Category Archives: Poverty

Popular culture: Case Study 3: The ‘opium eaters’

The importance and impact of drug taking across social boundaries in the nineteenth century has only recently become a subject of serious historical study. [1] Opium or opiate compounds were used widely in the first half of the nineteenth century … Continue reading

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Posted in Leisure and Recreation, Nineteenth century society, Poverty, Working Class | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Mutual aid and self-help

Mutual aid started spontaneously on a local level. It became a custom for groups of men to meet in the local inn for a drink on payday, and to contribute a few pence a week to a common fund. From … Continue reading

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Philanthropy

If the development of the poor law system was an expression of the ‘collectivist impulse’, many groups and individuals were trying to tackle the worst evils on a voluntary basis.[1] In 1948, William Beveridge, the author of the modern welfare … Continue reading

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Operating the Poor Law, 1847-1914

When the Act that had extended the life of the Poor Law Commission ran out in 1847 it was not renewed and the Poor Law Board Act was passed in its place. It set up a new body, the Poor … Continue reading

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Operating the New Poor Law 1834-1847

Despite opposition, the Poor Law Amendment Act was implemented with speed and determination.[1] Nine assistant commissioners were appointed and this rose to sixteen within a year. Poor Law Unions were created with some rapidity. By the end of 1835, 2,066 … Continue reading

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Opposing the 1834 Poor Law Act

Resistance to alterations in the provision of poor relief was not uncommon in the early-nineteenth century and grievances about the operation of the poor laws formed a significant feature of disturbances in southern England between 1830 and 1832. Whatever its … Continue reading

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Poor Law reform 1834

The reform of the Poor Laws extended the growing chasm between the middle-classes and the working population.  The poor law, as it existed in the early 1830s was not a system but, in Sidney Checkland’s words, ‘an accretion’, determined by … Continue reading

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Causing poverty

The causes of poverty revealed by the early poverty surveys were as surprising and disturbing to most contemporaries as the calculations of its extent. The common belief was that poverty was caused by idleness, drinking and other personal shortcomings, a … Continue reading

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The meaning of poverty

Between 1830 and 1914, there were two period when state intervention in British social policy significantly increased. The first of these was in the 1830s and 1840s and the second in the Edwardian years at the beginning of the twentieth … Continue reading

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Voluntary action: Philanthropy

  If the development of the poor law system was an expression of the ‘collectivist impulse’, many groups and individuals were trying to tackle the worst evils on a voluntary basis[1]. In 1948 William Beveridge, the author of the modern … Continue reading

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Further reform of the Poor Laws

  The effectiveness of the workhouse test in the north was never really verified. From 1837 to 1842 it lay in the grip of hunger and the intermittent collapse of industries. Whole communities went suddenly out of work and in … Continue reading

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The Andover Workhouse Scandal

  The feature of the 1834 legislation that caught the attention of contemporary opinion was not the system of central administration but the threat of seeking relief, with special emphasis being paid to the workhouse test. Official records are stronger … Continue reading

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Resisting the Poor Law

Resistance to alterations in the provision of poor relief was not uncommon in the early-nineteenth century and grievances about the operation of the poor laws formed a significant feature of disturbances in southern England between 1830 and 1832.  Whatever its … Continue reading

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Operating the Poor Law

  The Poor Law Amendment Act was implemented with speed and determination[1]. Nine assistant commissioners were appointed and this rose to sixteen within a year. Poor Law Unions were created with some rapidity. By the end of 1835 2,066 parishes … Continue reading

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Reforming the Poor Law

  The reform of the Poor Laws extended the growing chasm between the middle classes and the working population.  The poor law, as it existed in the early 1830s was not a system but, in Sidney Checkland’s words, "an accretion", … Continue reading

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