Few measures, if any, could claim to have had a greater impact on British society than the nineteenth century Poor Law. As a comprehensive system of relieving those in need, the Poor Law provided relief for a significant proportion of the population but influenced the behaviour of a much larger group that lived at or near the margins of poverty.
The expansion of the Poor Law into a wide range of social institutions, resulted in a much greater opportunity for local bureaucracy to influence the social development of Britain on a local and national scale. Nowhere was this more visible than in London, where rapid population growth and turnover, the growing impersonality of urban life and the lack of personal knowledge between rich and poor, and the close proximity of numerous autonomous Poor Law authorities created a distinctly metropolitan context for the provision of relief.This work provides the first detailed study of the Poor Law in London during the period leading up to and after the implementation of the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834. Drawing on a wide rage of primary and secondary sources the book focuses explicitly on the ways in which those involved with the Poor Law - both as providers and recipients - negotiated the provision of relief. It analyses the processes of negotiation in the context of the material and ideological resources available to each group, relating this to the changing urban context of the late eighteenth and nineteenth century city.
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