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Clements Hall Local History Group

Exploring the Scarcroft, Clementhorpe, South Bank and Bishophill areas of York

Clements Hall Local History Group

Exploring the Scarcroft, Clementhorpe, South Bank and Bishophill areas of York

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A Poor Law Relief case study: George Haw (1822 – 1891)

In our poverty research project we've been investigating the lives of local people over several generations, exploring how their circumstances led them to claims for Poor Law Relief. Here Pauline Alden reports on her research:

George Haw can be traced from cradle to grave via a variety of archival sources. He was born in Heslington in 1822, baptised at St. Mary's, Castlegate, and spent most of his life in York. 

In 1841, George was 19 and living in Holgate Lane, St. Mary Bishophill Junior, and apprenticed to a cordwainer. In 1854 he married Elizabeth Eccles Charlesworth (32) who had four children between 1844 and 1853 to her first husband Thomas Charlesworth, who had died in York in 1853. Their youngest - Thomas junior - was blind from birth. In 1871 he was an 18 year old pupil at Wilberforce School for the Blind, 1 Bootham. He married at 24, had two children and is recorded as an organ and piano tuner - and brushmaker - in the 1881 and 1891 censuses.

George and Elizabeth had two children of their own, living with the children from Elizabeth's first marriage. In August 1859, George was tried and imprisoned in Lancashire for receiving stolen goods (knowing them to be stolen) and sentenced to twelve months imprisonment.

His wife Elizabeth, now living in Nutts Yard, Trinity Lane, Bishophill, applied to York Poor Law Union for relief in October 1859. She applied for herself, and for five children: Elizabeth (11), John (9), Mary (7), Eliza (4) and Jane (1). Her existing regular income was two shillings and six pence, insufficient with a husband in jail and not earning. She was awarded seven shillings a week for five months but, in January 1860, was admitted with her children to York Workhouse.


Extract from map of York showing part of the parish of St Mary Bishophill Junior, OS six inch map Yorkshire 174 surveyed 1846-51; pub. 1853. See

In 1861 the family lived at 6 St. Mary’s Row, St. Mary Bishophill Senior. George had been released from prison and worked as a head boot and shoemaker. As Elizabeth was approaching confinement again the family, including four children, applied for relief to York Poor Law Union and were awarded medical aid, and three and a quarter pounds of meat, valued at one shilling and sixpence per pound. Elizabeth gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth Anne, at home in Victoria Bar in 1862.

In 1871 the family lived at 43 Skeldergate, and George continued as a head shoemaker. Their son Frederick died in 1875 aged 16. In 1881, the family were at 6 Spencer Street, off Nunnery Lane, remaining there till at least 1891. The family had rented different homes but remained in the same part of the city.

George died in the York Workhouse in April 1891, aged 69, and was buried in York Cemetery in Public Grave No. 18649, with eleven unrelated people. Elizabeth died in Spencer Street in September 1892, aged 70.

Sources  Censuses 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891 Prison records

York Poor Law Union Application and Report Books – Explore York Libraries and Archives  ref: PLU/3/1/1/44

York Cemetery Trust genealogists