Bourne Archive: FNQ: Welfare

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Interactive version ©2006 R.J.PENHEY

The Bourne Archive


Fenland Notes and Queries. This was originally in the quarterly Part 8, January 1891. Edited by W.H. Bernard Saunders, F.R. Hist. Soc.

Articles 1 to 237 (April 1889 to October 1891) were re-published as Volume 1, in 1891, by Geo. C. Caster, Market Place, Peterborough.

This quarterly periodical which, from the second volume (part 12) became associated with the name of W.D. Sweeting, took the form of a forum in which people sent in questions about the history, ecology and so on of the Fens and the region’s environs and others replied with some sort of answer. Some ‘answers’ seem to have been spontaneous, so qualifying as ‘notes’. Editorial notes in the form [note] are those of FNQ; those in the form [note] are those of RJP.

My thanks to the trustees of the Willoughby Memorial Library for the loan of the copy from which the following was transcribed.

18th Century and Social Welfare and Economics

177 – Crowland and Whittlesea, 1792. – On June 17th, 1792, a lengthy law suit between Crowland and Whittlesea came to an end. An MS., in the possession of Mr. B. W. Ground, of Whittlesea, heads the case as Follows:Lincolnshire, Holland : The King against the Inhabitants of Whittlesea in the Isle of Ely.” The MS. Goes on to say : “This suit was commenced on Account of the said William Searle and Family becoming chargeable to the Parish of Crowland from which place they removed him by Order of  Justice as Quarter Sessions on Supposition of his belonging to the Parish of Whittlesea he having served as an Apprentice for the term of seven years To one Fawn a Blacksmith and from which place he afterwards went to Thorney and served one Dobson for the Space of One Year but Dobson was a Certificate Man from Farcett ; therefore could not gain no Settlement and he afterwards went to live at Crowland at which place he Married a Widow Woman who had always paid Rates as he did afterwards, but those Rates was deducted from his Rent, therefore no Settlement was gained on that ground.

“But he had been sworn a Pig Ringer by the Court Leet and paid fourpence for his Oath and served the Office several years.

“He also was Appointed Ale Taster and Bread Weigher ; But for which he was never sworn into Office and only served in that Capacity half a Year; therefore it seems to rest entirely upon the Office of Pig Ringer which is an Annual and Parochial Office and not a Lucrative place; on those grounds Whittlesea supported their Defence got their cause ; each party paying their own expences, except that Whittlesea Expended in maintaining the Family while the Cause was depending and some other Trifling Expences It Cost each Parish £108 13s. 3d. N.B. It is to be observed that Cause was laid before the Quarter Sessions at Spalding three times. The last time there were four Justices to of them would have Quash’d the first Order upon Whittlesa, but not having a Majority was the Cause of its being removed to the Court of Kings Bench and Tried before Lord Kenyon ; who likewise Rejected it the first time of hearing for Nonsufficient Statement of the Cause ; but after coming again and being re-stated Lord Kenyon as well as the whole Court were of one mind that the Man and his Family belonged to Crowland as above.”

[This story indicates the lengths to which a parish might go to off-load the responsibility for maintaining the poor on the parish rates. The parishes had been given the responsibility of maintaining each its own poor people after it became clear that the dissolved monasteries had been providing a service. Partly to reduce the money spent on lawyers, the parishes were grouped into unions by the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834. This introduced the union workhouses. Such as that in Bourne, of which the building continued to serve as St Peter’s Hospital. See Ball’sCharities and White’s Directory.]