The Controversy Over the Workhouse System in the 1830's and 1840's

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The Controversy Over the Workhouse System in the 1830's and 1840's

In this essay I will be studying sources F, G, H and I and using my

own knowledge to show why there was so much controversy over the

workhouse system, in the 1830's and 1840's.

Now that there was no outdoor relief paupers had to go into the

workhouses, like Gressenhall. The workhouse clothed and fed the

paupers. The paupers were treated unfairly and lost their liberty and

freedom. Due to these conditions many people had different opinions

about the system, whether for or against, and this caused a lot of


Firstly source F " The rights of the Poor to Liberty and life" written

by Richard Oastler in 1836. Richard Oastler was a Yorkshire writer and

a member of the anti- poor Law campaign. This source is against the

workhouse system. The evidence for this is in the first sentence

stating "hellish poor law bastilles." This word "Bastilles" is French

for prisons. This shows that the writer thinks the paupers were kept

in and treated like they were in a prison, like criminals. Also an

additional few words keeping this view with being against the

workhouse system are: "my wife torn from me, because I am poor, I will

burn the whole pile to the ground.' This shows that the writer would

not like to be in this situation himself and he thinks that it is

unfair. This piece is about his wife being torn away from him and

represents segregation of the two sexes. The Union Workhouse was to be

not just a place where the able-bodied man and his family could go in

times of hardship but also a receptacle for the sick, the aged, the

bed ridden, the orphaned, the vagrant and the mentally ill. It was an

institution for all those who could not exist in society on their own,

people who required constant and careful supervision. By separating

the paupers into different classes to Commissioners believed that the

needs of each group could be properly catered for: the elderly and

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