[Reynoldsʼs Newspaper, 19. Dezember 1869]

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Reynoldsʼs Newspaper. Nr. 1010, 19. Dezember 1869. S. 1.
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On Friday, at Lambeth Police court, a large body of men, comprising artisans and labourers, came before Mr. Woolrych to ask his advice and assistance under very distressing circumstances.

A respectable looking man said they had come there as a body of working men, most of whom had wives and families. They were out of employment, and forced to go to the parish for relief. They were offered two days’ work on the mill in the yard of the workhouse, which entitles them to half a quartered loaf for each child and themselves. They were not allowed to work in the yard, as there was not room, and an order was made that they should work on the roads. After doing this work, for which two winters ago they were paid 1s. per day as well as the bread, they certainly were refused, and all they got was dry bread.

Mr. Woolrych: Why not go into the workhouse? Applicant: We do not, as honest working men, wish to break up our homes and go into the house.

Mr. Woolrych: It seems hard that these poor men should be sent out to work on the roads, and only receive dry bread as their payment. Is this the order of the guardians?

Mr. Cobb (one of the assistant relieving-officers to the parish of Lambeth): Yes. They are allowed the same for working on the roads as on the mill in the yard.

Mr. Woolrych: That is dry bread? Mr. Cobb: Yes.

Mr. Woolrych: But I have many before me who get bread, and yet do no work. Mr. Cobb: They are widows and children, and not able-bodied persons. Most of these have been in the yard all the year round nearly. (Cries of “No, it is not true. We are working men.”)

Mr. Woolrych (to Mr. Cobb): Are these men all those who usually work on the mill in the yard? Mr. Cobb: I don’t say all the men present are such. (A voice: You know it is false.)

Mr. Woolrych: How is it that you have sent these poor men on the roads to work? Mr. Cobb: We are so pressed for room, and have to work these coming to the yard by half –days.

Mr. Woolrych: How long do they work on the roads? Mr. Cobb: Six hours.

Mr. Woolrych: And only get the same allowance of bread as if they work in the yard? Mr. Cobb: Yes, sir. A loaf for each child. (Voices: No, it is only half a loaf. Twelve pounds of bread for a man, his wife, and six children.)

Mr. Woolrych: I think the parish authorities would better lessen the ultimate strain upon the rates by giving these men some help further than the bread. Mr. Cobb: It is the order of the Poor Law-board, and we are bound to follow it.

Mr. Woolrych: I am extremely sorry for the position of these poor men, but cannot help them in this matter, as the guardians by law are masters of such an arrangement. I would willingly have aided them if I had the power.

The applicant thanked the magistrate on the part of himself and fellow-sufferers for the kind attention he had given to the matter.

Mr. Woolrych ultimately said he would give each of those present under this application 1s. 6d., but did not intend to make that a rule with others who might apply.

The poor men again expressed their gratitude for this further kindness, and withdrew.|


  • Social cases. 1869