Powys Digital History Project

Care of the poor 6
Abandoned wives

A common problem
Again and again in the Minute Books of the Rhayader Guardians there are instances of wives appealing for assistance as they have been abandoned by their husbands. The case below is from the entries for December 1836.
County Archives
Extract from minute book


It reads:-
"Elizabeth Francis of Nantmel Parish having applied for 2/- [2 shillings] as a loan as a consequence of her husband having deserted her.
Ordered that the money be advanced to her and that the amount debited to Nantmel as a loan to William Francis her husband."
By registering the payment as a loan to the husband the Union is stating its intention to recover the money from him.

Looking for work
Not all abandoned wives were alone because of the callousness of their husbands. Lack of employment opportunities led many fathers to seek work in the rapidly expanding industries of South Wales. If they could not find a position quickly their money could easily run out and they would be stranded leaving their families in distress. The extract below appears to be one such case. 

County Archives
extract from minute book 
  This entry reads:-
"Mary Williams the wife of John Williams a pauper of Saint Harmon having applied for a loan of eight shillings in consequence of her husband having left her in search of employment at Merthyr".
  The iron works and coalmines of South Wales at that time were full of men from north and mid Wales as well as men from England and beyond, all driven from the areas of their birth by need.
  There are 19 pages on Care of the Poor. Use the box links below to view the other pages