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George Sims : In the Workhouse: Christmas Day

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  • #16
    Originally posted by Phil Kellingley View Post

    I suggest you read the poem and deduce the time of day. He writes that the 'house was open'. He also writes that the bakers were open. And, however much you argue against it, outdoor relief was available. The article you put up shows an argument for reducing it but not cancelling it. Somewhere I have a book "The Workhouse Encyclopedia" which refutes more than just the unavailability of the bread. I'm fairly sure it also said that the poem indicates the separation of the two if they went into the workhouse whereas it was common to admit those in their old age as a couple. Unfortunately, the book is in storage so I can't quote it exactly. But it did make the point that, as with many such works, they somewhat exaggerated the reality.
    ‘The house was open’ means he and his wife were able to go into the workhouse, but not obtain outdoor relief. Bakers and other shops kept very late hours at the time.

    The first article I put up speaks of the complete abolition of outdoor relief in the East End.

    Outdoor relief was granted at the discretion of the relieving officers.

    I’ll dig out some more contemporary accounts. When was your ‘Workhouse Encyclopaedia’ published?

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    • #17
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      From The Croydon Chronicle, 16th October, 1880.

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      • #18
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        South London Chronicle 12th March, 1898

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        • #19
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          This is from the Willesden and Kilburn Chronicle of 30th October, 1877. Sims’ poem appeared a few weeks later in the Christmas, 1877 edition of ‘The Referee’.




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          • #20
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ID:	578184 From the Cambridge Independent Press 27th April, 1872

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            • #21
              Click image for larger version  Name:	7BA40CDC-980D-414A-87DE-D169193B5441.jpeg Views:	0 Size:	96.8 KB ID:	578186

              The basic point in the poem is that Boards of Guardians had the discretion to refuse outdoor relief and in some instances this lead to starvation. Some Unions virtually abolished outdoor relief altogether. And even where it was available it wasn’t the case that anyone turning up at the workhouse door with a sob story was given a loaf of bread. The pauper would be ‘examined’ first to determine whether he/she was a deserving recipient of relief.

              Sims was using poetic language to highlight a real social evil.

              Above are my ancestor Esther Brandum’s examination notes. The relieving officer summed up by saying, ‘Statements all false pernicious in such a dreadful manner. I can do nothing with her.’

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              • #22
                Originally posted by Gary Barnett View Post
                Click image for larger version Name:	7BA40CDC-980D-414A-87DE-D169193B5441.jpeg Views:	0 Size:	96.8 KB ID:	578186

                The basic point in the poem is that Boards of Guardians had the discretion to refuse outdoor relief and in some instances this lead to starvation. Some Unions virtually abolished outdoor relief altogether. And even where it was available it wasn’t the case that anyone turning up at the workhouse door with a sob story was given a loaf of bread. The pauper would be ‘examined’ first to determine whether he/she was a deserving recipient of relief.

                Sims was using poetic language to highlight a real social evil.

                Above are my ancestor Esther Brandum’s examination notes. The relieving officer summed up by saying, ‘Statements all false pernicious in such a dreadful manner. I can do nothing with her.’
                I should point out that not all of what Esther said was false. Most of what I can check out was true. The ‘gentleman’ who examined her was clearly looking for an excuse not to waste ratepayers’ money on the poor old girl.

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