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The average annual poor-rate expenditure for the period 1833-35 had been £7,430 or 5s.10d. In 1837, the hosiery trade suffered a slump resulting in about 300 men being unemployed and destitute.The new Mansfield Union workhouse was not yet ready so the Board of Guardians applied to the Poor Law Commissioners for permission to distribute out-relief.Later additions: Glapwell (from 1837), Shirebrook (from 1903).The population falling within the Union at the 1831 census had been 25,400 — ranging from Sokeholme (population 68) to Mansfield itself (9,426).Oatbread is generally used, sometimes wheaten bread. Wortley Poor Law Union was formed on 21st August 1838.Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 20 in number, representing its 12 constituent parishes as listed below (figures in brackets indicate numbers of Guardians if more than one): West Riding of Yorkshire: Bradfield (3), Ecclesfield (4), Hoyland Swaine, Hunshelf, Langset, Ingbirchworth, Oxspring, Penistone, Tankersley, Thurgoland (2), Thurlstone (2), Wortley (2). Initially, the Wortley Union continued to use existing workhouses at Ecclesfield and Bradfield.They provided supplies of cotton-twist and set the men to work in their regular trade of making stockings (which because of the depression would probably be unsaleable). Not satisfied with this, the men angrily demanded — and got — twice this allowance.Following dire warnings from the Commissioners, the Guardians proposed that the unemployed men be provided with meals and a weekly allowance of 5d. Assistant Commissioner Edward Gulson then visited the Union to try and sort out a solution.
However, the Guardians reinstated a practice dating from before the 1834 Act.Intended to accommodate 300, and costing over £4,000, it came into use in November of that year and largely removed the Guardians' objection that it was impracticable to offer the workhouse to the large number of unemployed in the Union.