Protesting about Pauperism

Protesting about Pauperism

Poverty, Politics and Poor Relief in Late-Victorian England, 1870-1900

Elizabeth T. Hurren


Currently out of stock

Royal Historical Society



A fresh look at the complex question of outdoor poor relief in the nineteenth century.
The consequences of extreme poverty were a grim reality for all too many people in Victorian England. The various poor laws implemented to try to deal with it contained a number of controversial measures, one of the most radical and unpopular being the crusade against outdoor relief, during which central government sought to halt all welfare payments at home.
Via a close case study of Brixworth union in Northamptonshire, which offers an unusually rich corpus of primary material and evidence, the author looks at what happened to those impoverished men and women who struggled to live independently in a world-without-welfare outside the workhouse. She retraces the experiences of elderly paupers evicted from almshouses, of the children of the aged poor prosecuted for parental maintenance, of dying paupers who were refused medical care in their homes, and of women begging for funeral costs in an attempt to prevent the bodies of their loved ones being taken for dissection by anatomists. She then shows how increasing democratisation gave the labouring poor the means to win control of the poor law.

ELIZABETH T. HURREN is Senior Lecturer in the History of Medicine, Oxford Brookes University, Centre for Health, Medicine and Society, Past and Present.


1 black and white, 2 line illustrations
308 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Royal Historical Society Studies in History New Series
Hardback, 9780861932924, September 2007
Paperback, 9780861933297, June 2015
Royal Historical Society
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Table of Contents

The New Poor Law: Legal and Theoretical Framework
Retrenchment Rhetoric: Crusaders and their Critics
The Northamptonshire Poor Law Experience, 1834-1900
Setting the Poor Law Stage to Stigmatise Paupers
A World-without-welfare? Penalising the Poor with Welfare-to-work Schemes
Organising Resistance: Protesting about Pauperism
Class Coalition: Poor Law Crisis and Reaction
Begging for Burial: Fighting for Poor Law Funding
Campaigning for Change: Democracy and Poor Law Politics, 1890-1900
Denouement: Continuity or Change?


Well researched and clearly written, this is a valuable contribution to our understanding of the intersection between political and elected political action on the one hand, and the power of democratization on socio-economic policy on the other. GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY JOURNAL OF SOCIAL HISTORY

This excellent study of the administration and politics of the English poor law, in a comparatively neglected phase of its history, contributes greatly to our understanding of the "poverty, politics and poor relief" of the title.

(Makes) a significant contribution to the historiography of the later nineteenth century. AGRICULTURAL HISTORY REVIEW

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