The Poor Law Inspector – Update.

I can’t believe it is 6 months since I first posted about this project of mine. If anyone is interested, here is an update on my progress since then. First of all I need to explain that this is part of a long term project which includes a non-fiction book about the Great Irish Famine, as well as the historical novel based on the activities of Capt. Arthur Kennedy and Colonel Crofton Vandeleur in Kilrush between November 1847 and 1851. I have been working hard on the non-fiction work over the summer and have what I consider to be a … Continue reading The Poor Law Inspector – Update.

The Poor Law in Ireland

The third of my series of posts on poverty examines the transfer of poor laws from the British mainland to Ireland. The Dublin House of Industry was established in 1772 to care for vagrants and beggars. In times of more general distress, the work of this and similar institutions in other cities was supplemented by ad hoc provision by the parishes raising funds by subscription. Reading accounts of the conditions that prevailed in the early 1780s, for example, it is clear that the response to widespread food and fuel shortages that occurred consisted of a combination of fire-fighting with limited … Continue reading The Poor Law in Ireland

Evolution of Poor Laws

The second of my series of posts on poverty examines the evolution of poor laws in the British mainland. Prior to the reformation – the switch, over large parts of Europe, from Roman Catholicism to Protestantism – the poor were looked after by the monasteries. The funding for this came from the patronage the monasteries received from the land owners and from the tythes paid by farmers. Whilst the old, the sick and the disabled were provided with food, shelter and healing, the able bodied were provided with work, either in farms that formed an important part of the religious … Continue reading Evolution of Poor Laws

Better than all the Rest

I’ve been studying – and attempting to write a book about – the famine that devastated Ireland in the years 1845-52. No such study is complete without an analysis of the attitudes of the British towards Irish and English paupers. This is the first of a series of posts the overarching title of which is “Dealing with Poverty – a Historical Perspective”. This one deals with the evolution of the feeling of superiority that characterised the elites in Victorian Britain. Exploration By the nineteenth century British explorers and traders had for more than two hundred years traveled the world, discovering … Continue reading Better than all the Rest

Malnutrition and Indolence – Lessons for Today

In my previous post I postulated that poor diet in expectant mothers and infants had, in the past, a role in preventing the poor in Ireland from improving their conditions. But can it also explain the lack of aspiration evident among the poor in modern developed economies? The British government during World War II was concerned to ensure that expectant and nursing mothers and infants received proper nutrition despite the food shortages and rationing that characterised the war years and those immediately following. They would have been ignorant of the relationship between diet and brain growth. But they were certainly … Continue reading Malnutrition and Indolence – Lessons for Today

Must the Poor Always be With Us?

Yesterday, fellow blogger Sha’Tara, aka Burning Woman, posted up a collection of “Anarchist memes, facts and headlines”. I challenged one of them in the comments. Another demands a longer response. The world spent  $1735 Billion dollars on war in 2012.  It would take approximately  $135 Billion dollars to totally eradicate (systemic) poverty. For the sake of complete transparency I must admit a few things so that my readers can understand any bias I might bring to my analysis. First, I used to be a pacifist. I gave that up after giving serious consideration to the need to overcome tyranny – … Continue reading Must the Poor Always be With Us?