Friday, January 06, 2006


Workhouse Glossary
from Workhouse - The Story of Workhouses
by Peter Higginbotham, the creator of this web site which, at the last count, contained over 2000 web pages, 4000 photos and illustrations, and 1000 maps and plans


From 1869, the workhouse master had to record the religious creed of each new inmate so that appropriate arrangements could be made in respect of their education (in the case of children), serious illness, or death.

The fixed (and often basic and monotonous) diet prescribed for workhouse inmates. The dietary specified the food to be served to each class of inmate (male/female, adult/children etc.) for each meal of the week, often including the exact amount to be provided.
After 1834, the Poor Law Commissioners devised a set of six slightly different standard dietaries from which each union could select the one it preferred, based on the local availability of various foodstuffs. The "No. 3" diet is shown here .

useful to remember when reading the census.

Idiots and Imbeciles
Idiots and imbeciles were two commonly used categories of mental subnormality. Definitions varied over the years but in broad terms:
Idiots, the most deficient, were unable to protect themselves against basic physical dangers.
Imbeciles, a less severely deficient group, were unable to protect themselves against moral and mental dangers.

One of the slang names for the workhouse, along with Spike, Bastille etc. presumably derived from grub — a slang term for food.
at Clifton College slang for the tuck shop

Industrial Schools
Originally applied to workhouse schools where industrial training was given to pauper children.
After 1856, the term was more commonly applied to schools set up to detain vagrant, destitute and disorderly children who were considered in danger of becoming criminals.
From the 1930s, the latter were known as Approved Schools.


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