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Poverty in the 18th century
Transcript of Poverty in the 18th century
The poor were not considered important.
Much more was written about the rich and powerful. However in the Middle Ages poverty was common.
England was basically a subsistence economy where each village made most of the things it needed and most of the population were subsistence farmers.
They grew as much food as their families needed (if they were lucky). However life must have been very hard for the disabled. There were many disabled beggars in Medieval towns.
The Church tried to help the poor. The Church taught that it was a Christian duty to give to the poor. In monasteries a monk called an almoner gave alms to the poor. However in the Middle Ages fearful poverty was an inescapable part of life.
In the 18th century probably half the population lived at subsistence or bare survival level.
In the early 18th century England suffered from gin drinking.
It was cheap and it was sold everywhere as you did not need a license to sell it.
Many people ruined their health by drinking gin.
Yet for many poor people drinking gin was their only comfort.
The situation improved after 1751 when a tax was imposed on gin.
In the 18th century craftsmen and laborers lived in 2 or 3 rooms.
The poorest people lived in just one room.
Their furniture was very simple and plain.
However despite the improvements in farming methods during the 18th century food for ordinary people remained plain and monotonous.
For them meat was a luxury. They lived mainly on bread, butter, potatoes and tea.
During the 18th century the Poor Law continued to operate.
However a law of 1723 allowed parishes to build workhouses to house the destitute.
Still conditions in 18th century workhouses were generally less harsh than in Victorian ones. The end:0