The Relief of the Salthouse Poor 1792-1810 by Derek Schofield      page 2

Frequent arguments and even lawsuits arose between parishes about responsibility for particular individuals, since ratepayers everywhere wished to keep costs down. In the meantime the applicants for assistance suffered even more.

The Salthouse Account Book reveals the payments made to or on behalf of individuals as well as the overall costs falling on the parish.
Before turning to the statistics, it is illuminating to outline the history of one regular claimant on poor relief, and to give examples of other calls on the poor rate.


In 1792 Widow Platten was living away, but her place of Settle- ment must have been Salthouse. At all events the Salthouse Overseers paid her £1 6s. 0d for the six months from Easter to Michaelmas, a payment at the rate of 1s. 0d per week. An entry for the same period records:

To Wade for paying the money . . . . . . . . . . 2s. 4d

Later entries in the accounts reveal that the widow was in Norwich and that Wade was the local carrier who, presumably amongst other tasks, took the Salthouse payments to her from time to time. These payments at Norwich continued until the summer of 1795 when she, one assumes with whatever household effects she owned, was moved to Salthouse at the parish's cost. The entry reads:

To Widow Platten's collection . . . . . . . . . .£3 9s. 6d

She was moved into a house or cottage with John Newell and his wife, and the Overseers paid them directly for her lodgings (at the rate of 1s. 0d per week) while continuing to pay an allowance, at fluctuating rates, directly to Widow Platten. For a few months in the summer of 1800 she was moved to lodge with John Cawston on the same basis but then moved back with the Newells. By the middle of 1801 she had become ill, or had become more ill, and the Overseers paid not only for her lodging (now at 9d per week) but also, in October, made a payment:

To Mrs Newell doing for Wd Platten 26 weeks @ 2s.6d . . . . . . . . £3 5s. 0d

In the spring of 1803 the accounts reveal:

Sheet making, washing and removing Wd Platten . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2s. 0d

but it is unclear where she was taken. Although occasional payments for Widow Platten's 'being' (seemingly synonymous with 'lodging') continued to be made, the recipient is not named.
In addition, 6 bushels of coal (7s. 0d) were provided for her at this time and sometime after Midsummer 1803 a payment of 6d was made to E. High (presumably Mrs) for washing Widow Platten.

In November 1803
a gown and shift (1s. 3d) and a pot (1s. 6d) were purchased for her. Sometime towards the end of 1804 the widow was moved again (at a cost of 1s. 0d), this time apparently in with Widow Brown, also in receipt of regular poor relief.
The Overseers recorded:

Pd Wd Brown for Wd Platten's being 12 weeks @ 2s. 0d . . . . . . £1 4s. 0d

In the summer of 1805, probably in August, Widow Platten died. Poor relief was provided for only 7 weeks instead of the usual 13 for each Quarter. A payment of 3s.0d was 'Paid Brown for Platten' (probably for laying out) and 6s.0d was paid for '4 Bearers and Beer'. Such was the life and death of someone on poor relief.


Apart from making regular payments to individuals such as Widow Platten, the Overseers also met costs 'at need' for others. These entries related to both 'one off' cash payments and to purchases made on a pauper's behalf. There are numerous entries but the following selection gives an idea of the range of purchases or services covered:

Easter/Michaelmas 1792 Two shirts for the Boy Mann . . . . . . . . . . . . 6s .0d
Easter/Michaelmas 1793 Pd Girl Bloom for mending for Boy Mann
6s. 10d
Michaelmas 1794 Two blankets and Rug for Woodhouse
. . . . . . . . . .12s. 0d
Michaelmas 1795 Shoes mending for the Girl Larner
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1s. 2d
Easter/Michaelmas 1798 3 yds Suffolk Cloth for Girl Brown
. . . . . . . .3s. 6d
7 May 1801 Girl Kew Pair of Stays
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5s. 0d
22 November 1801 To a pair of half worn shoes for Kew
. . . . . . . . . . .2s. 6 d


There were also other more general outgoings, for example:

5 July 1796 To 20 yards Cloth for the Poor at 1s. 0d . . . . . . . . . . .£1. 0s. 0d
May 1801 To John Cawston cutting 3,000 flaggs
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18s. 0d

There are many entries for 'flaggs', presumably turfs to be dried out for firing, as well as similar entries for furze or furze faggots, which would have been used as fuel also. Sometimes payments related not so much to general and continuing poverty but to the relief of an immediate crisis, for example:

Easter/Michaelmas 1793 Dutch Doctor—his Bill . . . . . . . . . . . . £11. 6s . 0d
7 February 1802 To Robt Starling for loss of Cloths at Sea . . . . . . . 10s. 0d

There are a good many entries for doctors' bills but only one for a Dutch doctor.


The Overseers had a responsibility to find employment for the able-bodied poor wherever feasible, and they obviously would wish to do so in order to keep the poor rate as low as possible. One way was to bind pauper youngsters as apprentices, either within the parish or elsewhere, since the employer would then be responsible for board and lodging. Sometimes the apprenticeships were spurious (eg. for 'husbandry' or 'housewifery') but often the indentures were genuine. There are only a very few apprenticeship entries in the Salthouse accounts; in April 1800, for example, the Overseers paid £4 3s. 6d for John Spence's apprenticeship but, unfortunately, neither the name nor trade of the Master is recorded. Other more direct employ-ment took place—cutting flaggs could be undertaken as a means of relieving the poverty of the cutter and the flaggs could be distributed to parishioners on poor relief.

The upkeep of highways, another responsibility of each parish, was also a means of employing local labour. In May 1807 a number of men were paid for 'Hyghway work', including Benjamin Lynn who received £1 6s. 6d. He was someone who had suffered a decline in his fortunes, but whether through the changing pattern of agriculture or his own fault one cannot say. In the mid 1780s he had moved slightly up-market, and until 1796 he held a property with an annual value of £6. By the following year he was in a property with a value of only £4 p. a.
and in 1799 only £1 p.a. These values are taken from the Overseers
' and Churchwardens' Account Books, (they used a common valuation). There was no revaluation in these years and so Benjamin Lynn either moved to poorer cottages or disposed of some of the earlier holding. He frequently received poor relief in the early years of the new century but must have
been able-bodied since in 1807 he undertook highway work. When he died in November 1808, however, he was a charge on the parish. The Overseers paid Mary Mack for sitting up with him and then paid the bearers at his funeral the usual 6 shillings.


As well as helping the poor of the parish, the Overseers had responsibility for removing those paupers who had no right of settlement. Until 1794 people who might become a charge on the poor rate could be removed, but after that date the necessary Justices. warrant could only be obtained when they actually needed help. Poor people travelling the countryside might be helped if they had legitimate reason for doing so— usually established by carrying a pass. Two (out of many) examples give an idea of the far-reaching extent of controls on the movement of poor people around the country:

29 May 1796 To a person with a Pass
                    to Yarmouth
& 3 Children . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. .1s. 0d
28 August 1796 To 3 Sailors with a Pass
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 1s. 0d

Other expenditure no doubt demanded less thought—for example the cash paid (usually 5s. 0d) at the public house for the Town Meeting each year.



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Val Fiddian 2005