Use Your Own Knowledge to Assess How Far the Sources Support the Interpretation That the Most Important Reason for the Reform of the Old Poor Law Was Its Demoralising Impact Upon the Poor. Essay

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The idea of Old Poor Law being demoralising can be found in Source A within which one finds the comments of a Derbyshire Overseer of the Poor who describes a Robert Smith who ‘will not try to get work anywhere else’ because he could not have an employer as good as the magistrates who provide him with 11 shillings showing Mr Smith to have become too reliant on the Law suggesting the Poor Law to be the cause of poverty. Source A also shows the Overseer suggesting that the large family Robert Smith might have something to do with him obtaining more money from the parish which links with a quote from Edwin Chadwick in Source E who states the poor having large quantities of children is because God said ‘increase and multiply’, even ‘without any likely means of keeping them’ in response to an Assistant Poor Law Commissioner who asked him why a poor man might have such a large family. It suggests that the poor man expects his family to be looked after. This expectation is mirrored in Source B when the Poor Law Commissioners reported that the Poor Law system ‘ensures disappointment and hatred if that expectation [a right to relief] is not fulfilled’ and a lack of their ‘right’ results in violence aimed at those supposedly withholding relief from them which causes them to focus on obtaining relief rather than earning a living. This idea is somewhat visible in Source C that which describe how labourers were left to ‘exist on the Old Poor Law in the bitter winter months’ rather than these men finding work and sustaining themselves. The provenance of this source has the benefit of hindsight, therefore allowing a broader picture to be seen, however, the fact that Hudson only interviewed old farmers limits its reliability due to the one sided point of view. Sources A, B and E are more likely to take this stance in regards to the Poor Law due to the fact they are sourced from

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