More findings from the Poor Law Archives; Debts and Lunatics

As some of you will know the National Archives at Kew has digitised a tranche of documents relating to the Bromsgrove Poor Law Union of which Clent was a part. These are fully searchable and entirely free to access. The British Association for Local History has assisted with getting funding for further digitisation and volunteers are again slogging away to catalogue the entries and make them searchable.

Nothing really changes; In the early documents the Poor Law Board became increasingly exasperated with the Churchwardens and Overseers of Belbroughton who incurred the costs of advertising and hiring a venue to auction off the village workhouse despite not having permission to do so nor even clear title. Somewhat later they were at it again negotiating a sale in advance of the permissions to do so. They were anxious to use the revenue to discharge the debts due to those arranging the sale!

In this batch of documents Clent is in the spotlight. William Pearsehouse, the Overseer of Lower Clent is challenged as to why he has left the poor law rate monies with the collector. Entirely unphased he responds ‘I have not been much accustomed to parish business’ but as he regards the Collector, Mr Whittaker, as a ‘respectable inhabitant and a straightforward honest man’ ‘I consider the money will be equally as safe with him as myself’. He ends ‘If you insist on me taking it I will’. The Poor Law Board respond by requiring the Overseers to take the money and appoint bankers.

However it is not all about dry administrative matters.  This document  is a return of  Lunatic and Idiots and shows three from Clent .  Sarah Hollington, aged 37 and Sarah Parsons aged 63 were described as lunatics,  not dangerous to themselves or others and not of dirty habits who had been in this state for two years and many years respectively.  The costs of keeping the younger woman were in part met by her husband.  Joseph Whittingham was a 19 year old idiot of many years.  The cost of his maintenance and clothing was £2. 4s per week.

This document  is a return of  Lunatic and Idiots showing three from Clent

This document is a return of Lunatic and Idiots showing three from Clent

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