The main formal organisations were the Church and the monasteries. The operation of charity made it possible for some poor people to survive if they left the land and came to the cities. The Seven Works of Charity, by the Master of Alkmaar Poor vagabonds were often seen as dangerous, beggars and thieves who could spread disease - and that could all have been true.
During earlier times the lords were directly responsible for the care of their tenants.
But the feudal system began to crumble and the tenant farmers lost their land. Having no source of relief, they drifted to the cities and larger towns. Few of this population had the skills to earn a living wage, and as their numbers increased, pauperism became a national problem.
The first attempt to correct this problem was the enactment of voluntary alms to be collected in each parish. When this enactment did not alleviate the problems, an act was passed that required severe punishment for vagabonds and relief for the poor. This act led to an attempt to discriminate between the criminal population and the poor.
Finally, the Poor Law of provided a clear definition of the "poor" and articulated services that they were to receive.
This legislation is the foundation for the current social welfare system existing today in Great Britain. The origins of parochial poor relief extend back at least as far as the fifteenth century. With the decline of the monasteries, and their dissolution intogether with the breakdown of the medieval social structure, charity for the poor gradually moved from its traditional voluntary framework to become a compulsory tax administered at the parish level.
Legislation prior to this point largely dealt with beggars and vagabonds. In the aftermath of the Black Death labor was in short supply and wages rose steeply. To try and keep this in check, several Acts were passed aimed at forcing all able-bodied men to work and keep wages at their old levels.
These measures led to laborers roaming around the country looking for an area where the wages were high and where the labor laws not too strictly enforced. Some took to begging under the pretence of being ill or crippled.
Inthe Ordinance of Laborers 36 Edw. Inthe Statute of Cambridge 12 Rich. Each county "Hundred" became responsible for relieving its own "impotent poor" — those who, because of age or infirmity, were incapable of work. Servants wishing to move out of their own Hundred needed a letter of authority from the "good man of the Hundred" — the local Justice of the Peace — or risked being put in the stocks.
Following this Act, beggars could pretend neither to be laborers who needed permission to wandernor to be invalids who were also forbidden to wander. The Act is often regarded as the first English poor law. However, lack of enforcement limited its impact and effect. Further legislation followed over the next two centuries.
Every beggar suitable to work shall resort to the Hundred where he last dwelled, is best known, or was born and there remain upon the pain aforesaid. The Act condemned " On a more positive note, cottages were to be erected for the impotent poor, and they were to be relieved or cured.The Poor Relief Act (43 Eliz 1 c 2) was an Act of the Parliament of England.
The Act for the Relief of the Poor , popularly known as the Elizabethan Poor Law, "43rd Elizabeth" or the Old Poor Law was passed in and created a poor law system for England and Wales.
In effect, the poor laws separated the poor into two classes: the worthy (e.g., orphans, widows, handicapped, frail elderly) and the unworthy (e.g., drunkards, shiftless, lazy).
The poor laws also set down the means for dealing with each category of needy persons and established the parish (i.e., local government) as the responsible agent for . Interesting Facts and Information about Elizabethan England and The Poor Law, the Acts of Acts of , , , and related to provision for the poor on a parish basis whilst the Poor Law created a National system to provide for the poor.
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The Poor Law Reform Act, the first major poor law legislation in England since the Elizabe- than Poor Law of , influences American social welfare with its emphasis on complete assumption by able-bodied people of responsibility for their own economic security.
Part of the Law said that poor parents and children were responsible for each other, so elderly parents were expected to live with their children for example. However, everyone in need was looked after at the expense of the parish, which was the basic unit of poor law administration.