Origins of the Poor Law system The origins of the Old Poor Law extend back into the 15th century with the decline of the monasteries and the breakdown of the medieval social structure. Charity was gradually replaced with a compulsory land tax levied at parish level. The law offered relief to people who were unable to work:
History[ edit ] Medieval Poor Laws[ edit ] The Poor Laws in the aftermath of the Black Death picturedwhen labour was in short supply, were concerned with making the able bodied work.
Wages for labourers rose, and this forced up prices across the economy as goods became more expensive to produce. Vagabonds and Beggars Act and Act for the Relief of the Poor The origins of the English Poor Law system can be traced back to late medieval statutes dealing with beggars and vagrancy but it was only during the Tudor period that the Poor Law system became codified.
Prior to the Dissolution of the Monasteries during the Tudors Reformation Elizabeth poor laws 1601, monasteries had been the primary source of poor relief, but their dissolution resulted in poor relief moving from a largely voluntary basis to a compulsory tax that was collected at a parish level.
Tudor attempts to tackle the problem originate during the reign of Henry VII. InParliament passed the Vagabonds and Beggars Act ordering that "vagabonds, idle and suspected persons shall be set in the stocks for three days and three nights and have none other sustenance but bread and water and then shall be put out of Town.
Every beggar suitable to work shall resort to the Hundred where he last dwelled, is best known, or was born and there remain upon the pain aforesaid.
Moreover, no distinction was made between vagrants and the jobless; both were simply categorised as " sturdy beggars ", to be punished and moved on. This change was confirmed in the Vagabonds Act the following year, with one important change: Generally, the licences to beg for the impotent poor were limited to the disabled, sick, and elderly.
An able-bodied beggar was to be whipped, and sworn to return to the place where he was born, or last dwelt for the space of three years, and there put himself to labour. Still no provision was made, though, for the healthy man simply unable to find work.
All able-bodied unemployed were put into the same category. Those unable to find work had a stark choice: Ina bill was drawn up calling for the creation of a system of public works to deal with the problem of unemploymentto be funded by a tax on income and capital.
A law passed a year later allowed vagabonds to be whipped.
After the Reformation, many of these values disappeared and the poor were left without help. It became increasingly clear that something had to be done to help those who were genuinely in need, and something else had to be done about the increasing numbers of . Interesting Facts and Information about Elizabethan England and The Poor Law The Acts of Acts of , , , and related to provision for the poor on a parish basis whilst the Poor Law created a National system to provide for the poor. The Poor Law of was implemented in response to a series of economic pressures. After the Reformation, England was a very different country. The monasteries could be many things to the people, they were a spiritual place, a school, a hospital and a provider of care to the poor and destitute.
Bartholomew's Hospital in and St. Inthe Vagabonds Act was passed that subjected vagrants to some of the more extreme provisions of the criminal law, namely two years servitude and branding with a "V" as the penalty for the first offence and death for the second.
Justices of the Peace were reluctant to apply the full penalty. Under the assumption that parish collections would now relieve all poor, begging was completely prohibited. An Act passed in called for offenders to be burned through the ear for a first offence and that persistent beggars should be hanged.
However, the Act also made the first clear distinction between the "professional beggar" and those unemployed through no fault of their own.The Elizabethan Poor Law continued with further adaptations -- for example the Settlement Act, Gilbert's Act () and the Speenhamland system of -- until the passing of the Poor Law Amendment Act and formed the basis of poor relief throughout the country for over two centuries.
It was a fair and equitable system run for. English Poor Laws: Historical Precedents of Tax-Supported Relief for the Poor.
In , England was experiencing a severe economic depression, with large scale unemployment and widespread famine. Queen Elizabeth proclaimed a set of laws designed to maintain order and contribute to the general good of the kingdom: the English Poor Laws.
Part of the Law said that poor parents and children were responsible for each other, so elderly parents were expected to live with their children for example. However, everyone in need was looked after at the expense of the parish, which was the basic unit of poor law administration.
ANNO QUARTO & QUINTO.
GULIELMI IV. Regis. CAP. LXXVI. An Act for the Amendment and better Administration of the Laws relating to the Poor in . Elizabethan Poor Law of The Elizabethan Poor Law of required each parish to select two Overseers of the Poor.
The Overseer of the Poor was under the supervision of the Justice of the Peace. Poor Relief in Early America. by John E. Hansan, Ph.D. Introduction. Early American patterns of publicly funded poor relief emerged mainly from the English heritage of early settlers.