Poor Relief in Elizabethan Ipswich

Volume Number: 9GS

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Edited by John Webb, the records in this book provide one of the most illuminating social studies of an Elizabethan town ever undertaken. Ipswich suffered severely from the economic dislocations of the mid-sixteenth century and here we see the townsmen’s response. One of the principal benefactors of the town was the merchant Henry Tooley who, when he died in 1551, left most of his fortune to the poor of the borough. The first part of this volume records the work of the Tooley Foundation, the experience gained in establishing the Foundation led on to a complementary system of public charity, with a municipal poorhouse and Christ’s Hospital, records of which provide the second part of the book. The third part is a register of the Ipswich poor over the years 1569-83. The fourth part lists the poor rate assessments of 1574, provides a directory of all the well-to-do inhabitants, catalogues relief in time of plague and ends with an elaborate census of the poor in 1597. The whole work is a vivid picture of a period and problem often discussed, but rarely illustrated in so striking a way.

Published: 1966


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