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Workhouse

poor, act and segregation

WORKHOUSE. A name given, in England, to establishments for the segregation and main. tenance of paupers; sometimes in the States, to institutions in which vagrants, drunk- ants, and other minor offenders are detained on short sentences and at labor, but which are usually and rightly known as houses of correc tion. The institutions established in London and Westminster during the reign of Charles 11., which are commonly referred to as the first Eng lish workhouses, were in reality houses of cor rection to which vagabonds and other petty of fenders were committed. William Ill., in creat ing the Board of Trade, instructed its members to "consider the proper methods of setting on work and employing the poor, and making them useful." The idea was in the air that a work house, in the literal sense of the word, could be made an effective discouragement of unnecessary pauperism, In 1676 John Cary, a merchant of Bristol, brought about the building and opening of a workhouse in that city. The experiment was so successful that it was followed by the cities of Plymouth, Worcester. null. and Exeter. .Tohn Locke about this time. writing the first re port of the Board of Trade, made a stony, plea for the technical instruction as well as the com pulsory industry of the dependent elements of society, hut the public was well enough satisfied with a scheme of segregation and hard work so long as it diminished the burden of the support of the poor. And so remarkable in fact was the

suppression of vagrancy and the lowering of the poor rate by the workhouse experiments which have been mentioned, that in 1722 a general act of Parliament authorized parishes, singly or in unions, to build workhouses and to refuse re lief to all who would not enter them. For nearly fifty years the dread of the workhouse stimulated the poor to provide for themselves, but this wholesome condition was completely changed by a period of sentimentalism wherein the famous statute 22 George III., c. 83, in /783, known as Gilbert's Act, practically broke down the work house principle. From this time began those abuses of outdoor relief which resulted in the appointment of the Poor Law Commission of 1832 and the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1S34. See