After the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 its scope was extended to take in people from many more of the surrounding parishes.
According to the 1881 census, 10 members of staff looked after 215 inmates whose ages ranged from 91 year old agricultural worker, Samuel Brown from Kinnerley to Sarah Evans from Oswestry who was just a month old.
Most of the inmates were from the local area, some came from as far afield as Ireland, Liverpool and Derby.
There was very little state welfare at the beginning of the 20th Century. In 1902 The Education Act had raised the school leaving age to 14 years and Children started working as young as thirteen. Young girls often went into domestic service as this offered the prospect of board and lodging. This could reduce overcrowding in the family home.
If you did not have employment and therefore had no income life was harsh. Many elderly people ended up in the workhouse. There was only very limited old pension for some aged over 70 years. Unemployment and health insurance did begin in 1911 and it was very limited. Many of the workhouse inmates were physically and mentally disabled. The workhouse offered, however basic, meals and a place to sleep. Inmates were also given work to do. The workhouse was not a prison and inmates could leave if they wished though some did stay for many years.
The main workhouse building was destroyed by fire in 1982. All that remains today is a small section of the west wing, now incorporated into private residence, and the isolation wing, currently being used as the Social Club.
The 1911 census show the following numbers living at the workhouse and rooms available…
The Nurses Home: 7 Rooms 0 Males 4 Females
The Body of the Workhouse: 40 Rooms 85 Males 41 Females
Officers Quarters: 11 Rooms 2 Males 5 Females
The Hospital: 8 Rooms 33 Males 20 Females
The Fever Hospital: 7 Rooms 0 Males 0 Females
The Vagrants Ward*: 50 Rooms 27 Males 1 Female
(*sleeping cells and rooms)
The workhouse at Morda was run for many years by members of the Fulcher family.
GEORGE FULCHER, Born Norfolk 1829. Post held: Master c1861-1898.
MARY FULCHER nee Brent, Born Stoke Poges, Bucks 1836. Post held: Teacher then Matron
GEORGE FULCHER, Born Morda 1865. Post held: Master 1898
ELIZABETH DORA FULCHER nee Boucher, Born Stratton Audley, Oxon 1851 Post held: Laundress and Assistant Matron
George Fulcher was born 15 January 1829 in Thetford, Norfolk he married Mary Brent in 1856. The 1861 census listed George was master of Oswestry House of Industry, Weston Cotton with his wife Mary worked as schoolmistress. They have four sons: James Thomas (1855) and William George (1858) both born in Bishops Castle and Frederick D.(1860) and George (1865) born in Morda. Over the next thirty years they continued working at the workhouse at Morda. Their eldest son James also taught at the workhouse for a time. By 1891 Mary had become the workhouse matron working alongside her husband.
Their son George was a clerk living in St Ives, Hants when he married Elizabeth Dora Boucher. She was the daughter of a school master they married on 31 August 1887. By 1891 George was a sanitary inspector and lived in Northampton. After the death of his father in 1898 he moved to take over the post of master at the Morda workhouse.
When George (senior) died the Workhouse Board noted the couple’s length of service and stated that their “Laudable service to the community, honesty, trustworthiness and characters as a God fearing couple” should be recorded. They went on to praise Mary for the way she had raised her son, George and “were ensured that he would follow his father as Master in the same manner”.
In 1901 George (junior) was master with his mother Mary as Matron and his wife Elizabeth Dora was listed as a Laundress. George and Elizabeth had five children of which four survived: Beatrice Mary (1888), George F. (1890), Mabel (1893) and Eva Gladys (1901).
Mary Fulcher was still Matron at the workhouse aged 65 years on the 1911 census with her son George as Master and his wife Elizabeth Dora now promoted to assistant matron. Children Gertrude Mabel and Eva Gladys still live with them.
Mary died on 1st November 1914 aged 79 and was buried next to her husband in Oswestry Cemetery.
George (junior) died 14th April 1923, leaving £474 2s 3d to his widow Elizabeth.
Elizabeth died in January 1933, leaving £255 17s to daughters Beatrice Mary and Eva Gladys. She is also buried with her husband in Oswestry Cemetery.
Working at the Workhouse
There were a number of female members of staff over the years at the workhouse:
1881 Female Staff: Elizabeth Hughes & Anne Elizabeth Hale, teachers; Mary Ann More, nurse; Elizabeth Thomas, cook.
Porter at the workhouse was Elijah Smith he lived there with his wife Margaret and daughter Margaret Ann Lydia Smith she was 17 and worked as a photographer’s assistant
1891 Female Staff: Mary Hughes, school mistress; Annie Louisa, teacher; Annie Morris, nurse; Mary Jane Jones, assistant nurse.
1911 Female Staff: Elizabeth Brown 54, from Maesbury, Cook; Margaret Cochrane, 38, born Liverpool, Superintendant Nurse. Assistant Nurses: Fanny Griffith, 38, Eckington Derbyshire; Edith Harrison, 30, Broseley; Maria J. Carrington, 25, Bwlchgwyn, Denbighshire.