Search over 3,000 names in the Chesterfield union workhouse death index. You can discover if your ancestor died in the workhouse and when. Workhouse records are useful in breaking down brick walls.
The index provides transcripts for each name. The transcripts will include the following fields:
County and Country
Comments – this field often contains where the person was buried such as buried Stonegravels Church or buried Chesterfield cemetery.
A workhouse in Chesterfield first opened between 1735 and 1737. It was located on the south side of Bowling Green and south of Market Place. In 1837, Chesterfield became an official poor law union and immediately plans were made to build a larger workhouse. Within a month, a new site was purchased, and in 1839, the four-storey Chesterfield Union Workhouse opened. Chesterfield poor law union contained 34 parishes.
Workhouses were designed to be uncomfortable and harsh places to live in order to deter people from coming to the workhouse. Daily work included oakum picking, breaking limestone, and bone grinding. If an inmate refused to work they could be turned away from the workhouse or, in some cases, sent to prison. Men and women were assigned to separate wards.
Poor Law Inspector R B Cane visited the site in 1866; he observed that the beds were lined up so close that they could almost touch each other, there was poor ventilation, and one ward’s chimney was smoking violently. Hygiene in the sick wards was an issue because there was nowhere to wash patients and no proper towels.
The 1901 England, Wales & Scotland Census documented the names of everyone living at the workhouse. Robert J Barradell is recorded as the master of the workhouse and his wife Anne as the matron. All the attendants and nurses are named. Next to the names of the each inmate, you can find the individual’s former occupation and birth place. To find the Chesterfield Union Workhouse in the 1901 census, use the advanced search available in Useful links and resources. Search for the following items: Piece number – 3249; Folio – 174; and Page – 1. Newspapers are another source to find out more about life in the workhouse. The papers published regular reports from the Chesterfield Board of Guardians related to the workhouse.