Charles Richmond Henderson.

Modern methods of charity; an account of the systems of relief, public and private, in the principal countries having modern methods online

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paid weekly at some stated time and place — a practice which is now
generally condemned by the government inspectors as being degrad-
ing to the poor on account of its publicity. Outdoor relief may be
given (3) in the form of employment. Under the outdoor relief
regulation order the work usually furnished is breaking stone in
the stoneyard, but other sorts of work may be furnished. In most
city unions, boards of guardians have the right in times of distress
to open labor yards under the regulations of the outdoor labor test
order. Finally, outdoor relief may be given (4) in the form of
medical attendance. Each union must have at least one medical
officer for every 15,000 persons, or 15,000 acres in extent. The med-
ical officer is bound to attend any person upon receipt of an order
from the guardians, a relieving officer, or an overseer. He must
furnish the needed medicines and attention, but cannot order articles
of food ; and he must report his visits to the board of guardians,
giving them such information as they may require. If a person is
not already a pauper, relief through medical attendance does not
legally pauperize, in the sense of entailing disfranchisement.

It was the purpose of the reformers of 1834 to put an end to
outdoor relief, and especially that given to the able-bodied. As re- V]^.
gards the able-bodied, this purpose has nearly been realized. In 1849
the number of adult able-bodied paupers who received outdoor relief
was still 202,265. Since then the number has steadily dimin-
ished, until in 1900 it was only 59,268. Meanwhile, the number
of able-bodied adults relieved in the workhouse had only slightly
increased — from 26,558 in 1849, to 34,387 in 1900, not keeping
pace with the increase of population. However, the vast bulk of
English pauperism still remains outdoor pauperism. In 1900, out
of a total of 792,367 who received public relief, 577,122 were "out-



door paupers ;" and in spite of the costliness of indoor maintenance,
the amount paid for outdoor reHef was still larger. But the decrease
in outdoor pauperism during the half-century has been marked.
Thus in 1849 the number of outdoor paupers was 955,146, or 55 in
every 1,000 of the population; while in 1900 it was 577,122, or only
18.2 in every 1,000 of the population; and, as we have seen, only a
small fraction of these can in any sense be called able-bodied.^

6. Indoor Relief. — The workhouse is the fundamental institu-
tion of the English public relief system. It is such by the law of
1834 which established the "workhouse test," and such also by his-
torical evolution : by the fact that it is the successor of the Eliza-
bethan poorhouse; and by the fact that from it all other public
relief institutions have been derived. Moreover, it is still the chief
institution concerned with the indoor relief of the poor. This sec-
tion will be accordingly devoted to a consideration of relief in the
workhouse as practically synonymous with indoor relief. In later
sections the institutions for special classes of dependents will be con-

Each union must have at least one workhouse, which is under
the control of the board of guardians. A special committee of the
board exercises constant supervision over its management, visiting
it as often at least as once a week. It is, in addition, visited and
inspected by the inspectors of the central board and frequently by a
committee of lady visitors appointed by the guardians. Its organiza-
tion and management, moreover, are regulated by the elaborate rules
of the Orders of the Central Board, especially of the General Con-
solidated Order of 1847.

Admission to the workhouse may take place in three ways : upon
written order from the guardians ; upon provisional order from the
relieving officer ; or by the master of the workhouse in cases of

^ The average number of outdoor and indoor paupers in England and Wales
at different decades since 1849 is as follows:


Mean No. of

Mean No. of

Mean No. of

Per Cent, of Esti-

Indoor Paupers

Outdoor Paupers

Total Paupers

mated Population
















J 880








775. 217









sudden and urgent necessity. The pauper is first taken to the receiv-
ing ward, where he is examined by the medical officer, thoroughly
cleansed, and clothed in the workhouse dress. If found suffering
from an infectious or contagious disease, he is placed in a special

There must be at least seven distinct wards for the classification
of inmates: (i) for aged and infirm men; (2) for able-bodied men
above fifteen years; (3) for boys between seven and fifteen; (4)
for aged and infirm women; (5) for able-bodied women above fif-
teen; (6) for girls between seven and fifteen; (7) for children under
seven. These wards are entirely separate from one another, and be-
tween the inmates of different wards there is no communication, save
that which takes place under official supervision. Children under
seven, however, may be left with their mothers, and above that age
parents have a right to see their children at least once a day. Further
classification according to moral character is recommended in order
to prevent moral contamination, but this is carried out only in the
larger urban workhouses. Married couples above the age of sixty,
who may wish to live together, must be provided with a separate
room, should they ask for it; but it is said that this privilege is
seldom claimed.

The official stafif of each workhouse consists of the master and
matron, the chaplain, the medical officer, and the porter. The mas-
ter is responsible for the whole administration of the workhouse, and
has, accordingly, a great deal of power. The matron, who is usually
his wife, assists him in the supervision of the female wards. It is
the master's duty to look after the classification of the inmates, their
employment, and their food. He must enforce order, industry and
cleanliness. He must visit the wards twice daily. He must see
to it t!iat the daily routine as regards meals, hours of rising and
retiring, is observed by all ; and, in a word, that none of the numerous
rules established by the central authority for the guidance of inmates
and officials are violated.

A special chaplain is appointed for every workhouse. His duties
are to hold services for the inmates every Sunday, to give religious
instruction to the children who belong to the Church of England,
to visit the sick, and to minister to the dying. The ministers of other
denominations, however, have free access to the workhouse to visit
inmates of their own denomination.

Online LibraryCharles Richmond HendersonModern methods of charity; an account of the systems of relief, public and private, in the principal countries having modern methods → online text (page 21 of 73)