Overseers of the Poor Books

The Milton Abbey Local History group is fortunate indeed to have access to these books.

We are concentrating our efforts in transcribing the first of these which covers the period of 1771 – 1798.

This is precisely the period when Joseph Damer, Lord Milton built himself a new mansion and removed the Old Town of Middleton.

Thanks to transcribers in Canada, Australia and England we have completed the first 150 pages and entered over 11 000 records into a spreadsheet which makes searching for the names of people in Milton Abbas so easy. These records cover the period May 1771 to April 1787.

From this huge effort not only do we know the people receiving poor relief and how much, and why, we also know the people who were paying rates and how much.

This is a fascinating insight into the social history of the late 18th century. What we really would like is advice on how to analyse these records from social historians or others who have undertaken such research.

There are many questions we can think of:

  • How do the regular payments change with time? Does this correlate with epidemics, grain prices, winter temperatures?
  • How did the number of people of poor relief change with time?
  • Why is the amount of rates received so much less in 1770’s than that paid out?
  • When is the first and last occurrence of different family names? Where did these families come from and go to?

We are sharing our results with our members and transcribers.

If you would like to join us on this enterprise then please contact us.

A typical page from the Overseers of the Poor Book:

7, 1771-12