Monday, 17 October 2016

17th October 1816: William Sherbrooke tells the Home Secretary that the Poor Law system in Nottinghamshire is in danger of collapse

My Lord

The Letter which I have had the honor to sign as Chairman of the Quarter Sessions at Nottingham & addressed to your Lordship was written in the hurry of business & though your Lordship will better understand the state to which the Parishes in this district are [illegible] to be reduced by a more detailed account.

The Overseers of the Poor give the weekly allowance to the Paupers every Monday & it is probable that upon the very next Monday or some early succeeding one that the Overseer in one or more Parishes may be obliged to say to the persons who came to relief I have no money to pay you,

The smallest number who require relief in any Parish may be stated at three hundred, upon the refusal these persons go to a Magistrates he summons the Overseer who will say & say truly, I have with great difficulty collected the rates for many weeks past I have expended on my own money & I cannot collect any more in the Parish

The Magistrate orders distress upon the Occupiers of Land &c but a process is necessary to be gone through before the corn & other articles can be sold & this will take up many days & the three hundred Paupers say we cannot return to our homes without money to purchase bread for the subsistence of our Families

The Law says that the Magistrates may tax other persons of other Parishes in aid but this requires a longer process & the three hundred Paupers are still at the Magistrates door. No legal recourse resource that I am acquainted with remains. This is no fanciful statement my Lord it would actually have taken place in Sutton some week since had it not been prevented by the active benevolence of the Duke of Portland & I expect that it will take place in the Parish of Arnold & several others. I cannot my Lord contemplate the distress & confusion that must ensue from such an occurrence without feelings that are not to be revisited & I confidently rely upon a remedy being found by your Lordship & his Majesty's Ministers for an evil of such magnitude, it must be immediate to be of any use.

I have the Honor to be
Your Lordships most Obt Sert
W: Sherbrooke

near Southwell
Oct: 17=1816

[To] The
Right Honble Lord Sidmouth

This letter can be found at HO 42/153.

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