The Chaplain

One of the few favourable things that can be said about the workhouses and the Poor Law system under which they operated was the absence of religious discrimination or Proselytism. The Poor Law Commissioners insisted that the clergy of all denominations be ineligible to become members of the boards of guardians. Poor Law legislation clearly laid down the principles that were to direct religious instruction in the workhouse: first, children would be instructed in religion, secondly their parents or guardians were to decide which creed they would be instructed in. This choice was to be respected by the Poor Law Commissioners who undertook to ensure through the boards of guardians that the children would be instructed in the chosen creed and no other.

The Poor Law specified that each workhouse should have, "one fit person appointed chaplain to the workhouse" being in holy orders and of the established church, one other fit person being a protestant dissenter and one other fit person being a priest or clergyman of the R.C. church. The chaplains were to be paid a salary and if possible were to come from a parish within in the union. The duties of the chaplain included:

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