Changing Patterns of Poor Relief in Some English Rural Parishes Circa 1650–1750
This article uses court records, overseers' accounts, pauper examinations and other records from several counties, including Huntingdonshire and Staffordshire, to look at the experiences of poor relief in early modern England. It shows the varied circumstances under which the poor ‘encountered’ the poor law in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, highlighting the often contradictory attitudes that poor people encountered. More than this, it argues that there were many sorts of ‘poor’ people with very different capacities to negotiate about relief and to help themselves and each other. These features compounded enduring regional differences in the nature and extent of relief to generate a complex patchwork of experiences for the poor in early modern England.
1 This article was sent to Steve King by the executors of the late Joan Kent as a paper she was completing at the time of her death. It has been revised for publication, as requested by the executors, and is published here in her memory and as a fine token of her research on the poor law.