by Manuscript; Poor Laws
1655. Early Manuscript Notes on Elizabethan Poor Laws [Manuscript]. [Poor Laws]. Expositions upon the Statute of 43 Eliz. for the Poare. N.p., c.1633.  pp. ms text on 8" x 6" sheets interleaved and bound into  ff. 11" x 7-1/2" blank book. Later three-quarter vellum over marbled boards, gilt title ("Statute of 43. Eliz. (For the Poor)") to spine, top-edge gilt, fore and bottom edges untrimmed, ownership signature of Walter Ashburner, Lincoln's Inn dated 1902 to front pastedown, small bookplate ("Bibliotheca Confanoneria") to front free endpaper. Light rubbing to boards, moderate rubbing to board edges, light soiling to vellum, faint offsetting, light soiling and small penciled marks to endpapers. Light toning to interior, light foxing and negligible light soiling to ms and blank leaves, light edgewear to ms leaves, just affecting text of a few leaves but without loss to legibility. Text in neat secretarial hand. $3,000. * The reign of Elizabeth I saw numerous attempts to relieve poverty through legislation. From 1552 to 1598, a series of statutes were passed which empowered justices of the peace and churchwardens to register the poor and raise funds for their relief. The so-called "Elizabethan Poor Law" of 1601 consolidated the previous legislation and provided for the creation of "overseers" of relief, who would work under justices of the peace to set a compulsory sum to be extracted from each parish, among other duties. The effects of the 1601 law and other "poor laws" resonated widely, from the penal system to the labor market to universities and the education system in general. The text of our manuscript relates to the so-called "Resolutions of the Judges of Assize" of 1633. These "resolutions," intended to address ambiguities in the 1601 Poor Law, take the form of a series of questions submitted to Chief Justice Heath and his answers. "Although apparently repudiated after the Restoration as invalid, Heath's interpretations were nonetheless employed consistently by both magistrates and judges as the standard guide to the rigorous enforcement of the poor laws which characterized the 1630s" (Cockburn). The text subsequently appeared in print in various justice of the peace manuals, with the earliest of these appearances around 1655 in Dalton's Countrey Justice. Our manuscript likely pre-dates printed versions of.
(Inventory #: 73597)