Definition of Poor Law in English:

Poor Law


  • A law relating to the support of the poor. Originally the responsibility of the parish, the relief and employment of the poor passed over to the workhouses in 1834. In the early 20th century the Poor Law was replaced by schemes of social security.

    • ‘Yet when a woman stood for election as a Poor Law Guardian in 1875, no challenge was attempted.’
    • ‘Brought before him in court one day was a destitute woman, another child, who was accused of contravening the Poor Laws and falsely seeking parish charity.’
    • ‘Left with heavy debts and four children to bring up, she gave up her philanthropic work as a Poor Law Guardian and took a paid job as a Registrar of Births and Deaths in a working-class area of Manchester.’
    • ‘She won election as a Poor Law guardian in 1894 and as a school board member in 1900.’
    • ‘Together with Beatrice Webb, he wrote the 1909 Minority Report of the Royal Commission of the Poor Laws, which became instrumental in the eventual abolition of the Victorian Poor Law system.’
    • ‘I also consider the prohibition of effective medical treatments to be morally as unacceptable as the Poor Laws of the nineteenth century.’
    • ‘In 1793 the parishes of Reigate, Nutfield and Headley formed a Poor Law Union to provide a workhouse on 10 acres of Earlswood common.’
    • ‘Veterans denied a pension and incapable of supporting themselves might seek charity under the provisions of the Poor Laws.’
    • ‘The following sections cover aspects of the debates on domestic policy issues: the Factory Acts, the effects of mechanization, the Poor Laws, public provision of education and trade unions.’
    • ‘Perhaps the most striking political implication of the ‘new political economy’ was the attack on the Poor Laws mounted by Malthus and Chalmers, strongly supported by Ricardo and all the Philosophic Radicals.’
    • ‘In nineteenth century Britain, the infamous Poor Laws gave little support to the poor and the elderly unless they were prepared to give up their homes and enter workhouses.’
    • ‘The earlier laws were seen as an extension of the Poor Laws, as a way of getting the working class accustomed to factory discipline.’
    • ‘This is the most repressive of the Tudor Poor Laws, with fencers, bearwardens, and common players included in the definition of rogues, vagabonds, or sturdy beggars.’
    • ‘Fiercely opposed to the crippling Poor Laws of the time, he was concerned with the needs of the farmers, the homeless and the unemployed.’
    • ‘These critics explained how the rational eligible agent (the welfare recipient) would behave when subsidized by the state and feared that such laziness as was expected to occur would make the Poor Laws a prescription for social disaster.’
    • ‘The Poor Laws passed during the reign of Elizabeth I played a critical role in the country's welfare.’
    • ‘The final criticism levelled against late Elizabethan government is that the benefits of the Poor Laws were crushed by the rise of population and economic distress of the 1590s.’
    • ‘In 1834, major reforms of the Poor Law were effected by a Poor Law Amendment Act 1834 which abolished outdoor relief, stipulating that relief was to be provided only in the workhouse.’
    • ‘The sharp increase in spending on poor relief after 1780 sparked a major debate on the Poor Laws in and out of Parliament, which continued until the adoption of the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834.’


Poor Law