The Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 removed the responsibility for the relief of the poor from the parish and the overseers of the poor, to boards of guardians appointed to administer groups of parishes in poor law unions. These boards, which were responsible initially to the central Poor Law Commission and, from 1847, to the Poor Law Board, were empowered to build union workhouses. The poor law unions in Cheshire set up after 1836 were Altrincham (later Bucklow), Birkenhead, Chester, Congleton, Macclesfield, Nantwich, Northwich, Runcorn, Stockport, Great Boughton (later Tarvin) and Wirral.

Original records held at the Cheshire Record Office are those for

  • Altrincham (later Bucklow) Poor Law Union (Cheshire Archives and Local Studies reference LGB)
  • Chester Union (ZTRUZRGC)
  • Congleton Union (LGC)
  • Macclesfield Union (LGM)
  • Nantwich Union (LGN)
  • Northwich Union (LGO)
  • Runcorn Union (LGR)
  • Great Boughton (later Tarvin) Union (LGTZRGT)
  • Wirral Union (LGWZRGW).

Surviving records for Stockport Union are held at Stockport Archive Service. Those for the Birkenhead Union are held at Wirral Archives.