Life of the Poor

Wiltshire Local History Forum

WLHF Spring Conference 2017

Claire Skinner, Principal Archivist at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre began the day by setting the scene with life under the poor law legislation pre 1834. Legislation was covered from the medieval period, touching on vagrancy and the role of the church. Then there were the Tudor poor laws and the effect of the Dissolution of the monasteries. Claire focused on the 1601 Act of Relief for the Poor, the 1536 Vagabonds and Beggars Act and the 1662 Poor Relief Act (The Settlement Act). She also considered the role of Overseers of the Poor. Topics also covered were bastardy and settlement issues, and apprentices. The 18th century acts were explained, including 1722 Knatchbull’s General Welfare Act and the 1782 Gilbert’s Act before moving on to the 19th century with the Sturges-Bourne Act of 1818. It was a very clear and concise guide to the poor…

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