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Workhouse?

#1
Hi Everybody!

I have found a relative who was in a workhouse in manchester at the time of the 1881 Census.

He was listed as a "Pauper Inmate" and his wife had gone back to live with her mother (in a cellar) and I think I have found their five kids - 2 in an orphanage and 3 in a childrens home.

What is a pauper inmate? Is being in a workhouse like being in prison, or was he in there because he was poor?

Are there any detailed records for workhouses?

So far I have traced my family back to an unemployed walking stick maker, several children described as "idiots" in the census, and a man in a workhouse. I'm starting to feel a bit depressed about the whole thing!!
 

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