Ancestry UK

Carlton, West Yorkshire

[Up to 1834] [After 1834] [Records] [Bibliography] [Links]

Up to 1834

On 7th October, 1818, seventeen Wharfedale parishes and townships from Ilkley across to Collingham agreed to form a large Gilbert Union based at Carlton, two miles to the south of Otley. A further fourteen members were added in 1819, six more in 1824, and three more in 1826. The membership then comprised: Adel cum Eccup, Armley, Arthington, Askwith, Baildon, Beamsley in Skipton, Beeston, Bramhope, Burley, Carlton, Chapel Allerton, Churwell, Collingham, Denton, Dunkeswick, Eccleshill, Farnley, Harewood, Hawksworth, Headingley and Burley, Horsforth, Ilkley, Kirkby Overblow, Leathley, Lofthouse and Carlton, Menston, Middleton, Nesfield with Langbar, Otley, Poole, Potter Newton, Rawdon, Rigton, Rothwell, Silsden, Templenewsam, Thorner, Weeton, Weston, and Wortley.

The parishes within the Carlton Gilbert Union seem to have shared the use of a number of small local workhouses, including one at East Carlton, and another at Cross Green at the eastern side of Otley.

The East Carlton workhouse was at the end of what is now Guthrie Close. Its location is shown on the 1851 map below.

Carlton Gilbert Union workhouse site, 1851.

The Poor Law Commission, set up in 1832 to review poor relief across England and Wales, made the following report of the Carlton Union:

The Master of the Workhouse, Robert Atkinson.

  Present number of inmates, 60; of which, 24 males, 23 females, 10 boys, 3 girls; of the men, four are above 80, seven above 60.

  Separate day rooms for men and women;, the boys with the women. The sleeping apartments up different flights of stairs, with a door communicating betwixt the two, which is locked up previous to bed-time. A garden attached in very neat order, worked by the inmates. The rooms well-cleansed, but might be more effectually ventilated. The cess-pools are a nuisance, and should be periodically and completely cleansed. Breakfasts of oatmeal porridge, and milk-drinkings, milk lithed [mixed] with oatmeal, and white bread in it; if not enough, they may have milk without lithing and oat-cake. Dinners: Thursdays and Sundays meat, beef and bacon, as much as they can eat; and if they do not eat the usual quantity, they may keep the remainder for another time. Tuesday, potatoes and new bread, and better than a pint of beer, about 12 gallons to the stroke of malt. Wednesday, sometimes rice-milk, and sometimes beef-gruel. Friday, broth and puddings. They give for beef (the neck part of the crop) 3d. per lb.; milk 1d. per quart, (skimmed milk). No instruction for the children. The Methodists give a prayer meeting on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings; every alternate Sunday there is besides a sermon by the Methodists; once a month also a sermon from an itinerant Methodist preacher. No regular attendance by members of the establishment; a Mr. Pickles, from Guiseley, used to come, but he wanted a salary, and as he could not have it, gave it up.
   The present master has 25 guineas a year; has been here about nine years. One girl goes to a school in the village at 1d. per week, which the overseer of Headingley (to which township she belongs) pays. The townships incorporated in the workhouses are 40 in number; viz. Carlton, Headingley, Bramhope, Otley, Horsforth, Rawden, Poole, Menstone, Harewood, Burley, Ilkley, Addle, Arthington, Bailden, Weston, Asquith, Denton, Hawkesworth, Wigton, Thorner, Temple Newsham, Eccleshill, Middleton, Leathley, Nesfield, Silsden, Armley, Beeston, Rothwell, Farnley, Churwell, WorHey, Beamsley, Chapel Town, Potter Newton, Lofthouse, Collingham, Kirby Overblow, Dunkeswick, Rigton.
   No able-bodied men in the house except one, who was unwell when he came.
   The guardians or overseers meet once a month; 18 or 20 generally attend. Mr. Brooke keeps the books. Mr. Spence, of Otley, is the house doctor, and makes his charge 10s. for each child-birth, and 1s. for each visit to the workhouse (when sent for), besides medicine. The workhouse was formerly a farmhouse, and has been enlarged, partly a year ago, and partly three years since. The maintenance of each pauper for food comes to 2s. 6d. or 2s. 7d. a week; the overseers find clothing. John Barrow, overseer of Carlton, has been in office three years. The workhouse has been established 14 years. Most of the townships had been joined with Idle workhouse, but were discharged, and begun this, which cost about 400l. and was borrowed, and they are now paying the interest for it. Each township pays a sum towards a rent of 7l. 15s. according to the amount of its poor-rate. That sum is applied in keeping down the interest of money which was borrowed, and the remainder goes towards the master's salary, and repair, &c. Then each township pays so much per pauper, according to the cost. The paupers are not allowed to go out without leave, and never after 8 P.M. except when specially sent.

After 1834

Because of its Gilbert Union status, Carlton was exempted from most of the provisions of the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act. However, because of the scattered nature of its member parishes, the Poor Law Commissioners tried, unsuccessfully, to persuade Carlton and the three other Gilbert Unions in the area (Great Ouseburn, Barwick-in-Elmet, and Great Preston) to convert to Poor Law Unions. An 1838 map, published by the Commissioners, shows the areas included in the four Gilbert Unions.

Yorkshire Gilbert Unions map, 1838 (Carlton Union shown in blue-grey).
© Peter Higginbotham.

In 1861, a new Wharfedale Poor Law Union was established, and was joined by many of the Carlton Union parishes. The Carlton Union remained in existence until 1869 when all remaining Gilbert Unions were abolished.

The former workhouse site is now occupied by converted barn — not the original workhouse building.

Carlton former workhouse site, 2006.
© Peter Higginbotham.


  • (To be added.)



Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals. Before travelling a long distance, always check that the records you want to consult will be available.


  • Wharfedale Workhouse by Anthony Chadwick (Ripon Museum Trust leaflet, 1996)


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