Link back to main ROSSBRET websiteCounty Durham Workhouses


Auckland Workhouse
Chester le Street Workhouse
Darlington Workhouse
Durham Workhouse
Easington Workhouse
Gateshead Workhouse
Hartlepool Workhouse
Houghton le Spring Workhouse
Lanchester Workhouse
Sedgefield Workhouse
South Shields Workhouse
Stockton Workhouse
Sunderland Workhouse
Weardale Workhouse

County Durham

Durham, one of the northern counties, on the shore of the north sea, is bounded on the north by Northumberland, from which the Tyne separates it, on the east by the North Sea, on the south by North Yorkshire, from which it is separated by the river Tees, and on the west by Cumberland and Westmorland. It is triangular in shape, nearly 45 miles long and 36 broad, and is about the average size of an english shire.

County Durham Workhouses and Poor Law Unions

The Poor Law Unions classified as being within County Durham are Bishop Auckland, Chester-le-Street, Darlington, Durham, Easington, Gateshead, Hartlepool, Houghton-le-Spring, Lanchester, Monkwearmouth, Sedgefield, South Shields, Stockton, Sunderland, Teesdale and Weardale

Commissioners Reports
p 255 J - Workhouses, List of those visited in 1867 With Name of the Workhouse and numbers of insane, idiotic, and imbecile inmates.

County Durham
Easington 2 3 5
Sedgefield 2 6 8
South Shields 1 9 10
Sunderland 27 48 75
Weardale 1 1 2
Source: From PP 1867/68 Vol XXXI pp 1-301 Twenty Second Report of the Commissioners in Lunacy to the Lord Chancellor
Submitted by Alan Longbottom

20      Extract from an account of a charity for placing out poor children, at Greetham in the county of Durham by Rev John Brewster. pp 157-162 Dated 7th Nov 1797

In November 1790, a fund, arising from a rent charge of 6 a year, for apprenticing and placing out poor children at Greetham, fell under my direction. The beneficial effects, attending this small institution, induce me to make this communication; from which I trust it will appear, that much good may be done in this way, at a small expence.

The following is a general statement of the trust account for the last seven years.
Receipts from November 1790 to November 1797.
Balance in hand from November 1790 12-10-0d
Received rent charge 6 for 7 years 42- 0-0d
Total                                           54-10-0d

Payments during the same period.
Putting out 9 apprentices, and for clothing two girls for service at 2-91s-6d each         32-14-6d
Paid for one apprentice at 7-16s-0d
Paid for one apprentice at 4- 0s-0d
Paid for one apprentice at 3- 3s-0d
Paid for one apprentice at 1-14s-6d
Paid for two apprentices   1- 1s-0d each       18-15-6d
Carried forward                                 51-10-0d

Paid clothing 1 girl for service                 1- 1-0d
Paid for partly clothing 1 boy for sea             10-6d

Sub Total                                       53- 1-6d

Allowed the Overseer of the Poor for receiving the rent 1s p.a. 7 years              7-0d
Balance in hand 7th November 1797                1- 1-6d
Total                                           54-10-0d

To place the children of the poor, as early as possible, in trades or occupations, answers two useful purposes :- the removing the expense of maintenance from the parent or the parish, and the training of the child in habits of industry and virtue. 

I have stated the specific sums expended for each child, in order to shew how little is required on such occasions. In one or two instances the parish added something, to supply the deficiency of the fund, which could not admit of large deductions; and, with only that aid, 15 children have been apprenticed, and four clothed for service, with this very small fund, in the course of seven years. Services in husbandry, or menial trades, are the usual destinations of village children. To adapt, therefore, this plan to the use of towns, it will be requisite to enlarge the scale of expense, according to the situation. But, in distributing charitable funds of this nature, it will not be an unnecessary caution, that the overseers of the poor be not entrusted with the sole management of them; for though they are often men of real integrity, yet they will sometime be so far interested, as to wish to confine the effects of the institution to the children of chargeable poor only, for the sake of alleviating the burthen of the parish. In all parishes there are many poor persons, who receive no charitable support at all, and yet have large families to send out into the world. These ought to be the first objects of attention: as in all probability it is from the exertions of their industry that they have been hitherto enabled to preserve themselves in an independent situation; and, with a little aid of this kind, it is most likely that they may be able to go on without any call for parochial relief.

Such a fund would be an excellent appendage to a charity school. The trustees of such schools generally lose sight of the children, as soon as they are dismissed from the school. But, if they were to extend their care a little further, and see the, with small premiums, clothed and places at service, or apprenticed to suitable trades, it could not but be attended with the best effects. It would be to the scholar a reward of merit, and to the parent a great encouragement to promote the regular attendance and proper behaviour of the child. dated 7th Nov 1797.

The Reports of the Society for Bettering the Condition and Increasing the Comforts of the Poor. Vol 1 1798 446 pp
Submitted by Alan Longbottom

County Durham Links

Durham University Library

Gateshead Central Library

Tyne and Wear Archives Service

Durham County Record Office
County Hall, 
Telephone: 0191 383 3253

Page updated December 19, 2006
Copyright Rossbret 2001. All rights reserved.