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Flintshire Record Office
Boards of Guardians Records

Reference code(s): GB 0208 G

Held at: Flintshire Record Office

Title: Boards of Guardians Records

Short Title: Boards of Guardians Records

Creation date(s): 1837-1948

Level of description: Fonds

Extent: 3302 items

Name of creator(s): Hawarden, Holywell and St. Asaph Poor Law Unions.


Administrative/Biographical history: Until 1834 the relief of the poor was a parish responsibility, and the records of parish relief - overseers' accounts, settlement and removal papers, etc. - are to be found among parish records. Some parishes, among them Hawarden, Holywell and Overton, set up parochial poorhouses or workhouses, and several subscribed for a time to the Chester House of Industry, but no voluntary unions of parishes were formed under Gilbert's Act, 1782 (22 Geo. III, c.83). Two unions - Holywell and St.Asaph - were established in 1837 under the Poor Law Amendment Act, 1834 (4 & 5 Will, IV, c.76), and Boards of Guardians appointed to administer them. Hawarden Union was formed in 1853; until that date the parishes of Hawarden and Higher Kinnerton were in Great Boughton Union, Cheshire. Parishes in Maelor, the larger detached portion of Flintshire, were in Wrexham Union, Denbs., and Ellesmere and Whitchurch Unions, Salop. A number of duties unrelated to the poor law were laid upon the Guardians: registration, by the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act, 1836 (6 & 7 Will.IV, c.86); vaccination, by two Acts of 1840 and 1841 (3 & 4 Vict., c.29 and 4 & 5 Vict., c.32); assessment, by the Union Assessment Committee Act, 1862 (25 & 26 Vict., c.103); sanitation, by the Nuisance Removal Act, 1860 (23 & 24 Vict., c.77), and the Public Health Act, 1872 (35 & 36 Vict., c.79); school attendance, by the Elementary Education Act, 1876 (39 & 40 Vict., c.79); and infant life protection, by the Infant Life Protection Act, 1897 (60 & 61 Vict., c.57). Rating duties were transferred to district councils under the Rating and Valuation Act, 1925 (15 & 16 Geo.V, c.90). On 1 April 1930, following the Local Government Act, 1929 (19 & 20 Geo.V, c.17), the unions were abolished, and their functions passed to the County Council. The whole system of poor-law administration was removed by a series of Acts in 1946-8, under which medical duties passed to the Ministry of Health, while the local authority remained responsible for the care of children and the elderly. A separate list of records for the County Council Public Assistance Committee is available. It should be noted that, due to the continuity of administration, some Guardians' records continued to be used after 1930, while a few Public Assistance records commence before that date.


Scope and content/abstract: Records relating to the Hawarden Union, 1857-1948; the Holywell Union, 1837-1948; and the St. Asaph Union, 1837-1947; including records of the Clerks to the Guardians, Treasurers, Workhouse Masters, Relieving Officers, District Medical Officers, Collectors of the Guardians, Out-relief records and records relating to non-Poor Law duties revolving upon Boards of Guardians.


Language/scripts of material: English, Welsh

System of arrangement: Arranged into Hawarden, Holywell and St. Asaph Unions Sub-Fonds, and within Unions into the following: Clerk to the Guardians; Out-Relief; Treasurer; Workhouse Master; Relieving Officer; District Medical Officer; Collector of the Guardians; and Non Poor-Law Duties devolving upon Boards of Guardians.

Conditions governing access: Data Protection Act restrictions will apply to any items less than 100 years old that contain personal information as defined by the Act.

Conditions governing reproduction: Usual Copyright Restrictions Apply.

Finding aids: Hard copies of the catalogue are available at the Flintshire Record Office and the National Register of Archives. Catalogue is searchable online at:


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information: The records have been preserved in their entirety, with the exception of a few ephemeral classes, and rate books later than 1914. These have been 'weeded' to leave only those for the years 1916, 1921 and 1926.

Accruals: Accruals are not expected.

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition: Not known for all records, but the great majority of the Guardians' records were transferred to the County Council in 1930. However, later records have been deposited by Holywell UDC and RDC, Buckley UDC, Flint Borough Council, Borough Surveyor of Delyn Borough Council, and from private custody.


Related material: Related material is Flintshire Record Office: PA, Public Assistance Committee records; and H, Hospital Records.


Note: Title supplied from contents of fonds. Some of the records continued to be used after 1930 due to the continuity of administration. Therefore they post-date the existence of the Union and the transfer of activities to Flintshire County Council Public Assistance Committee. Also, a small number of Public Assistance records begin before that date. The Guardians' records contain references to three famous persons. Sir Henry Morton Stanley, the African explorer, alias John Rowlands of Denbigh, was brought up in the St. Asaph Workhouse from 1847 to 1856. He gave a graphic account of his experiences there in the 'Autobiography of Sir Henry Morton Stanley', ed. Dorothy Stanley (1909). An indenture apprenticing Daniel Owen, the Welsh novelist, to a Mold tailor in 1851, survives among the records of Holywell Union. They also contain references to Frederick Rolfe ('Baron Corvo'), author of 'Hadrian the Seventh', who was admitted to the Workhouse for a short period in 1899. References to these persons found in the course of listing have been noted.

Archivist's note: Compiled by Steven Davies for the ANW project. The following sources were used in the compilation of the description: Flintshire Record Office, Boards of Guardians Catalogue; Evans, D. Gareth, A History of Wales, 1815-1906 (Cardiff 1989); Veysey, A.G., Guide to the Flintshire Record Office (Flintshire County Council, 1974).

Rules or conventions: The classification initially adopted for these records is that laid down in the 'Handlist of the Records of Boards of Guardians in the County of Somerset', Somerset County Council, 1949. This description follows ANW guidelines based on ISAD(G) Second Edition; AACR2, and LCSH

Date(s) of descriptions: 12/12/2012


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