

With over 1,000 inmates by February 1847 further accommodation for 500 persons was deemed necessary . A contractor, Mr. Joe Lynch was ordered to build two sheds in the Workhouse yard. In the following month, the Clerk advertised for tenders for building two additions to the Workhouse Infirmary.

More Workhouses Acquired

Later in 1847, the Minutes refer to a property in Mill Lane situated off Castle Hill near Carlow Castle called Mill Lane House. The house consisted of seven rooms and other accommodation. It was prepared for 200 boys from the main workhouse. This would alleviate the accommodation problem in the Workhouse itself. This auxiliary property is listed in Griffith's Valuation as being in the ownership of Mr. Simeon Clarke and was valued at ten shillings.

The Guardians acquired further property in January 1848 located in the Starch Works Stores on the Athy Road, lately "in the possession of Mr. Nolan, now "in the possession of Mr. Whitmore". The guardians paid 25 per year for this property. They also acquired the use of the adjoining malt House in the possession of Thomas Haughton at 30 per year. John Nolan and Thomas Haughton were listed as lessor and occupiers in Griffith's Valuation 1853. William Whitmore was in occupation while the lease was from Mr. Francis R. Malcomson. As stated in the Minutes "the superficial measurement of Mr Haughtons Malt House is about 5,176 feet, Mr. Whitmores flooring measures about 2,684 feet, he also gives a small yard and the use of a pump". This accommodation was deemed suitable for 400-500 paupers, which relieved pressure on the principal workhouse.

By January 1848, the numbers residing in the main workhouse were statistically differentiated from those in Auxiliary locations. Thus of the 1400 occupants for week ended January 8th, 1848 800 were at the main Workhouse, 200 in the temporary buildings/additional Workhouses and 400 in the permanent Fever Hospital. The guardians took over further property at the Distillery Stores situated on the Trackway near the River Barrow, from a Mr. Crostwaite and they insured this premises for 600.

State of the Workhouse Tables

An analysis of the State of the Workhouse table from the Carlow Union Minute Books for the period June 3rd 1848 to January 5th 1850

Minutes - State of the Workhouse 5th Jan 1850

Extract from Carlow Union Minute Book 1850 showing State of the Workhouse for weekending Saturday the 5th day of Jan 1850. It gives detailed analysis of the number of people (male, female, able bodied, aged and infirm, boys and girls etc) in the Workhouse and auxiliary workhouses at the time.

Carlow County Library

gives the following information:
The original capacity of Carlow Union Workhouse was for 800 persons. By June 3rd 1848, additional accommodation had been provided to house 2,100 inmates. The number of places remained the same up to the month of November 1848

Minutes - State of the Workhouse 18th Nov 1848

Extract from Carlow Union Minute Book 1848 showing State of the Workhouse for weekending Saturday the 18th day of Nov 1848. It gives detailed analysis of the number of people (male, female, able bodied, aged and infirm, boys and girls etc) in the Workhouse and auxiliary workhouses at the time.

Carlow County Library

. However, the uptake on these places varied from 1,238 in September 1848

Minutes - State of the Workhouse 2nd Sept 1848

Extract from Carlow Union Minute Book 1848 showing State of the Workhouse for weekending Saturday the 2nd day of Sept 1848. It gives detailed analysis of the number of people (male, female, able bodied, aged and infirm, boys and girls etc) in the Workhouse and auxiliary workhouses at the time.

Carlow County Library

up to 1,649 in November. In December 1848

Minutes - State of the Workhouse 2nd Dec 1848

Extract from Carlow Union Minute Book 1848 showing State of the Workhouse for weekending Saturday the 2nd day of Dec 1848. It gives detailed analysis of the number of people (male, female, able bodied, aged and infirm, boys and girls etc) in the Workhouse and auxiliary workhouses at the time.

Carlow County Library

, accommodation was increased to house 2,500 inmates while the number of occupants stood at 1,744.
By February 1849

Minutes - State of the Workhouse 3rd Feb 1849

Extract from Carlow Union Minute Book 1849 showing State of the Workhouse for weekending Saturday the 3rd day of Feb 1849. It gives detailed analysis of the number of people (male, female, able bodied, aged and infirm, boys and girls etc) in the Workhouse and auxiliary workhouses at the time.

Carlow County Library

the number of places provided was 2,656. This figure remained the same up to June 1849

Minutes - State of the Workhouse 2nd June 1849

Extract from Carlow Union Minute Book 1849 showing State of the Workhouse for weekending Saturday the 2nd day of June 1849. It gives detailed analysis of the number of people (male, female, able bodied, aged and infirm, boys and girls etc) in the Workhouse and auxiliary workhouses at the time.

Carlow County Library

. Occupancy in February reached 3,088 increasing steadily to 3,049 in June 1849.
The number of places was further increased to 3,726 in July 1849

Minutes - State of the Workhouse 7th July 1849

Extract from Carlow Union Minute Book 1849 showing State of the Workhouse for weekending Saturday the 7th day of July 1849. It gives detailed analysis of the number of people (male, female, able bodied, aged and infirm, boys and girls etc) in the Workhouse and auxiliary workhouses at the time.

Carlow County Library

and remained at that level through to January 1850. The number of inmates for that period started out at 3,086 decreasing steadily through August

Minutes - State of the Workhouse 4th Aug 1849

Extract from Carlow Union Minute Book 1849 showing State of the Workhouse for weekending Saturday the 4th day of Aug 1849. It gives detailed analysis of the number of people (male, female, able bodied, aged and infirm, boys and girls etc) in the Workhouse and auxiliary workhouses at the time.

Carlow County Library

to October

Minutes - State of the Workhouse 6th Oct 1849

Extract from Carlow Union Minute Book 1849 showing State of the Workhouse for weekending Saturday the 6th day of Oct 1849. It gives detailed analysis of the number of people (male, female, able bodied, aged and infirm, boys and girls etc) in the Workhouse and auxiliary workhouses at the time.

Carlow County Library

. Then decreased to 1,473 and then increased again to 2,236 in the month of January 1850.

previousPrevious - Carlow Workhouse and the Famine
Next - The Master Said Nonext