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At a weekly meeting of the Board of Guardians of the Westbourne Union held at the workhouse at Westbourne on Friday the 5th June 1835. Present: Edward Bold Esquire the Chairman; John Cousens (Westbourne), Edward Wyatt (North and Up Marden), James Smith (Stoughton), Thomas Hipkin (Racton), George Porcher (Funtington), Edward and Thomas Bennett (Bosham), David Padwick (West Thorney).

John Green of Stoughton ordered to work on the roads. . . Elizabeth Elliott of Compton of imbecile mind residing at Wisborough Green ordered to be relieved with 15s today and 3s a week in future without coming into the Union. Richard Greentree of Compton ordered to lose a fortnight's relief for incivility to the relieving officer….. Lucy wife of Thomas Pearce belonging to Westbourne ordered to be relieved as a widow while her husband is in prison…. Wm. Bulbeck of Racton ordered to go into the Westbourne Workhouse. George Stevens of Westbourne ordered to be relieved with 1/6 weekly on account of his wife's illness…..

Ordered that the Clerk do write to the Assistant Commissioner requesting him to enquire why the Mills(1) he had ordered have not been furnished.... Ordered that an advertisement for a Governor and Matron of the Workhouse…..for the reception of aged persons be inserted in both the Portsmouth newspapers and that it state that they must be man and wife without incumbrance and that their joint salary will be £25 and that testimonials and applications must be sent to the workhouse by 10 o'clock on Friday next. Ordered that the Governor of the Westbourne workhouse do purchase two dozen of large pans and two dozen of small for the use of the workhouse…..

The Background to the Poor Law and Amendment Act 1834

Until the passing of the 1834 Act, which brought about the formation of the Boards of Guardians, poor relief had, except in a few places where 'Gilbert Unions' had been set up under an earlier permissive Act of 1782, been the responsibility of parish overseers, answerable, to the justices in Quarter Sessions, but in practice largely independent. The paupers were therefore at the mercy of amateur and often illiterate officers, and although some overseers acted with humanity and generosity within their limitations, the system was, by the end of the eighteenth century, in hopeless confusion. Under the influence of the war and bad harvests, as well as the inherent defects of the system, poor rates mounted and the benefit to the poor from the sums of money collected grew less; employers paid starvation wages, as they knew that labourers could always get monetary assistance from the parish if necessary. It was, in fact, often more profitable for the lazy labourer to be completely out of work and dependent on the overseers. In towns, slum landlords prospered, for the rents of pauper tenants were paid by the parish.

(1) For grinding bones. A common way of occupying the poor in the workhouse.

Source: Extract from the minutes of the Board of Guardians of Westbourne Union, Sussex (West Sussex Record Office, WG11/1/1)

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