Selections from the Diary of Benjamin Woodcock, Master, Barnet Union Workhouse, April 1837

Audio footage of extracts from Woodcock's diary

By Geoff Cordingley

To listen to the audio clip, click play on the bar below the image on the right.

Note: Entries in the diary are always dated Thursday, the day on which the report was made to the Board of Guardians.


Friday Mr Smith & two Gentlemen from another Union called to view the Workhouse this afternoon.

Friday Mr Ray brought two Gentlemen who had come 300 hundred miles & was much pleased with the arrangement of the house.

Saturday, C. Barnet. The Rev Mr Wood from Shenley called at the Workhouse just at the inmates Dinner hour on Saturday and expressed himself much satisfied with the Diet Bedding & healthy appearance of the inmates, being very different from what was represented to him.

Monday, C. Barnet. Isaac Crane, pauper of C. Barnet, was discharged at his own request this morning having got work, Brick making, at Finchley. He begged he might have his Union Stokcing, an old Shirt and round frock, having neither of his own.

Monday Mr Morrison, the Medical officer, recommends one pint of Beer to be given daily to the Casualty Man Hall. Also the same allowance of wine to be given to Jacob Robinson for a few days longer when he will be in a fit state to remove. 2 Eggs per day to be given to Paul Peart.

Monday Received from Mr Pitkin the Plasterer whose at work on the Premises 2/- for 2 days Labour for one of the inmates. To whom shall I pay it?

Tuesday Mrs Cooper of Barnet wishes me to send her a Girl out of the house for 3 weeks or a month only. Is it the order of the board that I do so?

Wednesday Sarah Godfey left her service on Wednesday & was admitted in Shenley Workhouse the same day.


Thursday William peel, the runaway boy, returned to the Workhouse much distressed.

Thursday Christian Lennon was discharged this day at his own request having got employ in Brick Making. Had a shirt & Cap as per order of the board.

Friday We sent the Girl Elizabeth Williams to Mrs Cooper at Barnet this morning as per order of Board, but she returned not being strong enough.

Saturday Mr Taplin* brought 3 friends to look over the house on Saturday before 10 o’clock in Morning without any order from the Guardians. I was from home.

Wednesday, East Barnet. Ann Gray, paper of Ridge, was removed yesterday to the Hospital as per order of board.


Thursday Lord Caledon of Tittenhamger went over the house this afternoon & expressed himself much pleased with the provisions, Bedding and general arrangements of the premises.

Friday Elizabeth Williams aged 20, was admitted as Casual Pauper in C. Barnet house by order of one of the Guardians this afternoon. When the Medical Officer attended he ordered her some hot Brandy & Water after which on a closer examination he was of the opinion that she was nothing but an imposter. I gave her some good soup for Supper & gruel for breakfast as recommended by the Medical Officer & started her the following day. She wanted money.

Monday, C.Barnet. Three Gentlemen from the Hendon Union called on Monday afternoon to view the New Workhouse, but not having a Guardian’s order, I of course refused them admittance, as per orders of Board.


Monday    Mrs Lipscomb of Shenley applied at the Workhouse for a Servant Girl about 17 or 18. I called on her the following morning & proposed Betsy Williams. She said she was fearful the Girl was too young but would consider of it & let me know.


* Edward Taplin of Duckworth and Taplin, Chipping Barnet, auctioneers, surveyors and agents for fir and life insurance, was also the Auditor for the Barnet Union’s accounts.

This page was added on 15/03/2012.

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