(the following details, unless otherwise stated, are derived from Kelly's 1891 Directory for Monmouthshire, together with the Gwent Archives and Wikipedia websites)
The Parish of ABERGAVENNY-
The condition of the poor before the formation of the Union
Sir Frederick Morton Eden, in his 1797 Report "State of the Poor" describes Abergavenny in 1795:
“This parish contains, by elimination, 4 square miles. The vicar estimates the population at about 2,500 souls. 302 houses pay the Window-Tax; the number exempted could not be obtained: the number of ale-houses in 25. The inhabitants are, a few Gentlemen, mechanics, publicans, shop-keepers, farmers, common artificers and labourers. Here are 1 Anabaptist, 1 Roman Catholic, and 2 Methodist Chapels.
The prices of provisions are: wheat, from 12s. to 13s. for 10 gallons; barley, 5s.6d. ditto; beef, 4d. the pound; mutton, 4d.; veal, 4.1/2d.; bacon, 10d.; milk, 1.1/2d. a quart.
Common labourers have 9s. a week, and beer; and in hay and corn harvest, 9s. a week and board: in the neighbouring country parishes, labourers are paid 6s. a week in winter, and 7s. in summer; besides which, the farmer allows them to have corn, &c. rather lower than the market price. The rent of land is from 10s. to £3.10s. an acre. Farms are from £25. to £170. chiefly about £40. or £50. a year: wheat, barley, oats, turnips, and clover, are chiefly cultivated; but a great proportion of the land is in pasture. There is no common: the uncultivated hills in this parish are private property. Tithes are compounded for.
Here is a sort of Poor-House, where formerly a woollen manufacture was attempted, but, not being found to answer, it was discontinued; and for the last 6 or 7 years no Master has been kept in the house, and such Poor as cannot procure a residence elsewhere are put into the House, with an allowance to support themselves. 70 regular out-pensioners receive, at present, about £7. a week; and about 30 poor people, 30s. a week, in casual payments. The accounts of this parish were heretofore kept on loose paper; most of which were in the possession of a person who lately became insane, and in one of his fits destroyed them. The Rate is extremely irregular; nor has any alteration in the mode of assessment taken place for some time back: so that it is probable that, on an average, land is not assessed at more than one third of its real value. From an old book it appears that, in 1722, there were 33 pensioners, who received weekly £1.18s.9d; in 1723, 32 pensioners received £1.17s.1d. a week". (dated November, 1795)
(the above is transcribed from Eden's 1797 "State of the Poor"- Google Books)
A Workhouse was in operation in Abergavenny on Mill Street and, in 1835, Richard Cross was its Governor.
1837 THE ABERGAVENNY POOR LAW UNION
The Abergavenny Poor Law Union was formed in 1837 and operated in constituent parishes of:
Abergavenny, Aberystruth, Bettws Newydd, Bryngwyn, Bwlch Trewyn, Cleidda, Cwmyoy, Ishlaw'r-coed with Man-moel and Ushlaw'r-coed, Llanarth, Llanellen, Llanfoist, Llangattock Llingoed, Llangatwg nigh Usk, Llanover, Llansantfraed, Llanddewi Rhydderch, Llanddewi Skirrid, Llantilio Pertholey, Llanfair Kilgeddin, Llanvapley, Llanvetherine, Llanvihangel Crucorney, Llanfihangel-y-gofion, Llanwenarth, Oldcastle, and Tewddog. In 1891 the parish of Fwthog became part of the Union.
The new Union Workhouse, a building of stone, was situated in Hatherleigh Place, Abergavenny was built in 1837-1838; and by 1891 could hold 189 inmates.
In 1849 the western part of the Union separated to form the New Bedwellty Union.
The Union in 1891:
Union Board Day - alternate Thursdays, at 11 a.m. at the Workhouse Board Room
Clerk to the Guardians & Assessment Committee: William Henry Parrott Scanlon, Market Street, Abergavenny
Treasurer: Manley Ashwin, National Provincial Bank of England, Abergavenny
Collectors to Guardians
Thomas Rees, Market St, Abergavenny
M.B. Clement, 37 Stanhope St.
Samuel Lewis, Llangattock-nigh-Usk
James Addis, Bwlch Trewyn
William Watkins, 33 Chapel Rd., Abergavenny
John Lewis, Maesyfelin, Govilon
Francis Prosser, Queen St, Blaenavon
M. Williams, Llangattock-nigh-Usk
1st District: Bathias Clement Morris, 37 Stanhope St., Abergavenny
2nd District: James, Lewis, Ton Mawr, Blaenavon
Thomas Rees, Market Street, Abergavenny
F. Prosser, Blaenavon
Medical Officers & Public Vaccinators
Abergavenny District: Elmes Yelverton Steele L.R.C.P.Edin, 13 Baker St., Abergavenny
Blaenavon District: Arthur Blair Avarne, Blaenavon
Llanarth District: William Dyne Steel M.D.C.M., 11 Neville St.
William Henry Parrott Scanlon, Market St., Abergavenny
Deputy: J.H. Farquahar, 18 Frogmore St.
Registrars of Births & Deaths
Abergavenny Sub-District: Bathias Clement Morris, 37 Stanhope St., Abergavenny
Deputy: George Evans, 5 Stanhope St., Abergavenny
Blaenavon Sub-District: James Lewis, Blaenavon
Deputy: John Lewis, Govilon
Llanarth Sub-District: Sidney Lewis, Raglan
Deputy: Thomas M. Hughes, 4 Lion St., Abergavenny
Llanvihangel Sub-District: James Bowley, Llanvihangel Crucorney
Deputy: James Addis, Llanvihangel Crucorney
Registrars of Marriages
Abergavenny District: Rev. Sidney Rogers Young, The Hawthorns, Hereford Rd., Abergavenny
Deputies: C.W.E. Francis, Frogmore St., Abergavenny, James Lewis, Blaenavon
THE ABERGAVENNY WORKHOUSE:
Union Road, Abergavenny
Staff in 1891:
Chaplain: Rev. Canon Bury Capel M.A.
Medical Officer: William Dyne Steel M.D., C.M.
Master: Richard Jeffries
Matron: Mrs H. Jeffries
The Workhouse Children attend the School at Abergavenny
The Population of the Abergavenny Union in 1881 was 23,568; rateable value in 1890, £129,816
Abergavenny Board of Guardians Records
Bedwellty Poor Law Union was formed in 1849 by the separation of the parishes of Aberystruth and Bedwellty from the Abergavenny Union.
The Union was subsequently enlarged by the addition of the parishes of: Abertillery, Ebbw Vale, Rhymney and Tredegar.
The Union Workhouse was a building of stone situated on an eminence at George Town near the town of Tredegar and built in 1852. In 1891 it could hold 311 inmates. The Workhouse was substantially enlarged in 1908. (Cymru Archives Wales website)
The Union in 1891:
Union Board Day was held alternate Wednesdays, at 10.30 a.m. at the Workhouse Board Room.
Clerk to the Guardians & Assessment Committee: John Alexander Shepard, Queen Street, Tredegar
Treasurer: George Deane Burdett, London & Provincial Bank, Tredegar
Relieving Officers & Collectors to the Guardians:
Aberystruth District: Benjamin Rosser, Blaina
Bedwellty District: David Phipps, Alexander Place, Tredegar
School Inquiry Officers:
John Evans, Queen Street, Tredegar
George Owen, Rhymney
Matthew Gower, Abervale
Isaiah Edmunds, Blackwood
John J. Hale, New Tredegar
Medical Officers & Public Vaccinators:
Ebbw Vale District: John William Davies L.R.C.P.Lond, Ebbw Vale
Nantyglo District: I. Hawker Soper, Blaina
Rhymney District: Thomas Hall Redwood M.A, M.D, C.M, Rhymney
Rock District: Howell Evans, Blackwood
Tredegar District: Thomas George Anthony, Queen Square, Tredegar
New Tredegar District: Francis Ignatius Maunsell L.K.Q.C.P.Irel, Tir Phil, Cardiff
Superintendent Registrar: David Henry, Sirhowy
Deputy: Frederick Henry, Sirhowy
Registrars of Births & Deaths:
Aberystruth Sub-District: Benjamin Rosser, Blaina
Deputy: Walter Rosser, Blaina
Tredegar Sub-District: Mrs. Susan Morgan, Park Place, Tredegar
Deputy: David Rees, Commercial Street, Tredegar
Rock Bedwellty Sub-District: Evan Jones, Blackwood
Deputy: Isaac Jenkins, Argoed
Registrars of Marriages:
Aberystruth: Thomas Bevan, Abertillery
Deputy: Rev. Hugh Williams, Nantyglo
Bedwellty: Evans Jones, Blackwood
Deputy: Isaac Jenkins, Argoed
Tredegar: John Richard Lewis, George Town, Tredegar
THE BEDWELLTY WORKHOUSE:
14th January 1865
The Monmouthshire Merlin
THE WORKHOUSE OF THE BEDWELLTY UNION
Mr J ROWNTREE, of Leeds, who seems to have assumed the functions of an Inspector of Workhouses, and in that character to travel from town to town with the view of examining into the minutest details of the workhouse management, has sent us a long letter on the establishment named at the head of this paragraph. Many of the writer's remarks appear to us to indicate a disposition to meddle needlessly and officiously with the private arrangements of workhouse officials; and others relate to matters too puerile to deserve the publicity he seeks for them. We give Mr ROWNTREE credit for good intentions, but we doubt if the course he pursues will effect improvement where it may be needed. We append a few passages from the letter sent to us which are not liable to the objections we have named:-
The [Bedwellty] Union contained at the last census a population of 47,565 individuals.The number of inmates in the Workhouse on the day of my visit, amounted to 77, viz.: 23 men, 23 women, 9 boys, 18 girls, and 4 infants. Included in this number are four blind men and women. The weekly cost per head is three shillings, and one penny for food and clothing, which is above the average cost of the Welsh Unions.
The industrial department of the Workhouse requires more attention and skilful direction. The men are mainly employed on the land, which consists of about two acres, the produce of which is consumed by the inmates. I suggested to the Master, who was formerly a warder in a prison, the importance of introducing mat and matting manufacture, which, when once commenced, there is not much difficulty in sustaining its efficiency. I suggest that in addition to the mat making mentioned, some of them might be instructed in the baking of bread. I think a carpenter's shop, and a few tools also to be necessary on all workhouse premises, as all young persons should be taught or trained to various occupations by practical teachers; and educated Christian men, who have the knowledge of mechanics, are the most likely for that purpose, and to take charge of Union Workhouses.
………. Destitute wayfarers are lodged for one night in this Union-house. They are admitted by tickets, which they received from the Overseer, and are better treated than they are in many Unions, as a fire is allowed them for drying their clothes etc. They have 8ozs. of bread for supper, and gruel and bread for their breakfast, or go without, which is quite right. I may here remark that the master said, in answer to my inquiry, that no damage had arisen from there being a fire allowed them, which confirms me in my opinion, that when men are decently treated, they are less likely to abuse their privileges than when treated like dogs, as I have often found to be the case in Wales.
The Guardians of Bedwellty have ben at the cost of fitting up a good fire brick oven some years ago, but to my surprise the Bakehouse is never used. If any Guardian doubts this being the fact, let him inspect the Bakehouse, where he may find, as I did on my visit, a number of very fine rabbits in cages. Were the Guardians again to determine to make the bread for 80 individuals, a considerable saving would be effected, and the people would probably have genuine wheaten bread.
On visiting the Girl's School, about 10.30 a.m., is under the care of a female teacher, who has the charge of the boys as well as the girls, we did not find her at her post. We remained some time in the school, and asked the girls and the three boys present a few easy questions in mental arithmetic. The first was the number of ounces in a pound, which was very incorrectly replied to by several girls, and the same remark will apply to the inquiry as to what was the fourth part of 3s. and 3s.4d., or what was the value of a quarter of a pound of tea at these price. It was deplorable to see clean, tidy, healthy looking girls and boys so lamentably unprepared to go to a shop to buy a few articles or goods.
The Chaplain visits the House, and the sick, once during the week, and addresses the inmates on the Sabbath day. I observed considerable deficiency in the supply of large typed Testaments and Psalms, and also of spectacles, for too many of the poor the books supplied are useless when no glasses are to be obtained. I submit to the Guardians the propriety of giving to each boy and girl on their leaving the Union school for [work] situation, a tenpenny copy of the Bible.
I may remark, in the conclusion, that the clothing supplied to the men is warm and substantial, and that the number of casual poor relieved during the last 12 months was 980 of the sick, the old, and infirm. -
I am, respectfully yours, etc.
Staff in 1891:
Master: post vacant
Medical Officer: T.G. Anthony
Matron: Mrs Mary Davies
Schoolmaster: John B. Robinson
Schoolmistress: Mrs. Robinson
The population of the Bedwellty Union in 1881 was 55,824, rateable value in 1891: Aberystruth, £92,553; Bedwellty, £105,180; Total £197,733.
Bedwellty Board of Guardians Records
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