A workhouse is a public maintenance facility for the support and housing of the poor that is usually run by a local government entity such as a county or municipality. Institutions of this nature were established in England in the seventeenth century and were widespread in the United States in the nineteenth century. The workhouse organization will provide employment and sustenance for the poor in England from the 17th century and in the 19th century and in countries such as the Netherlands and colonial America. The earliest use of the term workhouse dates back to 1631 in a statement by the Mayor of Abingdon stating that “we have built a workhouse for our poorest of the poor.”
The beginnings of the workhouse can be traced back to the Poor Law Act of 1388, which sought to alleviate the labor shortage by restricting the movement of workers after the death of blacks in England, and ultimately became responsible for helping the state’s poor. The Poor Law of England of 1601 made the poor responsible for wages, which later benefited the workers and employed the aborigines in lucrative jobs. Hiring them on a profitable basis proved difficult, and eighteenth-century workhouses deteriorated into mixed receptions where the needy or the criminal, the young or the old, the sick, the healthy, or the insane. However, after the end of the Napoleonic War in 1815, widespread unemployment, especially the introduction of new technologies to replace peasant workers and multiple crop failures meant that the system of poor relief established in the early 1830s was not proving sustainable. The new Poor Act of 1834 sought to reverse the economic trend by discouraging the provision of relief for those who refused to enter any workplace. Each union is governed by a board of guardians and is run by a weak law commission that oversees a mixed workplace of different ages and skills. Under this national program, poor relief will be given only to those who wish to enter into the shameless situation of a workshop. If a person with a skilled body wanted to enter the workhouse, his whole family was forced to enter with him.
As the nineteenth century progressed, workhouses expanded, the sick and the able-bodied became more numerous than the physically poor, and legislation was passed in 1992 to allow local authorities to occupy workhouse infirmaries as municipal hospitals. Its solution involves more than state-run programs; People need a change of heart and mind to take care of each other as a family. Although the workhouses were formally abolished under the same law in 1930, many continued to make new appeals to their public bodies under the control of local authorities. Until the National Assistance Act of 1948, the last rights of the Poor Act disappeared, and with them, the workshops disappeared.