‘unlawful proceedings’

Letter from all the able bodied men pointing out that the master is not following the rules of the Poor Law Board, 27 January 1851, Catalogue ref:   MH12/5058.

Poor Law Union: Faversham

Union counties: Kent


Faversham Union, January 27th 1851


We the inmates of this Union feel it our duty to make known to you the unlawful proceedings of the Master of this house as we perceive. By the very first rule in the charter’s regulations is for him, upon admission of every pauper to keep them in a probationary ward until the Medical Officer has seen them. It is true there is a room called the receiving ward but not one inmate has ever been known to go into that ward nor does the Medical Officer see any one until after they are sent amongst the other inmates.  On the 13th instant, James Stevens was admitted in this house, he was immediately ordered by the Master to the men’s hall although he was so ill that he could scarcely walk.  The porter said it was very wrong to send him amongst 48 able bodied men when there is a sick ward. The next day on the 16th, the doctor ordered him to be removed into the sick ward. This is the third time this same man has come into this house ill and every time he has been served the same way.

About 11 months ago a young man by the name of Ambrose Manwell was removed [from] the Canterbury Workhouse to this union with the small pox & he also was sent to the young men’s hall by order of the Master with the small pox upon him very bad. Then John Thursten & two or three others who had never had the small pox went to the Master & told him that they considered it very wrong of him to send the young man in amongst so many men of whom a great many never had it & as the Doctor had not seen him.

When the Medical Officer saw him, he immediately ordered him to be put in a room by himself & no other inmate was allowed to go near him except the man who served him with his food. We are aware that we are now touching upon the Medical Officers’ rules as well as the Master’s, both of which are never abided by.

There is another rule which is never attended to by the Master that is the [fifth], where it specified that the Master is to call [out] the names of the male paupers half an hour after the Bell shall be rung for rising & to inspect their persons & see that each individual is clean. This rule is not only neglected, but what we consider is worse, that there is only three ounces of soap given out to every 50 or 60 men for the week.  We have known more than 70 men in the hall & no more soap given out so that it is impossible for all the men to keep their flesh clean with this small quantity for the week.

Then the tenth rule is that the Master is to see that the dining [table “” not found /]
& seats are cleaned after every meal. Also, the 21st rule where it states that the Master is to read to the paupers such of the regulations contained in the general workhouse rules & at such times as the Board of Guardians shall make. Neither of these rules has ever been attended to since this Union has been built. We perceive that it is prohibited for the Master or Matron to supply their friends & other persons calling upon them with refreshments from the workhouse stores, this we know is frequently [done] by the Master & Matron of this house. What we have here stated are facts which we can give our affidavits [sworn statements] if required.

To the Poor Law Board, we are gentlemen your most obedient and humble servants, the whole of the able bodied men.

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