Author Topic: South Tyneside - April 2018 Meeting Report  (Read 1039 times)

Offline Annf

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South Tyneside - April 2018 Meeting Report
« on: April 27, 2018, 11:25:31 AM »
The speaker at the meeting held on Wednesday 18th April 2018 was Alison Hodgson whose talk was entitled 'Poverty through the Ages'.

Following a brief introduction on her studies in the subject, Alison began by referring to the Middle Ages when the poor had little option but to look to the church for support.  The dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII impacted on the poor, then came the Elizabethan Poor Law which did provide some sort of help to those incapable of work, with workhouses being introduced for the able bodied.  However, conditions were harsh and in Elizabethan times if a beggar was caught 3 times his fate was hanging.

Another historical occurrence was the 18th Century Agricultural Revolution when inventions meant fewer workers were needed on the land and thus this saw the growth of towns and cities.  Housing grew quickly, without any planning, leading to the emergence of slums.  The loss of cottage industries, the 'Irish' Potato Famine, the Scottish Highland Clearances all had an impact with families being forced to move in search of not only work, but a home as well.

The Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 brought in the rule whereby the only source of paupers seeking relief was the Workhouse.  Here conditions, whilst decent, should be so basic that those entering the Workhouse should see it as a 'last resort'.  Familes were segregated, given uniforms and put to work, an example of which would be 'picking oakum' which went into the making of ropes for ships.

Alison went on to mention the work of reformers such as Dr Barnardo, Elizabeth Fry and employers Joseph Rowntree who was responsible for the provision of houses for his workers in York, Lord Leverhulme who set up Port Sunlight, George Cadbury setting up Bourneville and Titus Salt who was responsible for Saltaire.  Alison went on to talk about 20th Century reforms, examples of which were the NHS, National Insurance, and the Education Act of 1944 when the school leaving age was raised to 15.

The above references are just some of the items covered in what was an informative presentation, and which had some useful 'hints and tips' for those wishing to continuing with further research into the social side of their family history.