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POOR - LAW UNIONS

 Extract from White's Leicester and Rutland Directory 1863

POOR - LAW UNIONS, &c., - Under the New Poor-Law Act passed in 1834, all the parishes and townships of Leicestershire were arranged into large UNIONS for the maintenance of their paupers in extensive new workhouses. Several of these extend into the adjoining counties, as will be seen in the statistical accounts of each Union at subsequent pages. As Judge Blackstone says, the Poor-Laws are founded on the very principles of civilised society, and when the lands became property, they carried with them the charge of providing for the destitute. Under the feudal system, the proprietors of land provided for the poor ; and after Christianity was introduced, the indigent were relived out of the tithes and estates of the churches and monastic institutions. Many of the latter were richly endowed for religious, superstitions, educational, and benevolent purposes. When Henry VIII. suppressed the monasteries and confiscated their property, the poor were deprived of their ancient rights and left in a state of destitution, which compelled Queen Elizabeth to impose poor's rates on all occupiers of land, house, and other property. Before the passing of the Poor-Law Amendment Act in 1834, the long continued mal-administration of the old poor-law had become an evil of the greatest magnitude, which was eating like a canker into the heart of the nation -- pauperising the labourers of whole counties -- reducing them to deep degradation -- taking away the motive and reward of industry, and oppressing that capital which was to employ and remunerate labour. In some counties the regular employment of labourer had nearly ceased, many farmers paying their workmen only half wages, and sending them to the overseers for what more was necessary for the bare subsistence of their families. This system cut the very sinews of industry, took away its reward, and levelled all distinctions of skill and awkwardness, and virtue and vice. It made the labourer a pauper, left him without any encouragement for good conduct, and gave him a positive interest in marrying early, however imprudently, as his allowance from the parish was so much per head, and it was so calculated that he was more comfortable with a large than a small family. In like manner, women having illegitimate children were actually gainers by their shame, in consequence of the parish allowance. The New Poor Law amended both the law and the practice ; it benefited both the employers and the employed, and raised labourers of the whole counties from the condition of paupers to that of independent workmen, by diverting immense sums of money from the degrading channel of parish pay into the honourable channel of wages for labour.
The following enumeration of the POOR LAW UNIONS into which Leicestershire and Rutland are divided, shews the number of parishes in each, their territorial extent ; their population and number of houses in 1851 ; the number of paupers in the workhouses, when the census was taken, and the average expenditure of each union.

UNIONS AND SUPERINTENDENT REGISTRARS' DISTRICTS.

Poor Law UNIONS

No. of Parishes.

Acres.

Population in 1851.

No. of Houses.

Paupers in Workhouses.

Cost of in & outdoor Paupers.

In Leicestershire.
Ashby-de-la-Zouch *
Atherstone (part of)
Barrow-on-Soar.......
Billesdon..................
Bingham (part of)
Blaby
Grantham (part of)
Hinckley * ..............
Leicester ...............
Loughborough * ....
Lutterworth * .......
Market Bosworth ..
Market Harborough *
Melton Mowbray ..
Shardlow (part of)


28
6
30
36
2
22
7
14
8
24
37
31
41
54
6


50,242
7320
45,513
48,201
4180
34,207
14,312
28,070
3960
42,570
59,031
53,526
64,094
98,077
14,195


25,895
1515
19,873
6,939
720
14,190
3,274
16,558
59,246
25,268
16,194
13,633
15,835
20,533
7362


5679
355
4544
1585
152
3111
754
3503
13,132
5596
3698
3005
3654
4282
1744


188
--
76
40
--
65
--
118
298
124
74
64
84
151
--


2819
--
2251
865
--
1758
--
2055
8522
3393
2557
3092
2511
2183
--

Totals ...................

346

514,164

230,308

49,793

1282

32,006

In Rutlandshire.
Oakham ............
Uppingham .........
Stamford (part of) ..


30
35
9


55,030
52,698
17,442


11,513
12,701
3763


2440
2693
716


103
88
--


1,464
1,509
--

Totals Rutlandshire

74

125,170

27,977

5,849

191

2973

* Of the 28 parishes in ASHBY-DE-LA-ZOUCH UNION 11 are in Derbyshire.
Eleven parishes in LOUGHBOROUGH UNION are in Nottinghamshire, as also is one of those in Melton Mowbray Union. Two of the parishes in HINCKLEY UNION are in Warwickshire, as also are five of those in LUTTERWORTH UNION. Eighteen of the parishes in MARKET HARBOROUGH UNION are in Northamptonshire.
Atherstone Union is mostly in Warwickshire. Bingham Union is mostly in Nottinghamshire. Grantham Union is mostly in Lincolnshire ; and Shardlow Union is mostly in Derbyshire.
Two parishes in OAKHAM UNION and seven of those in UPPINGHAM UNION are in Leicestershire ; and six of the Uppingham Union parishes are in Northamptonshire.

 

Copyright Guy Etchells Ó 2000 All rights reserved.

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