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Workhouse Test Act 1723

This entry is part 7 of 7 in the series Poor Law through the Ages
This entry is part 10 of 15 in the series Reformers and Radicals

Workhouse Test Act 1723

Part of the Old Poor Law this act was also known as the Workhouse Act, Knatchballs Act (it’s promoter) and Marriott’s act (it’s publisher.)

Between 1660 and 1720 the amount of poor relief paid out by parishes rose at an incredible rate, even though prices were falling and population growth was slowing.

  • Parliament decided to give parishes the power to deny relief to anyone who refused to enter the workhouse.
  • Not all parishes at this time had workhouses and continued to give ‘outdoor relief’ to parishioners i.e relief in their own homes or places of residence as many were homeless.
  • The main cause of government concern was the number of prime age (20 – 60 yrs), men applying for relief.
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