Status details for Incorporation

Number of units in system:
Geographical Level: 8 (Higher-level District)
ADL Feature Type:countries, 3rd order divisions
Is a status within:Poor Law Union/Reg. District

Full Description:

The city of Bristol passed a private Poor Relief Act (1696 (7&8 Will.. c32) that amalgamated all of its nineteen parishes, within the cities limits, for poor-relief purposes. This Act enabled the erecting of hospitals and "workhouses within the City of Bristol for the better employing and maintaining of the poor gave power to provide workhouse and employ paid officers under a board of incorporated guardians (the Corporation of the Poor)" (Lipman, 1949, p.37). Similar private Acts were passed for other towns; Crediton, Tiverton, Exeter, Hereford, Colchester, Hull, Shaftesbury, King's Lynn, Sudbury, Gloucester, Worcester, Plymouth and Norwich. This inspired the passing of Sir Edward Knatchbull's Act (1722(9.Geo.I, c.7)) which gave Churchwardens and overseers the authority to purchase or hire workhouses for the maintenance of all poor persons. This Act included a clause that declared those persons that were unemployed and without funds to support themselves who refused to enter a workhouse were ineligible for poor relief. Workhouse officers were able to make a profit from the labours of the poor. John Cary writes in 1700 (in an Essay on Regulating Trade and Employing the Poor) that the Workhouse would begin to make "the multitudes of people serviceable who are now useless to the nation" (Lipman, 1949, p.37). Yet there were two major problems with the 1722 Act, firstly there was no sanction for the employment of paid officers or the building of workhouses. The second problem was that although two large or two small parishes could unite, it was not possible for a small and a large parish to unite. This led to the passing of 89 private acts, between 1722-1795, to allow for just this. There were also problems with the rural districts as previous acts did not provide regulation of the rural poor. Locke, as Commissioner of the Board of Trade, proposed that workhouses should be established on a hundred basis to take account of rural and urban poor (1697) and the infamous Carey (1700) suggested that the Justices of the Peace and all freeholders became the authority for their poor, which spasmodically occurred in some counties. Further, between 1735-1736, William Hay passed resolutions in the commons to establish workhouses in suitable districts in each county. A select committee of the commons (1759) supported the combination of parishes to provide a workhouse which was put into practice in Norfolk (hundred size), Suffolk (small hundreds joined) and the Isle of Wight (incorporated small hundreds).