Welfare's Forgotten Past: A Socio-legal History of the Poor by Lorie Charlesworth

By Lorie Charlesworth

That ‘poor legislation used to be legislations’ is a incontrovertible fact that has slipped from the recognition of historians of welfare in England and Wales, and in North the USA. Welfare's Forgotten prior treatments this example by way of tracing the historical past of the felony correct of the settled bad to aid while destitute. bad legislations used to be now not easily neighborhood customized, yet consisted of criminal rights, tasks and tasks that went past social altruism. This criminal ‘truth’ is, even though, nonetheless neglected or rejected through a few historians, and therefore ‘lost’ to social welfare policy-makers. This forgetting or minimising of a felony, enforceable correct to aid has not just resulted in a false impression of welfare’s previous; it has additionally contributed to the stigmatisation of poverty, and the emergence and endurance of the concept that its reduction is a 'gift' from the kingdom. Documenting the historical past and the consequences of this forgetting, while additionally supplying a ‘legal’ background of welfare, Lorie Charlesworth argues that it really is well timed for social policy-makers and reformists – in Britain, the USA and elsewhere – to re-evaluate an alternate welfare version, in response to the extra optimistic, criminal points of welfare’s 400-year felony heritage.

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The legal existence of a right to relief substantiates aspects of his arguments and strengthens parts of his thesis. He acknowledges that this would be so were the right to have existed, a suggestion he subsequently rejects to follow historians’ negative orthodoxy. 101 In this context, Paz-Fuchs repeatedly mis-states law in remaining convinced that poor relief was linked with a ‘labour test’. This is a legal matter that confuses historians and represents a modern pre-occupation. Put simply, in order to obtain relief the first hurdle faced by a poor person is to demonstrate destitution.

Journal of Legal History, 16, 1995, 34–62. 34 For a full discussion of Bentham’s theories: Philip Schofield, ‘Jeremy Bentham and Nineteenth Century English Jurisprudence’, Journal of Legal History, 12, 1, 1991, 58– 88. 35 The American welfare system has elements of utility, where the needs of the weak for aid do not outweigh the needs of the rest to be wealthy. 36 Sir Henry Sumner Maine, Ancient Law, 10th edn, London: John Murray, 1905. J. 5. B. Simpson, Leading Cases in the Common Law, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995; on the value of law examined in its historical context: Atiyah, Rise and Fall, p.

9 In addition, the Priory ruins still retain the window through which daily doles of food were handed to the local poor. The church at Bidston, as was usual, held charitable gifts of land and money from which to relieve the poverty of local poor. Additionally, such charities were strengthened legally in 1601 and their numbers continued to increase, in a parallel development to the Elizabethan poor law. These and other characteristics of poor relief, often financially and socially differentiated by historians, constitute part of that great mystery which continues to baffle the modern observer, that of legal jurisdiction.

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