The Old Poor Law

Many family historians have ancestors whose lives were touched at some point by poverty. The Old Poor Law (1597-1834) was a system of poor relief devised by Tudor politicians which was still in use until the eve of Queen Victoria’s reign. Administered by unpaid parish officials and financed by parish ratepayers, it was tough but not without some compassion. Dealing with tens of thousands of young, aged, poor and sick people, as well as incorrigible rogues, it generated innumerable records of individual lives and misfortunes, leaving an invaluable legacy for social and family historians to explore.

This workshop will explain how the system worked and evolved over the centuries, and discuss the records such as settlement examinations and bastardy bonds which it created and their usefulness for researchers. 

Ticket price includes tea/coffee and biscuits. Places limited, pre-booking required.

Please note that free parking at Davidson House is no longer available for attendees of events at The Centre on Saturdays.


11 Jan 2020


11:00 - 13:00


The Centre for Heritage & Family History


The Centre for Heritage & Family History
2nd Floor, Reading Central Library, Abbey Square, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 3BQ


  • Joan Dils
    Joan Dils

    Joan Dils is an experienced local historian and writer specialising in 16th and 17th century Berkshire. Her books include: the first and second editions of “An Historical Atlas of Berkshire”, the latter edited in conjunction with Margaret Yates, and Reading St Laurence Churchwardens’ Accounts, 1498-1570: Parts I and II, (Berkshire Record Series). Her latest, “History of Reading”, was published in October 2019.

    Joan is president of the Berkshire Local History Association and also the History of Reading Society, and an Honorary Visiting Fellow in History at the University of Reading. She taught history and local history for the former School of Continuing Education at Reading and Oxford Universities where she was a part-time lecturer.

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