‘attention to the inhumanity’

A letter of complaint about treatment in the workhouse from an ‘English working man’, 14 January 1868, Catalogue ref: MH12/12225

Poor Law Union: Dorking

Union counties: Surrey



January 14, 1868

To the Gentlemen of the Poor Law Board


It is with deep regret I now take my pen in hand to call your attention to the inhumanity with which the poor of Dorking are now suffering under the care of the Guardians and Officials of the Dorking Union. Here is all the ratepayers complaining of the high rates at the present time and the paupers complaining of the diet and the medical attendance at the present time. They say it is useless to ask the present doctor for any relief at all for his only remedy is a pill. It is well known in this town by the ratepayers what a harvest the porter has been making of the produce of that Union for a great many years.  It has been spoken of a great many times by the rate- payers of this town and it is fully known now that it is not the poor that receive the produce of the rates and taxes but it is the officials of the Union that reap the benefit of it all. The poor paupers are afraid to complain before the officials because of the punishment they would cast upon them. But before fresh faces they would speak the truth with the exception of the deputies and they would coincide with the officials for I am told that there is a deputy in almost every part of the Union. There is one man that is often in the street and at all times tells us that he acts as deputy porter and does the porter’s duty for him. He says he does it for his own interest … and has more liberty for it and then the porter is paid as porter.

The baker for the Union and the inmates do all the work and he receives all the remuneration [profit]. If the paupers can do the labour that would make the rates all the lighter but it appears that the Chairman of the Board of Guardians and the Master and the doctor and the porter are combined together so that they will not tell the ratepayers or guardians or the public any more than they can possibly help.

They say there was one man came out of the Union last spring and told several gentlemen of the disposal of the produce of the garden and they say the Master [asked] the Matron to leave the Union so that his wife might fill the office as Matron, the present Matron being the widow of the late Master.

There is a man now in the Union that has reported before the Board all about the disposal of the produce of the garden and the doctors and the medical attendant and he says it is no use to ask this present doctor for anything.  Because he has reported some of the evils of the Union officials that is quite wrong … the Master and the doctor does all they can to make his case worse …

And there is one man that was improving with Mr C. Chaldicote’s attendance. Now when he asked the present doctor,r Mr. G. Curtis for the same remedy he laughed and said it was not necessary … His only answer was ‘Ah well you will never get well again if someone was to come’. Here the complaints that are prevalent [concern] the officials of the Dorking Union, before fresh faces the paupers would speak as well as the ratepayers.

Now Gentlemen, I have no more to say at present.

I am Yours Gentlemen

An English Working Man

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