The impact of the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act in eastern Sussex. An intra-regional study c. 1800-1860

Rudling, M., 2022. The impact of the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act in eastern Sussex. An intra-regional study c. 1800-1860. PhD, Nottingham Trent University.

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Abstract

This study uses poor relief records for sixteen parishes across the period 1800 to 1860 in order to assess the number and profile of relief recipients and the nature of the support they received prior to, and following, the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act. There have been many studies of welfare in the last decades of the Old and the first years of the New Poor Laws; however, very few have considered the realities of relief at a local level longitudinally, and virtually none have undertaken an in-depth study of the impact of change on communities during the crucial transition period. The focus of the study is eastern Sussex in the southeast of England which was a predominantly agricultural region in the nineteenth century and included areas with exceptionally high spending on poor relief. The parishes, which became part of five New Poor Law unions, are located in geographically diverse areas and represent a range of economies in the Weald, the Downs and a county town, making it possible to consider relief at an intra-regional level.

The New Poor Law aimed to impose a more deterrent relief system which would restrict the support available, notably to the able-bodied, and reduce the cost to ratepayers. In addition to making changes to the supply of poor relief, the legislation established a precedent whereby a Central Authority in London became involved with administration at a local level. This study is one of the first to discuss the interaction between local officials and the Central Commission and also the relationship between the poor and administrators at a local and central level and it identifies a strong sense of 'localism' within the parishes. The Sussex evidence reveals that spending on relief fell after 1834 and support to the able-bodied, notably agricultural labourers, was reduced. However, the impact was far greater in the wealden parishes where poverty was most apparent under the Old Poor Law. Comparisons are made with contemporary society and the study concludes that issues such as low wages, temporary employment and a failure to appreciate the range of problems faced by local economies were apparent in the nineteenth century and still prevail today.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Rudling, M.
Date: March 2022
Rights: The copyright in this work is held by the author. You may copy up to 5% of this work for private study, or personal, non-commercial research. Any re-use of the information contained within this document should be fully referenced, quoting the author, title, university, degree level and pagination. Queries or requests for any other use, or if a more substantial copy is required, should be directed to the author
Divisions: Schools > School of Arts and Humanities
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 29 Jun 2022 09:23
Last Modified: 29 Jun 2022 09:23
URI: http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/46510

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