Page images

No. V.

Regulations proposed for Bettering the Condition of the Poor in Country Parishes. By Thomas Estcourt, Esq.

In order to better the condition, reform the morals and habits, promote the happiness, and increase the industry of the poor, in those parishes* where it is capable of being adopted,

* If the Legislature should deem it a subject worthy its interference, it might declare that these rewards and regulations shall not be extended to, or payable in, any parish, `unless application shall be made to the Bench of Justices at the Michaelmas Quarter-Sessions, by petition to such Justices from the majority of such of the payers to the poor-rate of such parish as shall be assembled in vestry, requesting them to order that the same may be so extended; and which order such Justices shall grant, if they shall think proper: or the Bench of Justices may be empowered, on receiving such petition, to order that such regulations and rewards shall not be extended to be payable in such parish, if the Bench shall be of opinion that such parish is so situated, that such re`wards would not be beneficial to it, or that such regulations would not be practicable in it: or, lastly, it may be still more limited, to those parishes only who may apply, either separately or jointly, to the Legislature, by private bill, praying that the same may be extended to such parishes, and

and effectually to reduce the poor-rate in such parishes, the following system of regulations is submitted to the public.

That every person who shall provide and let by lease, or agreement in writing, to any poor person, for any term of not less than three years, any dwelling-house or houses, or a part thereof, and shall let so much land with any` such house, as that the produce of the labour the family of the person renting and inhabiting it shall be reasonably capable of performing, together with the produce of such land when duly cultivated, shall yield an income sufficient for the proper maintenance of such family, in the opinion of the officer hereinafter called the Cottage Warden (which opinion shall be signified by his signing the lease or agreement under which such house and land shall be so let) shall be entitled to receive out

defining the powers that may be required, in the same manner that parishes or districts are empowered to erect workhouses, &c.—If the preceding account, and the regulations which follow, for encouraging the extension of similar efforts to improve the condition of the labouring poor, should induce persons of ability equal to the task, to turn their minds to the subject, something might be expected, more worthy the attention of the public than these few pages contain; and the person who drew it up, would be highly gratified to see it in the hands of those who are capable of doing it justice.

of the poor-rate annually, as a reward for, or in respect of every person of such family inhabiting such house, the sum of 20s. each, so long as such persons, for or in respect of whom the same shall be demanded, shall continue to inhabit such house, and who shall have generally inhabited the same during the year for which it shall be so demanded; except that such rewards shall not be payable in the following cases; that is to say, no person shall be entitled to any of such rewards, unless the dwelling-house so let shall be, in the opinion of the Cottage-Warden, substantially built, and in good repair, and roomy enough for its inhabitants, consistent with health and decency; nor shall it be payable for any person who shall have received, relief from the poor-rate for the last year, preceding the time that such reward shall be demanded, nor for or in respect of any person who shall have, or any one of whose family living with him or her, shall, during the like time, have been lawfully convicted of any felony or misdemeanor, for which the culprit may have been liable to fine or imprisonment; nor for or in respect of any child born out of wedlock, of which any person inhabiting such

house shall be the reputed father or mother; nor for or in respect of any person inhabiting any house, the person renting which shall occupy premises of the value of 10l. per ann. or more; nor for or in respect of any person whose last legal settlement shall be at that time in any other parish; nor for or in respect of any person in good health, between the ages of fourteen and sixty; nor for or in respect of any person possessed of any permanent income, or who shall carry on, as a master, any trade, manufacture, or profession, the produce of which income, or the clear profits of which trade, manufacture, or profession, shall be estimated by the Cottage-Warden, or Justices, to be sufficient for the proper maintenance of such person, and of his or her family: nor shall any person be entitled to any larger sum, in any one year, on account of such rewards, than such person's share of the poor's-rate shall have amounted to for the year for which such rewards shall be claimed, except that if any tenant occupying lands in such parish, the property of some other person, shall not sọ provide and so let dwelling-houses and lands therewith, sufficient to entitle such tenant tọ rewards, equal to the amount of his or her poor

rate for the year; then the landlord of such tenant having so provided and let such dwelling houses and land, shall be entitled to so many. rewards on the same account, as shall be equal to the difference between the amount of said tenant's rewards and poor rate for the same year; and if such tenant shall rent of two or more landlords, those of whom such tenants shall rent to the greatest amount, shall always have a prior claim to such rewards before other landlords of the same tenant.

If any person shall receive any reward on account of any poor person, and if it shall appear that the last legal settlement of such poor person was during the time for which such rewards were demanded in some other parish, then the person who shall have received the said rewards, shall re-pay the same to the Overseer for the time being, on its being demanded by the Overseer; and, on refusal, the same may be recovered by action of debt.

The person who shall be deemed part of the family of any poor person, shall be those who, if not able to maintain themselves, such poor person might, if of sufficient ability, be obliged by law to contribute to maintain.

That there shall in future be, in every

« PreviousContinue »