Wexford, Co. Wexford
Wexford Poor Law Union was formed on 20th June 1840 and covered an area of 173 square miles. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 24 in number, representing its 14 electoral divisions as listed below (figures in brackets indicate numbers of Guardians if more than one):
Co. Wexford: Ambrosetown, Ardcolm (2), Bannow, Kilpatrick, Killurin (2), Kilmore (2), Lady's Island, Mayglass, Mulrankin (2), Roslare, Rathaspick, Tacumpshin, Taghmon (2), Wexford (6).
The Board also included 8 ex-officio Guardians, making a total of 32. The Guardians met each week on Saturday at noon.
The population falling within the Union at the 1831 census had been 48,802 with divisions ranging in size from Tacumpshin (population 1,658) to Wexford itself (12,735).
The new workhouse, built in 1840-42, occupied a 7-acre site at the north-west of Wexford, and was designed to accommodate 600 inmates. Its construction cost £5,780 plus £1,120 for fixtures and fittings etc. It was declared fit for the admission of paupers on 2nd July 1842 and admitted its first inmates a few weeks later on 25th July. The site location and layout are shown on the map below.
The buildings followed Wilkinson's typical layout. An entrance and administrative block at the south contained a porter's room and waiting room at the centre with the Guardians' board room on the first floor above. The three-storey main accommodation block housed the Master's quarters at the centre, and male and female wings to each side.
At the rear, a range of single-storey utility rooms such as bakehouse and washhouse connected through to the infirmary and idiots' wards via a central spine containing the chapel and dining-hall.
At the 1901 census, the population of the Union was 32,839 with 11 officials and 311 inmates in the workhouse and fever hospital.
The site is now known as Wexford General Hospital. In the first phase of a major rebuilding scheme, services formerly based in the old workhouse buildings were transferred to new accommodation in 1992. At the time of writing, the workhouse buildings are lying derelict, demolition plans having been the subject of some local opposition.
Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals. Before travelling a long distance, always check that the records you want to consult will be available.
- Wexford County Archive Service, 6A Ardcavan Business Park, Ardcavan, Co. Wexford. Visitors by prior appointment only.
- Higginbotham, Peter The Workhouse Encyclopedia (2014, The History Press)
- Transcription of Wexford workhouse births 1851-93 by Rachel Darlington (archived).
Unless otherwise indicated, this page () is copyright Peter Higginbotham. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.