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The New Poor Law of 1834 Coursework Assignment - Study Sources B, C and D. Do these sources suggest that the Commissioners succeeded in making the workhouse 'an uninviting place'? Explain your answer.

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Introduction

The New Poor Law of 1834 Coursework Assignment Question 2 Study Sources B, C and D. Do these sources suggest that the Commissioners succeeded in making the workhouse 'an uninviting place'? Explain your answer. Source B shows the plan of Linton Union workhouse in 1837. The main problem with the workhouse that concerned the poor would be the segregation of families. Parents separated from their children, who may have been very young. Even in death they would be separated because there are two dead rooms, one in the women's yard and one in the men's yard. The women's jobs were washing clothes and carrying out laundry. This is shown by the source because the washing room and the laundry room are on the women's side. The men's jobs often were to crush bones or stones or to mill corn in the flour and mill room. If they were deemed refractory by either committing a refractory offence or two disorderly offences within six days then they would be placed in the refractory ward. ...read more.

Middle

Although the food was bland and boring they would not starve or go hungry. The commission wanted to help the deserving poor by giving extra rations. For example the over 60's would be given '1oz tea, 5ozs butter, 7oz sugar per week in lieu of breakfast gruel' and 'children under 9 years old' would get a 'flexible diet'. The commissioners were strict Christians so as a result they enforced that 'All drink water- no alcohol'. In Linton on Christmas Day they would be given extra rations of 'fare of beef, plum pudding and beer' this was going against the rule but was disregarded due to it being a merry occasion. Source D displays the Linton workhouse timetable and rules of conduct. The inmates would work for 10hrs a day, this was a relatively short day compared to jobs in the factories or in mines where it was not uncommon for people to work 14hr days. The work would not be dangerous and they would not have to travel miles each day to get to work. ...read more.

Conclusion

The commissioners did indeed achieve their aim of making the workhouse an 'uninviting place'. The least appealing of the three sources would have to be Source B. This is because of the segregation of families. Older couples who had been together their whole lives would be split up and put into same sex yards. The next least appealing would be the working hours; the timetable would not allow them to talk during meal times and would not give them much free time. The punishments for disorderly and refractory actions were also a major deterrent, because the inmates' one bit of enjoyment would come from their meals, which would be reduced if they committed an offence. The source which is the best of the three would be Source C. The diet in the workhouse was far better in some circumstances. Especially in such places as the slums of Manchester, they would often starve. As a result the workhouse could not make the diet worse than the lowest paid labourer. Overall the workhouse test was implemented effectively and in nearly all cases only the most destitute would enter. ...read more.

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