Milford Poor Law Union was established under the Poor Law (Ireland) Act 1838. Under this legislation, the country was divided into one hundred and thirty-seven poor law unions. The unions were controlled centrally by the poor law commissioners until 1872 when the Local Government Board was established. Each union was run by a board of guardians whose duty was to oversee the running of each workhouse.
The 1838 Act gave a number of powers to the Commissioners, and through them to the Boards, including to employ staff to collect rates and in the administration of the 'relief and management of the destitute poor' and to build workhouses 'for any Union not having a Workhouse', or to purchase or lease land for such a building and to maintain the workhouses.
The Guardians were granted the power to 'relieve and set to work….the destitute poor as by reason of old age, infirmity or defect may be unable to support themselves, and destitute children….[and others] who cannot 'support themselves by their own industry, or by other lawful means'. Part of the Act made it a responsibility of the Guardians to provide Register Books detailing those admitted into and relieved by the workhouses. The Act also compels each Union to maintain detailed accounts.
Relief granted to individuals under the act was deemed to be a loan and recoverable as such. No-one had a statutory right to relief under the Act, it was to be granted under the Boards' discretion, though under an amending act in 1847, when the Famine was creating a terrible toll on lives, the right to relief of certain groups, including the destitute, was recognised, and at this time, outdoor relief sanctioned.
In Donegal there were eight unions, Ballyshannon, Donegal, Dunfanaghy, Glenties, Inishowen, Letterkenny, Milford and Stranorlar.
Archival History ↴
Milford Board of Guardians Archives were held at the courthouse, Lifford, until the establishment of Donegal County Archives in 1999.
Immediate Source Acquisition ↴
Content & Structure
Scope & Content: Milford Board of Guardians ↴
The surviving archives of Milford Poor Law Union are the official records of the poor relief system established under the 1838 Poor Law (Ireland) Act. Milford Poor Law Union archives include a range of archival material such as: the minutes of the meetings of the Milford Board of Guardians from July 1841 to July 1923 (BG/119/1/1 – BG/119/1/89); rough (draft) minutes of meetings from 1846 to 1905 (BG/119/2/1 – BG/119/2/4); admission and discharge registers, 1855 – 1897 (BG/119/3/2 – BG/119/3/4); indoor relief register, 1919 – 1922 (BG/119/3/5) for Milford workhouse, giving names and status of persons, whether married or single, age, previous abode (district or townland); religion, employment or calling, whether disabled, date discharged from workhouse or died; outdoor relief register for Milford Workhouse, giving name, electoral division and townland of applicant; calling or employment, e.g., ‘mendicant’, ‘labourer’, ‘weaver’, ‘rag man’; sex, age, religion, date of relief, 1899 – 1923 (BG/119/3/8); punishment register, detailing name of person who has been or who is to be punished, offence, date of offence, punishment of master or other officer, opinion of Guardians thereon, punishment ordered by Board of Guardians, date of punishment, 1879 – 1896 (BG/119/3/5); record of deaths for those who died in Milford workhouse or infirmary, including the date of death; cause of death, name of person who died; male or female; age; date of last admission to workhouse, 1853 – 1918 (BG/119/3/6); report of visiting committee for Milford Workhouse, giving observations by the workhouse visiting committee on the conditions in the workhouse, 1846 – 1912 (BG/119/3/1); financial documentation, 1869 – 1923 (BG/119/3/7- BG/119/3/10).
Appraisal Destruction ↴
No further accruals expected.
The collection is arranged in the following order: minutes of meetings, registers, financial documentation.
Conditions of Access & Use
Conditions Governing Reproduction
Photocopying of bound volumes not permitted. Digitisation permitted under certain circumstances.
Material Language Script
Characteristics Tech Req
Bound volumes are fragile and must be handled with great care. In general access is to microfilms only.