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Title: The Poor Law and charity : the Charity Organisation Society in the provinces 1870-1890.
Author: Humphreys, Robert
ISNI:       0000 0000 8105 9581
Awarding Body: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Current Institution: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Date of Award: 1991
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The thesis studies the response of provincial Charity Organisation Societies (COS's), and similar institutions, to the Poor Law crusade against outdoor relief, 1870-1890. The Societies investigated include those at Birkenhead, Birmingham, Brighton, Leainington, Liverpool, Manchester and Salford, Oxford, Reading, and Southampton. Powerful individualistic propaganda, and support from influential elites, created an aura of COS authority on social affairs which has persisted for more than a century. The research exposes the reality of failure and contradiction in the English provinces behind the facade of unrestrained COS pronouncements. It is shown that provincial COS's were shunned by Poor Law guardians, philanthropists, the clergy, and by the poor themselves. This left scant chance for the Government's intended close working relationships between the official relief and organised voluntary sectors. The thesis examines the disappointing response to COS appeals for lady visitors, and discusses the financial difficulties of many COS's. Within their economic constraints, provincial organising Societies attempted a miscellany of relief methods, some contravening COS principles. The COS ridiculed Poor Law doles for their inadequacy but the research shows that grants from the provincial organised voluntary sector were generally of less value. The ideological and financial advantages of loans increased their popularity with COS's until defaults challenged the efficacy of vaunted COS methodology. COS pensions for "special cases" are shown to have been classdivisive and to possess characteristics the Society themselves criticized about outdoor Poor Law relief. The objectives and provincial achievements of the COS movement by 1890 are debated using criteria they may have chosen in 1870 and are found to be wanting. A number of hypotheses are examined, each designed to explain why a few among the late Victorian provincial middle-class remained committed to cos principles, obdurately indifferent to the changing tide of peer-group opinion.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available