For the purposes of the Victorian "Poor Law" system of administration and parish relief, St. Stephen's by Saltash joined
with several other local parishes into a "Union", collectively known as "St Germans" . Formed
on 14th January 1837, It's operation was overseen by an elected Board of Guardians, 13 in number, each representing one or
several of its constituant parishes - some quite small indeed - St. Stephen's in 1831 had 1,455 residents which placed it
somewhere among the more populous areas - Botusfleming had just 279, while the village of St Germans itself had some 2,586
persons residing within its boundaries at the time of the 1831 census.
As one of the larger parishes making up the Union, St. Stephen's had two such appointed guardians. The other parishes
making up the union were Anthony, Botusfleming, St. Germans, St. John, Landrake-with-St. Erney, Landulph, St. Mellion, Pillaton,
Quethiock, Rame, Saltash, Sheviock and Maker. Two later additions to the union, Millbrook and Torpoint, joined
in 1896 and 1904 respectively.
The St Germans Union workhouse was built in 1837-8 at Torpoint. It was designed by Charles Lang who was
also the architect of the Launceston Union workhouse. The Poor Law Commissioners authorised the sum of £4,300 on construction
of the building which was intended to accommodate 250 inmates.
What records there are relating to the St. Germans Union workhouse are held in the Cornwall County Record Office,
in Truro. Most other records of interest to geneologists that relate to the parish of St. Stephen's by
Saltash, including Overseers' Accounts (1673 to 1718, 1739 to 1780, 1782 to 1837), Settlement Papers (1718 to 1852) and Bastardy
Bonds (1715 to 1832) can also be found in the Cornwall Record Office.