This text examines the nature and operation of the English poor law system from the early 18th century to its termination in 1930. The book traces the law's development from a localized measure of poor relief designed primarily for rural communities to an increasingly centralized system attempting to grapple with the urgent crises of urban poverty. The deterrent work house, medical care, education, assisted emigration, family maintenance, vagrancy and the relationship of the poor laws to private charity are some of the topics covered.
Anthony Brundage is Professor of History at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. His books include The Making of the New Poor Law and biographies of Edward Chadwick and John Richard Green. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and has served as Executive Secretary of the North American Conference on British Studies.