Document Five (a) - MH12/9361/231

This letter shows a Mansfield magistrate questioning the strict application of the law in regards to the treatment of tramps:

Archive reference: MH12/9361/231
Date of Letter: 2 March 1846
Poor Law Union: Truro Poor Law Union

2 March 1846

My dear Sir,
Three tramps have just been brought before me charged with breaking the lamps in the town street and windows in the Workhouse of Mansfield. I have committed them to the House Of Correction at Southwell for various terms: this I have done in obedience to the strict letter of the law. I feel however very dissatisfied with the position in which the acts of the Board of Guardians and their employee’s so frequently place me. The above tramps in their defence stated as follows:- that they applied at the Workhouse on Saturday for admission, that it was refused – that they went to the Police Office – that they were there told they must go to the Overseer – that he turned them out of his shop & told them they must go to the Workhouse – that they again went there, were refused admittance, and that they then broke the lamps so as to secure themselves a night’s lodging and some food. The Porter of the Workhouse and Police corroborated the foregoing statement, the former saying the Board had ordered him not to admit any able bodied tramps. Will you have the kindness to enquire into the case, for if the Guardians have stretched their authority too far, I should not wish to lose any time in obtaining an order for the release of the prisoners. I will grant that the men have the appearance of professional tramps, and I have no doubt that one or two of them have been at Mansfield before this time; but still I think that the men have a case against the Board of Guardians which will not bear the light. I had written thus far when Winter called with a copy of the Board’s resolution as to refusing admittance to any but the really destitute and infirm. Truly I think the order at variance with the spirit of the Poor Law Amendment Act. Having only returned from London (after an absence from home of a month) late on Saturday evening, I write in great haste and perhaps somewhat confusedly, but I trust you will be able to arrive at the sense of my letter, and Believe me to be Very faithfully yours (Signed) E J Coke

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