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Title: The sick poor and the quest for medical relief in Oxfordshire ca. 1750-1834
Author: Philipson, T.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2688 5580
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 2009
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Whilst the issue of pauper access to medical relief under the English New Poor Law of 1834 has attracted both scholarly attention and systematic study from historians of welfare and medicine, the nature of relief under the Old Poor Law has remained comparatively under-researched. The parochial nature of its administration, combined with a paucity of systematic local or regional studies has meant that although many excellent general surveys of welfare provision have been published, the issue of the plight of sick poor is either relegated to a mere adjunct of wider relief policy, or absent from the secondary literature altogether. Through the employment of a systematic study of the under-researched county of Oxfordshire, this thesis will aim to exploit the research agenda that has increasingly sought to re-engage with the lives of the sick poor themselves, as they navigated the contested terrain of the Old Poor Law. In order to undertake such a study, it is important to first determine the scale and scope of medical relief delivered by the parish to the poor during the period, and so a systematic quantitative analysis of a sample of Oxfordshire parishes forms a necessary starting point of the research. The key aim of this quantification is to establish the centrality of medical relief within the general architecture of the locally administered Poor Law. The thesis will then move into more qualitative territory, employing material that will help unlock our understanding of the medical landscapes which abounded throughout Oxfordshire during the tenure of the Old Poor Law, and how they impacted upon and shaped the relief of the sick poor. Through an evaluation of the supply of medical relief, this thesis will gauge the extent to which the sick poor of Oxfordshire were tied into wider relief paradigms such as the medical marketplace and general narratives of modernity. The real originality of the thesis however lies in its engagement with the actors who shaped medical relief policy within the multitude of Welfare Republics across Oxfordshire. At heart, the Old Poor Law was always conditioned by notions of exclusion, and through an exposition of the process of relief, the concluding two chapters in particular aim to add much original insight into the wider research agenda that has emerged concerning the complex negotiation strategies that were employed by both sides of the relief equation. Such novel approaches to the architecture and 'system' of relief within the parish represent an important contribution to the nascent research agenda coalescing around the medical relief of the sick poor. Further, such studies are important as they represent a move away from a historiography that has tended to obscure the point that medical relief was never merely a question of application and approval during the supposedly generous 'welfare state in miniature' that has come to characterise the Old Poor Law. It is, therefore, the aim of this thesis to exploit these new avenues of research which consider the plight of the sick poor as worthy of study in their own right, whilst also contributing to the emergent research agenda that seeks to locate the experience of sickness as a central component of the English Old Poor Law.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available