Pauper policies

Poor law practice in England, 1780-1850

By Samantha A. Shave

Pauper policies


  • Hardcover
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-3567-4
  • Pages: 320
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £26.00
  • Published Date: November 2018
  • BIC Category: England, HISTORY / General, Humanities / British & Irish history, Humanities / Modern history to 20th century: c 1700 to c 1900, Social & cultural history, Social Security & Welfare Law, Social security & welfare law, Modern History, History, 19th century, c 1800 to c 1899, 18th century, c 1700 to c 1799, Humanities / Social & cultural history, Humanities / History, Social welfare & social services, HISTORY / United States / 19th Century, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Social Services & Welfare


Pauper policies examines how policies under the old and New Poor Laws were conceived, adopted, implemented, developed or abandoned. This fresh perspective reveals significant aspects of poor law history which have been overlooked by scholars. Important new research is presented on the adoption and implementation of 'enabling acts' at the end of the old poor laws; the exchange of knowledge about how best to provide poor relief in the final decades of the old poor law and formative decades of the New; and the impact of national scandals on policy-making in the new Victorian system. Pointing towards a new direction in the study of poor law administration, it examines how people, both those in positions of power and the poor, could shape pauper policies. It is essential reading for anyone with an interest in welfare and poverty in eighteenth and nineteenth-century England.


'Pauper policies presents exciting new research on the English Poor Laws before and after the Amendment Act of 1834. This original study of an institution that lay at the heart of life for many centuries is empirically rich and analytically engaging. Shave's book provides a superb example of how painstaking archival work opens the possibility of deeper understanding of a wide range of cognate areas of social and political life. Beautifully written and clearly argued, this is an excellent addition to the scholarship.'
Professor Emma Griffin, University of East Anglia

'The book is an excellent addition to the historiography. It is well written and researched and contains important new findings on several key topics that have largely been ignored by historians.'
Dr Joseph Harley , Reviews in History

'Samantha Shave has written one of the most original books on the English Poor Law in years: she has taken topics we thought we knew well, such as Gilbert's Act, and given them new and insightful treatment.'
Professor Alannah Tomkins, Keele University, Rural History, (2018)

'What emerges from this exceptionally rich and detailed research is a thorough and grounded understanding of how poor law administration developed across large swathes of southern England stretching from Sussex in the east through to Somerset in the west. It is a very significant and highly original contribution to an already considerable body of work on the English poor law.'
Professor David Green, King's College London

'Shave's book is a welcome addition to the study of poor law administration, as her research gives an unexplored region of Britain worthy representation. In doing so, we gain an understanding of the people that held the decision-making power over the lives of the poor, and how their position could frame pauper policies. This book will be valuable reading for scholars of poverty and welfare throughout the period, and also to those researching the South West, to gain an understanding of the figures that prevailed over those belonging to the lowest classes.'
Cara Dobbing, University of Leicester, Local Population Studies 100 (2018)

'This well-written book will appeal to any with an interest in the poor laws, whether they have a top-down or bottom-up approach. By rehabilitating poor law policy development, dissemination and implementation as worthwhile objects of study, Shave shows the continued importance of the local in shaping the relief environments which paupers experienced.'
Douglas Brown, Kingston University, Family & Community History, Vol. 21/2, July 2018


Introduction: pauper policies
1. A policy process approach to the poor laws
2. Gilbert's Act: workhouses for the vulnerable
3. Restricting relief: the impact of Sturges Bourne's reforms
4. Policies from knowledge networks
5. Policies from scandal
6. Conclusion: reform and innovation
Select bibliography


Samantha A. Shave is Lecturer in Modern British History at the University of Lincoln

Newsletter Sign Up

Manchester University Press

Your cart is empty.

Select your shipping destination to estimate postage costs

(Based on standard shipping costs)

Final cost calculated on checkout
Promotional codes can be added on Checkout