Burslem and Wolstanton Poor Union - a document from the Enoch Wood Scrapbook

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Date:13th of February 1794

Description:In the 1790s, the expense of providing relief to the poor fell upon local parishes in Stoke-on-Trent.

This document outlines a meeting held to discuss sharing the costs between Burslem and nearby Wolstanton.

The meeting was held at the home of innkeeper Charles Cotton, who ran the Legs of Man Inn, in Burslem.

The following gentlemen attended. Most were local gentlemen who ran their own businesses:

  • Ralph Wedgwood

  • J.E. Poole

  • Walter Daniel

  • Thomas Milward Oliver

  • Robert Williamson

  • Enoch Wood

  • Jacob Warburton

  • John Blackwell

  • Thomas Godwin

  • A new House of Industry

    The men attending suggested that a meeting of local gentlemen should be held to discuss setting up a 'House of Industry' for the two parishes.

    Houses of Industry usually differed from the squalid workhouses of Oliver Twist fame.

    They were intended to accommodate the sick and elderly, and to distribute poor relief to people still living in their own homes.


    Workhouses tended to be a last resort, yet Houses of Industry were especially controversial because many people viewed the poor as undeserving of aid - unless they were aged or sick.

    In later years, this attitude would come to be a hallmark of so-called 'Victorian Values.'

    Parliamentary backing

    A meeting was called for 10am ('in the forenoon') on the following Tuesday, to take place at the Vestry Room in the parish of Wolstanton.

    The aim was to secure backing for the project from Parliament.

    About this document

    Pottery manufacturer Enoch Wood kept this document, and it is now among the collections of Stoke-on-Trent Museums.


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