English Poor Laws

poor lawpoor lawsEnglish Poor LawEngland and Walespoor reliefworkhouseElizabethan Poor LawsPoor Law CommissionersPoor Law Unionspoor-law
The English Poor Laws were a system of poor relief in England and Wales that developed out of the codification of late-medieval and Tudor-era laws in 1587–98.wikipedia
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Liberal welfare reforms

Liberal reformswelfare reformsreforms
The Poor Law system fell into decline at the beginning of the 20th century owing to factors such as the introduction of the Liberal welfare reforms and the availability of other sources of assistance from friendly societies and trade unions, as well as piecemeal reforms which bypassed the Poor Law system.
By implementing the reforms outside of the English Poor Laws, the stigma attached to claiming relief was also removed.

Act for the Relief of the Poor 1601

Elizabethan Poor LawPoor Law Act 1601Old Poor Law
The first complete code of poor relief was made in the Act for the Relief of the Poor 1597 and some provision for the "deserving poor" was eventually made in the Elizabethan Poor Law of 1601. The Royal Commission's primary concerns were with illegitimacy (or "bastardy"), reflecting the influence of Malthusians, and the fear that the practices of the Old Poor Law were undermining the position of the independent labourer.
The Act for the Relief of the Poor 1601, popularly known as the Elizabethan Poor Law, "43rd Elizabeth" or the Old Poor Law was passed in 1601 and created a poor law system for England and Wales.

Penal transportation

transportedtransportationtransporting
English penal transportation would be implemented soon afterwards, and evolve into a subsidized government endeavor with the Transportation Act 1717.
For example, from the earliest days of English colonial schemes, new settlements beyond the seas were seen as a way to alleviate domestic social problems of criminals and the poor as well as to increase the colonial labour force, for the overall benefit of the realm.

George Boyer

Historian George Boyer has stated that England suffered rapid inflation at this time caused by population growth, the debasement of coinage and the inflow of American silver.
He is best known for his work in the field of economic history, and in particular his research on the English poor laws of the 18th and 19th centuries.

House of Tudor

TudorTudor dynastyTudors
English Poor Law legislation can be traced back as far as 1536, when legislation was passed to deal with the impotent poor, although there were much earlier Tudor laws dealing with the problems caused by vagrants and beggars.
In response to famine across England due to bad harvests in the 1590s, Elizabeth introduced the poor law, allowing peasants who were too ill to work a certain amount of money from the state.

Vagabonds Act 1572

1572 Vagabonds ActPoor Law 1572Vagabonds Act
Additionally, the 1572 Vagabonds Act further enabled Justices of the Peace to survey and register the impotent poor, determine how much money was required for their relief, and then assess parish residents weekly for the appropriate amount.
It is a part of the Tudor Poor Laws and a predecessor to the Elizabethan Poor Laws.

Workhouse

workhousesUnionindoor relief
The New Poor Law altered the system from one which was administered haphazardly at a local parish level to a highly centralised system which encouraged the large-scale development of workhouses by poor law unions.
So keen were some Poor Law authorities to cut costs wherever possible that cases were reported of husbands being forced to sell their wives, to avoid them becoming a financial burden on the parish.

Vagrancy

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Early legislation was concerned with vagrants and making the able-bodied work, especially while labour was in short supply following the Black Death.
Due to the Poor Laws, vagrants to receive and poverty relief had to seek it from the parish where they were last legally settled, often the parish where they were born.

Vagabonds and Beggars Act 1494

Vagabonds and Beggars ActVagabond ActVagabonds and Beggars Act 1495
In 1495, Parliament passed the Vagabonds and Beggars Act ordering that "vagabonds, idle and suspected persons shall be set in the stocks for three days and three nights and have none other sustenance but bread and water and then shall be put out of Town. Every beggar suitable to work shall resort to the Hundred where he last dwelled, is best known, or was born and there remain upon the pain aforesaid."
The Poor Law and settlement laws and Tudor Proclamations that followed reinforced the Vagabonds and Beggars Act 1494, keeping people in their correct societal place.

Workhouse Test Act 1723

Workhouse Test Act
The Society published several pamphlets on the subject, and supported Sir Edward Knatchbull in his successful efforts to steer the Workhouse Test Act through parliament in 1723.
The Workhouse Test Act 1723 (9 George 1, c.7) also known as the General Act or Knatchbull's Act was poor relief legislation passed by the British government by Sir Edward Knatchbull in 1723.

Dissolution of the Monasteries

dissolutiondissolvedSuppression of the Monasteries
Before the Dissolution of the Monasteries during the Tudor Reformation, monasteries had been the primary source of poor relief, but their dissolution resulted in poor relief moving from a largely voluntary basis to a compulsory tax that was collected at a parish level.
Monasteries had also supplied free food and alms for the poor and destitute, and it has been argued that the removal of this and other charitable resources, amounting to about 5 per cent of net monastic income, was one of the factors in the creation of the army of "sturdy beggars" that plagued late Tudor England, causing the social instability that led to the Edwardian and Elizabethan Poor Laws.

Legitimacy (family law)

illegitimatebastardillegitimacy
The Royal Commission's primary concerns were with illegitimacy (or "bastardy"), reflecting the influence of Malthusians, and the fear that the practices of the Old Poor Law were undermining the position of the independent labourer.
The Poor Law of 1576 formed the basis of English bastardy law.

Poor Act 1575

1575 Poor Act
Her 1575 Poor Act required towns to create "a competent stock of wool, hemp, flax, iron and other stuff" for the poor to work on and houses of correction for those who refused to work where recalcitrant or careless workers could be forced to work and punished accordingly.
It is a part of the Tudor Poor Laws and a predecessor to the Elizabethan Poor Laws.

Poor Law Amendment Act 1834

Poor Law Amendment ActNew Poor LawPoor Law
By 1820, before the passing of the Poor Law Amendment Act workhouses were already being built to reduce the spiraling cost of poor relief.
Poor Law Amendment Act 1834 (PLAA) known widely as the New Poor Law, was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed by the Whig government of Earl Grey.

Swing Riots

Captain Swing riotsriotslooks to his ''ricks
The 1832 Royal Commission into the Operation of the Poor Laws was set up following the widespread destruction and machine breaking of the Swing Riots.
The rioters directed their anger at the three targets identified as causing their misery: the tithe system, requiring payments to support the established Anglican Church; the Poor Law guardians, who were thought to abuse their power over the poor; and the rich tenant farmers who had been progressively lowering workers' wages while introducing agricultural machinery.

Poor law union

Poor Law UnionsUnionunions
The New Poor Law altered the system from one which was administered haphazardly at a local parish level to a highly centralised system which encouraged the large-scale development of workhouses by poor law unions.
Prior to the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834 the administration of the English Poor Laws was the responsibility of the vestries of individual parishes, which varied widely in their size, populations, financial resources, rateable values and requirements.

Pauperism

pauperpaupersthe poor
Means tests were developed during the inter-war period, not as part of the Poor Law, but as part of the attempt to offer relief that was not affected by the stigma of pauperism.
pauper, poor) is a term meaning poverty or generally the state of being poor, but in English usage particularly the condition of being a "pauper", i.e. in receipt of relief administered under the English Poor Laws.

Human overpopulation

overpopulationexpanding human populationoverpopulated
Jeremy Bentham argued for a disciplinary, punitive approach to social problems, whilst the writings of Thomas Malthus focused attention on overpopulation, and the growth of illegitimacy.
This resulted, for example, in the English poor laws of 1834 and in a hesitating response to the Irish Great Famine of 1845–52.

Royal Commission into the Operation of the Poor Laws 1832

1832 Royal Commission into the Operation of the Poor LawsRoyal Commission into the operation of the Poor LawsRoyal Commission
The 1832 Royal Commission into the Operation of the Poor Laws was set up following the widespread destruction and machine breaking of the Swing Riots.
The writers of the report suggested radical changes to English Poor Laws:

George Nicholls (commissioner)

George NichollsSir George Nicholls
George Nicholls, the overseer at Southwell, was to become a Poor Law Commissioner in the reformed system.
At Farndon Nicholls started the first savings bank; and looked into the poor laws and their administration.

Welfare

social welfarepublic assistancesocial assistance
The Commission produced two conflicting reports but both investigations were largely ignored by the Liberal government when implementing their own scheme of welfare legislation.
The United Kingdom has a long history of welfare, notably including the English Poor laws which date back to 1536.

Unemployment

unemployedunemployment ratejob creation
In 1535, a bill was drawn up calling for the creation of a system of public works to deal with the problem of unemployment, to be funded by a tax on income and capital.
Under the Poor Law systems of England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland a workhouse was a place where people who were unable to support themselves, could go to live and work.

England and Wales

England & WalesEnglishEngland
The English Poor Laws were a system of poor relief in England and Wales that developed out of the codification of late-medieval and Tudor-era laws in 1587–98.

Welfare state

welfarewelfare statessocial state
The system continued until the modern welfare state emerged after the Second World War.

Friendly society

friendly societiesbenevolent societybenevolent societies
The Poor Law system fell into decline at the beginning of the 20th century owing to factors such as the introduction of the Liberal welfare reforms and the availability of other sources of assistance from friendly societies and trade unions, as well as piecemeal reforms which bypassed the Poor Law system.