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Title: Implementing and administering the New Poor Law in the industrial north : a case study of Preston union in regional context, 1837-1861
Author: Darwen, L.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5920 1851
Awarding Body: Nottingham Trent University
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis examines Poor Law administration in the urban industrial union of Preston, Lancashire, from the introduction of the Poor Law Amendment Act in the region in 1837 to the eve of the Lancashire Cotton Famine in 1861. For many years historiography has emphasised that, despite the attempt to engender a greater degree of uniformity through unionisation and the creation of a London based central authority, diversity was a defining characteristic of relief administration at local level under the New Poor Law just as it had been under the Old. Local studies are therefore essential to understanding how the Poor Law operated in practice, and this thesis answers repeated calls for more of them. Lancashire has received little empirical attention from welfare historians for the period after 1837, particularly at the level of individual unions, and the study therefore primarily seeks to shed new light on how policy was formed and relief provided at local level in a region that was both the most industrialised in the country and located within the heartland of the anti-Poor Law movement. It is argued that policy and practice in Preston union, like any union, was shaped by a number of broad interconnected variables, the nature and relative importance of which were each determined by local circumstances. Isolated local studies, however, can only tell us so much. Thus, the thesis seeks to draw wider and more significant conclusions by setting Preston union within a broader regional and sub-regional framework. The approach reflects recent historiography which has argued that, in spite of local differences, Poor Law administration varied considerably by region, with a particularly marked distinction having been drawn between an inclusive, perhaps generous, south and east and a less inclusive, perhaps harsh, north and west. Most research in this area has focussed on the Old Poor Law, and this study questions whether, and the extent to which, such distinctions endured into the New. The thesis challenges the notion that spatial patterns of relief at regional level indicate relative levels of generosity. It argues, instead, that socio-economic conditions were chiefly responsible for observable differences at the regional and sub-regional levels, with the durability of the makeshift economy important in the case of the former. Further, it argues that variation at all levels occurred within rather narrow parameters, and that the Poor Law fundamentally served much the same purpose across the country.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available