‘I cannot keep my place without being deascent’: Pauper Letters, Parish Clothing and Pragmatism in the South of England, 1750–1830

Jones Peter D

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Abstract

This paper examines the issue of pauper agency under the old poor law. It relies on an examination of the ‘voice’ of paupers as it appears in a hitherto neglected source, pauper letters. The ‘face-to-face’ nature of poor relief has often been commented upon by historians, yet despite an ongoing historical preoccupation with all aspects of its administration, the question of how paupers actually interacted with, let alone were able to influence, the provision of that relief remains largely unexamined. Concentrating on requests for, or involving the issue of, clothing, this paper argues that paupers not only demonstrated a keen awareness of the imperatives underpinning relief policy in the locality, but also utilised aspects of many long-standing and powerful cultural discourses to strengthen their case for clothing relief.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-49
JournalRural History
Volume20
Issue number01
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2009
Externally publishedYes

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