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Poor Relief in England, 1350–1600


  • Date Published: January 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107634534

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About the Authors
  • Between the mid-fourteenth century and the Poor Laws of 1598 and 1601, English poor relief moved toward a more coherent and comprehensive network of support. Marjorie McIntosh's study, the first to trace developments across that time span, focuses on three types of assistance: licensed begging and the solicitation of charitable alms; hospitals and almshouses for the bedridden and elderly; and the aid given by parishes. It explores changing conceptions of poverty and charity and altered roles for the church, state and private organizations in the provision of relief. The study highlights the creativity of local people in responding to poverty, cooperation between national levels of government, the problems of fraud and negligence, and mounting concern with proper supervision and accounting. This ground-breaking work challenges existing accounts of the Poor Laws, showing that they addressed problems with forms of aid already in use rather than creating a new system of relief.

    • Presents the first overview of poor relief in its early formative period
    • Covers both the medieval and early modern periods, offering a coherent history of poor relief from its origins in the mid-fourteenth century to the sixteenth century
    • Accompanied by online appendices which include supplementary data on the specifics of poor relief provision and explain the methodology underlying the raw data presented in the book
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… a magisterial account of the early evolvement of practices that were to become the pillars of the 'mixed economy' of caring for the poor over the course of the entire early modern era. Superbly researched and cogently written, the book is an essential reading for students and scholars of society and politics in late medieval and early modern times.' Ilana Krausman Ben-Amos, author of The Culture of Giving: Informal Support and Gift-Exchange in Early Modern England

    'On the basis of an extraordinary amount of painstaking research on an enormously wide range of manuscript material, both in the national archives and in local record repositories, Marjorie McIntosh's fine new book skilfully reunites the mediaeval and early modern historiographies of poor relief; and convincingly argues that the unjustly neglected and often misunderstood statutes of 1552, 1563 and 1572 must take pride of place in our understanding of the chronology and meaning of the nascent system of welfare in early modern England.' Steve Hindle, Director of Research, The Huntington Library

    'As she does so often, Marjorie McIntosh's work helpfully crosses the medieval-early modern divide, allowing her to consider the developments of the late medieval and early Reformation period as a single entity … The book is the culmination of three decades of work in over seventy archives as well as printed sources, and both time span and archives are reflected in this study.' Journal of British Studies

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2014
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107634534
    • length: 368 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.49kg
    • contains: 3 b/w illus. 3 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    Part I. Late Medieval and Early Tudor Patterns:
    2. Seeking alms
    3. Late medieval hospitals and almshouses
    4. Aid given through and by the parish
    Part II. Profound Change during the Early Reformation Period:
    5. New ideas and new policies, c.1530–53
    Part III. Intensified Problems and Altered Approaches in the Later Sixteenth Century:
    6. The burgeoning of begging, collection, and fraud
    7. The changing nature of almshouses and hospitals
    8. Support for the parish poor
    Part IV. Responding to the Problems:
    9. The Poor Laws of 1598 and 1601
    10. Conclusion

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    Poor Relief in England, 1350–1600

    Marjorie Keniston McIntosh

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  • Author

    Marjorie Keniston McIntosh, University of Colorado Boulder
    Marjorie Keniston McIntosh is Distinguished Professor of History Emerita at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her previous publications include Controlling Misbehavior in England, 1370–1600 (Cambridge University Press, 1998), Working Women in English Society, 1300–1620 (Cambridge University Press, 2005) and two books about colonial and postcolonial African women.

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