The Poor Law of England, 1601 | The Elizabethan Poor Law

The Poor Law of England ,1601

The Poor Law of England is the major milestone in the Historical development of social work. Starting with the passage of the Elizabethan poor law 1601. Queen Elizabeth assume power of The Throne in 1558. Towards the last year of her rule, all existing poor laws were combined as “39 Elizabeth, 1597 and 43 Elizabeth 1601.” This law become to be known as “Elizabeth Poor Law” or “The Poor Law of 1601.” This new Poor Law of 1601, placed the responsibility of the maintenance of parents and grandparents on their offspring. Those poor who could not be helped by their relative were made the responsibility of local community.

The Main Provisions of Poor law 1601

  1. Individual what not eligible for registration in case if his her family relative wife father or son word in a position to take care of the person that it is the principle of family responsibility and relative responsibility for providing help. The official help was to be made available only to those whose family itself was not in a position to provide needed help.
  2. The poor work classified into three main categories

         Able Bodied Poor– this work to be kept in work house or correctional house and forced to work .

         The Impotent Poor – who were not able to work, e.g, Sick, old, blind, deaf And dumb. Children and their mothers. Such poor work kept in 11th  house or were given out door relief usually in kind, in case they had a place to live

         Dependent Children – who were to be given to a person willing to take care of them without demanding any charges from the state and in case no one came forward, Such Persons were given to be lowest bidder for whom they had to work till 24 years of age if males till 21 or marriage in case of female.

  1. Those children who could live with their parents or other relative who themselves were poor, were given raw material for cottage industry. if even this was not possible for such as child a provision was made to keep such children in poor homes.
  2. Responsibility of administration of this law was entrusted to overseers of the poor who were appointed by justice of peace or magistrates. Poor Tax depending upon the basis of property and collected by overseers of the poor was the source of Financing this relief programs.
  3. Thus the poor Law of 1601 established a criteria for providing relief to the poor which continued to operate for the next 300 years.

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