Barwick-in-Elmet, West Yorkshire
On 22nd December, 1825, a collection of 40 parishes to the north and east of Leeds formed a large Gilbert Union based at Barwick-in-Elmet. Gilbert's Act gave parishes greater control over the administration of poor relief including the ability to operate workhouses for the elderly and infirm and children.
The Union's member parishes and townships were: Acaster Selby, Acton [Ackton], Alwoodley, Appleton Roebuck, Askham Bryan, Barkstone Ash, Barwick-in-Elmet, Bilbrough, Bilton, Bolton Percy, Bramham-cum-Oglethorpe, Cattal, Catterton, Church Fenton, Clifford-cum-Boston, Featherstone, Ferryfrystone, Great Ribstone with Walshford, Hunsingore, Hutton Wandesley, East Keswick, Kirk Deighton, Kirk Fenton, Long Marston, Newton Kyme with Toulston, Normanton, Pontefract Park, Purston Jaglin, Ryther cum Ossendyke, Seacroft, Shadwell, Steeton, Sutton, East Tadcaster, Thornville, Thorpe Arch, Tockwith, Ulleskelf, Walton, Whitwood, Wigton, Wike, and Wilstrop.
A small union workhouse consisting of a row of cottages was situated at the west of Barwick in Elmet. Its location and layout are shown on the 1851 map below.
As well as being members of the Union, some of its member parishes also maintained their own poorhouses, presumably for the "deserving" poor such as the elderly, or as temporary housing for those receiving out-relief. Bilbrough had such an establishment at the north-east of the village as shown on the 1849 map below:
Because of its Gilbert Union status, Barwick-in-Elmet was exempted from most of the provisions of the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act. However, because of the scattered nature of its member parishes, the Poor Law Commissioners tried, unsuccessfully, to persuade Barwick-in-Elmet and the three other Gilbert Unions in the area (Great Ouseburn, Carlton, and Great Preston) to convert to Poor Law Unions. An 1838 map, published by the Commissioners, shows the areas included in the four Gilbert Unions.
Barwick-in-Elmet Union remained in existence until 1869 when all remaining Gilbert Unions were abolished. Many of its member parishes and townships joined the Tadcaster Union which was established in 1862.
Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals.
- West Yorkshire Archive Service — Leeds, Nepshaw Lane South, Morley, Leeds LS27 7JQ . Virtually no local records survive.
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