Document Three (a) - George Webb's letter


Aged Men’s Hall,
W. & C. Union,
June 6/.87.

Permit me to ask for information on the following points:-

I am an inmate, and now in my 63rd year; is it legal to compel men over 60 to do hard work.? I and others are made to do navvy’s work, such as wheeling heavy barrow loads of stones, ashes etc, digging and sifting sand, dragging a heavy [road] roller, and to-day I have been ordered to carry heavy buckets of water, all of which is beyond my strength.
It is said we are not tasked, but the Guardians tell me I must continue the works or go Am I not right in contending that I was tasked, inasmuch as I am forced to do work beyond my strength?

Before I left the old house some 6 or 7 years back, I was for over one hour examined by the Doctor and his Assistant, and they exempted me from all hard work, as the action of my heart was impaired; and my lungs diseased, yet the Doctor here, examined me for about two minutes (at the request of a Guardian) and reported that I had nothing the matter with me, and that I am a very strong man for my age.

My feelings tell me there is something very wrong with me, the least exertion makes me pant for breath, and [surely awkward] who has always got his living by his pen, as clerk, casual; at 63, be able (however willing) or fit, to do such work as I have named.

Shall I be justified in refusing to do such work?

Please also say, Can the Master Compel inmates, against their will, to attend Devine service here?.

Your Kind reply will oblige many besides.
Your obedient Servant,
George E. Webb

_ Richie Esq. M.P.

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All letter questions:

  1. What is the letter asking for or discussing?
  2. What area of the poster is it exploring?
  3. What do you notice about the language of the letter? Is it formal, informal, desperate, well-written or poorly-written? Does this issue get resolved? How does it differ to how we write letters of complaint in today’s society?
  4. What might the response be from the Poor Law Commission?
  5. How does this letter challenge the perception of the poor in the 1837 poster?

Letter specific questions:

  1. How old is the gentleman writing the letter and what sort of job’s is he being asked to do? ​
  2. What has the doctor said about the man’s health? Why do you think he has said this?​
  3. Has this man accepted the tasks and work being given to him? How do you know this? ​
  4. To what extent do these letters support the content of the poster?