There was more to workhouses than meet the eye.
Last year I had the opportunity to listen to a guest speaker who talked
of the migrants from a Cambridge village. The particular village needed
the church roof repaired and a poll was taken to levy the parisheners
Cambridge was an agricultural county. Most of them were poor Ag Labs and
had particularly bad winter with wet weather. No work - no pay. The
potato blight also hit this county - shortage of food in the cottagers
The workhouse manager also owned the machines that were starting to head
the wheat - less work in summer. He offered to obtain the fare for
single girls to migrate to Australia - and he received a bounty of 10
pounds per head safely landed in Australia. The parish poor rate paid
the fare and supplied minimum clothing requirements if needed.
Young men - Fare Four Pounds. Older men (aged 49) Nineteen Pound
Letters were received from those who migrated and were often read aloud
at the pub.
However a comparison of ages of families who migrated showed that the
migrants tended to live longer lives.
A very interesting talk from a gentleman researching migrants from a
Cambridge village for his PhD.