Eden, in his 1797 survey of the poor in England (and parts of Wales), reported of Presteign (sic) that:
The Poor have been farmed by the same person for the last 8 years. His annual allowance is £145, but owing to the high price of provisions the township have made him a gift of £20, half for the Poor in the house, and half for the relief of indigent housekeepers. There are 19 persons in the house at present (Nov., 1795) and 65 families of out-pensioners, about 60 of which receive weekly pay. The farmer's father, 37 years ago, farmed the Poor of this township for £60 a year, and gave no out-pensions, but obliged all the necessitous who did not exceed 8 to come into the house. The house stands in a fine situation, but is a most wretched hovel. He has 9 beds of chaff and flocks. He often gives the Poor three and sometimes five meat dinners in a week, and the other dinners are milk and potatoes mashed. The breakfasts are milk, or broth and bread. The suppers bread and cheese.
Presteigne Poor Law Union was formed on 8th November, 1836. Its operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 17 in number, representing its 16 constituent parishes as listed below (figures in brackets indicate numbers of Guardians if more than one):
County of Radnor:
Cascob (part of), Discoyd, Norton, Pilleth, Presteigne (2), Whitton.
County of Hereford: Byton, Coombe, Lower Kinsham, Upper Kinsham, Knill, Lingen, Litton and part of Cascob, Rod, Nash and Little Bampton, Stapelton and Frog Street, Willey.
The population falling within the Union at the 1831 census had been 3,441 with parishes ranging in size from Upper Kinsham (population 71) to Presteigne itself (1,513). The average annual poor-rate expenditure for the period 1834-36 had been £1,536 or 8s.11d. per head per head of the population.
Presteigne Union held out against the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act's requirement to set up a general union workhouse and none was erected. Under new powers in the 1876 Divided Parishes and Poor Law Amendment Act of 1876, the Local Government Board dissolved the union on 27th February 1877. Its constituent parishes were reassigned to adjoining unions with those situated in Radnorshire joining Knighton and those in Herefordshire going to Kington.
Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals.
- Powys County Archives Office, County Hall, Llandrindod Wells, Powys, LD1 5LG. No local records survive.
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