The Stroud Board of Guardians were set up as a result of the new Poor Law in 1834 and were responsible for the welfare of the destitute. Prior to this each parish had been responsible for the welfare of their own poor and often had their own poor house. The new arrangements united a group of parishes in a Poor Law Union
The parishes in the Stroud Union were: Avening-with-Nailsworth. Bisley, Cranham, Horsley, King Stanley, Leonard Stanley, Minchinhampton, Miserdine, Painswick, Pitchcombe, Randwick, Rodborough, Stonehouse, Stroud, Woodchester.
The Stroud Union built a workhouse on the outskirts of the town on Bisley Road. This was used as a workhouse or as it was later to be called “public assistance institution” until the 1930's. Post second world war it was known as No. 1 Bisley Road. It was converted into housing in the 1980's and is now known as Manor Court. This provided separate accommodation for men, women, boys and girls.
In the early 1900's the practice of keeping children in the workhouse was brought to an end because the Liberal Government required Guardians to provide accommodatoin outside of the workhouse. In Stroud the Union used Roxborough House as a childrens home.
Poor Law Unions were also responsible from 1837 for the Registration of Births Deaths and Marriages. The Union built a Board Room and Registry Office at the corner of John Street and Union Street. The Board room was used for meetings of the Guardians, Rural District Council. Additionally it was used by the Urban District Council. The building has recently being converted into a bar and restarant known as 'Nine'
The Guardians were abolished in 1931 with their functions being transferred to the County Council. Following the election of Clem Atlee's Labour Government in 1945 the Poor Law was abolished with the creation of the welfare state, including the creation of the NHS, state benefits, social services authorities. Residual duties to provide relief for the destitute are included in the National Assistance Act 1948.
Further information about the Stroud Workhouse and the Poor Law in General can be found on Peter Higgenbothom's website