Overseers of the Poor – what we have learned

Every month the Overseer paid out the regular payment to the poor, plus “disbursements” – additional payments, goods or services to those in need, and costs of the Overseers.

These disbursements are of most interest to the local historian because they identify the cost of goods and services; who is working for the parish and the names the poor of the parish.

At this time agricultural wages were about 6s per week, and almost of this income went on rent and very poor food. Labourers had no savings for a rainy day.

These documents also show us the spellings of the time – much as they sounded.

All the following information is from just 4 months of entries in 1771. There is much more history still to be discovered.

5 May 1771 Paid John Arnold for Sweeping Sixteen Parish Chimbleys

From this we know that the chimney sweep, John Arnold, was paid 3d per chimney.

5 May 1771 Paid Wm Bragg for a coffen for Mary Biles

From this we learn that a coffin cost 8s., William Bragg was probably the village carpenter, and that Mary Biles died sometime in April or May 1771 – a useful check on the Parish Registers which are not always complete, especially for burials. However in this case the register does show that Mary Biles was buried on 26 May 1771.

5 May 1771 Paid for a New Great Coat for France Vacher and Makeing

Clearly a new coat was an expensive item at 16s 9d in 1771.

25 Jun 1771 Paid for a New Coat and Making for Jethro Lovell boy

25 Jun 1771 Paid for to new shurths for Jethro Lovell to boys

A new coat for a boy at 7s 10d was about half that for a man, and shirts were about 2s 6d each, and that Jethro Lovell had two boys in 1771.

Paid for a pair of shous for Tobias Whifen

Paid for to pair of shous for Lovell boys

Paid for a Pair of Shous for Tho’ Legg boy

Thus a pair of adult shoes were 5s 9d, and boys 3s 8d.

1 Aug 1771 Paid William Campbell half a year House Rent for Mary Vacher, Due Miedsumer Last

Rent for a house was £1 per year. William Campbell was probably a house owner (although he may have been sub-letting) and Mary Vacher a tenant who could not afford to pay her rent.

1 Aug 1771 Paid for the making to load of straw for the Parish house

This is very important piece of information – the Parish house was probably the poor house, this in addition to the almshouses which we know were present. The houses were thatched with straw as one would expect, and that a load of straw cost 4s.

This entry was posted in family history, history, local history, Milton Abbas, Milton Abbey, Overseers of the Poor and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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