Providing for the Poor

The Old Poor Law, 1750–1834
Edited by Peter Collinge and Louise Falcini
29 August 2022
156 × 234 mm
224 pp
Paperback: 978-1-914477-11-9
Hardback: 978-1-914477-10-2
PDF: 978-1-914477-14-0

The Old Poor Law in England and Wales, administered by the local parish, dispensed benefits to paupers providing a uniquely comprehensive, pre-modern system of relief. Remaining in force until 1834, the law provided goods and services to keep the poor alive.

Combining short- and long-form articles and essays, Providing for the Poor brings together academics and practitioners from across disciplines to re-examine the micro-politics of poverty in the long eighteenth century through the eyes of the poor, their providers and enablers. From the providence of the parochial sixpence given in order to move a beggar on, to coercive marriages, plebeian clothing and the much broader implications of vagrancy towards the end of the long eighteenth century, this volume aims to bridge the gaps in our understanding of the experiences of people across the social spectrum whose lives were touched by the Old Poor Law. It brings together some of the wider arguments concerning the nature of welfare during economically testing times, and navigates the rising bureaucracy inherent in the system, to produce a radical new history of the Old Poor Law in astonishing detail.  

Table of contents: 
Peter Collinge and Louise Falcini

Part I: Paupers and Vagrants

Chapter 1. Accounting for Illegitimacy: parish politics and the poor
Louise Falcini

Interlude 1. Thomas Woolgar the Mystery Man
Jean Irvin

Chapter 2. Clothing the Poor
Elizabeth Spencer

Interlude 2. Elizabeth Overing in Bedlam
Elizabeth Hughes

Chapter 3. Vagrancy, Poor Relief and the Parish
Tim Hitchcock

Interlude 3. Elizabeth Malbon (c.1743–1801)
Dianne Shenton

Part II: Providers and Enablers, and their Critics

Chapter 4. Women, Business and the Old Poor Law
Peter Collinge

Interlude 4. The Wilkinsons and the Griffin Inn, Penrith
Margaret Dean

Chapter 5. The Overseers’ Assistant: taking a parish salary, 1800–1834
Alannah Tomkins

Interlude 5. The Parochial Career of James Finlinson (1783–1847)
William Bundred

Chapter 6. Who cares? Mismanagement, neglect and suffering in the final decades of the old poor laws
Samantha Shave

Interlude 6. Abel Rooker (1787–1867), Surgeon
Janet Kisz

Part III: Public Histories

Chapter 7. Public Histories and Collaborative Working
Louise Falcini and Peter Collinge