The New Poor Law – cancelled

Urgent update 16th March: due to the escalating coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic the decision has been made to postpone this workshop until 3rd October. Attendees are currently being contacted to advise them and to offer them this new date or a full refund. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause you. If you are booked on this event and haven’t heard from us by 5pm Tuesday 17th – please check your spam box and then contact

Many family historians have ancestors whose lives were touched by poverty. Population growth and the emergence of an industrial society made the old poor law increasingly expensive and unworkable. A revised system, the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 determined that poor relief should still be administered and paid for locally, but under a more uniform and centrally supervised system with government-appointed Poor Law Commissioners in London. Groups of parishes formed poor law unions, centred on a town, each union administered by an elected Board of Guardians who employed paid officials. Poor relief was given only in a union workhouse where conditions would be less favourable than those of the poorest labourer outside.

The documents created by these boards and their officials as well as many government reports provide information both on the individuals who enforced the laws and those whom they supported or failed. This workshop will look at the New Poor Law between 1834 and 1929 and examine the records which may survive and their usefulness to family historians.

Ticket price includes tea/coffee and biscuits. Places limited, pre-booking required.

Please note that free parking at Davidson House is no longer available for attendees of events at The Centre on Saturdays. 


21 Mar 2020


11:00 - 13:00


The Centre for Heritage & Family History


The Centre for Heritage & Family History
2nd Floor, Reading Central Library, Abbey Square, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 3BQ


  • Joan Dils
    Joan Dils

    Joan Dils is an experienced local historian and writer specialising in 16th and 17th century Berkshire. Her books include: the first and second editions of “An Historical Atlas of Berkshire”, the latter edited in conjunction with Margaret Yates, and Reading St Laurence Churchwardens’ Accounts, 1498-1570: Parts I and II, (Berkshire Record Series). Her latest, “History of Reading”, was published in October 2019.

    Joan is president of the Berkshire Local History Association and also the History of Reading Society, and an Honorary Visiting Fellow in History at the University of Reading. She taught history and local history for the former School of Continuing Education at Reading and Oxford Universities where she was a part-time lecturer.

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