In the days before state benefits for the unemployed poor, help was provided by the parish to which they belonged. The parish would have appointed Overseers of the Poor who collected the Poor Rate from parishioners and gave it to the unemployed and infirm in the form of Poor Relief. If a family moved into a parish to work this was acceptable as long as they could support themselves: once they lost their income it became a drain on parish resources and the Overseers of the Poor would apply to the Justices for a Removal Order sending them back to their home parish which would be responsible for their relief. The Basset family are here being sent back to their home parish in Monmouthshire.
The second case shows how seriously theft of property was regarded in the late eighteenth century. It is worth noting also that the law insisted that the Justices and the Jury could only be recruited from the men of the property-owning classes. They were therefore likely to take a dim view of any such theft. Alice Vaughan was convicted in December and it may be the simple need for warmth at home that drove her to risk such a sentence.
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