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The English Poor Laws 1700-1930 by Anthony Brundage

The English Poor Laws 1700-1930

Part of the Social History in Perspective Series


The English Poor Laws 1700-1930 by Anthony Brundage

The English Poor Laws examines the nature and operation of the English poor law system from the early eighteenth century to its termination in 1930. The book traces the law's development from a localized measure of poor relief designed primarily for rural communities to an increasingly centralized system attempting to grapple with the urgent crises of urban poverty. The deterrent workhouse, medical care, education, assisted emigration, family maintenance, vagrancy and the relationship of the poor laws to private charity are some of the topics covered. The perspectives and reactions of the poor to the workhouse system, as well as to changing relief policies have also been highlighted. This includes the sometimes spirited opposition of the poor to the oppressive features of the law. The relationship of the poor laws to economic development, in both the agrarian and industrial sectors, is also explored, as are the connections of changing relief policies to wider currents of intellectual and social life.


'...a very useful and concise addition to the literature on the poor laws. It will appeal especially to undergraduate students who should appreciate the emphasis on the varied and contested nature of both history and policy-making.' - Mike McBeth, Journal of Social Policy '...the most comprehensive and succinct introduction to the field currently available.' - Peter Dunkley, Albion'

About the Author

Anthony Brundage is Professor of History at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. His books include The Making of the New Poor Law and biographies of Edwin Chadwick and John Richard Green. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and has served as Executive Secretary of the North American Conference on British Studies.

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Book Info

Publication date

31st October 2001


Anthony Brundage

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Palgrave Macmillan


185 pages


Modern history to 20th century: c 1700 to c 1900
Social & cultural history



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