My ancestor John Singleton was returned as a Guardian for the Preesall with Hackensall parish of the Garstang Poor Law Union in Lancashire. The Guardians are elected by owners and occupiers of land that are expected to pay the poor rate, which was a tax on their property used for poor relief. The Guardians were responsible for the poor in their parish.
According to "The Workhouse" website..
"A local Board of Guardians administered each Poor Law Union's activities. There were two classes of Guardian, namely elected and ex officio (before 1894). Elected Guardians had to be rate-payers occupying property worth at least £25 a year. They were elected annually, usually at the start of April, by the rate-payers of each parish that made up the Union. (Suitably qualified women had been eligible from the outset to stand for election, although it not until 1875 in Kensington that the first female Guardian was elected.) Ex officio Guardians were entitled to Board membership by virtue of their office as local magistrates. The powers and duties of the two classes were the same."
The names of the Guardians were usually published in the paper after elections. You can also check for poor law minutes at the local archives.
There are some Poor Law Records at FindMyPast and Ancestry. Keep checking back with a google search, more are being uploaded from time to time.
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