Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.466400
Title: Poor law administration in England and Wales 1834 to 1850, with special reference to the problem of able-bodied pauperism
Author: Mosley, J. V.
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University of London
Date of Award: 1975
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Abstract:
This study examines the operation of the administrative machinery set up under the Poor Law Amendment Act, from 1834 to 1850, and considers its consequences for the able-bodied labourers. The Report of the Hoy-al Commission appointed in 1832 was misleading about the scale of the able-bodied pauper problem prior to 1834 and inaccurate in analysing its causes. Instead of attributing the existence of able-bodied pauperism to low wages deriving from adverse economic circumstances, the reformers chose to argue that the poor relief system was itself responsible for creating the able-bodied problem. This led them to advocate remedial measures - the abolition of outdoor relief to the able-bodied and its replacement by the deterrent workhouse - which were wholly inappropriate. The reformers believed that the success of their proposed remedies depended upon an administrative structure which could enforce the 'correct policies' on relief uniformly throughout the country. The administration would be free from the deficiencies associated with the old order, under which responsibility for implementing the poor law had rested entirely with the local authorities, whose misguided actions had created an allegedly serious problem of able-bodied pauperism. In practice, however, the new system failed to achieve its objectives, partly because the proposed remedies were impracticable and partly because of deficiencies in the restructured administration, which did not function as its creators had anticipate do Thus the Central Commission's staff of Assistant Commissioners was woefully unequal to the task of ensuring effective supervision and direction due to the lack of manpower and funds o The Boards of Guardians, who were responsible for implementing policy at local level, were generally inclined, rather than implement dutifully policies laid down at Somerset House, to act in accord with the interests of their locality, thereby coming into conflict with the Central Commission. 'fue implementation of the Commissioners r orders prohibiting out-relief to the able-bodied were frequently opposed as being more expensive and less humane than continuing with out-relief, especially so in districts with serious labour surpluses. Even where Boards of Guardians where prepared to apply the workhouse test their decision did not necessarily mean that the agricultural labourer was deprived of out-relief. Over a large part of rural :England relief policy effectively remained the preserve of the parish, rather than of the Poor Law Union. Parishes were responsible for the costs of their Ovln poor and, therefore, often took steps to look after the settled able-bodied either by raising a private rate, or more significantly, by using the highway rate to grant relief payments which ,",would formerly have come from the poor rate. The effects of the New Poor Law upon the rural labourer between 1834 and 1850 v/ere probably much less severe than was implied by the existence of the Poor Law Commission committed to enforcing a body of regulations prohibiting out-relief to the able-bodied over the greater part of England and Wales.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.466400  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Poor relief systems
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