Midleton Board of Guardians

Repository: Cork City and County Archives

Identity Statement

TitleMidleton Board of Guardians
Archive ReferenceIE CCCA/BG/118
Web Link to this Entryhttps://iar.ie/archive/midleton-board-guardians
Creation Dates1841-1925 (-1966)
Extent Medium190 items


Creator(s): Midleton Board of Guardians

  • Administrative History ↴

    The Midleton Board of Guardians was the governing body of Midleton workhouse and poor law union. Midleton workhouse opened 21 August 1841. Midleton Poor Law Union was established under the Poor Law (Ireland) Act, 1838. It was one of 16 unions in the overall County Cork area. Each union was centred on a city or market town and its hinterland, and this union area sometimes ignored existing parish or county boundaries. In this central town was situated the union workhouse (usually built between 1838 and 1852) which provided relief for the unemployed and the destitute. 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 schoolmaster and schoolmistress. Young inmates also received agricultural education on the workhouse farm. 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 1850, it was decided that several districts in the Midleton union should be severed from it in order to form a distinct Youghal poor law union. The scope and functions of the board of guardians were changed over time 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 Midleton Rural District Council. The board continued to administer the workhouse and its hospital, and to supervise some forms of outdoor relief. In November 1920 the board rejected the authority of the Local Government Board in Ireland and accepted that of the Local Government Department of Dail Eireann, later the Department of Local Government of the Irish Free State. 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. In common with many former workhouses, the Midleton workhouse buildings were taken over for use as a local home and hospital.
  • Archival History ↴

    The first, and largest, accession of records of Midleton Board of Guardians was deposited in the Archives in around 1982 from Midleton District Home and Hospital. Some indoor relief registers and other inmate and patient records were retained by the Sisters of Mercy at Midleton Hospital (later known as Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital). These records were deposited in the Archives in 2009 and 2010.
  • Immediate Source Acquisition ↴

    Official Transfer

Content & Structure

  • Scope & Content: Midleton Board of Guardians ↴

    The archives of the Midleton Board of Guardians are extensive and include large numbers of minute books, indoor relief registers, financial accounts, and administrative records.

    The minutes of meetings of Midleton Board of Guardians, in addition to recording the administration of the workhouse and poor relief generally, also cover a range of subjects. They reflect attitudes to poverty and illegitimacy, and document developments in the care of children, those with disabilities, and the mentally ill. They also provide glimpses of emigration, local land issues, and the rise of nationalism from the 1880s on. Related records, such as the Executive Officer’s report book ( BG/118/ALA/1; 1874-87) reveal the growing emphasis on improving sanitation as a means of alleviating poverty and distress.

    Financial records (1856-1924), such as general and personal ledgers and day books, record day to day expenditure and receipts, including payments to suppliers. They complement the administrative records, such as the provision check account book (1921-230 and the Workhouse farm account book (1899-1966), together providing evidence of the business of managing the workhouse and poor relief.

    Records of inmates of the Workhouse (1841-1925), especially the indoor relief registers, 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 (1913-25), Infirmary medical weekly returns (1915-19) and records of births and deaths (1844-1932).

    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
  • Arrangement ↴

    The collection is arranged into 19 separate series, under 6 different headings (see table of contents). This arrangement is based on that devised for Poor Law records nationally by Sean McMenamin of the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (see Appendix 2 to McMenamin’s article in Irish Archives Bulletin Vol 1, No 2, October 1971). Please note that gaps occur in many series.


    1. Minute Books
    A3-139 Board of Guardian Minute Books 1845-1924 (107 items)
    AA1 Board of Guardian Rough Minute Book 1896-1897 (1 item)
    ACA1-2 Resolution Books 1896-1922 (2 items)
    ALA1 Executive Officer’s Report Book 1874-1887 (1 item)

    2. Accounts

    CA1-22 General Ledgers 1856-1924 (7 items)
    CB1-15 Personal Ledgers 1854-1914 (6 items)
    CD1 Financial Statements Book – Receipts 1907-1922 (1 item)
    CE1 Financial Statements Expenditure 1899-1903 (1 item)
    CF1 Treasurers Bank Book 1911-1920 (1 item)
    CH1-3 Day Books 1906-1920 (3 items)
    CM1 Clerk’s Petty Disbursements 1910-1916 (1 item)

    3. Workhouse: Administration

    FG1 Provision Check Account Book 1921-1923 (1 item)
    FT1 Workhouse Farm Account Book 1899–1966 (1 item)

    4. Workhouse: Inmates

    G1-51 Indoor Relief Registers 1841-1923 (42 items)
    GA1-11 Admission and Discharge Books 1913-1925 (8 items)
    GC1 Indoor Relief List 1917-1919 (1 item)

    5. Workhouse: Infirmary

    HB1-4 Medical Weekly Return and Extra Book 1915 – 1919 (4 items)

    6. Returns of Births and Deaths

    K1-2 Record of Births 1844-1898, 1908-1930 (2 items)
    KA1 Record of Deaths 1899-1932 (1 item)

Conditions of Access & Use

Access Conditions Open by appointment to those holding a current readers ticket
Conditions Governing ReproductionSubject to copyright and rules governing reproduction of records of the Archives Service
Creation Dates1841-1925 (-1966)
Extent Medium190 items
Material Language ScriptEnglish
Finding Aids Descriptive list Archive Web Link →

Allied Materials

Related MaterialCCCA: Records of Midleton Home and Hospital, 1925-79 Board of Guardian records for other poor law unions in County Cork Cork County Boards of Health and Public Assistance records, 1921-66 Midleton Rural District Council minute books, 1899-1925 Cork County Council records, 1899-1925 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