Early Elizabethan England – Attitudes to poverty
Hello and welcome, today we will be studying
How did attitudes to poverty change during the
‘Hark, hark the dogs do bark,
The beggars are coming to town;
Some in rages and some in tags,
And one in a velvet gown.’
A popular nursery rhyme.
- What can you infer about attitudes towards the poor from the nursery rhyme?
Elizabethans grouped the poor into two groups:
Deserving poor: These poor were people who were unable to work due to being ill, disabled or simply being too old. Elizabethan society was often sympathetic to these people.
Able bodied / idle poor / undeserving poor: These people were seen as lazy or people who avoided work. They were punished harshly.
Before Elizabeth I reign there had been some support for the poor. Poor rate and charity. The poor rate was collected by Justices of the Peace (JPs). Money collected was used to help improve the lives of the poor. Charities were run and organised by the wealthy.
Policies and attitudes towards the poor changed between 1558 and 1588.
Find out how below:
* Grey – title of the law
* Green help it provided
* Red – punishments it introduced.
Statute of Artificers, 1563
To ensure that poor relief was collected to help the poor.
People who refused to pay the poor rates faced prison. Officials who failed to collect the poor rate could be fined.
Vagabonds Act, 1572
Introduced a national poor rate which provided support for the deserving poor. JPs had to keep a register and find work for the poor. This was the first compulsory local Poor Law Tax. It made helping the poor a local responsibility.
Vagrants were targeted as they were seen as a threat. They were treated badly and faced serve punishments.
1st offence: whipped, a hole drilled through their ear.
2nd offence: imprisoned.
3rd offence: executed (death).
Poor Relief Act, 1576
JPs were forced to provide the poor with materials to make things to sell.
Any person who refused help was sent to a house of correction.
- Read the question and student’s response below.
- Identify the following using the information above:
2a) Information that is accurate but not relevant to the question
2b) Inaccurate details
- Re write this student’s response to ensure it is all accurate. You can reuse the parts that are accurate in the response.
Describe two features of changes to the poor laws during the 1570s. [4 marks]
One feature of changes to the poor laws in the 1570s was the introduction of the Statute of Artificers. It was introduced to ensure that the poor relief was collected to help the poor. It showed a change in attitude towards the poor by the Elizabethans as it made sure that financial help was collected. There were two types of poor in Elizabethan England. The idle poor and the deserving poor. The Elizabethan wanted to help the idle poor.
A second feature of was the introduction of the Poor Relief Act in 1576. It forced JPs to provide the poor with materials to make things to sell. Materials would include items such as wood and wool. Any person who refused help was sent to a house of correction. It was the first compulsory local Poor Law Tax. It made helping the poor a local responsibility.
Impact of the changes:
Whilst Elizabeth I made changes to the law the problem of poverty was never solved for many reasons:
* Wars with the Netherlands and Spain continued. This reduced trade.
* Fear of vagrants continued.
The problem of poverty was recognised and people were less likely to blame individual’s laziness. People started to realise that circumstances such as enclosure and poor trade led to unemployment.
- Write a in a nutshell summary.
This is the core facts from this page. You are limited to 5 bullet points.
Well done you have completed your learning today.
Want to know more?
Grades 9- 7
Find out more poverty in Elizabethan England by reading this article. Use the information to add further detail to your examination response.
Watch this video to find out about the consequences of poverty in more detail.