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Workhouse plan.

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Presentation on theme: "Workhouse plan."— Presentation transcript:



3 Workhouse plan

4 Project devised to go in stages Stage 1 Enter base population data This means all the individuals admitted into the workhouse All those receiving regular pensions Stage 2 Link extant settlement examination records to base population Stage 3 Create and refine individual pauper biographies

5 Stages 1&2 completion! 103,610 separate records of individual admissions and/ or discharges (86,446 excluding duplicates). C. 56,000 individuals C. 14,000 settlement examinations Covering years Mind-numbing tedium of data entry Advantages of very large sample sizes

6 Methodological issues Elimination of duplicate entries One short gap in the admission registers Creation of reasonably complex relational database Nominal linkage issues – individuals can be identified from their given forename and surname, age, and record of numbers of times admitted Reconstructing a total history of pauperism presents particular challenges in the capital

7 Total history? Aim is to complete individual life histories Within the parochial context, individuals could have contact with workhouse, overseers of the poor or churchwardens over a period of time That is, they could enter the workhouse, receive extraordinary relief or get a pension from the overseers, or receive charitable handouts from funds distributed by the churchwardens. The churchwardens also ran the parish almshouses. It is important to realise that this paper deals with the paupers who entered the workhouse. Such paupers may also have had contact with other arms of parish poor relief This point of course holds for all parochial studies of parish poor relief, especially if made after the 1723 Workhouse test act

8 London workhouses: anticipation of New Poor Law?

9 St Martins workhouse was the third biggest in terms of capacity in the London area in 1803 Number of workhouse inmates 1803% Total workhouses outside City within the walls 50

10 Anticipation of 1834 commissioners: Meticulous record keeping Insistence on work by indoor poor capable of working, even elderly. Segregated wards in 18th century. Regular (weekly) attendance of magistrate Use of punishment room (dust house) Regular inspection and expulsion of inmates. Professional staff, working to (fairly) strict rules Poor relief expenditure over £10,000 p.a. in 1780s (=c. £12,500 in 1850 prices) Also familiar post-1834 conditions: Large number of deserving poor – children, old Increasing use of workhouse as hospital from later 18C. Professionalisation of medical help: Midwives, doctors who knew about insanity. Health condition of the short-term residents?

11 Total% Not admitted before Number of recorded times admitted

12 Age as % of total workhouse population

13 Recidivists?


15 Yearly interval between husbands death and examination Life cycle crises and applications for welfare

16 Workhouse multi-functional over entire period Part of elderly survival strategy in last years There is a chronology of use by elderly, more commonly used in some decades than others Particularly frequently experienced by elderly females Variety of experience of elderly usage

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