Pauper policies

Poor law practice in England, 1780– 1850

Pauper Policies examines how policies under both old and New Poor Laws were conceived, adopted, implemented, developed or abandoned. The author engages with recent literature on the experience and agency of poor relief recipients, and offers a fresh perspective on poor law administration. Through a ‘policy process’ approach, the author exposes several significant topics in poor law history which are currently unknown or poorly understood, each of which are explored in a series of thematic chapters. It contains important new research on the adoption and implementation of enabling acts at the end of the old poor laws, Gilbert’s Act of 1782 and Sturges Bourne’s Acts of 1818 and 1819; the exchange of knowledge about how best to provide poor relief in the final decades of the old poor law and formative decades of the New; and the impact of national scandals on policy-making in the new Victorian system. The volume points towards a new direction in the study of poor law administration, one which examines how people, both those in positions of power and the poor, could shape pauper policies. It is essential reading for anyone with an interest in welfare, poverty and society in eighteenth and nineteenth-century England, as well as those who want to understand the early workings of the welfare system.

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‘Samantha Shave has written one of the most original books on the English Poor Law in years: she has taken topics we thought we knew well, such as Gilbert's Act, and given them new and insightful treatment.'
Professor Alannah Tomkins, Keele University
Rural History

‘The book is an excellent addition to the historiography. It is well written and researched and contains important new findings on several key topics that have largely been ignored by historians.'
Dr Joseph Harley
Reviews in History

‘What emerges from this exceptionally rich and detailed research is a thorough and grounded understanding of how poor law administration developed across large swathes of southern England stretching from Sussex in the east through to Somerset in the west. It is a very significant and highly original contribution to an already considerable body of work on the English poor law.'
Professor David Green, King's College London

‘Pauper policies presents exciting new research on the English Poor Laws before and after the Amendment Act of 1834. This original study of an institution that lay at the heart of life for many centuries is empirically rich and analytically engaging. Shave's book provides a superb example of how painstaking archival work opens the possibility of deeper understanding of a wide range of cognate areas of social and political life. Beautifully written and clearly argued, this is an excellent addition to the scholarship.'
Professor Emma Griffin, University of East Anglia

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