Poor Law Records

Scope and Content

Records relating to the Poor Law, health and social services in Carmarthenshire, 1836-1990, including Board of Guardians records relating to Carmarthen Union, 1927-1956; Board of Guardians records relating to Llandeilofawr Union, 1836-1946, Board of Guardians records relating to Llandovery Union, 1840-1950; and Board of Guardians records relating to Llanelli Union, 1836-1958; records relating to Penlan, 1879-1971; correspondence files, 1934-1973; material relating to the Carmarthenshire County Council Welfare Committee, 1930-1976; vaccination records relating to Carmarthen Union, 1853-1990; records relating to Abercennen and Caeglas children's home, Llandeilo, 1839-1970; and Abercennen records of Llandeilofawr Union, 1929-1963.

Administrative / Biographical History

Under the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834, parishes formed unions; each union supported a workhouse. The Poor Law unions were administered by Boards of Guardians and (latterly) the Guardians Committee of the Public Assistance Committee of Carmarthenshire County Council. The Board of Guardians were elected by local landowners and rate-payers. In Carmarthenshire, the unions included Carmarthen, Llandeilo Fawr, Llandovery and Llanelli Unions. The Carmarthe Union workhouse at Penlan, Carmarthen, was used as an emergency hospital between c. 1941 and 1945; the hospital had an annex at Cilgwyn Llangadock, Carmarthenshire. The Llandeilofawr Union workhouse, Abercennen, was in Ffairfach, Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire; the Union was formed in 1836. Abercennen (later a hospital) and Caeglas children's home were in Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire. In 1836, Llanelli Poor Law Union and Llandovery Poor Law Union were formed. In 1871, the Local Government Board Act established a central government department with responsibility for poor relief and public health. Medical duties and the care of children and the elderly were divided between the Ministry of Health, created in 1919, and the County Council Social Welfare Committee, by 1948. Before a new Social Services Committee was established under the Local Authority Social Services Act, the last meeting of the Health and Social Services Committee was held in January 1971. When the local government was reorganized in 1974, health functions were transferred to the Dyfed Area Health Authority.


Arranged into the following: Board of Guardian records (Carmarthen, Llandeilofawr, Llandovery, and Llanelli Unions); Penlan collection; vaccination records of Carmarthen Union; Abercennen (the former Llandeilofawr Union workhouse); Poor Law Strays from the Museum Collection; and miscellaneous. The Board of Guardians minute books relating to Llanelli Union, 1836-1930, are now at the Carmarthen Record Office outstore. They are not numbered.

Conditions Governing Access

No restrictions

Acquisition Information

Deposited by Superintendent D. V. Thomas and the Superintendent of Cartref Tawelan Residential Home, Johnston, Carmarthen between 1961 and 1995.


Compiled by Annette Strauch for the ANW project. The following sources were used to compile this description: Carmarthenshire Archives Service, Catalogue of Poor Law Records; Lodwick, Joyce, Lodwick, Victor, The Story of Carmarthen (Carmarthen, 1994); Lloyd, John E., A History of Carmarthenshire, vol. I; vol. II (Cardiff, 1935, 1939); Oxford University website (users.ox.ac.uk), viewed 29 September 2003; Llanelli Historical Society website (www.llanelli-historical-society.co.uk), viewed 29 September 2003; Jones, Gareth Elwyn: Modern Wales. A concise history (Cambridge, 1994); Richards, Melville, Welsh Administrative and Territorial Units (Cardiff 1969); Nicholas, Thomas, Annals and Antiquities of the Counties and County families of Wales (Baltimore, 1991 (fascimile of 1875 ed.); Carmarthen Record Office Survey of Archival Holdings; Collis, Kim, The West Glamorgan Archive Service, A Guide to the Collections (Swansea, 1998); Davies, William, Samuel, W., Llandeilo (Carmarthen 1993).

Other Finding Aids

A hard copy of the finding aid is available at Carmarthenshire Archives Service. The Board of Guardians minute books relating to Llanelli Union, 1836-1930, are now at the Carmarthen Record Office outstore. They are not numbered. There are further records uncatalogued.

Conditions Governing Use

Usual copyright rules apply.

Appraisal Information

All records have been retained


Accruals are not expected

Related Material

Related material are Carmarthenshire Archives Service, Carmarthenshire County Council records; Carmarthenshire Archives Service, Museum Collection. The following parishes' records also include Poor Law material (see Civil Parish Records file): Abernant, Llandefeiliog, Llanedy, Llanfihangel Aberbythych, Llanfihangel Rhosycorn, Llangunnor, Llanwinio, Llanybyther, St. Clears, Talley, Whitland. The following Ecclesiastical Parish Records contain Poor Law material: Meidrim (regarding Llanfihangel Abercowin), Llangunnor, Trelech a'r Bettws, Myddfai, Bettws (St. Davids), St. Clears, Llanarthney and Laugharne. Related material are also Carmarthenshire Archives Service, Plas Llanstephan 496-501; Plas Llanstephan 753; Plas Llanstephan 755; Plas Llanstephan 927; Cawdor 2/220; Glasbrook GB/B6; Glasbrook GB/B5; GB/B10; Box 54/26; Antiq-Soc. A19 vol XVII; Antiq-Soc. A19 vol XIV; Antiq-Soc. A20 vol III No 77; Taliaris 380; Aberglasney 27/597. Ceredigion Archives holds records of the Newcastle Emlyn and Lampeter Poor Law Unions.