Almshouses in Early Modern England

Almshouses in Early Modern England

Charitable Housing in the Mixed Economy of Welfare, 1550-1725

Angela Nicholls

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eBook for Handhelds
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Boydell Press

Overview

Overview

Addresses a neglected element of English welfare history, examining the role and significance of English almshouses in the period 1550 - 1725 and the contribution they made within the developing welfare systems of the time
Almshouses providing accommodation for poor people are a common feature of the towns and villages of England, visible representations of historic attitudes towards the poor. The period after the Reformation saw not only the survival of many medieval institutions but also a remarkable number of new foundations, as people from many different backgrounds used their wealth to revive and remodel this ancient form of provision to meet new needs. This book addresses a neglected element of English welfare history, examining the role and significance of English almshouses in the period 1550 - 1725 and the contribution they made within the developing welfare systems of the time.
Drawing on archival evidence, the book analyses why almshouses were founded and the reasons for the continuing popularity of this particular form of charity; who the occupants were; what benefits they received; and how residents were expected to live their lives. It challenges the assumption that Post-Reformation almshouses were places of privilege for the respectable deserving poor and reveals a surprising variation in the socio-economic status of almspeople and their experience of almshouse life. The book places these findings in the context of the contemporary national and local debates about poverty and poor relief and argues that early modern almshouses took on a distinct and new identity within the changed landscape of relief provision in post-Reformation England. Many almshouses played an integral role in the early welfare provision of their local communities, yet, ultimately, their significance was affected by the emergence of harsher public provision in the new workhouses of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

ANGELA NICHOLLS is Associate Fellow at the University of Warwick

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Details

15 black and white, 4 line illustrations
291 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
People, Markets, Goods: Economies and Societies in History
Paperback, 9781783271788, March 2017
eBook for Handhelds, 9781782049609, March 2017
Boydell Press
BIC HBJD1, 1DBKE, 2AB, 3JD
BISAC HIS015000, HIS037040
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Table of Contents

Introduction
Housing Policy
Chronology and Distribution of Almshouse Foundations
Almshouse Founders and Their Motivations
Almshouse Residents and the Experience of Almshouse Life
The Material Benefits of an Almshouse Place
Case Study: A Seventeenth-Century Welfare Republic - the Parish of Leamington Hastings and its Almshouse
Conclusion
Appendix 1. Almshouse Foundations by County, 1550 - 1870
Appendix 2. Size of Almshouses in Eight English Counties, 1550 - 1725
Appendix 3. Almshouse Numbers and Places in Three Counties, 1550 - 1800
Appendix 4. Minimum Subsistence Budget in 1690s Adjusted for Inflation
Bibliography

Reviews

Nicholls (thoroughly establishes how almshouses were deeply embedded in the welfare system of post-Reformation England. . . . Nicholls uses a great deal of statistical data, often expressing it through numerous charts, graphs, and tables, and provides photographs that bring the topic to life. Recommended. CHOICE

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