Kinsale Board of Guardians

Repository: Cork City and County Archives

Identity Statement

TitleKinsale Board of Guardians
Archive ReferenceIE CCCA/BG/108
Web Link to this Entry
Creation Dates1839-1925
Extent Medium197 items, mainly volumes


Creator(s): Kinsale Board of Guardians

  • Administrative History ↴

    Kinsale workhouse opened 4 December 1841. The Board, which first met in March 1839, expressed grave reservations over the size of the proposed workhouse. It claimed that the capacity for 500 inmates was over twice that required, and called on the Poor Law Commissioners ‘either to increase the size of the union or to dissolve it altogether’. The board eventually accepted the planned workhouse, and, a few years later, acquired the use of other premises in Kinsale to allow it to accommodate numbers of inmates in excess of 1000 at the height of the Great Famine. Other premises used included Kinsale Fever Hospital, the old barracks, and the old gaol. Each workhouse was managed by a staff and officers under the charge of a workhouse master, who reported to the board. Overall responsibility rested with the union's board of guardians, some of whom were elected, and some of whom were ex-officio members appointed usually from amongst local magistrates. The board appointed its own inhouse committees, and received reports from workhouse officers and from dispensary district committees and district medical officers. It also made resolutions on internal and poor law matters and, sometimes, on wider political or social issues. Poor law services were principally financed by a poor rate levied on property owners in the union’s districts, and collected by rate collectors appointed by the board. Central government also provided loans. Each union was under the central supervision of the Poor Law Commissioners up to 1874 and thereafter of the Local Government Board (later Local Government Board in Ireland). These government-appointed bodies received reports from the board and its officers, appointed inspectors and auditors, sanctioned or rejected proposed expenditure, appointments, and policies, and made the final decision on major administrative issues. In 1847 the board objected to a proposal submitted to the PLC that a separate union be created in the eastern part of the union district, rejecting claims of neglecting the Carrigaline area. No division was made. From February 1921 the board no longer read letters from the Local Government Board in Ireland, having accepted the authority of the Local Government Department of Dail Eireann, later the Department of Local Government of the Irish Free State. Over time, the responsibilities of the guardians increased to encompass public health, including some medical relief for the destitute at the workhouse, ‘outdoor’ relief though a system of dispensary districts, and other functions including overseeing smallpox vaccinations, the boarding-out of orphan and deserted children, and providing labourers’ cottages and improved sanitation. The workhouse buildings included a fever hospital, and fever sheds were created in local districts when larger outbreaks occurred. The workhouse provided education to child inmates, and employed a schoolmistress. These changing responsibilities were governed by legislation, including the Public Health (Ireland) Acts 1874 and 1878, Medical Charities Acts, Vaccination Acts, Dispensary Houses Act, the Nuisances Removal and Diseases Prevention Act, Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act 1878, and Labourers’ Acts. While these acts tended to increase the role of the board, the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898 saw most of its public health functions taken over by the newly-created Cork County Council and Kinsale Rural District Council. The board continued to administer the workhouse and its hospital, and to supervise some forms of outdoor relief. The Local Government (Temporary Provisions) Act 1923 led to the abolition of the workhouse system, and its replacement with the formation of the county boards of health and public assistance. The final recorded meeting of Kinsale board of guardians was held on 16 April 1924.
  • Archival History ↴

    The records of the Kinsale Board of Guardians were deposited in the Archives in the early 1980s.
  • Immediate Source Acquisition ↴

    Official Transfer

Content & Structure

  • Scope & Content: Kinsale Board of Guardians ↴

    The archives of the Kinsale Board of Guardians are extensive and include large numbers of minute books, letter books, indoor relief registers, financial accounts, and administrative records. The minutes of meetings of Kinsale Board of Guardians record the administration of the workhouse and poor relief in general (BG/108/A). They also reflect developments in public health, and the care of children, and of those with disabilities and mental illness. In addition, they provide glimpses of emigration, local issues, and politics. The gap in the minutes from 1868 to 1888 is partially made up for by the presence of rough minute books for most of this period (BG/108/AA). Minutes of the board acting as a rural sanitary authority under the Labourers’ Acts trace to beginnings of the provision of social housing in the Kinsale area in the period 1886-98. (BG/108/AL). Letter books supplement the minutes in documenting the transmission of resolutions and decisions of the board to the PLC/LGB, other state bodies, suppliers, rate-payers, and others. The outgoing letter books present, covering the years 1899-1920, include letters of Kinsale Rural District Council, as the same clerk served both the board and the RDC (BG/108/B). An earlier letter book documents correspondence with the PLC, its architects, engineers, builders, bankers, and other suppliers in the Union’s first few years (BG/108/BB). Financial records (1839-1925), such as general and personal ledgers and treasurer’s books, record day to day expenditure and receipts, including payments to suppliers. A small file of medical officers’ returns, 1915-21, contains largely statistical returns of information regarding medical services in dispensary districts, such as number of cases, vaccinations, and public health issues (BG/108/DF). Administrative records present include master’s journals (1902-08) and a master’s report book (1881-87), recording information relevant to the report made by the master of the workhouse to the board at weekly meetings (BG/108/F, FA. This includes information on provisions required, the weekly exercise of children, and matters arising, such as abandoned children received. A Workhouse farm account book (1899-1925) documents an area of activity not much reflected elsewhere in the collection (BG/108/FT). Records of inmates of the Workhouse, especially the indoor relief registers (1841-1917), record personal information on those who admitted to the Workhouse. They are a valuable source for family and genealogy research. The registers are supplemented by related records, such as admission and discharge books (1850-1904; BG/108/GA), and a paupers’ discharge book (1869-84; BG/108/GK). A similar record, a Fever Hospital patients’ register (BG/108/HE/1) is present for 1849-50. Also present is a file of correspondence relating to dispensaries, mainly relating to medical officers and dispensaries (1915-21; BG/108/JD). A record of death book, 1842-99, supplements other registers of inmates (BG/108/KA). Finally, a few forms relating to the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act, 1904, are also present (BG/108/M). The collection is of use to those studying the administrative and social history of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and to students of local and family history. The development of the poor law system, and the local experience of the Great Famine of 1845-49, are subjects of particular interest.

  • Appraisal Destruction ↴

    Permanent Retention
  • Accruals ↴

    Not expected
  • Arrangement ↴

    1. Minute Books

    A1-138 Board of Guardian Minute Books 1839-1924 (87 items)
    AA18-74 Board of Guardian Rough Minute Books 1861-1892 (43 items)
    AL1-2 Minutes, Rural Sanitary Authority 1886-1898 (2 items)

    2. Correspondence

    B1-3 Outgoing Letter Books 1899-1920 (3 items)
    BB1 Inward and Outward Letter Book 1839-1841 (1 item)

    3. Accounts

    CA1-26 General Ledgers 1839-1925 (17 items)
    CB1-2 Personal Ledgers 1853-1899 (2 items)
    CE1-4 Financial Statements Expenditure 1912-1924 (4 items)
    CF1-2 Treasurers Receipt and Payment Books 1845-1909 (2 items)
    CG1 Treasurers Loan Repayment Accounts 1905-1920 (1 item)

    4. Statistics

    DF1 Medical Officers Returns 1915-1921 (1 item)

    5. Workhouse: Administration

    F1 Master’s Journal 1902-1908 (1 item)
    FA1 Master’s Report Book 1881-1887 (1 item)
    FT1 Work House Farm Accounts Book 1899-1924 (1 item)

    6. Workhouse: Inmates

    G1-19 Indoor Relief Registers 1841-1917 (13 items)*
    GA3-28 Admission and Discharge Books 1850-1904 (12 items)
    GK1 Pauper Discharge Book 1869-1884 (1 item)

    7. Workhouse: Infirmary

    HE1 Register of patients of Fever Hospital 1849 – 1850 (1 item)

    8. Dispensary

    JD1 Correspondence relating to Dispensaries 1915-1921 (1 item)

    9. Returns of Births and Deaths

    KA1 Record of Deaths 1842-1899 (1 item)

    10. Contagious Diseases Act

    M1 Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act, Forms 1904 (1 item)

Conditions of Access & Use

Access Conditions Open for research by appointment to those holding a current readers ticket.
Conditions Governing ReproductionSubject to rules governing reproduction of records of Cork City and County Archives
Creation Dates1839-1925
Extent Medium197 items, mainly volumes
Material Language ScriptEnglish
Finding Aids Descriptive list Archive Web Link →

Allied Materials

Related MaterialCCCA: Board of Guardian records for other poor law unions in County Cork Cork County Boards of Health and Public Assistance records, 1921-66 Kinsale Rural District Council records, 1899-1925 Cork County Council records, 1899-1925   Elsewhere: National Archives of Ireland: Archives of the Poor Law Commissioners Archives of the Local Government Board in Ireland Archives of the Department of Local Government

Descriptive Control Area

Archivist NoteTimmy O’Connor
Rules/ConventionsISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description. 2nd ed. Ottawa: International Council on Archives, 2000.
Date of Descriptions40544