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Pauper settlement and the right to poor relief in England and Wales

By Keith D.M. Snell


After earlier discussion by the Webbs, Dorothy Marshall, Hampson and\ud other Poor Law historians, the administration of parish settlement has\ud been rather neglected in recent years. And so one welcomes the recent\ud local study in this journal by Landau, 'The laws of settlement and the\ud surveillance of immigration in eighteenth-century Kent', as promoting\ud further exploration of a complex subject which was of some importance\ud to contemporaries.1 However, the characterization of pauper settlement in\ud her article seems ill-judged, and the emphasis in her outline of the nature\ud and purpose of settlement is misleading. To assess her arguments requires\ud discussion of some legalistic, logical and technical problems in her article\ud (and these may not engage all readers); but I shall also take her account\ud as a cue for pointing the way to a more balanced analysis of settlement,\ud which may be of wider interest.[Opening Paragraph]Peer-reviewedPublisher Versio

Publisher: Cambridge University Press (CUP)
Year: 1991
DOI identifier: 10.1017/S0268416000004112
OAI identifier:

Suggested articles


  1. A treatise of the laws for relief and settlement of the poor (1825 edn),
  2. Annals of the labouring doi
  3. (1927). English local government: English Poor Law history: Part I. The Old Poor Law doi
  4. From 1795 paying local taxes or levies ceased to be a way of gaining settlement unless it was attached to a £10 'tenement' rental.
  5. Landau's emphasis on administration, rather than on pauperism, unemployment and their underlying social and economic causes, also parallels the suspect views on the poor law of'reformers' like Malthus, Senior or Chad wick.
  6. Masterless men, 173, who, like me here, suggests that "The settlement laws also probably assisted the mobility of labour'; or Taylor, Poverty, migration and settlement, 167, 172, to similar effect.
  7. Observations on the state of the parochial and vagrant poor (1773),
  8. Parish law (1753 edn),
  9. (1852). Pauperism and the Poor Laws doi
  10. (1774). The poor themselves, in defence of parish settlement and relief, often referred to their 'liberties'.

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