The Bristol Corporation of the Poor was the board responsible for poor relief in Bristol, England when the Poor Law system was in operation. It was established in 1696 by the Bristol Poor Act. The main promoter of the act was a merchant, John Cary, who proposed "That a spacious workhouse be erected in some vacant place, within the city, on a general charge, large enough for the Poor, who are to be employed therein; and also with room for such, who, being unable to work, are to be relieved by charity."
Upon establishment of the corporation the city aldermen chose four of the "honestest and discreetest inhabitants" from each of the twelve city wards to serve as "Guardians of the Poor". This caused some resentment amongst the city churchwardens who had previously administered poor law funds and who withheld funds raised from the general rates. The corporation raised funds by donation and established the first workhouse at a building called Whitehall, adjacent to the Bridewell.