The Poor Law, 1601
In the year 1601, a monumental change occurred in the realm of social welfare in England. It marked the introduction of what would become known as the Poor Law. The concept behind this law was simple yet profound – it placed the responsibility on parishes to provide support for those who were unable to care for themselves.
Under this new system, specific categories of people were entitled to limited support from their respective parishes. These included orphans, widows, the elderly, and those with severe disabilities or illnesses. However, there were also individuals who found themselves expelled from their communities under this law. Those deemed “able-bodied” and capable of work were denied assistance and left to fend for themselves.
The implementation of the Poor Law had far-reaching implications for society at large. On one hand, it aimed to alleviate poverty and provide a safety net for those most vulnerable. On the other hand, it created a division between deserving and undeserving recipients of aid.
As time went on, concerns arose about how best to care for individuals facing mental health challenges.