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Feminist historians have long argued that the nineteenth-century poor law enshrined the breadwinner wage and female dependency. The notion originated in Sidney and Beatrice Webbs' 1910 history of the poor law. [1] Building on their work in her pioneering and useful article, Pat Thane declared that the 1834 New Poor Law "took for granted the universality of the stable two-parent family, primarily dependent upon the father's wage," and assumed that women would be dependent wives. [2] In her valuable and magisterial history of the poor law from 1700-1948, The Solidarities of Strangers, Lynn Lees argues that the New Poor Law of 1834 treated impoverished men and women very differently, drawing upon middle-class assumptions that husbands would be strong, independent breadwinners while women should be weak, dependent housewives rather than wage earners. [3] Sonya Rose has pointed out that the New Poor Law therefore contributed to the Victorian refusal to acknowledge women as workers. [4] The pathbreaking and insight ful work of all of these authors has transformed our understanding of welfare and work through a gendered perspective. However, this gendered perspective can be deepened by modifying assumptions about the poor law and the breadwinner wage.

The breadwinner wage is usually understand to mean that a man could earn enough to support his family without his wife having to go out to work. In fact, three very distinct understandings of the breadwinner wage successively shaped nineteenth-century poor law policy: first, the breadwinner wage as a rare privilege and responsibility; second, the breadwinner wage as a normative reward for respectability; and third, the breadwinner wage as a right. The first version originated with the New Poor Law of 1834, which did not assume that all working men should be breadwinners who could keep their wives at home, that women should be dependents rather than wage earners. Instead, inspired by Malthus, poor law promulgators developed a notion of breadwinner status as a rare privilege and onerous responsibility, not a right of working men. They believed that if a man could not support his family, he should not many, and if a woman could not find a husband who earned enough, she must support herself and her children by e arning wages. [5] They aimed to deter working-class men from marrying by withdrawing state allowances for children and forcing entire families into the workhouse to receive any relief.

It is important not to assume that middle-class reformers regarded working-class men and women with the same ideology of gender as they did families of their own class. Their primary goal was not to ensure female dependence, but to relieve government of the burden of supporting poor women and children. Yet, as historians have pointed out, the New Poor Law was the outcome of conflicting interests and ideologies both in its conception and execution, for local officials often resisted central administration, paternalists opposed political economists and social reformers proposed new policies. The overarching vision of a totally deterrent New Poor Law where relief would only be administered in the workhouse clashed with local parish budgets and the reality of the family wage economy. The changing visions of the breadwinner wage enshrined in poor law policy derived as much from political compromises and practical realities as from policy and ideology.

As a result, between the 1850s and 1870s, a second set of attitudes emerged. Poor law officials and social reformers began to believe that a breadwinner wage was a reward ordinary working men should be able to earn by proving their respectability. Charities would aid respectable working-class families if the breadwinner was ill or unemployed so that wives would not have to go out to work. Yet they still expected unrespectable wives, and all single women and widows, to work to support themselves. Central poor law officials, social reformers and philanthropists therefore aimed to instill the values of self-sufficiency into both men and women of the working class.

The notion of the breadwinner wage as a right only became enshrined in the welfare system in the third phrase, with Lloyd George's 1908 unemployment insurance for working men. The idea that working men had a right to earn a breadwinner wage, and that women should be dependents in the home, derived from trade union agitation, not from the early New Poor Law. Male trade unionists' primary goal was to keep up men's earnings, by preventing low female wages from undercutting those of men, but they developed a moral rationale for the breadwinner wage and women's exclusion from the labor market. Government and employers eventually accepted this view as the price of social peace. [6]

Phase One: The Breadwinner Wage as Responsibility and the Problem of Women's Work

The New Poor Law represented a Malthusian challenge to the eighteenth-century policy of providing allowances to men whose earnings were insufficient to support their families. The old poor law had been based on the notion that the state gave working men a right to relief, in part to encourage population growth. [7] Large families provided the state with soldiers, and employers with a flexible labor supply. In 1793, the state gave allowances to wives and children of soldiers called to the militia, possibly providing a precedent for the Speenhamland system of 1795. [8] In a time of grain shortages and political unrest, the magistrates of Speenhamland, Berkshire had decided that the parish would grant married men with children an extra allowance to supplement their wages, and to help their families survive when there was no work. Pitt argued, in the debate on Whitbread's bill in 1796, "Let us make relief in cases where there is a number of children a matter of right and honour instead of a ground of opprobrium and contempt, ... draw[ing] a proper line of distinction between those who are able to provide for themselves by their labour and those who after having enriched their country with a number of children have a claim of assistance for their support." [9]

This policy was not based on the assumption of a breadwinner wage and female dependency. Employers did not believe it was their responsibility to pay men enough to support a family; to supplement a husband's wages, poor wives often had to work, and single women were certainly expected to support themselves. [10] If these expedients failed, the local parish stepped in. As David Levine argued, parish officials who provided family allowances were simply responding to the increased population of the late eighteenth century and the fact that men could not earn enough to provide for a large family. [11] Of course, they were not acting altruistically; parish officials did not intend these supplements to enable men to keep their wives at home. Instead, they allowed employers to pay married men the same below-subsistence wages as single men, and to keep wives and children as a labor supply available for the harvest and other times of peak demand.

The Rev. Thomas Malthus, of course, famously challenged the assumptions of the old poor law and attacked the Speenhamland system. He believed that the poor laws depressed wages below what would support an average family, because farmers would only pay what would support a single man, knowing that the parish would provide for the children. [12] However, for Malthus, the true problem was that Speenhamland allowances enabled men to marry and procreate nonetheless, producing a growing pauper population which the country's resources could not sustain. To deter marriages, he wanted ministers to pronounce a warning at weddings that prospective husbands should be prepared to support all their children, and that the parish would not step in to prevent them from starvation. Even if wages rose high enough for men to marry at a young age and have many children, then they would swell the labor supply and eventually drive wages down once again. For Malthus, therefore, marriage was a privilege to which few poor working men should aspire. The only solution was to abolish the poor laws altogether to prevent pauper marriages and overpopulation. [14]

This was not politically possible. Other reformers developed schemes which borrowed Malthusian ideas without going so far; although their plans failed, it is significant that they envisioned wives' wage labor as a partial solution to the problem of low male wages. The Malthusian-inspired Parliamentary Committee on the Poor Law in 1817, for instance, posited that the wages of a husband and wife could feed two children. If parents kept more than two children, the mother would find it difficult to work; if the parish supplemented the husband's wages, he would just spend his money on ale. So the committee proposed that families would be forced to send their third and subsequent children to be brought up in workhouses, freeing mothers to work, while still keeping down wages, and deterring marriage and childbearing. [15]

Others wished for the allowance system to be abolished, since it disadvantaged single men and rewarded fathers of large families. If employers could not supplement wages with parish rates, it was believed, they would be forced to pay enough to support a man, wife and a few children. These reformers acknowledged that it was unlikely that wages would rise enough to support very large families; they proposed that in order to earn a supplement from the parish, such fathers would have to work for the parish itself. Able-bodied single women should have to earn their allowances as well through labor tests. [16]

The promulgators of the 1834 New Poor Law opposed such proposals because they still relied on the state providing men with work or support for children. They believed that by supporting children the state took away men's responsibility for their family, distorted the labor market and demoralized the poor. Ideologues often claimed that the old poor law inculcated a "slave" mentality into paupers who regarded support of their families as a right which the parish owed them, rather than a responsibility which spurred them to work hard and deterred rebellious behavior. They also believed that parish allowances permitted men to spend their wages at the pub while relying on the poor law to support their wives and families. [17]

The 1834 New Poor Law wanted to make the head of household, the husband and father, responsible for the maintenance of his own children, rather than the state. [18] But the promulgators of the New Poor law did not follow Malthusian principles wholeheartedly and abolish the poor laws altogether, leaving men totally responsible for their families, for such actions would have caused widespread starvation and unrest. Instead, they proposed, and the New Poor Law tried to implement, the regulation that working men and women could only receive relief in the workhouse, and that they had to bring their entire families into the workhouse to receive such relief. This policy stemmed from a more general tendency in the 1830s among middle- and upper-class moral reformers and politicians to regard working men as unworthy of the-privileges of full manhood, including the vote and family life, in contrast to middle-class men, who were seen as deserving citizens because, in part, they were good husbands and fathers. [19]

The implementation of the New Poor Law's policy mandating men's responsibility to support their families revealed tensions among the Christian political economists, administrators of the New Poor Law, Benthamites, employers, and local guardians. For Christian political economists the chief purpose of the New Poor Law was to deter pauper marriages and impose labor discipline, rather than to enable men to support their families. These influential advocates of the New Poor Law were, as Peter Mandler has written, landed gentlemen aiming to preserve their own power by rationalizing the state (as in the metropolitan police and new poor law) and implementing modified Malthusian principles. [20] They assumed that it was impossible to improve the condition of the poor because low wages fuelled national prosperity. [21]

The poor law reformers influenced by utilitarian Jeremy Bentham, such as Edwin Chadwick, also wanted to deter improvident marriages, but they further believed that employers should pay men enough to support their children (though as we shall see, not necessarily their wives). They hoped to compel employers to do so by removing parish supplements to wages. Benthamites believed that the poor had a right to relief (although they also believed relief should be as minimal as possible) and that new institutions such as workhouses, schools, and prisons, could force working people to become more virtuous, happy, and prosperous. For them, the problem was not surplus population or inadequate wages but inefficient labor and improvident paupers. If the poor were thrown off the relief rolls, they would have to become more efficient workers (and employers would use their labour more productively) thus increasing the wealth, and the wages fund of the nation. [22]

Benthamites clashed, however, with local employers and poor law officials who assumed, in the words of a correspondent from Boreham, Essex, that "it was contrary to reason that any person should pay a man for his work sufficient to support a whole family." [23] The Benthamite poor law commissioner Edwin Chadwick believed that if poor law administrators withdrew men from the labor market by taking them into the workhouse, rather than subsidizing their wages, employers would be forced to pay men enough to support their families without parish allowances. [24] But most guardians in rural areas were farmers, who opposed this strategy, for they only wanted to pay wages "necessary to maintain a single man, leaving the families of the married and during winter and bad weather, the great bulk of the labouring population, to be supported by the parish." [25]

Conflicts over the breadwinner wage reveal the limitations of the Benthamite effort to impose their centralised authority over local employers and guardians. While Anthony Brundage some years ago argued that the new poor law enabled local elites to hold onto power, Peter Dunkley refutes this view, demonstrating that the New Poor Law undercut paternalism, and Philip Harling argues that in fact the New Poor Law was fairly capable of imposing its centralized authority, despite localized resistence. [26] However, when it came to imposing their beliefs on the breadwinner wage, the commissioners had less success. [27] For instance, in 1840 guardians in Gloucestershire and Warwickshire wanted to continue to pay outdoor relief in order to keep down wages. [28] The guardians recognized that men would not earn enough to support large families, but when they proposed outrelief or taking a couple of children into the workhouse, the commissioners indignantly responded, "this would almost seem to involve an admission of t he principle that an able-bodied man cannot be expected to maintain more than 4 or 5 children ... will depress the rate of wages, and in the long run, injure laborers intended to benefit." [29] But local poor law guardians found it cheaper to give outdoor relief to unemployed or underemployed men with families than to take them into the workhouse and break up their families. [30] Guardians would rather subsidize husbands' or wives' wages than force families to give up their homes, sell all their possessions and tools, to enter the workhouse, thus permanently pauperizing them. [31] By 1840, the commissioners had relented and allowed outdoor relief to be given in cases of sickness of the breadwinner or his family, provided some of the relief was in kind. [32]

In any case, by trying to force employers to pay a man enough to support a family (or forcing men to support entire families on whatever wages they received), poor law commissioners had not necessarily intended to impel wives to depend on their husbands, instead of engaging in wage labor. The promulgators of the New Poor Law did not assume that women would necessarily be dependent on male wages. They generally expected single women to work to support themselves, and even encouraged married women's work when necessary. Indeed, the poor law commissioners believed that unemployed or low-waged men with large families did not need relief because they could take advantage of their wives' and children's earnings as well as the produce of their gardens. [33] Before granting families any relief, admonished the commissioners, guardians, especially those in manufacturing districts, must apply the labor test--for instance "picking up or carrying stones"--to able-bodied wives and children as well as husbands. They believ ed that "the necessities of this class of laborers stimulate the employers to increase their wages; to employ their families; and generally to ameliorate their condition." [34] Presumably they hoped that wives' and children's work in factories could make up for husbands' unemployment. In some areas, observed the commissioners approvingly, women's and children's work may have increased to compensate for the lack of allowances paid to their husbands. [35] J.H. Gurney "vindicated" the new poor law by applauding its tendency to encourage wives to work and teaching their children to make lace, for instance. [36]

The poor law commissioners' hard line clashed with the needs of local employers and guardians, however. When Amersham Guardians requested a relaxation of order prohibiting outdoor relief because the women and children of the area lost their strawplaiting work due to foreign competition, the commissioners could not see why their husbands and fathers should be given outdoor relief to compensate. [37] The commissioners did not always understand that the family wage depended on the labor of husbands, wives, and children, and that the family survival was endangered if any member became unemployed. Local guardians took a more pragmatic and realistic view of the family economy of the working poor despite their frequent harshness in administering relief. The guardians in many areas, especially manufacturing ones, also wished to relieve unemployed wives and children because this policy enabled them to keep women and young people as a reserve pool of labor for times of high demand. [38]

To be sure, the commissioners' policy of refusing to allow deserted wives relief except in the workhouse might be interpreted as compelling wives to stay with husbands--even if they were violent, The commissioners suspected that deserted wives secretly received money from distant husbands. [39] However, they were also trying to get deserted wives to support themselves. Similarly, the commissioners' insistence that wives could only receive relief if they went to the workhouse with their husbands could be interpreted to mandate women's dependence on men. The commissioners proposed in 1839 that wives should be forced to come into the workhouse with unemployed husbands, even if they could maintain themselves, since all the wife's earnings belong to her husband, "and therefore, if he requires relief, she also must be deemed to require relief." [40] The commissioners' efforts might also be interpreted as an effort to force families to rely on women's wages when husbands were unemployed, deterring them from coming into the workhouse. For instance, in the case of a wife employed as a housekeeper, who refused to support her husband and child, the commissioners advised that if the "guardians should be of opinion that the wife's wages are sufficient to maintain the husband and child and that they are practically within reach of the husband, the Guardians might refuse relief to the husband and child altogether." But legally, poor law officials could not force wives who could maintain themselves to join their husbands in the workhouse. [41] And the commissioners became very frustrated because the law did not allow them to compel wives to support their husbands or children. [42] As a result, in 1844 the Act. 7 and 8 Vic c. 101, the Poor Law Amendment Act, made married women as well as their husbands legally responsible for the maintenance of their children. [43] However, the commissioners admitted such compulsion was rarely realistic, considering the meagreness of most women's wages. [44] These policies therefore, were chiefl y aimed at relieving the state of the burden of supporting women, rather than deterring married women's work.

Historians have argued that the New Poor Law ignored women workers, following Sidney and Beatrice Webb's history of the poor law. However, this is not the case. The 1834 Report on the poor laws praised parishes which forced both male and female applicants for poor relief to engage in some kind of labor test, and they denigrated the allowance system for deterring the work of women, for instance at knitting. They criticized parishes which relieved widows without enquiring if they could work for their own maintenance. [45] Benthamites and poor law administrators did not generate the notion that women's work was necessarily degrading and immoral; it was Tory radicals, trade unionists, and anti-poor law radicals, who portrayed working women as passive victims of capitalism. [46]

In contrast, the commissioners regarded women, like men, as atomistic individuals responsible for their own destiny, rather than victims of male perfidy. For instance, the notion that the New Poor Law encouraged female dependence is also undercut by the infamous bastardy clauses. The authors of the 1834 report depicted unmarried mothers as scheming seductresses who entrapped young men into paying for their children. To deter illegitimacy, the bastardy clauses therefore made unmarried mothers totally responsible for maintaining themselves and their children, freeing unmarried fathers from all liability. Unmarried mothers had to earn their own living or enter the workhouse. [47]

The poor law commissioners, especially Edwin Chadwick, also assumed that poor single women must earn wages. This philosophy explains why it was not "surprising", as Lynn Lees terms it, that poor law administrators described women as in want of work" or having "insufficient earnings." [48] In 1837, the commissioners tried to encourage poor women to earn wages by closing off the alternative of outdoor relief, just as they had for men, to encourage "the prevention of fraud, the promotion of industry, steadiness of conduct and frugality on the part of the labouring classes, and ... on the part of the employer a disposition to give permanent employment and adequate wages." [49]

Chadwick did not agree with the Tory radical and trade unionist strategy to raise male wages by withdrawing women from the labor market. Instead, Chadwick wished the poor law to raise female as well as male wages. He explained women's low earnings with the theory that outdoor relief drove down wages by unfairly subsidizing the employment of paupers. For instance, he argued that the delay in instituting the poor law in Birmingham and the continuation of relief in aid of wages to 60,000 able bodied females subsidized employers and depressed the labour market of the classes of unmarried females engaged in out manufactures. [50] He asserted that "Much misery and no small amount of vice is created in the metropolis and other large towns by the depreciated condition of the main sources of profitable employment for females." He believed that women resorted to prostitution because neither outdoor relief nor their wages could support them. Local guardians tried to prevent this problem by subsidizing female earnings; but for Chadwick, the only alternative was the workhouse. [51] Assistant Commissioner Head wrote to the commissioners in 1839 that a "mistaken humanity and still more mistaken economy" led Worcester guardians to give outrelief to female glovemakers there, enabling employers to pay them less, thus driving down the wages of female glovemakers in neighboring counties who were the sole support of their families. [52] Commissioners also believed that outdoor relief in London undercut the wages of needleworkers, and that supplementing wages in agricultural districts pauperized female farmworkers. [53] The Chairman of the Board of Guardians in St. George's in the East, London, argued that poor single women and widows "would be better off, if they really understood their own interest, in the workhouse," because slopsellers only paid them three shillings a week knowing outdoor relief would enable them to survive. [54] Chadwick even objected to widows without children being given relief, arguing that they should, and i ndeed expected to, return immediately as a matter of course to work (usually domestic service) upon widowhood. [55] The Irish poor law, which was able to impose the strict ideas of the poor law ideologues without compromise, made women just as responsible with men for their families and refused all relief to able-bodied single women and widows.

But this strict imposition of the poor law on men and women alike proved to be impracticable for several reasons. First, guardians, and public opinion in general, refused to accept the denial of outdoor relief to widows, especially those with children. By 1837 the commissioners allowed outrelief for six months for new widows in order to enable them to get back on their feet. This was intentionally to "conciliate public opinion." [56] But the commissioners persisted in believing that an able bodied widow could support herself and a child; the poor law could only help by taking other children into the workhouse. [57]

Second, by the late 1840s and 1850s, as Lees correctly argues, poor law commissioners did begin to define single women, not as potential wage-earners, but as dependents who deserved outdoor relief if they could not find a man to support them. [58] The reluctance to take women seriously as workers, and the corollary assumption that women were dependents of men, however, derived less from the New Poor Law and more from the ideological reaction of middle-class moralists to trade union demands. Since the 1830s, political economists had wrestled with the contradiction between the laissez-faire refusal to regulate the work of women and children and the moral and physical harm they believed such work inflicted on poor families. The Chartist, anti-poor law, and factory movements impelled them to compromise, especially after the militance of women workers in the Plug Plot riots frightened Parliamentarians. They began to see how political economy's refusal to endorse restrictions on the work of women and children in f actories and mines contradicted the Victorian evangelical celebration of domesticity and female dependence. One important way of defusing class conflict was to regard family life as a right not a privilege, to limit the work of women and children in the factories and mines. [59] Moralists increasingly followed the lead of Tory radicals and trade unionists in denouncing the work of women, especially married mothers, as pernicious to family morality and social stability. The poor law commissioners themselves echoed this trend when they occasionally disapproved of certain types of female work, such as outdoor gang farm labor or stonebreaking.

Although they continued to believe that women must earn wages to maintain themselves, commissioners softened their earlier insistence that able-bodied single women only receive relief in the workhouse. [60] As Lynn Lees notes, after 1851, "the lack of a male protector or physical problems were sufficient reasons for welfare aid to women, whereas the issue of their employment was ignored." [61] By 1852, "independent women" could be given outdoor relief, unlike their male counterparts. In part, this shift derived from a reluctance to regard women as workers, but it may have also stemmed from a recognition of the reality that women's wages almost never enabled them to be self-sufficient. Observers began to point out that poverty was a problem primarily of women and children. In 1850, as Robert Pashly stated, out of 878,994 receiving outdoor relief, only 178,068 were adult males. [62] The Irish reformer W. Neilson Hancock praised the English poor law for granting relief to young girls and widows with children, u nlike the more rigid Irish system which put them on the streets: "Men naturally support women and children, and never before in this world were women held equally responsible with men for providing support for their families, however large, and equally blameable and punishable for being unable to bear the burden." [63]

The Second Phase: the Breadwinner Wage as a Reward for Respectability

By the 1870s, poor law policy began to regard the breadwinner wage as a reward which respectable working men should be able to attain under normal circumstances. Trade unionists had long insisted that working men were entitled to a breadwinner wage and that married women should not go out to work; but by the 1870s, they began to be integrated into Victorian politics and their views gained somewhat more credibility. Gladstone promised the vote to working men as "fathers of families," and employers became more willing to grant the breadwinner wage and restrict women's work. [64] The poor law followed the general social and political trend of ameliorating class conflict by emphasizing that working-class and middle-class men shared responsibilities as fathers. Pragmatic local guardians and new policy actors--philanthropists and social reformers--shaped this change in assumptions. Following local guardians, poor law officials began to recognize that working men could fail as breadwinners through unforeseen circum stances such as illness or unemployment. Charities enabled the wives of unemployed men to stay at home instead of going into the workhouse. But tensions still simmered between trade union notions of the breadwinner wage as a right, and poor law and philanthropic attitudes that it was a marker of respectability. Only the wives of "deserving" men received help, and single women and widows were expected to engage in waged labor. [65]

These reformers were particularly interested in the problem of female workers and paupers. Some reformers and philanthropists did not necessarily regard poor women just as passive dependents, but as responsible moral agents, albeit in a domestic setting. Members of the Social Science Association, such as Louisa Twining, and other philanthropists and social reformers, forced the poor law to reexamine its confused attitudes toward female paupers. [66] Quoting Anna Jameson, Twining attacked the poor law as a masculine, "hard, cold, cruel machine," which needed "feminine, moral sympathy." Twining set the stage for later "maternal feminists", using the rhetoric of domesticity to justify and indeed create new avenues of public life for women in a way acceptable to her male counterparts in the intellectual, reformist, upper and middle class. [67] She argued that middle-class women's visits to workhouses would soften class conflict and civilize the poor. [68] Especially concerned with girls, Twining criticized workh ouse schools for turning out female automatons who could neither run a house nor serve as a domestic. Twining believed that domesticity was a realm in which women should exercise autonomy and responsibility, either as wives or servants.

While trade unionists and moralists usually denounced women's wage-earning, some reformers within the Social Science Association believed poor law costs could be cut by empowering women as workers and wives. At the 1868 meeting, Mr. Wilson of Liverpool pointed out that in Birmingham, where wives worked, families could survive the husband's temporary unemployment without going to the poor law, whereas in Liverpool, where wives had few economic opportunities, families could not survive on their own. [69] Mr. M.W.H. Myers argued that married women's lack of control over their own property caused "a vast mass of misery among the poorer classes." However, he wanted women to become the rational, self-interested individuals of political economy: "If they wanted women to be frugal--ay, even honest--they must leave them to be the guardians of their own purses; just as if they wanted women to be chaste, they must leave them to be guardians of their own honour," [70] Conversely, reformers believed that working-class hu sbands and wives did not always have the same interests; they attacked men for failing to live up to the breadwinner role by spending their wages on drink, in general regarding working-class men as brutal and irresponsible. [71] The policy of forcing wives and children into the workhouse along with unemployed breadwinners came to be seen as unfairly punitive to women. Eventually, all these ideas fed into the Charity Organization Society, established in 1869, which became an influential force in the poor law. [72]

The COS assumed that the breadwinner wage was a reward for responsible and respectable male behavior, a notion which became enshrined in poor law policy in the 1870s. The COS heavily influenced the 1872 campaign against outdoor relief, which resurrected the policy of forcing unemployed husbands into the workhouse. The campaign was a response to the surge in costs of outdoor relief to able-bodied married men as a result of the cotton famine, trade depression, and a cholera epidemic. [73] To reduce costs, poor law officials wished to enforce the workhouse test rather than giving outdoor relief, but unlike the 1834 New Poor Law, they did not force entire families into the workhouse. Instead, they permitted husbands to enter the workhouse, leaving their families at home. Wives and children of pauper men were not granted outrelief, but the Charity Organization Society would give them an allowance, if they proved their respectability.

This policy did, therefore, represent a concession to the idea that working men deserved help in maintaining the status as breadwinner, and that their wives and children should not be punished if they failed. At the same time, it was still intended to enforce the breadwinner wage on men, taking them, in the words of one pamphlet, from "pauperism" to the "manliness" of supporting their families. [74] Like the Malthusian New Poor Law, the COS wished to prevent men from marrying until they could earn enough, not only to support a wife and family, but to save through benefit clubs to provide for unemployment, and the widowhood of their wives. [75] However, unlike earlier political economists who wished to deter working-class marriage and keep down wages, the COS hoped that most working men could attain the status of breadwinner.

But, as Robert Humphreys notes, the 1872 campaign not only enforced the breadwinner wage, it also drove women into the workforce. [76] In fact, when political economist W. Stanley Jevons suggested that mothers of young children should be forbidden to work, female social reformers pointed out that harsh Manchester poor law policies forced many married women to engage in wage labor. [77] How could these two trends be reconciled? These COS reformers believed that domesticity was a privilege which must be earned, and that women were responsible agents in attaining it, just as men. If the COS investigators deemed a family insufficiently respectable, presumably judged by such qualities such as temperance, cleanliness, and thrift, they would expect the wife of an unemployed husband to work to support her children. In Whitechapel, if a husband became ill or unemployed and the COS decided that the family was 'undeserving', then some children and the husband would come into the workhouse, the mother and youngest child being left out, so "that she might achieve independence if she could, and tide over the period of her husband's illness." [78] One official, poor law commissioner Henley, even asserted that the new Married Women's Property Act, allowing women to keep their own wages, would enable the poor law to enforce legally women's duty to maintain their children. [79]

The Charity Organization Society and the Poor Law also expected widows to work to support their children. The Rev. L.R. Phelps argued that if widows were given relief, they would undercut wages for other women; instead, they should become independent wage earners. [80] Again, one can see traces of the notion of women as atomistic agents responsible for themselves and their children, and an attempt to apply the rules of political economy to women's work. As in the 1830s, campaigners believed that outrelief undercut women's wages by allowing sweating (though as Sheila Blackburn points out, sweating also afflicted low paid men as well as women). By removing outdoor relief, reformers hoped, women's wages would rise. [81] Albert Pell admitted that the policy of denying outdoor relief to women destroyed some sweated trades which depended on their labor subsidized by outdoor relief, but declared that now they do "sackmaking, harder out-of-door work," but allegedly healthier. [82] T. Bland Garland of the COS model B rixfield union wrote that after the new denial of outrelief, "The widows ... are free from the incubus of pauperism. They can demand full renumeration for their labour," although he later revealed that female wages had once again fallen. [83] Yet the COS ultimately had to admit that the problem of low female wages could not be solved by forcing widows off outrelief. [84] The notion of the autonomous female worker was a myth, of course, when low female earnings and few occupational opportunities, as well as child-care responsibilities, forced women to be dependent.

The question of how widows with children could be expected to work and care for their children also exposed the contradiction between reformers' moralistic celebration of domesticity and the principle of political economy that all should be self sufficient. One charitable reformer, a Miss Merington of Kensington, tried to help "female breadwinners" forced on their own resources by establishing a creche (daycare center). But she charged the substantial sum of sixpence per day per child to discourage wives with wage-earning husbands from leaving their offspring with her to go out to work. [85] In many areas, workhouse officials refused widows outrelief and instead offered to take in any children after the first or second into the workhouse to enable them to earn. Francis Peek advocated "leaving with the mother only such children as she herself can well and sufficiently maintain by her labor, but at the same time giving every facility for retaining such intercourse between the parent and the children as shall k eep up the family affection." [86] But this policy was difficult to carry out. [87] Sophia Lonsdale similarly believed widows should hand over most of their children to be reared by the parish, for if she has to work hard and take care of children "will not the mother be absorbed by the breadwinner?" Paradoxically, only by giving up her children and working on her own, rather than receiving outdoor relief adequate to support her children, could she avoid this fate. However, while charity officials urged women to support themselves as independent workers, they continued to stigmatize female paupers. Their vision of domesticity was highly unrealistic for working class people. Lonsdale, for instance, could not see why widows would object to having their sons sent to district schools, because in her social class boys were sent away at a young age to boarding school. [88]

The COS effort to combine the value of domesticity with strict political economy ultimately failed. First, many guardians realized that the policy of denying outdoor relief to widows was impracticable given the scarcity and low pay of women's work, and that outdoor relief was the best way to enable widows to be industrious and self-supporting. [89] Eventually, "the pressure of common opinion" forced poor law officials to allow outdoor relief to widows. By 1888, the Report of the Select Committee of the House of Lords on the Poor Laws repudiated the COS policy on widows and advocated that widows should be allowed to keep all their children with them, being given an outdoor relief allowance if necessary to supplement her earnings. Second, many unions did give outdoor relief to some married men, usually those with good characters who would go through a labor test. They continued to be reluctant to force families in to workhouses and break up homes. [90] Poor Law policy was thus used to draw a line between the r espectable, who could potentially be breadwinners, and the rough, who lacked responsibility.

The Third Phase: the Breadwinner Wage as a Right

In the last quarter of the century, the trade unionists' notion of the breadwinner wage as a right began to gain more and more support from other sectors of society, and eventually, influenced reforms of the poor law. Some commentators still blamed working men's improvidence for forcing their wives out to work, but social investigators increasingly documented the fact that most men simply could not earn a breadwinner wage. An imperialist concern with an alleged decline of the "race" displaced the earlier Malthusian anxiety over overpopulation and improvident marriages. Social reformers, doctors and eugenists documented the harm they believed wage-earning mothers inflicted on babies and children. [91]

By the 1880s and 1890s, the attitudes of organized working men toward the poor law had begun to change as well. In the 1850s-70s, organized working men, who tended to be skilled, relatively well-paid, and thus unlikely to fall upon the poor law, were just as concerned to differentiate between the rough and the respectable, with the breadwinner wage as a determinant of respectability. While they asserted the breadwinner wage as a right, rather than a privilege, they also stigmatized men who lost their independence by applying to the parish. [92] But working-class politics began to transform in the late 1880s, after the 1881-5 Third Reform Act gave more men the vote, while the severe unemployment of 1888 undermined their faith in mid-Victorian verities, and a strengthening labor movement organized unskilled workers. Socialists began protesting that men were simply not paid enough wages to support a wife and family--and that they had a right to strike to gain these wages. In some areas, socialists and trade uni on activists began to participate in local guardian elections and put pressure on local poor law unions to stop denying outdoor relief. By 1895, receiving poor law relief no longer disqualified men from voting: notions of citizenship began to include (almost) all men, not just the respectable.

In contrast, Liberal politicians believed that ensuring the breadwinner wage as a right, rather than a privilege, would avert socialism and ensure class harmony. While politicians had celebrated working-class domesticity as a way of avoiding class conflict since the mid-century, they were now willing to contemplate state intervention to support it. Oldroyd, for instance, asserted that the breadwinner wage was a right of working men, and opposed any wage earning by wives, but he saw industrial harmony and efficiency as the way to obtain the breadwinner wage, rather than socialism or trade unionism. [93] Many Fabian and Liberal reformers believed that the poor law must be reformed for the purpose of "national efficiency," to help working-class families, rather than punish those who became ill or unemployed through no fault of their own. While earlier reformers had advocated contributory pensions as an incentive for men to delay marriage until they could afford to contribute, reformer Dodd feared that if workin g men had to pay in too much it would unfairly hinder wedlock. [94] J.E Oakeshott praised outdoor relief because it kept families together. [95]

By the 1906 Liberal victory, aided by Labor support, the task of reforming the poor law became urgent in a time of high unemployment. Trade unionists, Labor politicians, Fabians, and Charity Organization Society officials each approached this problem with different assumptions about the breadwinner wage as a right or responsibility, but they all believed that mothers should not work. Trade unionists believed that their right and responsibility to support their families justified striking for higher wages; they demanded that the government remove unions' legal disabilities, but they also wished the state to insure them against circumstances which would prevent them from living up to this responsibility. Within government, Labor politicians such as John Burns advocated the abolition of married women's work to relieve male unemployment and to improve the domestic health of working-class families. [96] Fabians Sidney and Beatrice Webb called for the poor law to be abolished. Instead, the government would enable a man to provide for his family as a breadwinner through labor exchanges and national insurance, replacing the old "punitive" attitude of the Poor Law with a new "entitlement." [97] They also asserted that poor law policy should not force poor mothers into wage-earning. [98] However, traces of the old COS attitudes still predominated in the Poor Law Report of 1909, heavily influenced by Bernard and Helen Bosanquet. The Bosanquets persisted in blaming working men for their failure as breadwinners, and their ignorant wives for allowing households to deteriorate into pauperism. They transmuted the old punitive Malthusianism into a new eugenic concern that early marriages would sap the "race." They still believed that unemployed men should only receive relief in the workhouse, labor, or agricultural camps. However, they softened the old COS stand on women s work, arguing that the poor laws should enable wives and widows with children to stay at home. [99] The Webbs' call to abolish the poor laws failed in 1909, a nd the Bosanquet perspective predominated.

Nonetheless, by 1911 Lloyd George eventually introduced a social insurance plan which covered employed, largely male workers. [100] This compromise allowed the Bosanquets and their allies to believe that working men were expected to be responsible for their families while contributing to insurance, while beginning to satisfy trade union demands for state help to deal with economic uncertainty. Employed men could now extract themselves from the punitive poor law system, and expect the breadwinner wage as a right. [101] Working-class men were now regarded as full citizens, rather than potential paupers.

The reforms of the poor law, however, did not help women as mothers or as workers. Policies toward widows were softened somewhat, allowing them to stay at home with children, but married women and independent female wage earners' needs, especially concerning medical care, were often ignored, as Thane and Pedersen both point out. [102] Fabian socialist women and women trade unionists vehemently critiqued the notion that only men needed a breadwinner wage and social insurance, pointing out that many women were breadwinners supporting families as well. Furthermore, the idea that women should depend on a male wage produced an unhealthy and oppressive dependence. Fabian women began developing the notion of family allowances, or the endowment of motherhood by the state, which would enable women to bring up children and still maintain their independence within marriage. [103] Trade unionists, however, consistently objected to this idea because family allowances would undercut their rationale for demanding a breadwi nner wage. [104]

This distinction between this trade union notion of the breadwinner wage as a right and the poor law notion of the breadwinner wage as a privilege or a responsibility is a subtle, but important one for understanding both nineteenth-century policies toward pauperism and twentieth-century reforms. By the inception of the welfare state after 1945, the notion of men as breadwinners and women as dependents, not workers, triumphed in the new welfare system. Married men had a right to unemployment benefits, but not married women. However, child allowances did provide for some endowment of motherhood. The enshrinement of the breadwinner wage in the twentieth century economy and welfare state, however, was not a carryover from the nineteenth-century poor law, but emerged from the power of trade unions, New Liberalism, and eventually, the Labor Party.

This history can also illuminate the question of women and work in welfare policy. The problem was not that nineteenth-century poor law officials refused to recognize women as workers; they wanted women to work if necessary. Instead, they failed to recognize that inequalities of marriage and low female wages drove women into poverty. Similarly, current efforts to force mothers off the welfare rolls into employment do not derive from feminism; instead, they grow out of assumptions, based in race and class, that poor women should not enjoy the privilege of domesticity. It is important to understand accurately the gendered history of the poor law as the right to relief threatens to disappear.


I would like to thank Sylvia Clark, Seth Koven, Lisa Lindsay and the anonymous readers for the Journal of Social History for their comments on this article. I would also like to thank the University of North Carolina at Charlotte for funding the research on which this article is based.

(1.) Sidney and Beatrice Webb, English Poor Law Policy (London, 1910) p. 100.

(2.) Pat Thane, "Women and the Poor Law in Victorian and Edwardian England," History Workshop 5 (1976): 29. To be sure, Thane, like the Webbs, points out the contradictions in poor law policy toward women workers.

(3.) Lynn Lees, The Solidarities of Strangers: the English Poor Laws and the People, 1700-1948 (New York, 1997) p. 144.

(4.) Sonya Rose, Limited Livelihoods. Gender and class in nineteenth-century England (Berkeley, 1992) pp. 51-55.

(5.) This point has been made previously in Anna Clark, The Struggle for the Breeches: Gender and the Making of die Working Class in Britain (Berkeley, 1995) pp. 187-192, but that chapter concentrates on the reaction of working men and women to the New Poor Law. In this article, I will prove the point more extensively from the point of view of poor law officials, and extend the argument through the late nineteenth century.

(6.) For the long debate on the breadwinner wage, see Jane Humphries, "Class Struggle and the Persistence of the Working-class Family," Cambridge Journal of Economics 1 (1977): 241-48; Wally Seccombe, "Patriarchy Stabilized: the Construction of the Male Breadwinner Norm in Nineteenth Century Britain," Social History 11(1986): 65; Sonya O. Rose, "Gender Antagonism and Class Conflict: Exclusionary Strategies of Male Trade Unionists in Nineteenth Century Britain," Social History 13 (1988): 202; Rose, Limited Livelihoods, pp. 17, 128-32; Harold Benenson, "The Family Wage and Working Women's Consciousness in Britain, 1880-1914," Politics and Society 19 (1991): 71-108; S. Horrell and Jane Humphries, "The origins and expansion of the male breadwinner family: the case of nineteenth century Britain," International Review of Social History 42 (1997): 25-64; A. Janssens, "The Rise and Decline of the male breadwinner family? An overview of the debate," International Review of Social History 42 (1997): 1-23.

(7.) Richard Connors, "Poor Women, the Parish, and the politics of poverty," Hannah Barker and Elaine Chalus, eds., Gender in Eighteenth Century England: Roles, Representations and Responsibilities (London and New York, 1997) pp. 126-147; Thomas Home, "The Poor Have a Claim Founded in the Law of Nature: William Paley and the Rights of the Poor," Journal of the History of Philosophy 23, 1 (1985): 51-70.

(8.) S.G. and E.O.A. Checkland, eds., The Poor Law Report of 1834 (Harmondsworrh, 1973) p. 214.

(9.) London, University College, Edwin Chadwick Collection, Box 22, Notes & Historical Extracts by EdwinChadwick, f. 13 quote from Pitt's speech on Whitbread's bill Feb. 12, 1796.

(10.) Pamela Sharpe, Adapting to Capitalism. Working Women in the English Economy, 1700-1850 (London, 1996) pp. 134, 144.

(11.) David Levine, "Parson Malthus, Professor Huzel, and the Pelican Inn Protocol: a Comment," Historical Methods 17, 1 (1984): 22.

(12.) Rev. Thomas R. Malthus, A Letter to Samuel Whitbread, Esq., M.P. on his Proposed Bill for the Amendment of the Poor Laws (London, 1807) 2nd. ed p. 105.

(13.) "Inquiry into the State of the Poor," Edinburgh Review 11(1807): 100-115, in Poverty in the Victorian Age: Debates on the Issue from 19th Century Critical Journals, with an introduction by A.W Coats (Westmead, Farnborough, Hants., England, 1973) vol. 1 of 2.

(14.) [George Hancock], Philo Malrhus, A Conversation in Political Economy, being an Attempt to Explain Familiarly to the Understanding of Every Man the True Causes of the Evil Operation of Any General System of Poor Laws (London, 1832) pp. 11, 21.

(15.) Raymond G. Cowherd, Political Economists and the English Poor Law (Columbus, 1977). p. 59.

(16.) "The Poor Law Question," Quarterly Review 50 (1833):360.

(17.) Poor Law Report (1834) pp. 133, 156, 460. See also [Sydney Smith], "Poor-Laws," Edinburgh Review 33 (1820): 106; "Causes and Remedies of Pauperism in the United Kingdom," Quarterly Review 43 (1830): 249; "Causes and Cure of Disturbances and Pauperism," Edinburgh Review 53 (1831): 47, all in Poverty in the Victorian Age, vol 1.

(18.) "Amendments of the Poor-Laws," Quarterly Review 43 (1832): 328, in Poverty in the Victorian Age vol. 1.

(19.) See Clark, Struggle for the Breeches, for a fuller elucidation of this argument.

(20.) Peter Mandler, "Tories and Paupers: Christian Political Economy and the Making of the New Poor Law," Historical Journal 33, 1(1990): 81-103.

(21.) "The New Poor Law" Edinburgh Review 63 (1836) p. 501, in Poverty in the Victorian Age, vol. 2.

(22.) Peter Dunkley, "Whigs and Paupers: the Reform of the English Poor Laws, 1830-1834," Journal of British Studies 20 (1981): 135.

(23.) Poor Law Report (1834): 135; Chadwick papers, University College, London, Box 23 folder 3, f. 310, Draft letter to the commissioners from Chadwick protesting policy, 1841; William Nassau Senior, Remarks on the Opposition to the Poor Law Amendment Bill, (London, 1841) p. 13.

(24.) Public Record Office (PRO) MH10/8 Circulars to Boards of Guardians. Reprinted Morning Chronicle 14 Jan 1839; Chadwick papers, Box 23 folder 3, f. 322, letter of N. Senior to Lord Normanby on proposed measures of 1840.

(25.) William Nassau Senior, Remarks on the Opposition to the Poor Law Amendment Bill, (London, 1841) p.11.

(26.) Anthony Brundage, The Making of the New Poor Law (New Brunswick, N.J., 1978); Philip Harling, "The Power of Persuasion: Central Authority, Local Bureaucracy and the New Poor Law," English Historical Review Jan. 1992 pp. 30-49; Mandler, "Tories and Paupers," Dunkley, "Whigs and Paupers.".

(27.) Similarly, the commissioners were forced to alter their views on the bastardy clauses, modifying them in 1844 to allow unmarried women to claim maintenance from fathers of their children.

(28.) Report of the Poor Law Commissioners (London, 1840) p. 62.

(29.) PRO MH4/4, Poor Law commissioners correspondence to guardians, North Witch-ford Union, 1841, f. 3

(30.) Chadwick papers, Chadwick Ms. Box 203, Correspondence with Lord John Russell, folder 1733.f.167 Chadwick to Russell 23 Aug. 1837; Lynn Lees, Poverty and Pauperism in nineteenth century London. (Leicester, 1988) p.5; PRO MH1/22 Poor Law Commissioners Minutes, f.175, 24 Jan. 1840; MH1/22 Poor Law Commissioners Minutes f. 208, 28 Jan. 1840, rebukes Guardians for giving temporary outdoor relief to married men with children during times of unemployment; MH1/22 Poor Law Commissioners Minutes, f. 221, 29 Jan 1840; MH1/23, f. 45, 21 March 1840, Poor Law Commissioners minutes.

(31.) David Ashforth, "Urban Poor Law" and Anne Digby, "The Workhouse," in Derek Fraser, ed., The New Poor Law in the Nineteenth Century (London, 1976) pp. 129, 166.

(32.) PRO MH 10/9 2 Aug. 1840, Circulars to Guardians; Robert Humphreys, Sin, Organized Charity and the Poor Law in Victorian England (London, 1995) p. 17.

(33.) 1840 Report p.63; PRO MH1/22 Poor Law Commissioners Minutes, f. 81, 14 Jan. 1840.

(34.) PRO MH 10/5, f. 31, Oct. 1842. Circular to Assistant poor Law Commissioners; MH1/22 f. 38, 14 Jan. 1840, Poor Law Commissioners Minutes, concerning St. Thomas union in West of England; MH32/44, f. 8179a, Aug. 1837, Copy of Minute from Poor Law Commissioners about Eastern and Midland counties.

(35.) Report of the Poor Law Commissioners (1840) p. 143, Edward Twisleton's report on Norfolk and Suffolk.

(36.) J.H. Gurney, The New Poor Law Explained and Vindicated. A Plain Address to the Labouring Class Among his Parishioners (London, 1841) pp. 19, 85, 94.

(37.) PRO MH4/4, f. 136, 8 April 1842, Poor Law correspondence.

(38.) Chadwick papers, Box 23 folder 3, f. 235 Administration of Relief by the Guardians of the Macclesfield Union; John May, Solicitor; f. 244 Administration of Relief by the Guardians of the Bolton Union.

(39.) PRO MH4/5 f. 450 21 July 1842, Market Bosworth; MH4/4 f. 349 20 Oct. 1842; Merthyr Tydfil Union.

(40.) PRO MH10/4 26 June 1839, draft letter from Poor Law Commissioners to Assistant Poor Law Commissioners.

(41.) PRO MH1/23 Poor Law Commissioners minutes, pf. . 432-3, 16 May 1840;. 496, 23 May 1840; f. 6384B. letter from Mr. Babington clerk of Horncastle union; Poor Law commissioners correspondence, MH4/2, f. 7, 10 Dec. 1840, Epping union; MH4/2, f. 14, 12 Jan. 1841; Hartismere Union; MH4/2, f. 23, 18 March 1841; MH4/2, f. 23, 27 March 1841; MH4/4, f. 24. 25 Jan. 1842; MH4/4, f. 27, 29 Jan. 1842.

(42.) MH4/2, 29 22 Jan. 1841. Plomesgate union. MH4/2, 26 22 Feb. 1841. Amersham Union. MH4/4, f. 371. Newent Union.

(43.) PRO MH10/11 Circulars to Boards of Guardians, The Operation and Construction of the Act 7 and 8 vic c. 101, for the Further amendment of laws relating to the poor in England. 10 Aug. 1844.

(44.) PRO MH1/23 Poor Law Commissioners minutes pf. 432-3, 16 May 1840, referring to letter from Mr. Ottway, clerk of Maidstone union.

(45.) Poor Law Report (1834): 214, 172, 114.

(46.) Clark, The Struggle for the Breeches, pp. 197-200.

(47.) The classic article is Olwen Hufton, "Bastardy and the New Poor Law," Past and Present 37 (1967): 103-129.

(48.) Lees, Solidarities, p. 143.

(49.) PRO MH32/44, f. 8179a. Aug. 1837. Copy of Minute from PL Com. about Eastern and Midland counties.

(50.) Chadwick Papers, Box 23 folder 7, f. 589 Extract from a Report on the Comparative State of Pauperism of the Parishes of Birmingham and Aston.

(51.) Chadwick papers, Box 23 folder 3, f. 270 Appendix C. 1840? Extract from paper wirtten by E.Chadwick. Partial relief, or allowances in aid of wages.

(52.) PRO MH32/44 f. 8024B, 31 Oct. 1839. Letter to Commissioners from Edmund Head

(53.) PRO MH32/36 f. 4136a., 5 April 1845, letter from Richard Hall, assistant commissioner, to Commissioners. Also Chadwick papers, Box 23 folder 3, ff. 27608, 12 Oct. 1839, note from H. W. Parker.

(54.) Chadwick Collection, Box 23, folder 2 Workhouses, f. 50 Feb. 27, 1840. Evidence of the Chairman of St. George's in the East to Poor Law Commissioners.

(55.) Chadwick Collection, Ms. 1478, letters to Lord Normanby, Constantine Phipps, 7 March 1840.

(56.) PRO MH 32/44 f. 7799a, 17 Sept 1837, letter from Edmund Head to Commissioners; MH 10/9, 2 Aug. 1840, Circular to Guardians of the Poor.

(57.) Chadwick Papers Box 23, folder 3, f. 246, 2 Aug. 1841. Instructional Letter as to General Prohibitory Letter. To Clerks of Board of Guardians. regulating relief of able-bodied paupers. by George Coode.

(58.) Lees, Solidarities of Strangers, p. 210.

(59.) Rose, Limited Livelihoods, p. 193; Clark, Struggle for the Breeches, p. 268.

(60.) Webb and Webb, English Poor Law Policy, pp. 23-4.

(61.) Lees, Solidarities of Strangers, p. 143.

(62.) Robert Pashley, Pauperism and the Poor Laws (London, 1852) p. 20.

(63.) W. Neilson Hancock, The Difference between the English and the Irish Poor Law, as to the Treatment of Women and unemployed workmen (Dublin, 1862) p. 17.

(64.) Anna Clark, "Gender, class and the nation: franchise reform in England, 1832- 1928," in Re-Reading the Constitution, edited by James Vernon (Cambridge, 1996) p.240; for employers, Rose, Limited Livelihoods.

(65.) Eileen Janes Yeo, The Contest for Social Science. Relations and Representations of Gender and Class (London, 1996) p. 122.

(66.) See also Transactions of the National Association for the Promotion of Social Science 1884 (London, 1885) p. 656; Caroline Ashurst Briggs, Women as Poor Law Guardians (London, 1887) reprinted from Englishwoman's Review. p.2.

(67.) Eileen Janes Yeo, "Social Motherhood and the Sexual Communion of Labour in British Social Science, 1850-1950," Women's History Review 1, 1 (1992): 63-87; Seth Koven, "Borderlands: Women, Voluntary Action, and Child Welfare in Britain, 1840 to 1914," in Seth Koven and Sonya Michel, eds., Mothers of a New World. Maternalist Politics and the Origins of Welfare Stares (London, 1993) P. 95.

(68.) Jane Lewis, Feminism and Social Action in Britain since 1860 (Aldershot, Hants, 1991) p. 35.

(69.) Transactions of the National Association for the Promotion of Social Science Meeting, 1868 (London, 1869) pp. 604-609.

(70.) Transactions of the National Association for the Promotion of Social Science Meeting, 1868 (London, 1869) p. 544.

(71.) John Offer, "Spencer's Sociology of Welfare," Sociological Review 31, 4 (1983): 725, 728.

(72.) Jane Lewis, The Voluntary Sector, the State and Social Work in Britain: the Charity Organisation Society/Family Welfare Association since 1869 (Aldershots, Hants, 1995); Humphreys, Sin, Organized Charity, for an extensive discussion of the COS in the 1870s and 1880s; Lees, Solidarities of Strangers, p. 221.

(73.) Mary MacKinnon, "Poor Law Policy, Unemployment, and Pauperism," Explorations in Economic History 23, (1986): 302; Mary MacKinnon, "English Poor Law Policy and the Crusade against Outrelief," Journal of Economic History 47, 3 (1987): 603-617.

(74.) T. Bland Garland, From Pauperism to Manliness. The Story of the Bradfield Union. (Charity Oganisation Society Occasional paper, No. 21, London, 1891) p. 5.

(75.) First Annual Poor Law Conference for the South Midland District. (Northampton, 1876) p.) 11, comments of J. Bryce; Report from the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Poor Law Relief. PP Poor Relief 1888(363) XV (Irish PP vol. 27) p.207, statement of Augustus Crowder, guardian, St. George's in East.; Henry Fawcett, Pauperism, its causes and remedies (London, 1871) pp. 93.

(76.) Humphreys, Sin, Organized Charity, pp. 22, 29; K. Williams, Pauperism to Poverty, p. 95; Thane, "Women and the Poor Law," p. 38.

(77.) Michael V. White, "Following Strange Gods: Women in Jevons's Political Economy," in Peter Groenewegen, Feminism and Political Economy in Victory England (Aldershot, 1994) p. 54.

(78.) Report from the Select Commttee of the House of Lords on Poor Law Relief. PP 1888 (363) XV (Irish University Press, Parliamentary Papers, vol. 27) pp. 399, 492, testimony of James Harding, vestrymen of Lambeth, clerkenwell, guardian at Bromley; William Vallance, Clerk of Guardians of Whitechapel Union. See also Albert Pell, Guardian of St. George's in the East, p. 127.

(79.) PRO MH32/45/71325/73, 12 November 1973, Mr. Henley, Local Poor Law Inspector to John Lambert, Esq. Secretary of the Local Government Board.

(80.) Rev. L.R. Phelps, Poor Law and Charity (Oxford, 1887) p. 10; See also Sophia Lonsdale, The Evils of a Lax System of Out-door relief. (Cheltenham and London, 1895) pp. 4-5.

(81.) First Annual Poor Law Conference for the South Midland District, comments of J. Bryce, p. 15.

(82.) PP Poor Relief 1888 p. 164.

(83.) Garland, From Pauperism to Manliness, p.4.

(84.) Lewis, Voluntary Sector, p. 53.

(85.) Chadwick Collection, Newspaper cuttings on the Poor Law, Item 123, f. 33, Daily News January 1876.

(86.) Francis Peek, The Uncharitableness of Inadequate Relief, (London, 1879) p.7.

(87.) PRO MH32/45/36485/1871, 14 August 1871, Mr. Henley, Poor Law inspector to the Poor Law Board.

(88.) Lonsdale, The Evils of a Lax System of Out-door relief, p. 12.

(89.) PP 1888 XV p.323.

(90.) PRO MH12/7511/280/1, Correspondence with Marylebone Board of Guardians, Dec. 16, 1886; 14 Jan. 1887 reply.

(91.) Anna Davin, "Imperialism and Motherhood," in Frederick Cooper and Ann Laura Stoler, eds., Tensions of Empire (Berkeley, 1997) p. 93.

(92.) For persistence of this judgemental attitude, see Pat Thane, "The Working Class and state 'welfare' in Britain, 1880-1914," The Historical Journal v. 27(1984): 879; The Democratic Charter of the Future; or Outlines of Progressive Reforms in Government, Social Economy, Labour-Arrangement, Education, Law, Police, Military, Poor-Relief etc (London, 1870); R. Reid, How the Working Classes are to be Saved, and Pauperism Extinguished. (Northampton, 1883); J.L. Joynes, The Socialist Catechism (London, 1884).

(93.) M. Oldroyd, A Living Wage. (London, 1894), p. 10. MP for Dewsbury.

(94.) F. Sutton Dodd, Poor Law Reform. a paper read before the Stechford Literary and Debating Society (London, 1890)

(95.) J.F. Oakeshott, The Humanizing of the Poor Law (London, 1894) p. 33. George Lansbury, The Principles of the English Poor Law (London, 1897) p.10. George Lansbury, of course, was very innovative in extending outrelief in Poplar, although it is interesting that following his socialist principles he did not idealize the family in the way other reformers did.

(96.) Benenson, Family Wage, p. 87.

(97.) Pedersen, pp. 48-49.

(98.) Sidney and Beatrice Webb, The Minority Report of the Poor Law Commission Part II: The Public Organization of the Labour Market (London, 1909) p. 243.

(99.) Helen Bosanquet, The Poor Law Report of 1909. (London, 1909) p. 26.

(100.) Lees, Solidarities of Strangers, p. 327.

(101.) Helen Bosanquet, The Poor Law Report of 1909 (London, 1909) pp. 19, 26, 42, 92.

(102.) Thane, "Women and the Poor Law," p. 45; Pedersen, p. 40.

(103.) Benenson, Family Wage, p. 90; M.A., "The Economic Foundations of the Women's Movement," Fabian Tract No. 175, June 1914, in Women's Fabian Tracts, edited by Sally Alexander (New York and London, 1988) p. 277.

(104.) For this debate after the war, see Pamela Graves, Labour Women (Cambridge, 1994). But for trade union women's attitudes, see also Jane Mark-Lawson, Mark Savage, and Alan Warde, "Gender and local politics: struggles over welfare policies, 1918-1939," in L. Murgatroyd, ed., Localities, Class and Gender (London, 1985) p. 197.
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Increasing unemployment with minimum effort.
Minimum wage hike turned back again; blacks more likely to feel the crunch of low wages.

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