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Paupers deemed not to have any settlement rights were often ‘passed’ on to their home parishes in order to avoid any unnecessary costs.

Relief of the poor was paid from rates levied against wealthier households.

To qualify for financial assistance the poor were required to prove their right to ‘settlement’ in a particular area.

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Throughout this period, fluctuating grain prices at times of poor harvest resulted in many families struggling to pay for their basic item of food: bread.

Perhaps one in 10 families remained below the ‘breadline’ over the period, increasing to nearly two out of every five families in times of food shortage.

How did the poor cope with poverty during this period?

Charitable ‘relief’ for the needy was administered by local parishes through the provisions of the Poor Law.

Though the vast majority of people claiming relief in the 18th century were needy through no fault of their own, certain sections of society nevertheless believed that poverty was caused by the bad habits of the poor: their preference for drinking and gambling, for example, or through their own simple laziness.

Last modified 15-Dec-2014 15:35