poor law

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poor law,

in English history, legislation relating to public assistance for the poor. Early measures to relieve pauperism were usually designed to suppress vagrancy and begging. In 1601, England passed the Elizabethan poor-relief act, which recognized the state's obligation to the needy; it provided for compulsory local levies to be administered by the parish, and it required work for the able-bodied poor and apprenticeships for needy children. Local reluctance to support the poor from other areas led to settlement laws limiting migration. Institutional relief was provided by poorhouses, where the aged, sick, or insane were grouped together. From c.1700 workhouses were established where the poor were expected to support themselves by work. However, because of widespread unemployment and low wages, it became customary in the late 18th cent. to give home relief. Poor-law amendments of 1834 sought to establish uniform assistance by placing relief under national supervision; they curtailed home relief and modified the settlement laws. Those amendments assumed that pauperism stemmed partly from unwillingness to work rather than from inadequate employment opportunities. As a result poor relief was maintained at a level below that of the poorest laborer. The Local Government Act of 1929 established the basis for a more far-reaching and humane approach to the conditions of the poor.


See S. Webb and B. Webb, English Poor Law History (1927–29, repr. 1963); J. R. Poynter, Society and Pauperism (1969); M. E. Rose, English Poor Law, 1780–1930 (1971).

poor law

English history a law providing for the relief or support of the poor from public, esp parish, funds
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According to one prediction, 40 percent business activities in Karachi are closed because of poor law and order situation.
Swansea poor law guardian John Dillwyn Llewelyn spoke of "ties of affection" between foster parent and child, although his claim that boarding-out turned "a drone into a working bee" shows how the children were also expected to grow up into independent and responsible citizens.
A case cited by Norman Longmate in his book The Workhouse shed light on Dickens' concern regarding the Poor Law and the treatment many received under this law.
With no crops to harvest, rural unemployment skyrocketed until, on average, more than 40% of the inhabitants of England's parishes qualified for Poor Law benefits (Rule 116), and, in some parishes, more than 60% of the parishioners were receiving poor relief.
Her volume almost reads like a set of well-researched notes both on the Campton and Shefford records and the scholarship on poor laws.
THE POOR LAW system touched the lives of almost everyone living in 18th- and 19th-century England, whether as ratepayers or recipients.
Gray's approach, a detailed analysis of both the politics of Irish poor law reform and contemporary understandings of poverty and poor relief, is similar to the one he used in his well regarded Famine, Land and Politics: British Government and Irish Society, 1843-50 (1999).
Peter Gray, The Making of the Irish Poor Law, 1815-1843 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2009, 380 pp.
Speenhamland, an episode in English Poor Law history, is frequently quoted to claim that income transfer policies --such as the Citizen's Income proposal--, will reduce labor supply and wages, increase poverty and end up harming recipients.
Some of the topics covered during the workshop will include parish registers and bishops transcripts, indexes and finding aids, Poor Law records and early wills and inventories.
Long-forgotten records of Poor Law Unions, based at Tynemouth and Berwick, tell stories of heartache and family break-up in the 19th Century.
Barnardo's large voluntary child-rescue institution; and the other were the "schools" (really orphanage-type institutions) run by several different London poor law unions, with special emphasis on Banstead, maintained by the Kensington and Chelsea union, and the Forest Gate School run by the Whitechapel guardians.