From the first inside page: This little book gives a picture of a Surrey parish community at the beginning of the Georgian period, its size, the occupations of its members, the central position of the church and in particular the elaborate local organisation in place to support the poor. This offered payment for rent, regular weekly pensions for the elderly and widows, clothing, money for tools, even help with a marriage license and other incidentals (so that an expected child might be supported by its father, rather than the parish). The poor were put to work on spinning and weaving and apprenticeships were found for children. Until the 1790s householders in the parish who were assessed to pay the Poor Rate did not find this an intolerable burden.
All this changed with population growth, the beginning of industrialisation and inflation following the outbreak of the Napoleonic Wars. In Shere the parish officials suddenly found they had to face the new and difficult problem of unemployed, able-bodied men. Nationally opinions were changing (giving money to the poor 'encouraged them to breed'), and it was felt necessary to change the system of poor relief from being parish based to being centrally controlled, from small parish workhouses to large Union workhouses serving several parishes.
How conditions in the parish of Shere changed over 150 years is described with a wealth of detail and family names taken from original records and illustrated with photographs, engravings, and copies of old documents. Contents include:
The Parish of Shere in 1711
The Old Poor Law
The Shere Workhouse
Pressures on the Old Poor Law
The New Poor Law
From Parish Workhouse to Union Workhouse
The Parish of Shere in 1841
Notes on Sources
Sources for illustrations
The condition of the book is generally very good. The covers are clean and bright, the spine is tight and intact, and all pages are clean, intact, unblemished and tightly bound.
Shere Poverty - From Parish Workhouse to Union Workhouse, by Ann Noyes
Book published by Twiga in 2011, 50 pages. Paperback (N7782)