Find Out More

Edwin Chadwick

Edwin Chadwick was the man behind the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834. He wanted to create a new system of poor relief, where people were trained to help themselves. He believed that the existing systems encouraged laziness by simply handing out money every week.
Chadwick intended that workhouses should offer education and training for young and old, but unfortunately his aims were misunderstood by many people, including some assistant Poor Law Commissioners; these were the men who were given the task of inspecting workhouses and making sure that they obeyed the regulations. They often believed that the main aim of the New Poor Law was simply to save money and punish the poor. Consequently, there were many examples of early workhouses being run as cheaply as possible. The result was that the poor were very badly treated. The most famous example of this was the Andover Scandal of 1846 where inmates fought over bones and gristle.
It was the fact that many of the poor in workhouses were so unhealthy, that encouraged Chadwick to investigate the public health in towns. This led him to publish his report in 1842.  

  This is a statement given by a 13 yr old boy to a commission about child workers which includes information about Halifax workhouse. It illustrates the role of the workhouse in a young orphan's life.
Statement given by a 13 yr old boy