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Human Rights

glossary document index

A complete list of all the supporting documents for the time periods between 1215 and 1945.

1500 - 1760

The Poor Law Act

Date: 1601. Catalogue reference: C 65/180


AN ACTE for the Releife of the Poore

BEE it enacted by the Authoritie of this [p’sent] Parliament, That the Churchwardens of everie Parish, and fower three or two substanciall Housholders there as shalbe thoughte meete, havying respecte to the [pporcon] and greatnes of the same Parishe [or] Parishes, to be [noiated] yearelie in Easter Weeke or within one monethe after Easter, under the Hande and Seale of two or more Justices of the Peace in the same Countie, whereof one to be of the [Quo?], dwellinge in or neare the same Parishe or Division where the same Parishe doth lie, shalbe called Overseers of the Poore of the same Parishe : And they or the greater parte of them shall take order from tyme to tyme, by and withe the consent of two or more suche Justices of Peace as is aforesaide, for settinge to worke of the Children of all suche whose Parentes shall not by the saide Churchwardens and Overseers or the greater parte of them bee thoughte able to keepe and maintaine theire Children ; And alsoe for settinge to worke all such [psons] maried or unmaried havinge no meanes to maintaine them, use no ordinarie and dailie trade of lief to get their livinge by ; and also to raise weekelie or otherwise, by [Taxacon] of [ev’y] Inhabitant Parson Vicar and other, and of [ev’y] Occupier of Landes Houses Tithes impropriate or [Propriacons] of Tythes, Colemynes or saleable Underwoods, in the saide Parishe in such competent [sume] and [sumes] of Money as they shall thincke fytt, a convenient Stocke of Flaxe Hempe Wooll Threed Iron and other necesarie Ware and Stuffe to sett the Poore on worke ; And alsoe competent [sumes] of Money for and towardes the necessarie Releife of the lame impotente olde blinde and suche other amonge them beinge poore and not able to work, and alsoe for the puttinge out of suche Children to be Apprentices, to be gathered out of the same Parishe accordinge to the Abilitie of the same Parishe ; and to doe and execute all other [things] aswell for the disposinge of the saide Stocke as otherwise [concninge] the [p’misses] as to them shall seeme convenient : Whiche saide Churchwardens and Overseers soe to be [noiated], or suche of them as shall not be lett by sickness or other juste excuse to be allowed by two suche Justices of Peace or more as is aforesaide, shall meete together at the leaste once everie monethe in the Churche of the saide Parishe, upon the Sunday in the Afternoone after Divine Service, there to consider of some good course to be taken and of some meete order to be set downe in the [p’mysses], and shall within fouer daies after the ende of their yeare and after other [Ov’seers noiated] as aforesaide, make and yeelde up to suche two Justices of Peace as is aforesaide a true and [pfect] Accounte of all [sumes] of Money by them receaved, or rated and sessed and not received, and also of such Stocke as shalbe in theire Handes or in the Handes of any of the Poore to worke, and of all other [things concninge] their saide Office ; and suche [sume] or [sumes] of Money as shalbe in theire Handes shall pay and deliver over to the saide Churchwardens and Overseers newlie [noiated] and appointed as aforesaide ; upon payne that everie one of them absentinge themselves withoute lawfull cause as is aforesaide from such monethlie Meetinge for the [p’pose] aforesaide, or beinge negligent in theire Office or in the [execucon] of the Orders aforesaide, being made by and withe the assent of the saide Justices of Peace or any two of them before mencioned, to forfeite for everie suche defaulte of absence of negligence Twentie [Shillings].

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