Treatment of poor children in the Georgian period was sometimes appalling. One instance, I uncovered yesterday concerned Anne Elway. Anne and her older brother James were the children of poor parents in the small town of Newnham-on-Severn. In 1821 when Anne was just nine, the parish vestry, decided to allocate some children to local ratepayers as ‘apprentices’. These were … Continue reading The Abuse of Parish Apprentices
It’s funny how things don’t really change. When I checked Facebook early in the new year I saw on my local free ads. a desperate plea for help. The post asked for recommendations on where to go by a man who described how he and his partner were evicted from their rented home, through no … Continue reading Help.
It is budget week, this week. In among the comments on the web about what was in the budget, was a bit about what wasn’t, namely adult social care. This was a surprising omission by the Chancellor as the system is in crisis. Two hundred years ago the English state was grappling with similar problems: … Continue reading Caring for Older People.
Much of my time in the last week has been spent trawling through the very odd world of the provincial press of 1776. The attached story (bad picture, sorry) concerns a girl who allowed herself to be convinced that a cat tied to a cart rope 'would draw her through a pond'. However, on trying … Continue reading Cats on Ropes & Salmon Pots on Heads
Georgian society could be corrupt, very corrupt. Of all the characters I have met in my archival research one of the most interesting was the ‘gentleman’ Thomas Bush of Cirencester, Gloucestershire. Bush was an apothecary, an eighteenth- century pharmacist, with an eye to social advancement and a flexible attitude to social etiquette, morality and the … Continue reading Corruption.
Between 1778 and 1782, Charles Jenkinson was Secretary at War, a now defunct position in the British government. His correspondence paints a vivid portrait of his duties which included dealing with a great many requests on behalf of servicemen, ex-servicemen and their families, for help with pensions, new positions and much more besides. It was … Continue reading Bob’s Worms.
The early nineteenth century had limited job opportunities for women in Gloucestershire. In the village of Horsley this largely meant low status and poorly paid occupations, such as spinning, which were centred on the cloth manufacturing that still dominated the local economy. But these roles were becoming precarious in the face of increasing mechanisation and … Continue reading Jobs for Women.
Sometimes desperate times elicit unpalatable responses. In the winter of 1801, against a backdrop of soaring food prices and spiralling care costs, one town took a hard line. At the time every English parish had a legal obligation to support its own poor and at this moment of food crisis the town’s authority chose to … Continue reading ‘Animal Food’ Soup.
In the winter of 1800 things were getting desperate for many of the poor in England. A combination of poor harvests and continental wars had resulted in a soaring wheat price pushing up the price of bread to unprecedented levels. In London, the fledgling Home Office was unable or unwilling to co-ordinate a coherent national … Continue reading A Georgian Soup Kitchen.
In the eighteenth century smallpox was a huge killer. The disease has now been eradicated, thanks to the vaccine pioneered by Edward Jenner in 1798, and so from the perspective of the twenty first century it is hard to imagine its horror. In May 1785 smallpox ‘raged with great violence’ through the area around the … Continue reading Inoculation in the time of George III.