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Pauper PoliciesPoor Law Practice in England, 1780-1850$
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Samantha A. Shave

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780719089633

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719089633.001.0001

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Gilbert’s Act: workhouses for the vulnerable

Gilbert’s Act: workhouses for the vulnerable

(p.56) 2 Gilbert’s Act: workhouses for the vulnerable
Pauper Policies

Samantha A. Shave

Manchester University Press

This is the first of two chapters which examine poor law ‘enabling acts’. This chapter considers the importance of Thomas Gilbert’s Act, passed in 1782. Gilbert’s Act was passed with the intention that those parishes adopting it would place the ‘vulnerable’ sections of the poor within a workhouse and allocate employment and distribute outdoor relief to the able-bodied. The Act also intended to promote industry and good morals amongst the poor, allowing parish officers to require them to work within the workhouse and embark on teaching programmes for children. This chapter examines the adoption of the Act in southern England, and then its implementation. As the eighteenth century drew to a close, and the pursuit of more economical modes of relieving the poor became ever more important, the Act was adapted in ways which could have actually contradicted Gilbert’s intentions.

Keywords:   Policy, Poor laws, Poverty, Welfare, Eighteenth century, Nineteenth century, Poor, Workhouse(s), Paternalism, Landowner(s), Morals, Work, Elderly/older people, Children

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