For many centuries, the task of caring for the poor was left to the Church. Each parish was given an Overseer of the Poor to help with this cause in 1572. Then, in 1601, the Poor Law Act empowered these Overseers to collect a poor rate from wealthier members of the parish, and distribute the funds among the poor.
The 1601 law remained in effect until 1834 when a new law, the Poor Law Amendment Act took over. This collected parishes into groups called Unions. Each Union elected a Board of Guardians, which was then responsible for the care of the poor across all the individual parishes.for more click here